At a time when "set it and forget it" appliances are more popular than ever, it's safe to assume almost everyone owns either a Crock-Pot, slow cooker or an Instant Pot. But while the terms slow cooker and Crock-Pot are often used interchangeably, there are actually differences between the two.
In the simplest terms, a Crock-Pot is a type of slow cooker; however, not every slow cooker is a Crock-Pot.
Crock-Pot is the name of a brand that first came on the market in the 1970s. It has a stoneware pot that is surrounded by a heating element, whereas a slow cooker is typically a metal pot that sits on top of a heated surface. The term slow cooker is not a brand but rather refers to the type of appliance. There are many other brands that manufacture slow cookers, such as KitchenAid and Cuisinart.
The most basic Crock-Pots have two settings, low and high, but models have advanced over the years and now come with new digital timers and special products, like this smart Crock-Pot that can be controlled from your phone. Other slow cooker models have also advanced, like this Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System that steams, sears, sautés and slow-cooks.
Both appliances use moist heat to cook food over an extended period of time and look similar with their pots, lids and heating elements. Slow cookers are perfect for tenderizing tough meat and making flavorful dips and easy weeknight dinners.
Not all slow cookers are created equal, so it's critical to pay attention to the cooking times and heating instructions for each machine. There's nothing worse than overcooked cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning.
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