We use the terms ‘slow cooker’ and ‘Crock-Pot’ interchangeably, and most of us think they are the same thing. Well, they are not, but this kind of confusion is understandable. Relate able, even.
Both of the appliances mentioned above are used to cook food long and slow by use of moist heat. They are mostly used for the same types of foods, and will have the same results in most cases. They even have very similar parts; a glass lid, heating element and pot.
So yes, we see why you would confuse one for the other!
Here is a simple differentiation;
A slow cooker is a generic market term for a wide range of appliances that cook food slowly over a long time. A Crock-Pot is actually a specific brand of slow cookers that came into the market and went mainstream and somehow defined what slow cookers would look like for generations.
So, Ideally, a Crock-Pot is a slow cooker, but a slow cooker does not have to be a Crock-Pot.
The Crock-Pot made its way into the appliance industry in 1970. It came to the market as a bean cooker but a whole range of redesigning brought about what you see today. Over time, companies started making Crock-Pot-styled slow cookers.
Features of Crock-Pots and Crock-Pot-styled slow cookers:
- Crock-Pot was the name of a specific brand of slow cookers manufactured by Rival. Over time, other brands started making slow cookers with very similar features to Rival’s products.
- Crock-Pots and similarly styled pots, have a porcelain or ceramic pot inside the heating portion. With some, heating starts at the bottom and sides.
- They have two or three heat settings; low, warm and high wattage.
- They cook continuously as long as they have been powered on.
Features of General slow cookers
- These are just generic marketplace slow cookers that are distinct from Crock-Pots and similarly styled appliances. They are not products of a specific brand- they come from a wide range of brands.
- In a good number of slow cookers, there exists a metal pot found at the very top of the heating segment, as opposed to being within a ‘crock’. These pots are heated from the bottom, making for a really slow cooking process. Because heat is highly concentrated at the bottom, you need to stir the pot from time to time. The stirring process requires you to open the lid regularly, so a goodly amount of heat escapes, further slowing down the cooking pace.
- These slow cookers have 5 heat settings, as opposed to the customary maximum of three found in Crock-Pots.
- They cook in cycles, and will go on and off repeatedly over the course of the heating process. Some of them have timers.
What really confuses most consumers is that there are a lot of appliances marketed as general slow cookers but have many similarities to Crock-Pots. If you are trying to buy any of the two, understand their features so that you don’t end up buying one thinking it’s the other.