Slow cookers are versatile kitchen appliances that are great for setting a meal and forgetting it until it’s done later that night. They come in both manual and digital (or programmable) options, with the digital slow cookers offering a wider variety of features and a more modern display and usage. In this article, we’ll be reviewing 5 of the best digital slow cookers on the market today, as well as providing you with an in-depth buying guide to help you choose the right unit for your needs.
Let’s jump into the reviews!
1. Hamilton Beach Portable Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker
With nearly 5,000 raving reviews, it came as no surprise to us to find out for ourselves that the Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker is loaded with features and made of excellent quality. It’s perfectly-sized at 6 quarts (enough to serve about 7 people) and has the capacity to cook a 6-pound whole chicken or a 4-pound roast.
Though this is a digital slow cooker, it’s technically a digital and a manual slow cooker (just in one). Unlike most slow cookers on the market, the Hamilton Beach allows you to cook meals at a specific temperature, and it comes with an attached temperature probe so that you can know the exact internal temperature of your meats and dishes (which you can see on the digital display).
The operation panel features a red power button, Program Button (which allows you to set the heat and time for your dish, and automatically switches to the Keep Warm function so you won’t have to worry about burning), a Manual Button (which acts as a manual slow cooker and cooks food on Low, High, or Warm settings), a Probe Button (that is used when cooking meats — set the slow cooker to desired temperature and cooker will automatically switch to Keep Warm when inner meat reaches said temperature), an Enter Button that you use to select the settings, and Up and Down Arrow Buttons that also help you to select settings, like the temperature.
The glass lid is a locking lid, making this a great slow cooker for potlucks, family gatherings, or wherever else you may need to transfer your slow cooker to without spills. Bear in mind that you probably shouldn’t lock the lid when the food is cooking, as this may result in a shattered lid.
Both the inner pot and glass lid are easy to clean and dishwasher safe, and this slow cooker features power interrupt protection, which means if your electricity goes off, your slow cooker won’t!
What We Like:
- Has a temperature probe that automatically gauges the internal temperature of meats
- A digital and manual slow cooker in one
- Thousands of happy customers
- Modern interface with digital display
- The average size of 6 quarts
- Locking lid
- Dishwasher safe inner crock and lid
- Interrupt power protection
2. Crock-Pot Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker
A tad simpler than the Hamilton, the Crock-Pot Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker is easy to use and relatively affordable. It features a digital timer, 4 buttons, and 3 heat settings. The timer can be set anywhere from a 30-minute cook time up to 20 hours, and like the previous slow cooker, automatically switches to the Keep Warm function when the timer ends as to not scald your food. The buttons consist of a Select Button (that you use to select the temperature setting), Up and Down Arrow Buttons for the Timer, and an Off Button to power the slow cooker down.
The glass lid is a locking lid, so you won’t have to worry about spilling the crock pot’s contents when moving it, and both the removable inner crock and the lid are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The inner pot (without the lid) is also microwave and oven safe for reheating up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The exterior of this crock pot is a stainless steel, so it’ll look great next to modern appliances in your kitchen, and is easy to clean should any food drip on the edges. The handles are cool-touch, meaning they won’t get hot if you need to carry the slow cooker right after the meal is finished cooking.
What We Like:
- Simple operation
- 30-minute up to 20-hour cook times
- Cool-touch handles
- Locking lid
- Inner pot and lid are dishwasher safe
- Inner crock is microwave and oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Magic Mill Digital Programmable Slow Cooker
Moving on to the third digital slow cooker on our list, the Magic Mill is a large option with a capacity of 8.5 quarts. It features a sleek digital display with a timer, 4 buttons, and 3 heat settings, and can serve 9+ people. The timer can be set to a cooking time of 30 minutes up to 20 hours and the slow cooker switches to the Keep Warm settings once the timer ends to prevent scalding. Buttons include a Power Button to turn the slow cooker on or off, a Mode Button to select one of the heat settings (Low, High, or Warm), and Positive and Negative Buttons to control the timer.
The glass lid is a locking lid, making carrying this slow cooker a breeze, and both the lid and the inner crock are dishwasher safe to make cleanup after each meal less of a hassle. What’s unique about this slow cooker is that the timer actually visibly counts down so that you can make any side dishes at the appropriate time.
The exterior of the Magic Mill is stainless steel, so that if any food spills over it’s easy to clean. The handles are full-grip and cool-touch, meaning they won’t warm up no matter how long the food is cooking and regardless of the heat setting. They’re also textured to prevent your hands from slipping so easily.
What We Like:
- 8.5 quarts
- Easy to operate
- Glass lid locks
- Lid and inner crock are both dishwasher safe and easy to clean
- Textured, cool-touch handles
- Timer counts down visibly
- Automatically switches to Warm mode after timer ends
4. Cuisinart Programmable Slow Cooker
Nearing the end of our best programmable slow cookers review, the Cuisinart Programmable Slow Cooker is petite and perfect for a family of 2 or 3. It has a capacity of 3.5-quarts, an oval inner crock, and a unique and beautiful glass lid with a glass knob.
