Cooking for your family after a long day of working, looking after the kids, or running errands is a chore that many of us could do without.
Having a slow cooker, however, allows us the luxury of having a freshly cooked meal ready for us when we get home.
Simply prep the ingredients in the morning, toss them in, switch the slow cooker on, and your food is ready six or eight hours later.
We decided to hunt down the best programmable slow cooker with delay start and narrowed the choices down to the top five, which we’ve featured here.
Check out our buyers guide below to see what you should look out for when buying a slow cooker, and some frequently asked questions we often come across.
Best Programmable Slow Cooker With Delay Start Reviews
1. Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker With Flexible Easy Programming
If you have ever wandered into the home appliances department in your store, we are sure you’ll come across Hamilton Beach products.
They are a leading company that produces a wide variety of home appliances.
Everything from air fryers, toasters, and ovens to slow cookers, you will find in their selection.
To begin our search, we kicked off with Hamilton Beach’s Seven-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker.
This programmable slow cooker with a delay start option is your perfect choice for cooking bigger meals.
It is sized to fit a seven-pound chicken or five-pound roast, which would satisfy even the hungriest of families.
It has many programmable options, and it requires no stirring because the cooker automatically switches to warm after finishing the cooking time.
It is also effortless to clean, as it has a removable crockpot and lid, which are both dishwasher-safe.
With this easy-to-use slow cooker, you can mix and match any temperature with the cooking time, ranging from 30 minutes to a massive 18 hours.
You just set the program with the easy-clean touchpad.
It has an amazing wraparound element that provides even heating and saves you the trouble of stirring and monitoring your meal.
A handy countdown timer also lets you know exactly when your meal will be ready.
We love the wraparound element of this slow cooker.
It offers even heating and cooking.
We are also impressed by the fact that it’s so affordable.
Some customers have complained that the plastic parts have melted off.
In some cases, it can run too hot, so you have to be careful that it doesn’t dry out your meal.
Also, it’s a shame that the programmable timer is limited to only 18 hours.
- Generous capacity
- Has a variety of programming options
- Easy to program
- Automatically switches to Warm mode
- Very affordable
- Easy to clean and dishwasher-safe
- Problems with overheating
- Steam rack not included
- Limited cooking time
2. COSORI 11-in-1 Programmable Slow Cooker
The second product we chose to feature in our search for the best programmable slow cooker with delay start can prepare almost any meal for you.
This versatile multi-cooker is produced by COSORI, which is a trustworthy name in the production of kitchen appliances.
This COSORI slow cooker has 11 microprocessor-controlled programs that offer you a fantastic variety of cooking functions.
This fantastic device is not only a slow cooker, but it is also a rice cooker, stovetop, yogurt maker, and oven all consolidated in one machine.
It has a convenient 24-hour delay timer, which allows you to run your errands and still start cooking at a desirable time.
After the cooking is finished, this slow cooker automatically switches to its Warm function.
The inner pot and steam rack are easy to clean as they are both dishwasher-safe.
This product offers a very safe cooking experience, with its dry run prevention, surge protector, over-voltage protection, and fuse protection.
You also get a fantastic two-year warranty with your purchase, with an option to extend it for one more year if you want longer coverage.
We love that the 11 controlled programs are so easy to use that you just need to set the adjustable dial.
This multi-cooker is excellent for quickly switching from one function to the next.
The different functions also offer so many choices with one appliance, including bake, roast, slow cook, steam, simmer, boil, and more.
With this, you don’t need to use different pots and pans and clean up more items afterward!
This COSORI slow cooker has been reported to blister on the inside of the nonstick pot, even when handled with care.
Also, compared to other slow cookers, it is more expensive.
Nevertheless, we feel that it still offers excellent value for the price as it does so much.
- Huge number of settings
- Easy to clean
- Delay timer and Keep Warm function
- Space-saving design
- Appropriate for almost every type of cooking
- Steam rack included
- Great custom cooking control
- Fairly expensive
- Can blister on the nonstick surface
3. Crock-Pot Countdown Programmable Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot is the original slow cooker brand with an excellent reputation that many of us will already be familiar with.
Crock-Pot has evolved over the years from a single bean cooker into an incredibly diverse line of slow cookers and accessories.
Crock-Pot slow cookers offer healthier, more wholesome meal choices and are designed for portability.
This particular slow cooker has an aesthetically pleasing design with a stainless steel finish.
It is a six-quart slow cooker that is recommended for serving around six people.
This oval-shaped slow cooker offers a very convenient option for roasting joints, including whole chickens.
The ceramic-coated pot can be used on the stove for browning first, and then placed in the slow cooker, reducing the number of dishes you need to wash later.
A digital timer counts down the cooking time and offers program options, from 30 minutes up to 20 hours.
Like many other slow cookers available these days, it features a removable, dishwasher-safe stoneware insert and a glass lid.
