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Plug in your personal cook

The ideal slow cooker would deliver a properly cooked meal and be absolutely simple and intuitive to use. It would also announce itself to you so you could skip comparison shopping, reading through instruction manuals, and gambling on manufacturers’ claims of performance. Hello, your new slow cooker is calling.

Santuko Diagram

Cuisinart 6-Quart 3-in-1 Cook Central

Highly Recommended
Reviewed in Cooks Illustrated January 2017 We loved the lightweight crock and stay-cool plastic handles. The crock is set directly over a built-in hot plate, so it ran a little hot and fast. That said, it cooked evenly, in part due to a built-in temperature control. Its brown/sauté function saves using a skillet, though it took longer and food steamed a little due to the crock’s high sides. Our testers disagreed on whether the controls were easy or a little confusing. A solid performer, it’s a great choice if you hate to lift heavy crocks or worry about breakage.
DIMENSIONS 12" x 19" x 9.5" WEIGHT 16 lb CROCK WEIGHT 3.45 lb
CROCK MATERIAL Aluminum with nonstick coating


How We Tested Slow Cookers

We rounded up eight models priced from $39.99 to $148.71. From previous slow-cooker testing, we knew we wanted a generous 6- to 7-quart capacity. Glass lids were a must, as they allow you to see progress without losing heat. Finally, we sought out oval-shaped crocks, as these can accommodate large roasts and offer more versatility than round crocks.

Chicken, Turkey, Beef

We prepared boneless, skinless chicken breasts; whole bone-in turkey breast; and pot roast. We evaluated the texture and flavor of the food and rated the cookers on the uniformity of cooking. We did a final round to test the built-in browning function, when available. We gave highest marks to cookers that produced evenly cooked, juicy, and tender foods every time.

Give Us Easy

We evaluated how easy the cookers were to fill, set, and maneuver, including the intuitiveness of controls, displays to monitor cooking, weight of the crock, size and shape of handles, and whether the handles became hot. Several had too many buttons and confusing layouts. One was a “smart” slow cooker that ran via a phone app and had such a pared-down control panel that it left us puzzled and frustrated.

Wash and Wear

We washed each model six times by hand and 10 times in the dishwasher (unless the manual instructed not to do so). We gave high marks to models that were easy to clean, with few nooks and crannies to trap food or water. We also gave preference to pots and lids that were dishwasher-safe and emerged from 10 dishwasher cycles as good as new.


Hot, Hotter, Too Hot

To map heating patterns, we used temperature probes to track the temperature of each cooker’s contents as it heated 4 quarts of room-temperature water over a period of 6 hours on high and 12 hours on low. Some models climbed to boiling (or barely below) on both high and low settings. Our top performers made fine-tuned adjustments to keep the water temperature below boiling and hover around a target temperature.

The Cuisinart 6-Quart 3-in-1 Cook Central Is Built to Impress

Low, high, simmer, and warm settings

Light, unbreakable metal crock

Stay-cool plastic handles

Brown/sauté function saves using a skillet

Metal rack for steaming

Keeps warm for 24 hours after cooking

Crock and lid are dishwasher-safe

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