In the market for a new crock pot/slow cooker

It’s time to get a new crock pot/slow cooker. Our family is easily outgrowing our old one, and need to upgrade to a 7 qt. model. But I’m at a loss of what to get. Do I stay with the ceramic insert? Swtich to a metal insert so I can sear proteins in the pot?
I primarily use it for soups, pulled pork, pot roast, etc. It also gets use for parties to keep entrees or nacho cheese sauce warm.
Please provide me with your favorite items or tips so I can make a more educated decision.


I like my Instant Pot, which has both slow-cooker and pressure-cooker modes. If I could do it again, I’d buy the new model that lets you disable the switch to keep-warm mode at the end of the cycle.


@robert What do you love about the Instant Pot? What do you dislike about it? I’m a bit weary about these particular kinds of fad gadgets. None of my friends (who I consider real cooks) have jumped into the pond. However, a bunch other friends have one and love it.

It’s three gadgets in one: a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, and a crockpot.

It cooks beans, rice, and braised meat consistently and faster. No more chalky beans or underdone meat. Most beans cook fine without presoaking.

It’s a lot easier to use than a regular pressure cooker since you don’t have to wait around for it to come up to pressure or to turn it off when it’s done.

My only compliant about it so far is the way it automatically goes into stay-warm mode at the end of whatever cycle you’re using.

I don’t think a sophisticated cook would get all worked up about it and cook everything with it like some people do. I’m not particularly partial to that brand, either, supposedly some of the competitors are as good or better.


Picked up the Instant Pot Ultra from Sur La Table. Just tossed in some seared short ribs to make Asian short ribs. It took 50 minutes instead of 4 hours. I’m impressed. I can’t wait to see what else this thing can do.

We have a ~7 year old Korean rice cooker that is in need of replacement. My wife is leaning towards using the Instant Pot to cook rice because of its versatility with the only downside is that there is no keep warm function. The other Japanese or Korean rice cookers we would consider are significantly more expensive. How does the Instant Pot cook rice?

All Instant Pot models have that. My only complaint is that the DUO50 I have won’t let me disable it. Some of the other models reportedly let you turn it off when you program it.

From the user guide:

The “Rice” key is a fully automated smart program for cooking regular rice or parboiled rice. The cooking time is adjusted automatically depending on the amount of rice. To cook 2 cups of rice (using measuring cup provided), it takes about 10 minute pressure keeping time; for 3~5 cups of rice, it takes about 12 minute pressure keeping time; more cups will take longer time accordingly. Total cooking time is not displayed, whereas the pressure keeping time will be shown when working pressure is reached. The “Adjust” key has no effect on this program. Please note: You can cook as little as one cup of rice with the correct ratio of water.

More about cooking rice in the Instant Pot (I usually cook brown rice):

Thanks. My wife told me that is does NOT have a keep warm function. I think that probably settles it for us.

She must have confused it with some other brand.

This is useful, thank you. I found this comment interesting:

This is probably why the “Chinese” method actually makes sense now. There are two methods… One uses your full hand: when placed barely on top of the rice, the water should reach a certain point on the top of your hand. And the knuckle method: where you stick your middle finger tip into the water, barely touching the top of the rice, the water should reach the first knuckle. I never understood how it worked but now sort of makes sense. Ancient Chinese secrets.”

I was taught to cook basmati rice by a wonderful Persian woman with incredible cooking skills; she also taught me the “knuckle method” for measuring water over rice, no measuring cups for her.

Unless you always cook the same amount of rice, measuring the water by how far over the rice it goes will not give you a consistent ratio.

I’ve not gone the Insta Pot route because I have 2 pressure cookers, a rice cooker (you can use it for grits too) and slow cooker that I may have used a couple of times in the past few years, there are just 2 of us so it mainly gets used to keep party food hot. I made braised beef short ribs last night in about 45 my pressure cooker. I bought the rice cooker because this house we bought a year ago has a GD electric cooktop and I suddenly was failing at making rice. I would suggest you follow the other’s advice an get an Insta Pot. If I didn’t have over kill on equipment it would be what I would go for. The pressure cooker function is going to save you lots of time.

She had a rice pot (it looked like a small stock pot), and a specific bowl she always used for rinsing and soaking rice, so she was able to be fairly consistent, even when making different amounts.

I have a 2-quart stainless steel sauce pot I use for rice, and can do the same, but only in that particular pot.

This weekend had me experimenting twice more with the Instant Pot.
Beef and vegetable soup was achieved in 30 minutes…not including the time I took to sear the beef using the sauté function. It normally takes at least 2-3 hours.
Mashed potatoes in 10-15 minutes. Threw chicken stock, salt, salt, pepper, and butter with the potatoes and let it run. Added more butter, heavy cream, and additional seasoning as I mashed in the pot. What I thought was rather fascinating was these were the most potato-y mashed potatoes I’ve had in a long time. My mashed potatoes usually taste like all the fun stuff I put in (butter, cream, et al.), but I got more potatoes this method…and it didn’t take an hour to make 5 lbs of potatoes.
I think I really like this tool. Going to try rice later this week…and lentils.

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I had an unexpected group of teenage boys to feed during the game last night. I ran to the store, got a few pounds of those cheap “stew cubes”, put them in the Instapot with some other ingredients, and crossed my fingers. 25 minutes later I had a very good beef stew. The meat was so tender. I was surprised that kind of meat could actually be good.

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