Slow cookers offer an easy and generally hands-off way to produce tasty meals. They're also usually economically efficient, produce healthy food, and are affordable to buy.
However, they do have their downsides. For instance, the cooking times are long, meaning that advance planning is necessary.
Also, while they're certainly useful for tenderizing tougher cuts of meat, they do have a tendency to reduce all the ingredients to a soft consistency, which may not always be desired. The process can even cause some foods to disintegrate entirely.
This article lists and looks at the positives, however, highlighting seven of the main benefits.
7 Advantages of Slow Cookers
Here are seven benefits that are associated with using a slow cooker:
- Tasty meals
- Easy and straightforward
- Hands-off cooking
- Meat is tenderized
- Easy to clean
I examine each of the seven positives in more detail below.
1. It Makes Tasty Meals
There's little doubt that slow cookers can bring out all the flavors and aromas of the food, and create a deliciously blended meal.
They can also be used as part of the braising technique, with the ingredients, particularly meats, lightly fried first in order to sear and brown, before being slow cooked.
Recipes will also often result in a tasty broth being created, too, formed out of the meat juices and liquid ingredients. This adds an extra dimension to most meals.
2. It's Easy and Straightforward
Many slow cooker recipes are designed to be one-pot meals. All the ingredients are thrown in together and set going. Provided the recipe instructions are followed, the result will be a tasty meal.
Unlike some other types of cookery that can involve multiple stages and employ a host of different techniques, it's difficult to go wrong.
3. It's Leave-Alone Cooking
While slow cooking does require some forward planning of meals, the great thing is that once the cooking process has begun, you usually don't have to intervene for a number hours.
This means that you're free to do other things while your food cooks. Aside from maybe giving your food an occasional stir, it's essentially hands-off. When you do return from completing your other tasks, there's a hot meal is waiting for you.
4. It Tenderizes Meat
Using a slow cooker is a great way to tenderize meat. Even the toughest cuts can usually be softened by the process. This is because the moist heat breaks down the connective tissue that binds the meat's muscle fibers, helping it to fall apart more easily.
5. It's Healthy
While it does depend to some degree on the specific ingredients, using a slow cooker is generally a healthy way to make meals. This is mainly because the nutrients in the food tend to be preserved, thanks to the less destructive effects of the low heat and the moisture being sealed in.
Slow cooker recipes also tend to use natural ingredients, such as potatoes and other vegetables, as well as herbs and spices. Few, if any, artificial additives or processed foods are usually included.
However, if the food is fried beforehand and healthiness is a priority, care should be taken not to allow too much oil to be absorbed by the food.
6. It's Easy to Clean
One of the great things about slow cookers is that they're generally very easy to clean and maintain. Any mess that's created tends to reside mainly in the insert. As these are typically ceramic, they're almost always dishwasher friendly.
You also have the option of hand-cleaning the insert, if required, which is rarely difficult. The rest of the slow cooker normally needs barely more than a quick wipe down.
7. It's Economical
Slow cookers are economic in two main ways.
- Firstly, their tenderizing effect means that you can use more affordable cuts of meat to make meals. The moist heat will break down the toughest parts of joints over time.
- Secondly, slow cookers use low heat, so can often use less energy than other cooking techniques, such as roasting.
My Favorite Slow Cooker: All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped
If you are seeking a suggestion for a great slow cooker, then I recommend the All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped. I've used one of these in my kitchen at home for almost three years and love it.
While it's certainly not the most affordable slow cooker available, its excellent design, sturdiness, and functionality have made it a great investment.
The programming settings are straightforward to use and supply all the options that I need and desire. I bought the 6.5-quart version, which has turned out to be ideal for my requirements, but there are smaller versions of the All-Clad available for those who have other needs.
All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Advantages
- It's very easy to clean. The insert can be removed and either run through the dishwasher or cleaned by hand. It's ceramic, so I don't have to worry about scratching it.
- The All-Clad is a high-end appliance that's been designed to have maximum usability. It's also attractive, so there are no concerns about having it in sight on my kitchen counter.
- The lid's handle is made to stay cool, so my fingers don't get burned when I'm gripping it.
- One problem that you can get with cheaper slow cookers is that the heat settings aren't always accurate. That's not an issue with the All-Clad. I've followed multiple recipes with perfect results every time.
- It's sturdily built and has been designed to last.
All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Disadvantages
- As with pretty much all slow cookers, the ceramic insert can be a little cumbersome. It is dishwasher safe, though.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Paul Goodman