I Hate Crock-Pots

Slow cookers are stupid. They just are.

For starters, they are slow! Instead of having food read in 20 minutes to an hour, you get to wait all day for it!

There are a few foods, such as chili, where it makes sense to cook it all day so that the flavors can blend. But it still will not taste very good if you just dump the ingredients in the crock-pot and leave it. Either you do so and have a bland meal, or you sauté the onions etc. separately and then end up with yet more dirty dishes.

Which brings me to the fact that crock-pots are a pain to clean. You typically have to wipe down the outside as well as wash the inside. And, unless it is too small to be of much use, it probably does not fit in the dish washer. So now you have two extra pieces to wash, and both must be cleaned by hand.

And yet crock-pots make people unreasonably excited at the prospect of less food preparation work. So excited that they do not stop to think about whether it really makes any sense to use a slow cooker for any given recipe (which, of course, it never does). So then, instead of making soup, stew, or a pot roast, they use the crock-pot to make apple not-crisp or pumpkin bread! Because it is such a pain to grease a bread pan and cook the bread for 1 hour and 15 minutes, let’s grease a jar instead and wait 3 hours for the bread! So much easier! Or not.

Given my very good reasons for not liking crock-pots, you might wonder why exactly I bought one last week.

I would like to simply say that it was a really, really good price. But that is not a very good explanation since you know that my parents taught me that “it does not matter how cheap it is. If you don’t need it, it is not a good deal!”

The thing is… my otherwise brilliant husband likes slow cookers. He thinks that they are wonderful. You toss in a few ingredients, ignore it all day, and supper is miraculously ready without any effort!

Now, I know that the real reason for his unreasonably rosy view of crock-pots is that his family always uses one for “noel nibblers” aka delicious sausage mess that is always kept warm during the holidays so that hungry folk do not need to complain about dinner being 3 hours late. Clearly Josh subconsciously associates crock-pots with meat, or at least happy holidays and thus likes them for emotional rather than rational reasons.

Whenever Josh brought up the idea of getting a slow cooker I would point out all the reasons they are not-so-great. And then I would suggest some other very useful kitchen gadget that I would prefer. Like a waffle maker. Who wants a crock-pot when you could spend the money on a waffle-maker instead? Even Josh would not suggest making waffles in a crock-pot!

But then I started a new job. Now being gone from home for “half the day” means 12 hours rather than 6. So Josh, who works from home, started taking over most of the cooking.

So when I saw the crock-pot on sale I picked-it up quickly as if it were something of value that someone else might want. Because who cares if it is inefficient and makes gross food? My husband is the one doing the cooking, and he likes it!

If you think that I am all wrong and just never encountered the perfect crock-pot foods, please share recipes!

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35 thoughts on “I Hate Crock-Pots

  1. Christine

    I do agree with you that many of the meals slow cookers make can be very bland. To me, the flavours just disappear as they get cooked, which is quite disappointing.

    I do like them for things like stew or chili as I am too worried about house fires to leave a pot on the stove all day while I am gone. They’re also good because you get lots of leftovers, which means that you don’t have to make lunch for the next few days.

    1. Rae Post author

      I guess that the extra meals do help make up for having the extra dishes to wash! And I agree with you about not leaving a pot on the stove while I’m gone. But if it is hot enough I don’t worry about turning it off for an hour and then back on for a few more hours when I return.

  2. Natalie

    Allow me to say a few things in defense of the humble crockpot…

    A chicken cooked slowly and gently all day in the crock pot is tender, moist, and easy.
    Roasts do very well in the crock pot as well.
    You can make your own highly nutritious chicken broth easily with leftover chicken bone.

    All that said, I did not truly fall in love with my crock pot until I had two small children. At that point, the amount of prep time is important, but the ability to do it all before they get up, or at nap time, and not worry about having to pull something out of the oven because it’s time (but you’re in the middle of dealing with a diaper disaster), or not hearing the timer and ending up with a dry chicken or roast, is priceless. :)

  3. Dawn Farias

    “it does not matter how cheap it is. If you don’t need it, it is not a good deal!””

    I am all over this! I once had a telemarketer hang up on ME when I kept trying to explain this to him. It’s also why I’m not a coupon clipper.

    I agree with the previous poster about roasts and meats being good candidates for the slow cooker. And I highly agree with you about the food being bland unless you saute things first and such. I am always annoyed at slow cooker cookbooks that have you doing as much work as you would if you were cooking on the stove. Just cook it on the stove already!

