I’ve tested the best programmable slow cookers out there. My favorite? The COMFEE’ 12-in-1 Multi-cooker. You just can’t beat its performance and features.
Slow cookers are one of those must have kitchen appliances for busy home cooks. With my crockpot, I can make perfectly-cooked meals without having to stand over a stove all day.
However, the most basic slow cookers don’t have a lot of features. And with the amount of space and weight they consume, I want it to be functional. For that reason, I love programmable slow cookers.
The COMFEE’ Multi-cooker is one of the top slow cookers out there. It has a lot of functions and gets consistent results.
But you also have a lot of other choices. Finding the right crock pot depends on several factors. But I’ve rounded up the best programmable crock pots with delay on the market and looked at the pros and cons of each one.
Ready to find out which one is the best slow cooker for you? Let’s get started.
Product Reviews: Best Programmable Slow Cooker with Delay Start
COMFEE’ 12-in-1 Multi-cooker: Best Value Slow Cooker
From COMFEE comes this 6-quart slow cooker (5.7 liter) with 12-in-1 functions. This is only one of two pressure cookers on the list. It can handle enough food to feed up to 6 people, making it great for families.
It has 12 preset cooking programs. This means it can: pressure cook, sauté, bake, stew, steam, oatmeal, slow cooking, sauté, soup/ broth, egg, rice, bean/chili, and yogurt.
This slow cooker also functions as 9 appliances: pressure cooker, slow cooker, sauté pan, rice cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, seamer, and food warmer. The delay and warm features mean you have maximum flexibility in timing.
As for its performance? Customers gushed over their results with rice, fish, beef soup, steamed buns, and eggs.
Even better? You can do the pot-in-pot method, where you can cook two dishes at once. Simply place an oven-safe glass serving dish on top of the steam rack. Add liquid to the bottom and follow the recipe.
The COMFEE’ slow cooker has a list of downloadable recipes from the product page to get you cooking in no time. Slow cookers are not the best for browning foods, so don’t expect to get the same-looking top finish as the oven. However, the taste is anything but subpar.
One thing to note with pressure cookers is the steam valve. After cooking, pressure cookers must release the steam and pressure through a valve. That steam can get super hot, so you have to be careful.
This COMFEE’ slow cooker has a pressure limiting valve so you can safely release the steam. In addition, it also has a lid-lock and overheat protection to maximize safety.
This slow cooker has a dishwasher-safe cooking pot, so cleaning is almost painless. And since this crockpot is very affordable, you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get top-quality results.
- 12 cooking presets
- Doubles as pressure cooker
- Not the best for top browning
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Pressure Slow Cooker: Best Pressure Cooker
This 6-quart (5.7 liter) digital slow cooker is also a pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker, sterilizer, and warmer. The stainless steel body is topped with a dishwasher-safe, locking lid.
If you want a small slow cooker, Instant Pot also offers a 3-quart (2.8 liter) option. The 8-quart (7.6 liter) is better for larger families. Whatever your cooking needs, there is an Instant Pot Duo to accommodate them.
Along with its versatility, the Instant Pot Duo has several cooking modes. There are individual settings for meat, soup, chili, rice, poultry, and porridge. However, many customers almost exclusively use the manual setting for maximum control.
To use this as a slow cooker, put your ingredients in the stainless steel inner pot. Set the pressure valve to “venting” (as opposed to “sealing, which is for pressure cooking). Then press “slow cook.” Set the desired cooking time and use the “adjust” button to set the desired temperature. The cooking will automatically start in 10 seconds.
The delay start feature allows you to set when you want the food to start cooking. And when the timer goes off, the cooker automatically switches to warm, meaning you can set it and forget it.
One thing to note about the Instant Pot is the learning curve. It does take some time to determine the proper cooking time, correct temperature, and adjust recipes. But once you get past the learning phase? The Instant Pot can quickly become one of your most versatile pieces of kitchen equipment.
And don’t forget safety! If you are using the pressure cooking function, the pot has to release steam from a valve in the lid. There is a natural steam release, which takes about 15 minutes. Or you can do a quick steam release. If you do that, however, make sure to wear oven mitts to protect your hands. The steam is scalding and can cause burns.
