My friend Jenner dropped by last week to ask for advice on what crockpot sizes she should get for her mum’s new kitchen. Turns out, I was as clueless as she was. There are many options to choose from in the market, and deciding on which one to buy can be overwhelming. I have put together a comprehensive guide to help you make the right choice when shopping for your crockpots.
Difference between a crockpot and a slow cooker
Many people usually confuse a crockpot for a slow cooker and vice versa. Well, a crockpot is considered as a type of slow cooker. However, not all slow cookers qualify to be called crockpots.
The main difference between the two is that crockpots usually have a thick ceramic insert that prevents heat from reaching the food directly. They also have heating elements on all sides, allowing for better heat distribution. The heat settings in crockpots feature a high, low, and keep warm adjustment to help you attain your required temperatures with ease. Newer models have timers that switch the appliance off once your cooking time has elapsed. This is quite convenient, especially if you have other chores to attend to.
Depending on what brand you are looking for, you might find very little difference between the two. Slow cookers come in different styles, including pots that sit on top of heating plates. Unlike crockpots, using slow cookers will require you to stir your dishes regularly to avoid sticking to the bottom because they feature only a heating element at the bottom.
What sizes do crock pots come in?
While shopping for crockpots, you need to pick the right size depending on different factors, such as the number of people you are going to cook for. Crockpot sizes are as below;
- One to two Quarts Crock Pot
This is an ideal crockpot size if you live alone. It is the smallest of all, and perfect for a single serving of food. The pot might also come in handy if you want to prepare some dips.
- Three to Four Quarts Crock Pot
If you have a small family, then this pot size is perfect for you. You can use it to prepare desserts and casseroles. It can also serve as a second crockpot to prepare side dishes.
- Five to six Quarts crockpot
This is a perfect choice if you have a large family. Its capacity allows you to cook food for up to five people. It is ideal for soups, stews, and desserts. Most people would prefer to use this as the main pot, and the three to four quarts one as a second pot.
- Seven to ten Quarts Crockpot
If you are having a few friends coming over for your toddler’s birthday party, or are hosting your family members for this year’s Thanksgiving, then this is the right pot size to use. Ten quarts is the biggest pot size in the market currently, holding more than 10 lbs. of meat.
How do you know what size your crockpot is?
Small crockpots tend to be deep and narrow, while large ones are wider and rounder. Use a measuring cup to determine how many quarts your pot is. If it takes four cups to fill it to the rim, then it should be one quart. Eight cups make two quarts and so on.
Does size matter when shopping for crockpots?
Yes! Size is paramount when looking for an ideal crockpot. Before settling for one, you need to know how many people you intend to feed with it. For instance, using a large pot for cooking small amounts of food might not be effective. Crockpots work best when they are about three-quarters full. Also, most crockpot recipes are meant for average-sized ones, about six quarts. For your first pot, consider getting an average-sized one since you can work with it in almost all meals.
What other factors should you consider when buying crockpots?
- Crock Material
Crocks come in different materials such as ceramic, porcelain, and metal. Some cookers have their crock and heating unit joined together while others have removable crocks that facilitate easy cleaning. It is all up to you to determine which one you would prefer.
- Lid Material
Some pots come with glass lids that enable you to see its contents and avoid opening it from time to time. Others come in opaque versions. I would prefer the glass one so as to monitor my cooking without opening the lid.
- Timer Function
This feature allows you to pre-set your cooking time. It comes in handy when you have other things to do. In fact, you can leave your food cooking at home and go about your daily activities without having to worry about them burning or overcooking.
- Warming Function
Most pots come with high and low-temperature settings. Some come with a warming function that keeps your food warm once the timer goes off. If you are planning to hold a party or are usually late for your meals, slow cookers with this feature can serve you right.
What are the benefits of using a Crockpot?
If you are reading this and are contemplating whether to get a crockpot, you need to know why slow cooking is the best.
First, it is the best shot you have at tenderizing tough meat that is hard to cook. You can throw in all your ingredients and have your dish ready within a few hours. Second, cooking at lower temperatures gives your food a better flavor and locks in all the nutrients. You can also have the food cook overnight and wake up to a ready dish. Lastly, they are easier to clean and maintain.
A kitchen is the heart of every household. It is, therefore, vital for you to get the best kitchenware that will have you wanting to cook from time to time. Crockpots are a must-have since they are quite efficient and easy to use. They also have exciting features that you can utilize to maximize your cooking experience.