on November 24, 2010
Bought this to replace an old metal slow cooker; the crock of course makes all the difference. This unit is well designed, maintains a constant temp, and is easy to clean. Size is good for a family, we've made roasts, soups, dressing, etc. for groups from 4-10 so far .My only concern is the long-term performance of the plastic parts of the lid locking mechanism; they are fine now and may last forever, who knows.
I've never had a slow cooker with a digital display or timer. I'm not sure why you'd want one...in the words of my grandmother, "it's just one more thing to break." The way we use it it's always turned on in the morning before work (on low) and cooks all day. A timer or digital display would make no difference. There are slow cookers for $100+ out there but this Crock-Pot meets my needs quite well.
on June 15, 2012
We purchased this to replace another manufacturer's slow cooker that failed after many years of good service. We like to do meatballs and pulled pork, to name a couple of items. Even on low, the liquid in the cooker comes to a boil too quickly. A pork shoulder, which should cook for 6 - 8 hours to break the meat down for pulled pork, completely cooks the shoulder in 1.5 hours - too short for "pulling". Even after cooking meatballs and setting it to low, the meatballs boil or overcook. According to Crock-pot customer service, this is normal as both the High and Low temperature cooking is 215°. Even after changing to Keep Warm from High or Low, it will continue to boil for 1 - 2 hours! This is not a "slow cooker" by anyone's definition.
Of course, returning to the manufacturer is not possible and outside of the Amazon return policy. So we are stuck with an unusable product.
on January 2, 2013
*** Note my edit at the end of the review which I added two months after writing the initial review.
I purchased this to replace my original 1970s avocado green Crock Pot. I was attracted by the slightly larger size and oval shape, and the locking lid.
After doing several tests, and cooking one meal (Italian Beef, with a 3.5 pound boneless chuck, beef stock, oregano, garlic, and peppers) I have several things to report, mostly negative.
As others have reported, when first used, the cooker emits the smell of burning electrical insulation. This goes away quickly, however, and doesn't come back.
The lid has a rubber gasket that makes it seal quite well. I don't know if this will hold up well. The lid has locking clamps that lock it in place, and they seem to work well. However, when cleaning the lid, water gets under these clamps and also gets under the handle in the center of the lid. This trapped water won't come out. It is obvious that these two clamps and the lid handle will have to periodically be removed in order to remove the mold and mildew that is certainly going to accumulate.
This is a major design flaw.
I tested the temperature of the unit using my Thermopen thermometer. This thermometer is accurate to less than one degree, traceable to the National Bureau of Standards. I also tested using my Kill-A-Watt power meter. The power meter shows that the power used is as follows:
Warm: 62 watts
Low: 223 watts
High: 251 watts
I wrote to Crock Pot's customer support and was told that these wattages are normal and that "Both the Low & High settings cook at 215 degrees F." This seems very high to me, and indeed America's Test Kitchen states: "It should register between 195°-205° to yield the best results."
When I tested the unit by making my Italian Beef recipe, my Thermopen did indeed show that the beef broth reached boiling in less than two hours, and boiled away all day at 210-212 degrees.
Thus, this unit fails to produce acceptable temperatures for "slow cooking." Therefore, it is NOT a "slow cooker."
My unit also had a small flaw in the ceramic cooking insert, a gap in the glazing about the size of a pencil eraser directly on the bottom. I suspect that this will eventually cause a problem, although it didn't interfere with my initial cooking test.
Finally, since I have now used the thing and can't return it, I thought I'd look at the inside. You remove three nuts and you can see the inside. There is the outer metal container, and then and inner metal container. There is a small "belt" around the inner metal container about a third of the way up from the bottom. The heating element is inside this belt. Thus, the inside metal container gets hot, and transfers that heat to the crock. Unfortunately, even more heat gets transferred to the outside metal container which gets dangerously hot, and which transmits more heat to the outside than to the crock. You WILL burn yourself if you touch the metal exterior of this cooker while it is cooking.