  4. Spuds

    I’m so glad I’m not the only person who doesn’t like Crock Pots, yet, for some reason still owns one. I don’t like the way things get all mushy in it. I will cook things in my outside brick oven with a Dutch Oven, but I think I have only tried using the Crock Pot once and the carrots and potatoes turned out like semi-solid goo. I will raise my fist in the air as a sign of solidarity with you on this one.

  5. That Married Couple

    Oh dear, Rae, I am sorry to say that your husband is very right and you are very wrong on this one! :) I was so astonished when I started reading this post that I thought it was going to be a joke at first! I LOVE crock-pot meals. As other people pointed out, they make such good moist meat (and you can buy cheaper cuts of meat since you’ll cook them for long enough to make them nice and tender), and as you pointed out they’re really handy for appetizers. All that said, I agree that they do not make good desserts at all.

    Being able to prep ahead of time is also so handy. Knowing that I can start dinner early is especially good if I’ll be busy running errands until suppertime. I haven’t found that it’s more dishes, but I never wash the actual heating unit – just the inside pot, which washes remarkably easy for having hot food in it for eight hours. Also, do you think it is more energy efficient? I honestly have no idea on that one, just a thought. It’s nice to be able to use that instead of heating up the oven (and therefore the house) in the summer.

    Finally, it is so nice to walk in to a house that smells like a homecooked meal! I think the best things to cook in it are bbq pulled pork, roast chicken, and stews. (But now that I’m thinking about it, are you a vegetarian? In that case, I agree that it wouldn’t do you much good to have one.)

  6. Trena

    You are so wrong! :) I actually used my crockpot today to make chilli cheese dip (velvetta cheese and Hormel chilli-without beans.) It only takes about 30 minutes to mix and be ready for dipping. Great football treat.

    On the cleaning aspect, it is a pain. You can line it with a plastic bag though (you can buy special kinds but it might work to just use a grocery bag, not sure) or do what I do-you cook and your honey cleans. :)

    As for receipes, I use this website: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
    On the sidebar you can pick what you want (vegetarian) and it will show all those receipes. I have cooked about 20 of the receipes from that website and they all have been delicious.

    Fish is great in the crockpot: Take a fillet of fish (I use tiliapia) and cover both sides with a mixture of mayo, lime and cheese. Wrap in foil. Cook on low for 2-3 hours. Yum.

  7. Joy

    Embrace the crock-pot and enjoy your husband cooking, the leftovers….and someday the fact that you can pull everything together during the kids naptime rather than at the end of the day when people are falling apart.

  8. Kristy

    Oh, Rae, you crack me up! I seriously laughed through this whole post. I did not grow up with a crock pot in the house, and we don’t (currently) own one. Since you don’t eat meat, I don’t really know what good it will do you to own one, other than keeping your husband happy. I tend to agree with your “it’s just as easy to cook it on the stove” mentality. In fact, instead of getting a crock pot to stew something all day, I’ve been mulling over the idea of getting a pressure cooker! It cooks beans and lentils much faster than the conventional way (especially beans – skip the soaking!) and everything is still delicious. And fast. (Nearly every one of my relatives in Brasil has a pressure cooker, specifically for beans. No one has a crock pot.) And it’s still just 1 pot to wash. And if I want a roast, I’ll just use the oven. I rarely make them, anyway.

    Oh – I highly doubt their energy efficiency because they have to be plugged in and left on for quite a few hours to cook, instead of turning on the stove for minutes. But I’m just guessing.

  9. Melody

    I think part of the trouble with crock pot food is that most of the cooking times are too long, things turn to mush and the flavors are lost. If one uses a crock pot on a work day, by the time you get around to eating supper it has been cooking for 10 hours or so. However I do find my crock pot convenient for Sunday meals; by the time we get home from 10:30 Mass, lunch is ready, ~4.5 to 5 hours is about right. Of course part of that is on the high setting. I also like slo-cookers for family get-togethers and pot lucks to keep things hot in a buffet line.

  10. Mama Kalila

    Shaking head… I thought you were joking at first too. I LOVE my crockpot.. I want another. My favourites are a roast recipe and cream cheese chicken – both are linked to my blog in teh food blogs section (Whats for dinner). 365 is another great resource w/ yummy crockpot dinners. Oh… and you can also use it to deoderize or freshen your kitchen. Put water and some baking soda, turn on low… gets rid of odors well. Cinnamon or other nice smelling things instead of baking soda makes it smell yummy.

