Choosing Best Slow Cooker With Ceramic Insert vs Metal Option

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Looking for a slow cooker for your kitchen and wanting a programmable one that’s safe? There are so many on the market. Some are multi – cookers with many cooking modes including a pressure cooker function, and then there’s the different inserts. Let’s have a look at the designs with ceramic inner pots as well as those with metal inserts. 

list of pros and cons of slow cooker ceramic inserts vs metal ones
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When it comes to convenience and simplicity in the kitchen, slow cookers have revolutionized meal preparation. Nothing beats the convenience of coming home to a ready-made nutritious meal at the end of a busy day.

The automatic ‘set and forget’ types offer this. Units with an automatic keep warm setting have meals maintained at the right temperature until ready to serve and a slow cooker is not just about cooking stews. There’s a multitude of easy slow cooker recipes available on the web involving various cuts of meat and vegetables to keep family meals interesting. 

Read on or go straight to our picks!

Stainless steel vs ceramic vs aluminum insert

Slow cookers have an outer shell with a heating element in the base, above which sits an inner pot made of stainless steel, ceramic, or aluminum. The slow cookers and multi-cookers with metal pots are popular right now. Manufacturers realize that folk prefer easy clean-up and so market slow cookers with nonstick metal pots.

As with any type of kitchen appliance or cookware you purchase, it’s important to know that the unit that slow cooks meals over an extended time is safe. Most folk don’t want potentially harmful chemicals leaching into their food.

Aluminum nonstick inserts of small appliances

Most aluminum inserts have a coating of Teflon and some have ceramic nonstick. You might enjoy home-cooked meals in a slow cooker but find the clean up a drag. The advantage of nonstick pot inserts is an inferred easier clean up.

The downside: Both Teflon and nonstick ceramic coating deteriorate over time with use resulting in the aluminum base coming in contact with the food you are cooking in this kitchen appliance. I wrote about the potential concerns with aluminum in my article on cookware materials and their safety.

When you purchase a slow cooker with a coated aluminum cooking pan, you can almost guarantee that you’ll be looking to replace it within a year or two, depending on the amount of cooking you do.

The good thing is that since 2012, regulations require all nonstick cookware sold in the US to be free of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). And though Teflon pans used on very high heat does have safety issues around the harm of the fumes for birds and being linked to flu-like symptoms in humans (I share more details in my article on ceramic vs Teflon), the temperature of heat settings used in a slow cooker is not likely to reach these concern levels.

Aroma Housewares ARC-1120SBL SmartCarb Cool-Touch Stainless Steel Rice Multicooker Food Steamer, Slow Cooker with Non-Stick Inner Pot and Steam Tray, 20-Cup(cooked)/ 5Qt, Black

Opting for a slow cooker with stainless steel pot

Stainless steel is a durable option. An inner pot of stainless steel contains chromium and nickel. A 2013 study found certain grades of stainless steel react with acidic tomato sauce and significantly increase the levels of nickel in the food, which is a concern for those with nickel sensitivities for whom nickel-free stainless steel cookware is a viable option.

Meanwhile, a 2017 study found food-grade 18/10 stainless steel is safe in that the amounts of nickel and chromium released “were below known allergy-triggering thresholds”. The 18/10 ratio refers to the amount of chromium and nickel, respectively. You can read more about this in my review of Made In stainless steel range.

One downside is that the metal surface is prone to scratches from the use of metal spoons or knives. Also, stainless steel can discolor, but if it does, you can easily remedy the problem.

Choosing a ceramic inner pot

Ceramic inserts of slow cookers are typically 100% ceramic and non-toxic. Think of the original crock-pot. The glazing of the ceramic means it will withstand scratching. In this respect, ceramic is the most durable and long-lasting. Those sold in the US have lead-free glazes, required as part of the FDA approval, meaning there’s no added coating that might pose a risk to you or your family.

Ceramic does not react with acidic foods such as tomatoes and you can store the leftover food in the ceramic pot covered with the glass lid in the refrigerator without having to worry about the flavor being tainted by a metal container. And, the glazed ceramic surface makes them not only easy to clean but also appealing for table serving.