- Delay timer
- Automatic keep warm
- Learning curve
- Steam valve can get very hot
Instant Pot Aura 10-in-1 Multi-cooker: Best Slow Cooker for Sous Vide
With 6-quart (5.7 liter) option and an 8-quart (7.6 liter) option, this Instant Pot Aura 10-in-1 can work for most families. It isn’t always available, so you’ll have to check frequently.
Unlike the Duo, the Instant Pot Aura is not a pressure cooker. Several customers bought the Aura thinking it was like the original Instant Pot and were disappointed. If you are looking for a slow cooker that doubles as a pressure cooker, you should consider the Instant Pot Duo.
The Aura does have a delayed start feature and multiple temperature settings. The 10 Smart programs include: roast, stew, bake, steam, slow cook, sear/sauté, rice, yogurt, ferment, and a warm function.
I like that this crockpot includes a roasting/steam rack. This is great for steaming, multi-layer dishes, or for draining fat while you brown meat. And unlike the Instant Duo, the Aura has a glass see-through lid, meaning you can monitor food while slow cooking.
Customers report getting great results with roasted chicken and pork. This is also one of the best slow cookers for sous vide. If you’re unfamiliar with sous-vide, it’s a method of cooking that involves placing food in a sealed bag or glass jar. You then cook your meal at a low temperature for an extended time in a water bath.
The stainless steel liner is much easier to lift than ceramic crock pots, and it’s dishwasher safe for the top rack. The downside? It’s more prone to sticking.
One drawback is that this slow cooker is not great for getting that nice, browned top like you would in an oven. However, that’s true of almost all slow cookers, so it’s not unique to this model.
- Lightweight stainless steel liner
- Great results with sous vide
- Takes up a lot of space
- Not ideal for top browning
- Does not double as pressure cooker
Kaqiluo 12-In-1 Programmable Slow Cooker: Best for Accessories
The Kaqiluo digital slow cooker has a touchscreen control panel for easy programming. This is a six quart cooker (5.7 liter), meaning it can handle up to 6 pounds (2.7 kg) of meat.
The non-stick inner pot is dishwasher-safe, which makes for easy cleaning. This crockpot also includes a steak rack, steam rack, and steel fork. That’s a lot for your typical crockpot.
The cooking time can be set from 5 minutes to 12 hours, and the delay timer settings go from 5 minutes to 24 hours. I like that this slow cooker heats from the bottom and the sides. Many slow cookers only heat on the sides, so this should cook more evenly.
The tempered glass lid allows you to monitor food during the cooking process, as well. This slow cooker does switch to warm mode after the cooking time is complete. This model isn’t always in stock, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for it.
- Digital touchscreen control panel
- Cooking pot is dishwasher safe
- Includes accessories
- Takes up a lot of space
Products No Longer Available
Unfortunately after I started these reviews, a couple of products that used to be available disappeared from the market. I’ve included them here for information. Neither were my top recommendation anyway!
AICOOK 12-in-1 Multi-cooker: Best for Air Frying
From AICOOK comes this slow cooker and air fryer combo. There are 6 programmed cooking functions for rice, steam, stew, yogurt, sear/sauté and slow cook. In addition, there are 6 air fry functions for broil, fries, bake, beef, roast, and dehydrator. (Find more like this model in my in-depth air fryer dehydrator review.)
I like multi-cookers because they can replace several cooking appliances, saving space and money. However, they must perform well and have all the desired functions. This AICOOK appears to do just that.
This 6.5 quart slow cooker (6.2 liters) is large enough for a whole chicken or chuck roast up to 6 pounds (2.7 kg). That’s enough to easily feed a large family.
It has an air fryer lid and a glass lid for slow cooking. The lid and the non-stick inner cooking pot are both dishwasher-safe.
The digital timer is easy to use, and the delay button allows you to delay cooking anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. And with a temperature range of 220° to 435°F (104° to 218°C), you can handle a wide range of recipes.
This slow cooker has an automatic keep-warm setting so your food will stay warm until you’re ready to sit down at the dinner table.
- Doubles as an air fryer
- Easy to Use
- Dishwasher safe lid and inner pot
- Can’t adjust temp during cooking cycle
- Takes up a lot of space
AICOOK 10-in-1 Programmable Slow Cooker: Best for Searing
This AICOOK 6-quart slow cooker (5.7 liter) comes in an attractive stainless steel housing. It includes a steam rack and a tempered glass lid.
The AICOOK slow cooker has 10 cooking functions: sear/sauté, roast, bake, steam, stew, rice, multigrain, slow cook, sous vide, and yogurt.
