There are many good reasons to love slow cooking. It allows meats to be tenderer and foods to have even richer flavors. Not to mention the convenience of unattended cooking. However, what is actually the difference between slow cooker vs crock pot? Although the two terms are often interchangeable, they are not always the same.
Continue reading below to understand better about:
– What are slow cookers and crock pots,
– The distinctive features of a slow cooker vs crock pot,
– The pros and cons of slow cookers and crock pots, and
– Which one that is best for the money.
What is Slow Cooking?
Slow cooking is a cooking method in which the food is simmered at a relatively lower temperature (compared to other cooking methods such as boiling and frying) over a longer period of time. Slow cooking is great because it allows heat to be distributed more evenly across the food. It can bring sufficient heat to the inside before the outside is fully cooked, which is often the case with boiling and frying. See also: Pressure Cooker vs Crock Pot.
As the effect, slow cooking often delivers impressive cooking results. Foods that are usually hard or tough, such as meats and some beans, can be softened and made tenderer by slow cooking. It is also able to extract more flavors from the spices and herbs and make the flavors blend better.
Modern slow cooking devices mostly operate using electricity. They take much longer to cook, usually several hours. However, most if not all models nowadays have mechanisms that allow them to switch from the cooking mode to the warming mode automatically. This allows for unattended cooking. Once you have turned on the slow cooking device, you can just leave it while you are doing other things.
That is why slow cooking devices are so popular. You can start cooking at night before going to sleep, and have your food ready for breakfast. Or, you can start cooking in the morning before going to work, and have your food ready by the time you arrive at home. So convenient.
What’s with “Slow Cooker” and “Crock Pot”?
The formal way to refer to an electrical cooking device for slow cooking is, obviously, “slow cooker”. However, one trademarked brand from Sunbeam Products has become extremely popular, which is the crock pot. It is a line of slow cooking devices with a variety of models.
Due to the immense popularity, the term “crock pots” has been used synonymously with slow cookers by a lot of people around the world, especially in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. So, depending on the context, crock pots may refer to the actual models of the trademarked brand or just slow cookers in general.
Then again, crock pots are not the same as regular slow cookers. After all, these models from Sunbeam Products have become so popular because they have distinctive advantages over other models. There are several distinctive features that set crock pots apart from regular slow cookers.
Features and Benefits of a Crock Pot
First of all, the most important feature of a crock pot vs slow cooker is that it has heating elements placed on the bottom as well as on the sides. This allows heat to be distributed properly and at a good pace. In addition, a crock pot always comes with a thick ceramic insert that helps to control the heat distribution. The ceramic prevents excessive heat from coming into direct contact with the food.
Although slow cooking uses a relatively lower temperature than boiling and frying, the temperature should not be too low. Otherwise, there won’t be enough heat to kill the germs and bacteria that may be carried by the food. Crock pots ensure safe cooking by working in a temperature range between 170 degrees F and 280 degrees F. It can bring enough heat to surround the food.
Thanks to the sophisticated design, crock pots can excel in tenderizing pot roasts and thicker meats. It may also be used to cook soups, stews, and even some desserts, dips, cocoa, and bread. The cooking performance is very good that it can also extract and blend flavors very well. You can find the available models on Crock Pot’s website.
Disadvantages of a Crock Pot
Perhaps the only disadvantage of a crock pot is that it is relatively more expensive than some other slow cookers. This may be a bad thing for someone who wants to save some bucks. However, you should not forget that slow cookers consume very low electricity, so you can save some money from your electricity bills in the long run.
Features and Benefits of Other Slow Cookers
Unlike crock pots, other slow cookers don’t always come with heating elements on the sides. A regular slow cooker may have only one heating element at the bottom. It uses a hot plate to distribute the heat.
The benefit is that these slow cookers can also use a variety of heating elements, such as a griddle or even a stovetop. You can say that these models are more versatile with the heating. They are suitable for cooking soups and stews with small meat pieces.
Disadvantages of Other Slow Cookers
There are several disadvantages for regular slow cookers. First of all, due to the fewer heating elements, it takes even much longer to cook. This may have more effects than just a lengthened cooking time. The low temperature makes the cooking process even slower, and it may not be able to cook larger pieces of meat quickly enough before the spoiling progress takes place. So, it is only suitable for cooking small meat pieces.
The same thing becomes the reason why these slow cookers are only suitable for soups and stews. They are not suitable for other types of dishes due to the lower temperature and even slower cooking.
Slow Cooker vs Crock Pot
|Slow Cooker||Crock Pot|
|- Don’t always have heating elements on the sides||- Heating elements on the bottom and sides|
|- Delivers heat more slowly||- Delivers heat at a good pace|
|- Not suitable for cooking large meats||- Great for cooking large meats and make them tenderer|
|- Only suitable for soups and stews and small meat pieces||- Suitable for soups, stews, pot roasts, desserts, dips, cocoa, bread|
So, between slow cooker vs crock pot, we recommend you to choose a crock pot. It has heating elements on the bottom and sides, so it can bring enough heat to kill germs and bacteria safely. It is great for cooking meats and making them tenderer. It is also suitable for a wide range of dishes.