So you leave work late, heading home at some ungodly hour. You walk through the front door and head straight the the fridge. But, let's be real: The last thing you feel like doing at eight o'clock on a workday is cook a meal for one and do the subsequent dishes. Wouldn't it be nice to have a warm meal ready for you? And one that isn't takeout? That's when you need (yes, need) a slow cooker.

This little miracle worker makes meal prep a breeze, easily helping you cook all kinds of recipes, from soups and stews to casseroles and desserts. Think of it as the close cousin to the instant pot, with the main difference being how they cook the food. An instant pot is an electric pressure cooker, utilizing high pressure to cook your food faster. Slow cookers, however, cook your feast for up to 20 hours, resulting in tender dishes packed with flavor. They’re exceptionally good at preparing comfort foods, meaning now’s the time to scoop one up before you hunker down this fall and winter. And, just to make things easier on you, we’ve rounded up the 10 best slow cookers, taking into account their efficiency, durability and how easy they are to clean.

Whether you’re looking for one that offers versatility, a three-pot cooker perfect for parties, or simply your standard, no- fuss, no-frills option, you’ll find it on this list.

Related: The 8 Best Coffee Makers with Grinders for Freshly Made Coffee, Every Time

Amazon

1. Crock Pot Slow Cooker

Best Overall

Featuring a seven-quart pot, this baby can serve up to nine people and is equipped with a keep-warm setting, making this trusty sidekick ideal for your next dinner party. Some of its other features include a locking lid (say goodbye to spills!) that makes transportation worry-free and it’s dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze.

Pros:

  • Easy-locking gasket lid that keeps the contents sealed when you’re on the go

  • The stoneware inside the pot is removable

  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • It doesn’t have an alert to indicate the food is ready

$40; $30 at Amazon

Amazon

2. Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker

Best Tech

This one’s a breeze to use: Dump in your ingredients, select your temp and cook times, and let it do all the work. Once your food is ready, the slow cooker automatically turns on the food- warming feature to help keep things nice and toasty—but not tastebud-scorching. Plus, it comes with a temperature probe that can be inserted through the lid to check on the pot’s internal heat, ensuring dishes are cooked to perfection every time.

Pros:

  • The control panel shows the temperature of the food while it cooks

  • The gasket lid keeps the heat locked in and prevents spills

  • Comes with a temperature probe

  • Easy-to-use digital control panel

Cons:

  • The power cord is a little short

Amazon

3. Black + Decker Slow Cooker

Most Efficient

Offering three different temp settings, this pot will let you create fantastic stews. Featuring a seven-quart bowl, you can easily serve up to nine people—or meal-prep for the week for yourself. Not to mention its teal hue adds a fun pop of color to your kitchen.

Pros:

  • Features a built-in lid holder, which helps save counter space

  • The pot has plastic handles, which are cool to touch for easy handling

  • The stoneware is removable and dishwasher safe, which makes it easy to clean

Cons:

  • The exterior is not sturdy

Amazon

4. Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker

Best for Small Meals

This little guy has a 1.5-quart pot, making it a great choice for those of you that are only cooking for one or two people. (It’s also a great size for keeping dips—like buffalo chicken or spinach artichoke—warm throughout a party.) And, the small size makes storing it super simple, freeing up valuable counter space.

Pros:

  • Perfect for small families thanks to the 1.5-quart capacity

  • Easy to carry, owing to its small size and portability

  • Extremely easy to use with clearly marked labels

Cons:

  • Not so durable

Amazon

5. Breville Pro Slow Cooker

Most Versatile

If you’re looking for a cooker that comes with some fancy add-ons, this is your best bet. The six-quart pot is just the right size for a family of four to six, and it comes with 11 separate pressurized cooking options. We especially love it for taking the guesswork out of cooking different ingredients, thanks to its pre-programmed settings. From broths, vegetables and meat to rice and desserts, it has temperature settings unique for each, guaranteeing they’re cooked to perfection each time.

Pros:

  • 11 pressurized cooking options
  • Pre-programmed cook settings
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Safety lock lid

Cons:

  • Exterior isn’t durable

Amazon

6. KitchenAid 6-Qt. Slow Cooker with Standard Lid

Most Reliable

This sleek pick works just as well as it looks. With multiple temperature settings, a decent-sized pot (six quarts!), dishwasher-safe interior and a durable exterior, this guy is built to last. It may cost a bit more, but you’ll have it for years and years.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Effective temperature controls
  • Automatic self-warming feature

Cons:

  • Takes longer to cool food

Amazon

7. Wolf Gourmet Programmable 6-in-1 Multi Cooker

Splurge-Worthy

This puppy has six intuitive modes, from a slow cook, sous vide and saute to a sear, for tender meat meals and flavor packed stews that are cooked with precision. The sleek, timeless design adds to the overall allure, making this a wonderful investment if you’re an experienced home cook looking for something a bit more complex. And while we know that dropping nearly $700 is a serious investment, if you want a machine that can replace half the gadgets in your pantry, this is it.

Pros:

  • Precision cook settings

  • Meal timer program lets you set the cooking time for exactly when you want it ready

  • Included temperature probe

  • Pretty design

  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Expensive

Amazon

8. Zojirushi Multicooker

Most Versatile

This baby does it all. It sautés, simmers, cooks rice, steam veggies and so, so much more, making it the most versatile cooker on this list. It’s equipped with four different temperature settings, and it even has a dessert setting for days when you’re craving something sweeter.

Pros:

  • A large range of food settings

  • Dishwasher safe

  • Easy-to-use control panel

Cons:

  • Finding the right temp for different meals can be a little tricky

Amazon

9. CusinArt Programmable Slow Cooker

Longest Cook Time Options

With a cook time of up to 24 hours, this cooker from CusinArt allows you to truly slow cook your recipes for meals packed with flavor. Once the cook time is complete, it automatically turns on the self-warming feature and keeps it running for eight hours, so no matter how many errands you get stuck running, you’ll still be coming home to warm food.

Pros:

  • Special simmer cook setting

  • Long-lasting self-warming feature

  • Longest cook time

  • Comes with a cooking rack and a cookbook

Cons:

  • Cooking temperatures can be temperamental

Walmart

10. Bella Triple Slow Cooker

Best for Entertaining

Sometimes one just isn’t enough. If you love to host gatherings with families and friends, always have a potluck to attend or simply like to cook in bulk, you need this triple cooker in your arsenal. With three separate cook pots, you can make up three different recipes in this bad boy, and it’s designed with a handy lid rest and special serving spoons so it’s easy to serve your hungry guests (with minimal mess to boot). And this isn’t made for entree dishes alone. Keep different spreads, dips, even beverages (hot cocoa, we’re looking at you) warm in each pot for a seamless buffet.

Pros:

  • More room for different dishes

  • Convenient lid rest

  • Comes with its own serving spoons

  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Each pot is 2.5 quarts, so dishes cannot be large in quantity

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