It has a touchpad control panel with 4 cooking modes, High, Low, Simmer, or Warm, and a digital timer that can be set up to 24 hours with the + and – buttons. When the timer ends, this slow cooker automatically switches to the Keep Warm function to prevent burning or overcooking.
The outer pot is made with stainless steel so it’s easy to clean, and the inner pot and lid are dishwasher safe. Another great thing about this slow cooker is that it’s entirely BPA free. And, whenever you need to transport this slow cooker, you can do it without burning yourself thanks to the cool-touch carrying handles.
What We Like:
- Great for small families or couples
- Cool-touch handles
- Stainless steel outer pot
- Beautiful all-glass lid
- Glass lid and inner pot are dishwasher safe
- Easy to clean outer pot
5. The Pioneer Woman Frontier Rose Programmable Slow Cooker
By far the cutest slow cooker on our list, the Pioneer Woman Rose Programmable Slow Cooker is both colorful, with blue and red roses with green leaves, and a programmable slow cooker. Compared to the other slow cookers on our list, this one is much simpler and doesn’t have as many features. For example, it’s missing a digital timer, so you won’t be able to watch the time count down.
It is super easy to use, though and features three temperature settings, Low, High, and Warm. Set your food to cook for 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours with the Hours button. When the time ends, this slow cooker will automatically switch to the Warm setting to avoid scalding your food and keeps your dish at acceptable serving temperature.
The inner stoneware pot is removable and has a 7-quart capacity, enough to feed a family of 4 or more easily. It’s an oval casserole dish, making it great for most dish types, and the inner pot is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. The glass lid is also dishwasher safe.
What We Like:
- The adorable print on the outer pot
- Dishwasher safe glass lid and inner pot
- Easy to use
- Set for 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours using the Hours button
- Automatically switches to Warm setting when the timer ends
- 7-quart capacity
- Oval casserole shaped inner pot
- Cool-touch handles
The Benefits of a Digital Slow Cooker
While all slow cookers serve the same general purpose, it’s just a fact that they’re not all created equal. Here are some of the best benefits of buying a digital slow cooker rather than a manual slow cooker:
- You’ll have a timer. Manual slow cookers almost never have a built-in timer, leaving you with the task of setting a timer on your phone, microwave, or another kitchen timer. Digital slow cookers have a digital timer built into the body of the pot, making using the slow cooker that much better.
- They’re more versatile. Along with the built-in timer, digital slow cookers are often more versatile, offering different settings or features than manual slow cookers.
- They look better. The modern display of buttons and a digital screen brings a new age feeling to your kitchen and makes it look much more up to date than manual slow cookers do.
- They perform more efficiently. Manual slow cookers have zero indicators to show if the appliance is on if it’s warming up, etc. Digital slow cookers often have indicator lights to let you know when it’s on and what setting you’re using.
- Digital slow cookers automatically switch to Keep Warm. Perhaps one of the best benefits of a digital slow cooker, digital slow cookers automatically switch to the Keep Warm setting when the timer ends. This is obviously a feature you won’t find in a manual slow cooker and will prevent burned food and keep your food at acceptable serving temperature until you’re ready to eat (without having to keep an eye on the timer).
As you can see, purchasing a digital slow cooker over a manual one is definitely worth the investment. From the appearance to the functionality, it’s clear a digital slow cooker takes the whole cake.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Slow Cooker
Using a slow cooker is as easy to use as kitchen appliances come, but there are a few things you can do to make your experience a tad better:
- Spray the inner crock pot with nonstick oil. This will prevent any burned or crusted food from having to be scraped off during the cleanup process.
- Or buy liner bags. Plastic liner bags are placed inside the inner pot to make cleanup practically nonexistent. When all the food is gone or you’ve put leftovers in the fridge, simply pick up the bag and throw it away. Voila! No need to wash extra dishes.
- Push hard vegetables, like potatoes, and thick meats to the bottom. Pushing these difficult-to-soften foods deep in the liquid will help it to cook more evenly, quicker, and leave meats more tender and juicier.
- Don’t lift the lid constantly. If you need to check once or twice for doneness, that’s fine; but lifting the lid every few minutes will only result in heat escaping and could potentially make the cooking process last longer than necessary.
After all is said and done, our favorite out of the best digital slow cookers list is the Hamilton Beach Portable Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker. Out of all of the options that we reviewed, the Hamilton Beach is the most versatile option, offering far more features than the other slow cookers on our list. It’s perfect for the average family or pot luck and even allows you to cook your meats at specific temperatures with the temperature probe. It’s also the second most affordable slow cooker on our list, so you get more for a lesser price!
Whichever best slow cooker you choose, we know you’ll love it! Happy (slow) Cooking!