A crockpot and a slow cooker perform the same function, yet there are differences. Using electricity and moist heat, they are both excellent for stewing tough meat until tender. They also marry flavors more deeply than short-term stovetop cooking. Both can be left cooking all day while the cook is away at work.
A crockpot is a type of slow cooker, but not all slow cookers are crockpots. A crockpot is a type of slow cooker with a stoneware pot that sits inside a surrounding heating element. A slow cooker is a pot, usually made of metal, which sits atop a heating surface. With this type of slow cooker, sometimes the pot can be removed and the heating surface itself used to fry foods.
Crockpots and slow cookers both have three parts--a pot, a lid, and a heating element. However, a crockpot has only two cook settings, “Low” and “High.” There may also be a “Keep Warm” setting to allow the pot to warm before serving. The temperature at these settings remains constant. The heating element on a slow cooker usually cycles on and off.
Crockpots and slow cookers come in various sizes to suit family size and specific purposes. However, crockpots are generally heavier than metal slow cookers, and may be more difficult to manipulate when washing. Since crockpots are made of stoneware, they also break more easily when dropped. Since slow cookers sit atop a heating element that cycles on and off, it’s possible for food to be scorched when using a slow cooker. Slow cooker recipes often say to brown meat before adding to the slow cooker, but this usually isn’t necessary, though it gives meat a nice color. If you add butter and paprika to chicken before putting it in the slow cooker, a brown color is created while cooking. Flour meat before adding to a slow cooker to keep it moist and thicken sauce. Don’t lift lid while cooking, or the food will take longer to cook.
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Lisa Weinstein is an award-winning, California-based journalist specializing in education. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications. She holds a California English teaching credential and uses her classroom experience to add depth to her writing.