This low-priced multi-cooker is a great option if you’re new to multi-cookers and want to work out how much you’ll use it, but you don’t want to spend big bucks. The Crock-Pot Express does almost everything more expensive models do, at the same level and it’s easy to use, too.
Easy to use
Cooking pot can be tricky to slide in and out
Doesn’t come with a steam basket
Comes with a limited selection of recipes
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Crock-Pot are known for their slow cookers, which they’ve been producing since the 1970’s, and in 2017 it launched its first multi-cooker in a bid to rival some of the best Instant Pots on the market. The Crock-Pot Express is an affordable multi-cooker that gives Instant Pot and rivals such as Breville a run for its money when it comes to offering a range of cooking methods in one easy-to-use appliance.
The Crock-Pot Express has a fairly streamlined design and while it’s not a pretty appliance, it’s more subtle than some of its competitors. The 6-quart/ 5.6-liter cooking capacity is big enough for the average family and it comes with very few accessories, just a small rack, and a spoon, so there’s not too much to store.
It can slow cook, steam, sauté and pressure cook, and there are a range of presets for cooking different dishes including chilli, stews and yogurt. Alternatively, there’s the ability to manually adjust the temperature and cooking duration to ensure meals are cooked to your liking. On top of that, a delay timer and a keep warm function mean you can have food ready for a time that suits you.
All the functions we tried worked well and made meals to the same standard as the more expensive multi-cookers we’ve reviewed. While it doesn’t come with a fat recipe book loaded with recipe inspiration, we still think the price makes it a great entry-level multi-cooker or a sensible choice for those on a budget.
Crock-Pot Express price and availability
- List price: $76/ £75/ AU$149
The Crock-Pot Express is priced at $76/ £75/ AU$149 and is available Worldwide through Amazon. In the US it’s known as the Crockpot Express Easy Release, and it also offers simmer and boil functions.
This is an inexpensive multi-cooker compared to other models, but it doesn’t lack any features you’d see on its more expensive competitors.
- User friendly interface
- Delay timer
- Spoon and steam rack accessories
While the list price is lower than many of its competitors, the Crockpot Express doesn’t look like a budget model, it has a neat stainless-steel exterior and a flat touch control panel. At 13.4 x 13.2x 14.8 inches/ 34 x 34 x 38cm (h x w x d) it’s a pretty standard size, but other than a small rack and spoon it doesn’t come with any additional accessories, so there’s not lots of extra stuff to store.
The 6-quart/ 5.6-liter cooking pot has a non-stick coating and although it’s dishwasher safe Crock-Pot recommends hand washing to protect the coating, the lid and all of its parts also have to be hand washed.
The functions available include pressure cook, steam, slow cook, brown/sauté, and as we’ve already mentioned the US model has additional simmer and boil functions.
The interface is clearly laid out and simple to use, there’s a keep warm function and a delay timer as well as easily adjustable time, temperature and pressure settings.
There are also a range of preset pressure programs for common foods, which give you an idea of settings while you’re getting to know the cooker. The small booklet has some recipes to get you started but you’ll need to be willing to experiment with times and settings for other meals.
- Bowl is tricky to slide in and out
- Easy to set programs
- Steam rack doesn’t function well
To cook brown basmati rice we used the preset rice function which pressure cooks and followed the rice to water ratios as advised in the instruction manual, increasing the cooking duration to 15 minutes to take into account brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. The preheat took seven minutes and the natural pressure release took a further 10 minutes, taking the total cook time up to 32 minutes, which is longer than when you cook it on the hob. But the rice was perfectly cooked, not sticky or wet and we didn’t suffer with grains sticking to the bottom of the cooking bowl either. We did find it was fiddly to slide the bowl in and out of the cooker t - unless you’re precise in lifting directly upwards, it can get stuck.
The steam function is easy to use and there’s a handy chart in the instruction manual detailing duration for various vegetables. We set it to two minutes for our broccoli florets and with the nine minutes it took to preheat plus the two-minute steam release, that’s a 13 minute total cook time. Disappointingly, some broccoli florets slipped through the bars of the steam rack into the water below, boiling rather than steaming - we’d have preferred a steam basket, which is included with some multi-cookers. The broccoli pieces that remained on the rack were a little overdone for our tastes, but the duration can be adjusted as you get to know the cooker. And what suits you. The pressure release is the loudest part of the process at 81dB.
Slow cooking is what Crock-Pot is known for and it didn’t disappoint, we made a moist but tender beef chili on this setting - the sauté function was useful for browning the beef before cooking and reduced the amount of dishwashing afterwards.
During both slow cooking and pressure cooking the handles and controls stayed cool and even when pressure cooking the lid only got to a warm 117 degrees F/ 47 degrees C, the sides got a little hotter 131 degrees F/ 55 degrees C but not as hot as other multi-cookers.
The saute function took four minutes 30 seconds to preheat and was effective at browning chicken legs which we used in a pressure cooker Thai red curry recipe. The pressure cooker took seven minutes to preheat, which when added to our 20 minute cook time and two minutes for pressure release, is a total start to finish time of 29 minutes, which is respectable for a perfectly cooked Thai curry with chicken that’s tender and falling off the bone.
Should I buy the Crock-Pot Express?
Buy it if...
You’re on a budget
It’s a great price and you’ll get a decent multi-cooker that can perform most of the same functions as a more expensive model.
You want a multi-cooker that doesn’t get hot on the outside
Unlike other multi-cooker models this one stays relatively cool during cooking.
You want simple pressure and temperature settings
The pressure, steam, slow cook and brown/ sauté functions all have just two temperature options: high or low, making this one of the simplest multi-cookers we've tested.
Don't buy it if...
You want steaming accessories included
Despite having a steam function, it doesn’t come with a steam basket, just a rack which isn’t great at keeping the food separate from the water below, especially for smaller pieces of vegetables.
You want lots of recipes
It only comes with a small recipe book, so you’ll have to be prepared to experiment.
You want dishwasher safe accessories
The lid and all of its parts have to be hand washed and although the pot is dishwasher safe, it’s recommended that you hand wash it to preserve the non-stick coating.
First reviewed: June 2021
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Helen is a freelance writer who specializes in kitchen appliances and has written for some of the biggest home-related titles around. She has been reviewing small appliances, including blenders, juicers, and multi-cookers, for more than 8 years, and also upholsters furniture when she's not testing the latest food tech gadgets.