Which slow cooker should you buy?
If there’s one thing tailgating parties need, it’s a lot of good food and drinks. This is especially true when there’s a large group of dedicated sports fans surrounding a stadium, but it’s also true for smaller gatherings.
While some people prefer to grill, others bring food they’ve already prepared at home. For many people, a slow cooker is a must-have. Not only do they require minimal effort, but also you don’t have to keep a constant watch on the food you’re preparing.
Benefits of slow cookers
A slow cooker is an electric cooking appliance used to prepare food. Most slow cookers have a low setting and a high setting to cook food. Depending on the setting and the dish, it can take anywhere from four or five hours to more than 12 hours to fully cook something in a slow cooker.
There are several advantages to slow cookers. They are generally safe to use and offer a relatively hands-off cooking experience. Simply put the ingredients in and let the appliance do its thing.
Plus, you can use a slow cooker for virtually any dish, including different meats, vegetables and soups. Since it’s difficult to overcook something in a slow cooker, it is convenient for tailgating and other events where the chef is busy.
Top slow cookers for tailgating
Top slow cooker
What you need to know: With nine functions to choose from, this is a great all-around slow cooker.
What you’ll love: It’s multifunctional as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, steamer, sous vide and more. With an easy-to-read display that includes a full cooking progress bar, there’s minimal guesswork involved with this machine.
What you should consider: It may be necessary to leave food in a little longer than the suggested cooking time.
Top slow cooker for the money
What you need to know: This slow cooker is made for convenience and portability with a spill-proof design.
What you’ll love: Capable of holding 6 quarts, this machine can cook anything you might need for a tailgating party. This programmable slow cooker gives you the option to select the heat setting and cooking time. Then, you can select the second heat setting and cooking time, which automatically shifts to warm once the food is cooked.
What you should consider: The LCD might be difficult to read for some, as the backlight is turned off when setting the cook times and temperature.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Unique and portable, this slow cooker is a great addition to any tailgating — or other outdoor — party.
What you’ll love: The versatile slow cooker has a non-stick interior and a griddle base. Plus, it’s oven-safe. It functions just like any other slow cooker otherwise. It also comes with a thermal carrying case and a travel lid for convenient portability.
What you should consider: The machine is very lightweight and may not feel sturdy while carrying. The lid also doesn’t hold moisture in well.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This small, 1.5-quart slow cooker is perfect for those who want to bring specialty soup, sauce or other meals in miniature to the party.
What you’ll love: Made from stainless steel, this slow cooker has the usual low and high settings. It also has a “keep warm” setting, which is useful for anyone who plans to take it outside with them. The glass lid and the stoneware pot are both dishwasher-safe.
What you should consider: This slow cooker may not be the best option for preparing larger dishes.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This 3-in-1 slow cooker is versatile and useful for everyday use.
What you’ll love: It cokes with several cooking modes, including steam, sauté and slow cook options. Plus, it has an option for cooking recipes with the need for different temperatures. It also has a backlit display for easy readability.
What you should consider: It is easy to overcook some dishes, like pot roast. The nonstick coating starts to flake after a while.
Slow cooker accessories
Although a slow cooker can be great for tailgating, a few things make using it easier.
Carrying bag: If you plan on taking your slow cooker anywhere, you need a high-quality carrying bag. Made from heavy-duty nylon with thick padding for maximum insulation, the Luxja Double Layer Slow Cooker Bag is a great option for transporting your food. It fits 6-quart and 8-quart slow cookers and is highly durable. If you don’t have a carrying bag, consider using a cooler instead.
Mat: Some slow cookers get very hot on the bottom, which makes them unsafe for some surfaces. That’s where a simple silicone mat comes into play. These mats protect surfaces from potential heat damage and are generally easy to clean.
Slow cooker liner: Disposable liners are designed for easy cleanup after using the slow cooker. This makes it convenient if you don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning up after a great tailgating event.
Silicone mitt: A high-quality, heat-resistant oven mitt will protect your hands while transporting your slow cooker from place to place.
Cooking thermometer: If you want to make sure the food is thoroughly cooked for your guests or fellow partiers, a cooking thermometer is a must.
Tips on using a slow cooker for tailgating
Using a slow cooker at a tailgating party is a little different from using it at home. Here are a few ways to improve your experience.
- Hardcore tailgating events can last up to eight hours. If you’re bringing a slow cooker to one of these parties, make sure it’s well insulated so the food inside stays warm as long as possible.
- Once the food is gone, use a nonabrasive cloth to wipe away any remnants from the inside of the pot. This will prevent the food from hardening and make it easier to clean later. Never use anything abrasive since it may wear down the interior of the pot.
- If you’ve prepared a lot of food for tailgating, bring enough storage for any leftovers.
- Pack a few extra things like a heat-resistant mat, cooking utensils and a mitt to make it easier to use the slow cooker and divvy up food.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.