  11. Young Mom

    I think its because you are vegatarian, the greatest meals in the crock pot are tough beef cuts that have simmered all day long. I like my crockpot, because as a mom, sometimes you don’t even have the 20 minutes it takes to make a meal, depending on the crazyness of the day. On the other hand Iam not a morning person, so most of the time I would rather cook with kids hanging on my legs in the evening then try to muster up any creativity in the morning. But for some recipes it’s just a must! Like my mexican beef and rice, or the spicy italian beef! I also use it to cook dried beans, I can just throw them into the crock pot and cover them with water and cook them on high all afternoon, and I don’t have to remember to soak them before hand, or remember that I have a pot on the stove or whatever.

    1. alison

      yeah, we actually only use ours for beans. not because we don’t eat meat, but because i always forget in the morning but my husband doesn’t and, well, he likes beans.

  12. Kacie

    Wellll.. I’m partly with you. I got a crock pot in high hopes that I’d be able to throw a meal together and come home from work to a completed meal. Most of the time I’ve been disappointed with my attempted crock pot meals – the flavors do blend too much, things get mushy. It might be a LOT better if you do it on high for a few hours, but I am generally looking for the “cook on low for 6-8 hours” option because the very reason I am using the crock pot is because I won’t have time to cook a few hours before the meal!

    There are a few exceptions. There is a barbequed chicken recipe that we love that is from the crock pot. I do many, many soups in the crock pot and they always turn out great… I have a thai soup I do in there, a clam chowder, tortilla soup, etc, etc. That crock pot 364 blog is a great reference.

    My in-laws LOVE roasts from the crock pot, but I can never afford a high quality hunk of roast meat.

  13. Kristy

    I just had to comment again, because I found a potential use for a crock pot that seems legit for vegetarians (or even vegans): oatmeal! The B&B where we stayed in Vancouver used one to keep slow-cooked steel-cut oats nice and hot during breakfast time. The chef/owner said it’s cooked for a lot of hours, which makes me think he uses the pot to actually cook the oatmeal instead of just keeping it warm, and it was delicious.

    Also: fondue. Cheese or chocolate might be able to stay nicely melty in a crock pot. Though I’m not positive, since I have a fondue pot for that.

  14. Tara Meghan

    I almost never use my crockpot since I have started learning to cook properly, but it was a great way to make meat dishes when I was still too afraid to cook meat on the stove, for fear of poisoning my family with e. coli!

    But now…I’ll go to almost any length to avoid that crockpot. If I have to leave the house all day but still want a nice dinner, I’d rather buy a whole chicken and bake it all day at 170 F (a la the Urban Peasant). I hate crockpots! I know it’s a personal taste thing, because my mother-in-law uses one often for stews and sauces, and she’s a great cook! But me, I like my stove-top and saucepans.

  15. rick

    PLEASE PEOPLE! learn to cook, stop looking for shortcuts that do NOTHING for the flavor of your dish. If you had any sense you’d realize how lame the attempts to make things easier are at the expense of truly great flavor. OK, fine, if you order your steak well done- get a crok pot and tell everyone the food you make in it is great. Just know that everyone rolls their eyes when your not looking.

  16. Melody Scott

    Yay!! I’m so glad to see someone else who hates crockpots! I spent dollars and time trying to make a meal taste like something, and everything I tried tasted the same. It’s like a crockpot takes the flavor away, then throws in a kind of burned mushy taste, and at the ends everything is the same flavor(bad) and consistency(gross).

    I’m decidedly not a vegetarian, but I like my pot roasts cooked slowly in the oven, my chili con carne made with layer upon layer of sautéed flavor, and my hormel beans with velveeta cheese in the garbage. Which is what that plastic bag will help with.

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  18. Lindsey

    U can get crock pots that have three small diff sections. I use it put meat in one and veggies in the other. It doesn’t mix the flavors like everyone is complaining about! And to the person saying quit finding a short cut. If I didn’t use the short cuts on some days I would be a very hungry girl. School and work all week and coming home to a little one. Oh no there is no time to do it the right way!!!! And my husband and child never roll their eyes at me. But I did roll my eyes at ur comment.

  19. Heidi

    It does not matter how I do it or what recipe I follow the meat never is fall of the bone moist and tender. Crock pot cooking sucks!

  20. Peg

    I am Not a crock pot lover either. I often wonder how people claim to get juicy chicken out of a crock pot. Shredded cooked to death chicken is not good, veggies come out mushy too. I think most people that don’t know how to cook, throw things in a crock pot and call it cooking. They are possibly good at keeping food warm for a function and thats about it. Even my 12 year son thinks the food taste chemically coming from a crock pot.

