I Ditched My Fancy Slow Cooker In Favor Of My Mom's Old-School Crockpot

An oldie but a goodie. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Crockpot

Sometimes simpler is better. It's certainly the case when it comes to my most hardworking kitchen appliance. When I was newly engaged, I registered for a shiny, chrome slow cooker with a price tag that positively made me feel guilty. It was a digital version that looked like it had flown straight out of an episode of The Jetsons. I imagined the chilis, soups, and stews that I would set and forget in the days and years ahead. It turned out to be the MVP in my kitchen for the first decade of our marriage. It was all well and good until my fancy slow cooker cracked. Going slow-cooker-less was not an option, so I set out to pick up another, the exact same model, until I realized an even higher-priced version with more bells and whistles had taken its place. The sticker shock was real. But then I spotted a familiar face: Crockpot 8-Quart Slow Cooker. Remembering the earlier generation that sat on my mom's kitchen counter, cooking up the tastes of my childhood, I pulled the trigger right then and there. After all, it was good enough for Mama.

The Crockpot 8-Quart Slow Cooker is digital, just like my fancy registry one, but comes in at a much more manageable price point of $99.99 (currently $69.99, 30% off the original price). It has a simple but effective list of program options (HIGH, LOW, and WARM) and can be set for up to 20 hours. The exterior surface isn't the shiny metal of my original slow cooker, but it's easily wiped clean and isn't prone to smudging like chrome.

While the construction isn't as heavy-duty as I was used to, the materials give the appliance a lighter weight, which I appreciated immediately. I can easily slide it in and out of my cabinet without straining. If you're looking for a slow cooker that looks like space-aged technology, this isn't the one for you. But, if you want an appliance that's unassuming, gets the job done, and doesn't cost a fortune, the Crockpot 8-Quart Slow Cooker is your gal.

The thing I probably love most about it is the large capacity. I have yet to run into a big-batch recipe that requires more room to stew than the Crockpot allows. I've made chili for 15 and still had room to spare.

When it comes time to clean your slow cooker, the large stoneware pot and glass lid are dishwasher safe. If you would rather save the dishwasher real estate, like me, try this trick that I picked up from Crockpot that makes deep cleaning a breeze: Fill the pot with water until it covers the upper line left behind by the food. Add a cup of vinegar and, little by little, add a cup of baking soda, waiting for the bubbles to settle before adding more. Set it on LOW for one hour and cover. When your timer is complete, your slow cooker will be ready for a simple clean with soap and water—no heavy scrubbing necessary.


Crockpot 8-Quart Slow Cooker

BUY IT: $69.99 (originally $99.99); amazon.com

In case you don't already have a file of family-favorite slow-cooker recipes, this version comes with a recipe book for loads of set-it-and-forget-it inspiration.

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