Customers had great results with searing meat and cooking fish in this crockpot. The temperature ranges from 77°-428°F (25°-220°C), so this slow cooker is great for searing pot roast and then slow cooking it to perfection.
The inner pot is stainless and dishwasher-safe. The double cool-touch handles mean you can easily lift it without worry. Like the other slow cookers, this one has a delay function up to 24 hours. It also automatically keeps food warm after the cooking is complete.
Some users did have trouble with temperature regulation. They said the crockpot ran too hot, so I would go low and slow to start.
- Does well with fish & searing meat
- Attractive stainless exterior
- Reports of uneven temperature
Buying Guide: Programmable Slow Cooker
How do I use a slow cooker?
The basic concept is quite simple. To use a slow cooker, simply place your ingredients in the inner pot, turn it to the proper heat setting (most have two settings: high or low), and let it go for the recommended time.
With a programmable slow cooker, you have more cooking options and temperature/time settings, but the basic concept is still the same.
There are loads of slow cooker recipes out there, but some general guidelines can help you. Check out this cooking conversion chart to help you with temperatures and timings.
In general, you want to place your meats and harder root vegetables at the bottom of the crockpot. Layer any grains or softer vegetables over the bottom layer. Finally, pour any liquid over the top.
You can estimate about 1.5 hours on low per pound for a pork roast, or slightly over 1 hour per pound on high. For a 3-4 lb. (1.36-1.81 kg) beef roast, you should plan for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high cook settings.
For chicken, you’ll want about 75 minutes per pound on low or 1 hour on high. For fish, it’s even less time. I would cook it 1 hour per pound on low or 30 minutes per pound on high.
Why do I need a delay start?
Imagine it: You just found a great crockpot recipe. It’s healthy, delicious, and easy to put together. You can’t wait to try it out… until you see the cooking time. You would have to put this recipe in the slow cooker at 10:30 a.m., right in the middle of your workday. Since that’s not an option, you sadly have to pass.
But not with a delay start. A delay start allows you to put the ingredients in the crockpot and start the cooking cycle at the desired time.
So now, you can put the ingredients in before leaving for work, and set the timer to start cooking at 10:30 a.m. When you get home from work, the smell of a freshly cooked meal greets you. Much better than that frozen cardboard pizza you had to cook before your delay start slow cooker.
Of course, you could just let the slow cooker cook straight away then leave it on keep-warm.
Yet I find the keep warm function can leave food a little too overcooked.
How do I use a delay start?
All of the crock pots on our list have a delay function. To use that function, press the “delay start” button. Then enter the amount of time to delay cooking. Most slow cookers can delay cooking from 5 minutes to 24 hours.
So, for instance, if you’re putting your ingredients in at 8:00 a.m. and you need the food to begin cooking at 9:30 a.m., press the delay start button and enter 90 minutes.
Are there dangers to using a delay slow cooker?
The biggest concern with delay-feature slow cookers is food safety. Leaving raw meat out at room temperature for more than two hours can cause bacteria to multiply.
Even with immediately cooking frozen food in the crockpot, this could be dangerous. Because the food thaws gradually in slow cookers, it spends a lot of time in what’s dubbed the Danger Zone, between 40°-140°F (4° to 60°C).
To keep food safe for consumption, the internal temperature should be below 40°F (4°C) or above 140° (60°C). To see the safe minimum internal temperature for meat, see this U.S. Department of Agriculture guide. Some simple recommendations for using a delay programmable slow cooker safely:
- If you’re cooking meat, make sure to start the crockpot within 2 hours.
- If your target serve time is after the cooking process, use the warm mode to keep food at a suitable temperature.
- Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator overnight before placing it in the crockpot.
- Invest in a meat thermometer to ensure safe internal temperatures.
I don’t usually use the delay start on my slow cooker when cooking meat, though. I prefer to use it for cooking vegetables, like a vegetable stew, where the risk is minimal.
My favorite slow cooker delay start meal? Oatmeal (aka porridge). I prep it in the evening, and first thing in the morning, the whole family gets a lovely warm porridge for breakfast.
Best Programmable Slow Cooker: The Last Word
What is the best programmable crock pot with delay? My pick is the COMFEE’ 12-in-1 Multi-cooker. Its performance, great reviews, and range of functions make it one of the best slow cookers out there.