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How Slow Cookers and 4 Other Appliances Let You Set It and Forget It

BY: Aimee Algas Alker | Dec 20, 2018

These appliances let you spend less time making dinner and more time with the fam.

You'd never guess this family is making dinner right now.

This guide is for the busy parents who find their evenings jam-packed. How do you find the time to hang with the kids, make dinner, and attend to the million other things that need attention before you can kick back and just chill (as if!)? Like that famous oven whose motto was Set it and forget it! these cooking appliances allow mostly hands-off (and most importantly eyes-off) cooking, so you can focus on what’s important: hanging with the kids and getting your feet up.

Slow Cooker

Best for Stews and Soups


This is your mom’s favorite low-effort dinner machine and for good reason. Load it with ingredients in the morning, and come home in the evening to the fragrance of a simmering stew or soup or chili. And you're not just limited to those items, Pinterest boards are teeming with techniques for slow-cooker roasts, desserts, breakfasts, even yogurt!

Cooking hack: A slow cooker can come in handy when you’re making brunch for a big group. Try some scrambled eggs on low, or pop in a french toast casserole to cook overnight.

Shop all slow cookers (from $21.98)

Programmable Pressure Cooker, aka Instant Pot

Best for Quick Stocks, Pot Roast, and Risotto


“Basically, anything a slow cooker can cook, the Instant Pot can cook faster,” says our editor Sarah, who wrote a review of an Instant Pot. But this programmable pressure cooker can also “take on the tasks of seven different appliances: slow cooker, electric pressure cooker (of course), rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté or browning pan, and warming pot.” All with barely any effort from you.

Cooking hack: Word on the street is that the Instant Pot is the ideal way to make that elusive staple: hard-boiled eggs that are super easy to peel.

Shop all pressure cookers (from $35.42)

Sous Vide

Best for Tough Meats and Firm-Fleshed Fish


Sous vide, or immersion, cookers are the holy grail for high-tech chefs. This is ultra-slow cooking, but many say it’s worth it for the tender, melt-on-your-tongue meats it produces. Some are Bluetooth or wifi enabled, so you can set up your pot and engage it from work or the bowling alley or the living room in the midst of cleaning up a fingerpaint catastrophe.

Cooking hack: An immersion cooker doesn’t just concentrate the flavors of meat and fish, but it’s known to do so for certain vegetables. So if you’re looking to make the most carrot-y carrots ever, try sous-vide-ing them.

Shop all sous vide cookers (from $56.99)

Air Fryer

Best for “Healthier” Deep-Fried Foods


Frying chicken requires not just a ton of oil, but also rapt attendance at the stove as you fry pieces in batches to ensure proper crisping. With an air fryer, you eliminate both of those nuisances, so you can drop the food into the appliance and go do something else while it cooks. The result: a healthier meal that’s just as flavorful. Many have pre-programmed settings to let you know your meal is cooked just right.

Cooking hack: One word: dessert. Try cooking donuts, cookies, even fried Oreos—and you’ll never make them any other way.

Shop all air fryers (from $40.99)

Roasters and Rotisseries

Best for Whole Chickens and Skewers


Directly descended from the famous Ronco oven (“Set it and forget it!”), these come in iterations that will spin the chicken so it cooks evenly. You can also roast kabobs, veggies, and other foods without having to flip anything over midway through.

Cooking hack: Instead of putting the holiday ham in the oven to warm, put it in here so all surfaces gain that crackly exterior.

Shop all roasters and rotisseries (from $75.55)

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