Crock Pot is a type of slow cooker and is the generic name used to denote all slow cookers, more or less, due to the popularity of the brand.
Slow cookers were originally invented by a man named Irving Naxon. He was inspired by the cooking in his Jewish heritage, which included slowly cooking dishes for hours on end, or even all day.
In the past, if a dish took the majority of a day to cook, someone would have to monitor the cooking for the entire period. It’s safe to assume that sounds pretty inconvenient.
The slow cooker was created to slowly simmer dishes at a lower temperature than roasting or baking a meal. This allows whoever is cooking to leave the slow cooker for long periods of time without having to monitor the process.
Invented in the 1950s, the slow cooker was a revolutionary kitchen accessory, allowing whoever normally cooked dinner to attend to other parts of their day.
A slow cooker could be left untouched anywhere from four to eight hours of the day. Families could place their ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning and have it ready to eat by dinnertime, once everyone came home.
The slow cooker was originally called the “Simmer Crock”, but Naxon’s idea was bought out by The Rival Company, which reintroduced the product as the more commonly known Crock Pot in 1971.
By the 1970s, women were beginning to work outside of the home, so the Crock Pot became a staple in practically every home. The Crock-Pot, or slow cooker, has completely revolutionized everyday cooking, as it’s still an item regularly used in kitchens today.
What is a Crock Pot?
Crock Pots are incredibly versatile, and, if you were inclined, you could probably use a Crock Pot for every meal.
They can be used for breakfast oatmeal and grits, making appetizers (like roasted potatoes or dips), and side dishes, such as cooked vegetables and rice.
Crock Pots are also great for main courses, like pot roasts and stews. Soups and sauces are popular dishes that can be slow-cooked in a Crock Pot.
In fact, the Crock Pot website even has recipes for desserts, like brownies, jams, and cake. You’ll find countless recipe blogs and websites dedicated to only slow cooker meals.
Family Fresh Meals has compiled a list of Crock Pot ideas, and the ideas never end on Pinterest. It’s safe to say that if you can roast, bake or stew it, you can probably slow-cook it in a Crock Pot.
Is there a difference between a Crock Pot and a slow cooker?
Although there are different brands of slow cookers, why is the Crock Pot the go-to brand of choice?
There aren’t too many differences between Crock Pots and other slow cookers, but they vary between materials used, heat settings, how they’re heated and the overall quality.
Since Crock Pot is the oldest brand available on the market, the Crock Pot company has been ahead of the game, and they’ve created multiple types of slow cookers with different features for unique cooking needs.
It’s likely that this is why Crock Pot is the brand most consumers are accustomed to.
What Type of Crock Pot Should I Choose?
There are several types and brands of slow cookers. While there are not too many differences, they do vary in style and convenience catered to the buyer:
This is obviously the most popular and recommended brand. Crock Pot offers a lot of options, from small slow cookers for single dishes to large, catering-sized slow cookers for casseroles or large meals. The brand also makes slow cookers that can be carried and transferred with food inside of them.
On the cheaper end, there are multiple types of manual slow cookers available that simply have a dial you turn to control heat and time. On the more expensive side of the scale, Crock Pot offers slow cookers that are programmable for specific meals and dishes, which will cook your specific food more accurately.
Cuisinart is one of the next popular kitchen appliance brand names.
While Cuisinart doesn’t sell as much of a variety of slow cookers as Crock Pot does, the brand name is still trustworthy and is popular in many households.
Cuisinart offers two types of 3-in-1 cookers, a 3.5-quart slow cooker, a 6.5-quart slow cooker, and a small pressure cooker.
Frigidaire is also a popular brand name for slow cookers. Although the company focuses more on larger kitchen appliances, like refrigerators and dishwashers, the company is known for its high-end stainless steel products.
Frigidaire offers a 7-quart slow cooker in both manual and programmable options. The company also sells a rice cooker.
Of course, there are many kitchen appliance brands that sell slow cookers, and you will have to decide between what price range and quality you’re looking for.
You also need to decide on what type of slow cooker you want to purchase. You can pick from various quart-sized options, depending on how large your family is. You can also choose if you’d like a slow cooker with manual or programmable settings. Are you catering and event? You can purchase large crock pots intended to heat party sized-dishes.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Crock Pot?
There are plenty of pros to purchasing a Crock Pot or other slow cooker. Crock Pots make cooking slow-cooked meals much more convenient than they would have been 50 years ago. They’re generally easy to clean and store. Plus, there are so many options, that you don’t have to shell out $100 to have a quality slow cooker.
Although there are not many cons, many avid slow-cooker users suggest double-checking the recipe you’re using so you’re fully aware of how a Crock Pot will affect flavor. Sometimes, overcooking a meal in a Crock Pot can muddle tastes. There are also toxin-related health concerns which you can safely avoid if you don't use a cracked slow cooker.
Making an investment, big or small, in a Crock Pot will likely only benefit you. You don’t have to use it for every meal, but you can’t beat the convenience a Crock Pot offers.