Unlike others we reviewed so far, this model comes with recipes to help inspire you and make your cooking experience even easier.
We love that the ceramic-coated pot can be used on your stovetop for browning, sauteing or searing, before being placed in the slow cooker.
The removable stoneware can also double as an attractive serving dish, so your family and friends can easily help themselves.
A few customers have given feedback saying that the Low Cook option is too hot.
As a consequence, your meal could be dried out or ready before the desired time.
- Stovetop-safe cooking pot
- Digital timer for up to 20 hours
- The attractive insert doubles as a serving dish
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Can sometimes overcook meals
- A steam rack is not included
4. Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker
Cuisinart is another home appliance brand with a long and successful history.
Founded in 1971, it has consistently been developing home appliances through the years, focusing on ease of use and multi-functionality.
This slow cooker will make cooking for your loved ones really simple because of its three preset functions.
With this multi-cooker, you can slow cook on high, low, simmer, or warm for up to 24 hours.
This six-quart cooker will serve you as a slow cooker, steamer, and browning and sauteing appliance.
A steam rack is included in the package, too.
Its timer settings will allow you to cook for up to 24 hours, offering a very generous delay start option.
It also has a big, easy-to-use, blue back-lit LCD display, making it easy to read for everyone.
This is one of our favorite slow cookers looks-wise, with its stunning stainless steel design that will look great on any kitchen counter.
The removable cooking pot is dishwasher-safe and has a nonstick surface, making it easy to clean after every use.
We love that with this cooking pot, you can perfectly brown and saute your meal in the same dish.
This is because of the evenly spread heat.
We also think it’s great that a booklet with recipes is included with the purchase.
There have been reports of the nonstick pot Teflon insert bubbling, even when handled with special care.
Unfortunately, the insert cannot be used on the stovetop or in the oven.
- Three easy-to-use functions
- Steaming rack included
- Comes with a recipe booklet
- Stunning design
- Easy-to-read display
- Generous cooking and timer options
- The Teflon on the nonstick pot may suffer from bubbling
- The insert is not stovetop or oven-safe
- Not affordable for everyone
5. Ninja Auto-iQ Multi/Slow cooker
Ninja is another house-care brand that produces high-quality coffee and tea makers, air fryers, indoor grills, and much more.
With highly functional, innovative products, they are one of the leading companies in this sector.
They pride themselves on providing competitive pricing, innovative designs, and ease of use.
This Ninja cooking system is basically four appliances built into one.
It is a slow cooker, a stovetop appropriate for searing and sauteing, an oven, and a steamer.
This multi/slow cooker has manual functions, as well as Auto-iQ functions that make cooking even more effortless.
The Auto-iQ technology is what separates this multi-cooker from any others.
There are over 80 pre-programmed recipes to choose from!
Simply select a recipe, add ingredients, and let the Auto-iQ do its magic.
It has a six-quart nonstick pot, so it can serve six people or more.
The innovative triple fusion heat, wherein side, bottom, and steam heat all come together, creating an easy and delicious one-pot meal.
Like many others, it has an auto Stay Warm function, so your meal doesn’t get cold or burned.
It also comes equipped with a digital timer and a large display for easy reading.
The stainless steel exterior does not show fingerprints or smudges, meaning it will always look great in your kitchen.
We love the innovation that this product offers with its triple fusion heat options and Auto-iQ technology.
The Ninja multi-cooker is quite big and bulky compared to other models.
So, unless you have a large kitchen, you may struggle to find the space for it.
The oven function isn’t as good as it could be; it has been reported to burn food.
- Smart and easy-to-use technology
- Triple fusion heat
- Manual and automatic functions
- Four appliances built into one
- Stainless steel exterior that shows no fingerprints
- May be too big and bulky for some kitchens
- The oven function can be too hot
- Not affordable for everyone
If you’ve been looking for the best programmable slow cooker, then you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options you have.
We’ve outlined six factors that you should take into consideration when buying the best slow cooker to help you choose.
By considering the build, material, shape, size, functions, and timer options on any given slow cooker, you should be able to find the perfect appliance for you.
The build of your slow cooker is important because, quite often, it’s an appliance that you leave on while you’re out of the house.
Many slow cookers are manufactured abroad, so you should always check if it has quality construction and electronics for safety purposes.
Unfortunately, many companies sell hastily-built appliances with cheap parts.
Of course, it’s not always easy to inspect the electrics of your slow cooker, so choose a slow cooker from a brand with a good reputation.
A good warranty will also go a long way in assuring that the company has confidence in their product, and you’ll be able to avoid frustrating malfunctions and returns.
Your slow cooker will most likely come with a removable insert in which all of your food is cooked.
You place all of your ingredients into it, and it can be removed when the food is ready to be put straight onto your dining table if you desire.
It’s the material that this insert is made from that you should be most concerned with.
