The Real Reason You Should Never Buy A Slow Cooker

Slow cookers have been a kitchen fixture since the 1970s, when a modern version of the slow cooker, known as the Crock-Pot, made its debut at the 1971 National Housewares Show (via Smithsonian Magazine). Like its comrade-in-kitchen-arms — including Tupperware, microwave ovens, and frozen dinners — the Crock-Pot slow cooker was part of a package that promised an easier life for working women and their families. It was actually marketed in 1975 as "perfect for the working woman." 

But has the slow cooker had its day? It would seem so, since with the coming of gadgets like the Instant Pot and the pressure cooker, as well as the versatility offered by the classic Dutch oven, it would seem like the slow cooker isn't the miracle gadget that we once thought it was — simply because not every ingredient thrives in a slow cooker. Some of the foods that don't perform well in a slow cooker include staples like rice, seafood, dairy, frozen meats, vegetables, and eggs.

Slow cookers cannot get hot enough to cook most ingredients thoroughly

After testing the performance of a slow cooker, a Dutch oven, and a pressure cooker, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats says it is a struggle to prepare dishes properly in a slow cooker, particularly when it is set to low, because the device doesn't get as hot as a Dutch oven (which can go between 190 to 212F) or pressure cooker (which can go up to 250F). Also, because you are heating food in a thick ceramic insert, the heat can have a hard time making it through — which means vegetables stay firm and meat stays tough (although your mileage may vary, and you could get the results you want). 

Cookbook author Stephanie O'Dea also tells Readers Digest that the heat generated by a slow cooker isn't strong enough to burn off any alcohol which might be added to a dish (bye-bye, Coq au Vin), makes dairy curdle, overcooks seafood, and doesn't handle cooking meat from frozen very well either.

While Lopez-Alt admits that slow cookers are convenient, he thinks that the practicality offered by a slow cooker is offset by the inferior quality of food that it produces. And if you've got the cash to splash, he suggests a Dutch oven or a pressure cooker might actually do the same job as a slow cooker, but it will yield better results.