A ceramic pot is non-toxic, durable, and serves multiple purposes. A slow cooker with stainless steel insert or one with a nonstick bowl, on the other hand, is a popular choice right now. Here I look at the pros and cons in choosing the best slow cooker with ceramic pot vs a metal pot option.
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 hearty meal at the end of a busy day.
The automatic ‘set and forget’ slow cooker units offer people just this — a delicious, healthy meal without a huge amount of time and presence spent in the kitchen.
Why buy a slow cooker with a metal insert when you can buy one with a ceramic pot? Why choose a ceramic inner pot?
(I wrote about the different materials in what to know about these when choosing the cookware. I also share more details in my article on ceramic vs Teflon.)
Stainless steel vs ceramic vs aluminum insert slow cooker
Slow cookers have become a staple appliance in almost every home across the country. They feature either stainless steel, ceramic, or aluminum pot inserts.
Manufacturers have also realized people prefer easy clean-up and so evolved the slow cookers with nonstick pots.
The healthiest slow cooker
Choosing the best crock pot for you and your family could mean opting for one that gives you the healthiest outcome overall.
As with any type of cookware you purchase, making sure that the product you buy is safe to use is a priority. You don’t want potentially harmful chemicals leaching into your food or released into the environment.
Stainless steel insert
Stainless steel is known to leach chromium and nickel, especially in the cooking of acidic foods. A 2013 study found certain grades of stainless steel reacted with acidic tomato sauce and significantly increased the levels of nickel in the food. This has concern for those with nickel sensitivities.
For this reason, make sure the stainless steel is of high quality.
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. The chromium gives the product the rust-resistant quality and nickel gives it shine with added rust-resistance. You can read more about this in my review of Made In stainless steel range.
Crock pot with ceramic insert
Ceramic does not react with acidic foods such as tomatoes. Ceramic inserts of slow cookers are typically 100% ceramic and non-toxic. Those sold in the US have lead-free glazes, required as part of the FDA approval.
They are easy to clean and keep presentable for tabletop serving — see my full guide on cleaning a crock pot inside and out and top to bottom.
Aluminum nonstick inserts
Because most people enjoy home-cooked meals in a slow cooker but find the clean up a drag, nonstick pot inserts have advantages.
The toxin concerns with nonstick coating link back to the earlier nonstick cookware of the Teflon type containing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Since 2012, all nonstick cookware sold in the US is PFOA-free. Using Teflon pans over high heat does have some safety issues, however, as the high heat fumes are harmful to birds and linked to flu-like symptoms in humans.
Slow cookers typically do not use such high heat and so this concern with nonstick pots appears irrelevant.
The thing with nonstick pots is that the coating will wear with use and expose the aluminum base, with the possibility of aluminum entering your food. I cover aluminum contact with food in my article on cookware materials and their safety.
Versatile, multiple uses
Choosing a slow cooker with a ceramic insert allows you to serve the meal at the table from the ceramic pot, which is more appealing than a metal insert.
You can also easily 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.
Non-stick – easy cleanup
A nonstick quality provides an easy clean-up and helps with proper hygiene. This means the next time you use the slow cooker you are not contaminating the contents with any buildup or residue.
Ceramic is a material that when appropriately glazed to food-grade standard is naturally non-stick and non-toxic. This means that there is no additional coating that could potentially pose a risk to you and your family.
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).
Durable and long-lasting
A pot without scratches is best for hygiene.
The glazing of the ceramic means it will withstand scratching. In this respect, ceramic is the most durable and long-lasting.
With most all-metal cooking options, the surface or surface coating is prone to scratches from the use of metal spoons or knives.
No matter what kind of meal you decide to test out in your slow cooker, you can rest assured that the ceramic will work perfectly for years to come.
Affordable and reliable
There’s no denying that having to replace cooking appliances on a regular basis is expensive.
Because ceramic is durable and damage-resistant, your investment in a slow cooker with a ceramic insert will last you for years to come.
When you purchase one with a standard aluminum cooking pan, you can almost guarantee that you’ll be buying a new one within a year or two, depending on the amount of cooking you do.
This simply isn’t the case with a ceramic slow cooker, which you’ll use for decades.
Having to constantly purchase new cookware affects your budget.
Best slow cooker with ceramic insert
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 SD710851 All-Clad slow cooker…
This stainless steel 4-quart programmable slow cooker with glass lid allows you to prepare meals for up to five people.
It has four- to twenty-hour cooking times, meaning you can prepare that perfect meal beforehand and have it ready when you need it.
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 day at work.
You can get this slow cooker with ceramic insert at Amazon — see details.
Hamilton Beach stoneware slow cooker
If you are looking for a large crock pot, this 10 quart is an economical buy…
Check out the latest price and reviews by verified owners at Amazon — see details.
Ceramic-based slow cookers are a great option for busy home cooks who are looking for a safe and reliable option that they’ll be able to turn to for years.
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.
Rest assured that you’ll have easy, delicious, and safe meals for yourself and your family in no time.