  21. Naomi

    I found this post after googling “Crockpots are disgusting” because for three years my friends and fiancé have been singing their praises. I think they’re disgusting (with the exception of making apple butter and jam/jelly). I’ve been trying to be open minded lately, and made a chicken in one. It was good but it took me SIX HOURS!?!? Why do I want to spend 6 hours on something that would normally take me a fraction of that amount of time?! It makes no sense. And the veggies?!? ICK! Crockpots are the worst. They make no sense. I’ll keep my dutch oven and continue to cook my food at normal speeds, to a normal texture and a normal taste!

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  23. Donna

    Oh my gosh!!! I’m so glad to find other people are not crock pot lovers…..Thank you!!!!! I guess I’m a little old school. I feel like using a crock pot is cheating… plus it tastes like, well it has no taste. Roasts NEVER tastes as good in a crock pot. Chili’s and stews don’t either. Those gross casserole dishes in a crock pot….give me a break. As far as I’m concerned, crock pots are for people who can’t cook, or for people who can’t taste! I will admit they are great as warmers for gatherings.

  24. Marc

    This is the best blog ever and this is because I Hate Crock Pots and I will tell you why, in way that may cause offense and for this I apologize.

    - Every thing made in a Crock Pot tastes the same which is always a variation of crap.

    - Crock Pots strip flavor and yes, I’ve had the “broth in place of water” amongst other crappy anecdotes.

    - Crock Pots are geared for the Impoverished. I grew up Middle class and the only thing this crap bucket was used for was to keep food, that was made in something else, warm at an event (more on this later). My dirt poor friends lived on this slop producer.

    - Crock Pots are good if you are a double-shift working single mom with a latchkey kid or two. (nothing against single moms with latchkey kids).

    - Crock Pots should only be used if you’re at a pot luck, very poor, or have no or damaged taste.

    - every moron I meet has a “oh but this will taste great in a Crock Pot” preaching point and believe me, so far they are a 100% wrong and I am confident that this will continue to be the case.

    - Case in point: If you go to a 5 star restaurant, heck a 2 star, are your meals made in Crock Pots? Hell No. If you go to a soup kitchen for the homeless are Crock Pots incorporated? Hell Yes.

    - For those of you about to type in some comment about succulent roasts or tender chicken, don’t, just shut the hell up because your recipes suck and these roasts and chickens are flavorless and or metallic tasting.

    - Some people think Potted Meat and Kraft Slices are gourmet and you and your Crock Pots belong together.

    In closing, the concept of anything good coming out of Crock Pot is just that a Crock (couldn’t resist).

    1. Rob Kosinski

      Thank GOD there are others out there who hate Crock Pot food. Chili? OK. Pork? Yeah, maybe depending on the recipe (BBQ pulled pork) and/or how much farting I want to do that evening. However, ANYONE claiming “chicken cooked slowly and gently all day in the crock pot is tender, moist, and easy.” is simply in denial. Crock Pot chicken in ANY recipe is simply dry, stringy and has that “I was cooked in a Crock Pot” flavor. I argue with my wife on this all the time. My logic is “why would a chicken breast that takes 25 minutes at 350 NEED to be cooked for 6-8 hours in the Crock Pot?” Her logic is “…because that’s what the recipe says.” I rather have McDonald’s.

  25. kathy

    I have used my crockpot occasionally through out the years and I can honestly say I have never had a good meal from one. Whatever kind of meat I use, it always comes out dry. Veggies are soggy and everything has the same taste. It certainly came in handy over the years when I was a working mom but it never produced a great meal. So tonight I decided to give it another whirl and made Bourbon Pork Chops. It was a real waste of my money on some nice chops. Of course they were dry. They did fall off the bone but in large chunks. I was disappointed. So I decided its time to say good-by to my crock after 35 years. She’s going out to the yard sale table next weekend! However there is some leftover bourbon to ease the pain of the truth, that crock pots suck!!

  26. anton

    crock pot = another device sold to you by marketers to use in place of something you already have in your kitchen that does the same thing, a pot.

  27. Melissa Brinkley

    I have a crock pot. I have had three at one time. I use it from time to time. My husband hates food from a crock pot. I use it anyway when I am going to be away from the house and won’t be home until we are so ravenous that we could eat the door. I leave it on. I am not scared of it. If something happened a breaker would trip. I am, however, down to just one — one is enough.

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