When it comes to small kitchen appliances, can you guess what the best-selling one is? It's slow cookers.
Consumer Reports tested 15. They hold six to seven quarts and the slow cookers are something of a one-step operation. You put all your ingredients in the cooker and it cooks by itself for hours on the kitchen counter top.
Testers prepared various recipes, including beef stew, pulled pork, and apple brown Betty for dessert.
They evaluated how long it took to reach the correct cooking temperature and how good the food tasted.
"They all produced food that was tasty and had nice textures." said Consumer Reports Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman. "The real differences were in how convenient they were to use."
Cookers with electronic controls automatically switch to "warm" when cooking is done, a nice feature. But with four, you have to switch the button to "warm" yourself.
"Also think about the finishes. Stainless steel looks nice and shiny when you first buy it, but it's going to be a a little harder to clean," said Kuperszmid-Lehrman.
Oven-safe pots that can be put in the oven for quick reheating are a plus.
And a locking lid helps keep food from spilling-handy if you're going to a potluck dinner.
The Hamilton Beach Set' N Forget 33967 has both these features, as well as electronic controls, and costs just $70.
"If you want to save a little money and are willing to lose some features like the locking lid, the Rival Crock-Pot is a good choice at $50," said Kuperszmid-Lehrman.
Another handy feature to look for in a slow cooker is an attached, hinged lid. That way you don't have to set the lid down on the counter when you mix or serve food.