It is too easy to confuse a slow cooker with many of the crock pots out there in the market. After all, they do tend to look alike. A slow cooker is composed of a pot, a cover, and an electric heating element. Surprise surprise, crock pots also tend to ship in the form of a pot, a cover, and, you guessed it, an electric heating element. Talk about confusing. If the look of these cooking machines are confusing enough, people tend to cook the same dishes with a slow cooker as with crock pots. No wonder many people mistakenly think a slow cooker is the same as a crock pot. The truth is there is a difference among the two. Not surprisingly, the difference is not all that obvious.
They cook different food
If you want to truly know someone, pay attention to what they do instead of what they say. The same goes with telling the difference between a slow cooker and crock pots. Instead of getting caught up in the label of the cooking appliance, focus instead on what people use these for. While they tend to cook the same dishes, most cooks prefer to use larger chunks of meat and larger chunks of food with crock pots. This is because the distributed heating elements of crock pots ensure a wider distribution of heat and steamed heat to bigger chunks of meat. Slow cookers, on the other hand, tend to focus on soups, stews, and other liquid-rich dishes with smaller-grained ingredients. Since the heat comes from the bottom of slow cookers only, the granular size or the size of the chunks of the dish's ingredients must be small enough to be cooked this way. While slow cookers also use steamed heat to cook, they aren't as efficient in distributing such heat. In fact, if you are going to run your slow cooker for several days, there might be a risk of bacterial contamination or other health issues if you cut your meat chunks too large.
They have different heating methods
Crock pots have heating elements at the bottom and the sides while slow cookers' heating elements are located in the bottom only. This might seem like an empty detail but it isn't. It has a tremendous impact on two things: the size of the ingredients you should cook and the amount of overall heat produced. Both these factors affect the kinds of meals you can prepare using these devices. Crock pots are very popular because they can cook rough chunks of meat over an extended period of time and truly soften the chunks. Slow cookers, on the other hand, can't properly handle rough meat chunks since their heating element is only located at the bottom. While slow cookers can output some steamed heat, this may not be enough to cook large chunks of meat. You have to spend extra time on your ingredients if you are going to be using slow cookers to cook. At the very least, you have to take care and cut the ingredients into small enough pieces so the slow cookers' heat can thoroughly cook them. You don't want a nasty surprise from a slow cooker you let run for several days. The meat might not have been cooked enough.
Keep the differences above in mind when trying to decide between a crock pot or slow cookers. This is not a case of a distinction without a difference. The difference might directly impact not just the taste and texture of your food, but your health as well.