Thus, this thing is unbelievably inefficient, and is wasting over half of the electricity that powers it. It is truly a lousy design.
The old crock pot from the 1970s had the heating element wound directly around the crock, and most of the energy went to heating the crock, not the outside air.
So, I recommend that you spend a little more and get a different model, or a different brand entirely. The design of this one is fatally flawed. I did give it two stars because it does actually function and can be used to cook.
The people at Crock Pot's customer service have responded to my complaints, and if any of my complaints are resolved, I will add new information to this review.
[edit #1] Customer service was nice, but ultimately was only able to confirm what I wrote above. In addition, the rubber gasket on the lid smells after one use, and even after three weeks, still retains the smell of the first meal I cooked.
[edit #2]I have a lamp dimmer that sits next to a desk lamp. I brought it into the kitchen and plugged the cooker into this table-top dimmer. I then used my Kill-A-Watt power meter to monitor the power output as I "dimmed" the crock pot. After some experimentation, I found that if I used the dimmer to lower the power on the "Low" setting from 223 watts down to 150 watts, the cooker would keep the temperature around 200 degrees, which is perfect. This lets me cook with almost half the power, makes the food cook correctly, and saves me money. If you don't own a power meter, you can simply put a mark on the dimmer when it is powering a light bulb and mark the point at which the bulb is perhaps 3/4 of full brightness. Then, monitor the temperature every hour or two and increase or decrease the power if the temperature goes below 190 or above 205 degrees.
So, with this simple addition, the bad design of this slow cooker now works as it should, even though the flaws (such as the hot exterior and wasted heat) noted above still remain.
[edit #3]I finally got around to building a thermostat control for this unit. I was able to use the temperature probe from my Amana microwave oven which I wired into an electronic circuit. Using this unit, I am able to keep the temperature at a constant 200 degrees while cooking. I can also use it to keep the unit at 110 degrees for yogurt, and intermediate temperatures for sous vide, although I haven't actually tried that yet.
on December 1, 2011
I bought this Crock Pot in August and have used it half a dozen times. It's a very pretty Crock Pot, but has a few problems. The first thing I noticed is that the crock is much thinner than the 1970's and 1990's Crock Pots I have. This may account for the fact that the food cooks way too hot. I put two big packages of chicken thighs in the pot with tomato sauce on low before going to bed in the evening and when I stirred it all early the next morning, the chicken on the bottom was burnt even though there was plenty of liquid remaining. I've cooked this recipe many, many times in my old crock pots. Also, since there is a rubber seal on the lid, they've added a little vent hole in the glass lid. This hole is very close to the handle so you have to lift the lid very carefully to avoid getting burned - a lesson I learned the hard way. Additionally, the outside metal surface gets *extremely* hot, so this would not be an appropriate appliance in a house with small children. My teenager even burned himself on it. The rubber seal on the lid keeps liquid from cooking over, which I really like. However, it doesn't come clean in the dishwasher. I have to make sure to wash the seal by hand. The handle on the lid collects water under it in the dishwasher, too. I've transported this crock pot several times and it hasn't leaked while kept upright but liquid will flow out of the little hole on the top if tipped over.
I would return this Crock Pot but kept it too long thinking I should give it a chance. Sorry to say after owning and loving many Crock Pots, I just purchased a Hamilton Beach for someone as a Christmas present.
on January 23, 2012
no rubberry smell/flavor, food tastes great... this whole lid sealing complaint is dumb, the stoneware rim is to big to the lid BY DESIGN! it slides around a little but it doesn't matter because it is designed to slip a litte. no matter how far left, right, fron, or back the lid is there a crack where steam escapes! reading this complaint remind me how dumb people can be.
the outside of this does get very hot when cooking, i don't mind, i don't habitually lick it while it's on.
no timer but i've read so many complaints of timer malfunctions that i went with one with LESS moving parts on purpose. i am happy with the choice.