When I got it, I was immediately surprised at how pretty it was. (Hey, I know – but seriously this is a pretty slow cooker!) I took it out of the box and loved the design instantly. Shiny stainless steel on the outside reflected the kitchen (yes I had to clean off some of the counters when I took pictures!) and it really does look beautiful sitting on my counter.
The design also shows tremendous insight. This is the first Crock-Pot I’ve ever owned that has a switch in the center of the heating base. This is to be sure that the slow cooker will not turn on without the stoneware in it. I love that! Though it hasn’t happened often, on occasion we have had a kid turn on the pot without the stoneware in it yet – or forget to turn off the manual switch at the end. This design feature will help eliminate that issue. I also love the tilted handle on the lid. It seems more secure than previous slow cookers I’ve owned and with the tilt that’s built in, it allows you to more easily open the lid with the steam escaping away from you. The control pad on the front is clear, easy to figure out and even has a backlight.
Now when I opened the box, I did have a minor (really minor) sort of issue that I might be able to help you avoid.
There was a sticker on the front next to the control pad that pointed to the bottom of the cooker. It said to remove tab before using.
I flipped it over and saw a little plastic tab sticking out of a panel – similar to what you might see in a toy department. I tugged on it and it came out – but it was pretty tough. Nothing happened. (I admit it – I was waiting for lights or buzzers or something.) But nothing at all happened on the cooker. I said something to my hubby (who was, ironically, in the other room reading the manual. How did that happen? *I* was the one pressing ahead and *he* was reading the instructions??) He told me then that you have to use a screwdriver and open the plate before pulling that tab. I’d pulled it without removing the plate. It wasn’t a big deal. He got a screwdriver, pulled the plate, resettled the battery and the lights and clock started blinking on the front – just waiting for us to set them appropriately. All was good.
You can run the My Time Slow Cooker two different ways: manual or Smart Cook (programmed). The manual side is easy if you’ve ever used a slow cooker before. You choose High, Low, or Warm according to your recipe and that’s it.
The programmable side is a little more complex but it’s still relatively simple to figure out. If you want to use the Smart Cook feature, you need to be sure that the clock is set to the proper time. (You just press the hour and minute buttons until you get to the right time.) Once that’s done, you choose what you’re going to make from the control pad on the front. You can choose from beef, pork/lamb, poultry, seafood, and chili/stew. Then the final step is to program in what time you’d like to eat dinner in the ‘ready at’ area on the control pad. That’s it. The Crock-Pot literally takes it from there.
When programming the My Time Slow Cooker, one thing I noticed is that the time i the Smart Cook programming will not go below six hours. If you’re using this Smart Cook function, you won’t be able to do ‘short’ recipes or anything that doesn’t need all day to cook. (Dips, desserts, etc.) It simply will not go less than that. If you want to do a recipe that won’t take that full six hours, you’ll need to use the manual function and choose the heat accordingly.
My first recipe that I made in the Crock-Pot was chili and it really didn’t need the full six hours. I wanted to use the program function though, so I chose the stew setting. At about four hours in, it was bubbling decently and obviously done, so we ate early. Again, I should reiterate that I knew it wouldn’t take a full six hours, so this didn’t worry me.
Easter Sunday we did a bone in uncooked ham. I set it early (before we went to our early service at church) and it worked fantastically. (Note: This is a 6.5 quart slow cooker. The ham fit, but we did have to cut some pieces off and put them in the bottom in order to get the lid to fit properly.) When we got home, the house smelled wonderful and by the time we were ready to eat, the ham was ready too. In fact, when we pulled it out of the cooker, it was so tender and juicy it was falling off the bone. We didn’t even need to slice it! Everyone in my family declared it a huge success. We have even decided that this will be how we make our future holiday hams from now on. It clears the oven, gives us more space to work, and with the Smart Cook feature, I love that we can decide what time we want to eat and it will be ready!
The most recent meal I made with it was traditional pot roast and veggies. I wanted to be sure to give it a really good run with several different meal options before writing this review. This time, I set it very early in the morning for a later evening meal. I had it in the cooker before 7:00 a.m. and we didn’t plan to eat until 6:00 p.m.
The same as with the others, this meal turned out perfect. We flipped the roast about halfway through and stirred up the vegetables, but other than that, everything was cooked nicely when the buzzer went off to let us know that dinner was done.
So what’s my verdict? I LOVE this Crock-Pot! (I admit that I have had a few moments of wanting to hug it and call it “My Preciousssss.” But that’s a different sort of article…)
Now there are some things I’ve learned that I would caution people to put in their notes for this model. I already mentioned above that it doesn’t ‘program cook’ under 6 hours. It also doesn’t program over twelve hours. This is for safety’s sake. I know it’s tempting to think about putting everything in the cooker the night before to have it ready for dinner the next day. If you’re putting it all in there later – like 10 or 11 o’clock at night and you’re good with it staying on “warm” for several hours after it’s done, that might work for you.
Oh and one other thing – there IS a battery in this Crock-Pot. However it does NOT keep the cooker going in case of electrical outage. When I first saw the battery cover, I exclaimed to my husband that perfection had been achieved and it was about time someone added a battery to the Crock-Pot. He informed me very quickly though that the battery was not intended to take over and keep it cooking – merely to keep the time in the clock set appropriately. If the electricity goes out, you’ll still have to deal with that fallout the same way you would with previous slow cookers.
I have also seen some complaints that certain meals cooked too hot. The reality here is that this is a programmable slow cooker, but it can’t tell the difference between sizes, weight, or type of food. Pork, for example, could be anything from a pork shoulder to a pork loin or even pork chops. Those all have vastly different weights and cook time ratios, so you’re still going to want to use it with some measure of judgment about how quickly it will cook. Pork ribs will cook MUCH faster, for example, than my Easter ham did. The My Time Slow Cooker is fabulous and it does take a lot of guess work out of cooking, but it’s not a butler or a personal cook. As long as you keep that in mind and manage expectations accordingly, I think you’ll love it as much as I do.
All in all, I adore this Crock-Pot. All three meals I’ve made in it (as of the deadline for this article) have been fantastic. The programming feature has made my life much easier and it helps tremendously by fitting home cooked meals into the insane schedule I mentioned earlier.
Note: I received the Crock-Pot My Time Slow Cooker as a sample in order to write a review. I have not been paid by Crock-Pot to do so and I have not promised to give a positive review. I just actually really did like the product. J