Downsides: Ceramic pots are not as lightweight as the metal ones. Extreme thermal shock and accidentally dropping the insert can damage ceramic pots beyond use.

Elite Gourmet MST-250XW# Electric Slow Cooker Ceramic Pot, with Adjustable Temp, Entrees, Sauces, Soups, Roasts, Stews & Dips, Dishwasher Safe (1.5 Quart, White)

To make clean-up a breeze, plastic liners for slow cookers are also an option — see my article covering their pros and cons (and alternatives).

Programmable picks — popular Top-rated slow cookers with ceramic pot

If you choose to go with ceramic, you should get all the benefits and ease of any top-of-the-line cooking appliance without the range of drawbacks (including toxicity and health risks).

If you are looking for a ceramic-insert slow cooker (AKA crock pot with ceramic insert), check out the All Clad brand. The Hamilton Beach slow cookers are also popular, at a much cheaper price.

All Clad slow cooker with ceramic insert

The All-Clad slow cooker with stainless steel exterior and glass lid…

All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker with Black Ceramic Insert and Glass Lid, 6.5-Quart, Silver
All-Clad Programmable 6.5-Quart

Available at Amazon

This 6.5-quart programmable slow cooker with glass lid allows you to prepare meals for up to five people.

You can set it for an extra long cook time. The slow cooking times range from 4 to 20 hours, meaning you can prepare that perfect meal beforehand and have the food warm and ready when you need it. An automatic 6 hours keep warm setting is part of this offering.

And the ceramic cooking insert is dishwasher safe. This means easy clean-up for you once you’ve finished your meal – just what you want after your long active day.

You can get this slow cooker with ceramic insert at Amazon — see details.

What to watch: Glass lid steel handle attached with rivets gets hot to touch. Make sure to use pot holder, especially after several hours of use. More expensive than others.

What to like: No plastic or aluminum parts that might contact food with this cooker; the automatic switching to keep warm is a definite selling point.

Hamilton Beach stoneware slow cooker

This forget and set slow cooker by Hamilton Beach with ceramic inner pot comes with a temperature probe. You can use the probe to display the precise temperature and know whether it matches the slow cooker recipes.

This Hamilton Beach cooker will accommodate a 6 lb chicken or 4 lb meat roast. It has three cooking modes: high, low, and warm.

Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker with Lid Lock, Temperature Probe, Stainless Steel
Hamilton Beach 6 Qt

Available at Amazon

The appliance is programmable in terms of cooking time, which you can also manually control. The glass lid clips into place, making it superb for taking to parties without spillage.

The Hamilton Beach company started in 1910 with the inventor and founder, Frederick J. Osius, naming the company after two prominent workers, Louis Hamilton and Chester Beach.

What to watch: Digital display could be brighter; don’t clasp the lid with the latches while cooking.

What to like: The temperature probe and temperature displayed on the LCD panel; the lid clasp idea for portability.

Cheaper slow cooker by Hamilton Beach

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a larger crock pot, this 10 quart Hamilton Beach is an economical buy…

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, Extra Large 10 Quart, Stay or Go Portable With Lid Lock, Dishwasher Safe Crock, Black (33195)
Hamilton Beach 10 Qt

Available at Amazon

Check out the latest price and reviews by verified owners at Amazon — see details.

Or shop direct at Hamilton Beach.

Final thoughts

Why buy a slow cooker with a metal insert when you can buy one with a ceramic pot? Why choose a ceramic inner pot?

There’s no denying that having to replace kitchen appliances on a regular basis is expensive. Because the glazed ceramic pots have a durable surface, your investment in this type of slow cooker will last you for years to come.

You can take advantage of ceramic’s natural durability and resilience.

Make sure that you take the time to really look at all the options out there so you can be sure that you find a slow cooker that you’ll love to use whenever you can.

Sources

All Clad Warranty | 2013 Study: Stainless Steel Releasing Ni & Cr | 2017 Study: 18/10 Stainless Steel

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