Ensure that it’s free from toxic chemicals that may leach into your food during the long cooking process.
Good materials to look out for include ceramic, stoneware, glass, aluminum, enamel-covered metal, and pure clay.
When buying a slow cooker with a clay insert, it’s wise to check that the clay has been harvested from non-industrialized lands.
Also, when purchasing ceramic or stoneware pots, you need to make sure that the glaze used is FDA-approved.
Older and foreign-made models may contain lead or cadmium, which can pose a health risk.
Aluminum and enamel-coated inserts also offer the convenience of being able to brown your meat or simmer your onions and garlic in the same pot on the stove first.
If you think you’ll be cooking large pieces of meat in your slow cooker, then you should consider the shape of your slow cooker, too.
An oval-shaped slow cooker will more easily accommodate rolled roasts, hams, and whole chickens.
If, on the other hand, you only want to use it for casseroles, soups, and stews, then the shape won’t matter.
Some people prefer the round slow cookers as they look nicer on the dining table when serving up dinner.
The size of your slow cooker is extremely important as it needs to be big enough to accommodate the entire family’s food in one pot.
Many people prefer to go for something even bigger than what they need so that they can also enjoy leftovers.
If you’re low on kitchen space, you may be forced to invest in a one or two-quart cooker, which will provide you with around two to three food servings.
Three to four quarts will provide around four or five servings of food, making it perfect for a family or a couple who wants leftovers.
If you have a large family, or you want plenty of leftovers for your fridge and freezer, then you should probably look at buying a slow cooker with a capacity of around six quarts or more.
Slow cookers offer several features that provide you with many choices when it comes to cooking and heating.
The basic models will offer a couple of different heating temperatures, such as “low” and “high”.
“Low” cook settings will generally cook food for six to 10 hours, while “high” will cook your food in around four to six hours.
Some models also feature a third option to keep the food warm after it is cooked, which is excellent for those who want second helpings!
If you opt for a slow cooker with a timer, you can set your slow cooker to switch itself on and off, even while you’re away from home.
You can also program them to start cooking on “high” and then switch to “low” after a couple of hours to ensure everything is cooked thoroughly.
Slow cookers with programmable timers are fantastic for those who aren’t at home all day to manually switch between the functions.
Some timers will offer pre-programmed functions for up to 24 hours.
Once your food is cooked, it will keep the food warm until you’re back home and ready to eat.
1. Can you put raw meat in a slow cooker?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to put raw meat in a slow cooker.
The clue’s in the name as this cooker will cook anything for you, albeit more slowly than the oven or hob.
Some recipes may call for you to brown the meat first, but you can put cold meat in your slow cooker, straight from the fridge.
It’s not recommended, however, that you put frozen meat in your slow cooker.
You should take your meat out of the freezer the day before and defrost it in the fridge before cooking it.
2. What is the best size slow cooker to buy?
A five- to six-quart slow cooker will be adequate for most people.
This size will feed a couple and provide leftovers for the fridge or freezer, or feed a family of four of five quite comfortably.
If you have a large family or have a lot of storage space for leftovers, then you can opt for a larger seven or eight-quart model.
3. Do you have to brown meat before slow cooker?
Ground meat should be browned before you add it to the slow cooker, but meat joints don’t necessarily need browning first.
Some recipes may call for you to brown the meat first as the caramelized surface of the meat adds a rich and full flavor to the overall recipe.
Strictly speaking, however, you could skip this part if you are short of time.
4. Do slow cookers use a lot of electricity?
Modern slow cookers actually use a lot less electricity than other cooking appliances.
Electric stovetop cookers, ovens, and pressure cookers all consume a lot more energy than slow cookers.
Some slow cookers use as little as 150 watts per hour on the low setting, so eight hours of cooking on low would only consume 1,200 watts.
5. Do you need to preheat a slow cooker?
The short answer is no, you don’t necessarily need to preheat your slow cooker before adding your ingredients.
However, many people prefer to preheat their slow cookers and believe that the final recipe turns out better for it.
A lot of flavors are added to your final dish in the first few moments while sauteing vegetables and spices.
If you are sauteing a few ingredients before adding them to your slow cooker, or if you’re browning the meat, then you may wish to heat your slow cooker while doing so.
This saves you adding hot food to a cold cooker, which will add to the cooking time to heat it all back up again.
All of the slow cookers featured here are from reputable brands.
Any one of them would make an excellent investment for any kitchen, so it was difficult to pick one overall winner!
In the end, however, we decided that our favorite is the Ninja Auto-iQ Multi/Slow Cooker.
With 80 programmable recipe functions, it takes the thinking out of cooking for you.
Just add the ingredients, set the timer, and get ready to eat as soon as you get home!
It wouldn’t be suitable for those with smaller kitchens, but if you have the space for it, then we’re confident you’ll be happy with your purchase.