Monday, October 6, 2014

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker Review and Giveaway (and Making Black Beans)

Today I am reviewing the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid. I received a free slow cooker to try, and I have one to give away to a reader here, compliments of Hamilton Beach (see The Giveaway, below).

In my house the slow cooker is a 3-season tool; I like to use it from fall through spring. I pull it out on the first chilly fall day, before the heat has been turned on in the house, when it’s nice to have something warming all day in the kitchen.

I decided to give the slow cooker a test with a very simple recipe – making black beans. I use beans a lot (we’re trying to eat less meat here), and black beans lend themselves perfectly to be made in a big batch because they freeze beautifully.

But before I make the beans, let’s take a look at the slow cooker. I’ve never owned a programmable slow cooker before, and was intrigued by the concept. In the past, I would set it in the morning and come home from work to find my meal cooked, but possibly overcooked. This slow cooker’s features allow me to cook for just the right amount of time!


I was immediately struck by how solid this slow cooker is. The oval vessel is a nice heavy stoneware, that looks to be very easy to clean and dishwasher safe. It’s a very allergy-friendly vessel! The glass lid is heavy and solid, with a rubber seal that sits very nicely on top of the stoneware vessel.


The lid has a hole for the thermometer – a fantastic feature if you want to cook meat! And yes, you can program the slow cooker to turn to warm when it reaches just the right temperature.


The lid can be clamped down with clips on the sides for carrying your warmed chili to the potluck dinner. I found the clips difficult to clamp down, but I expect they will loosen up over time. There is also a slot in the handle of the lid for holding a spoon (included) to carry to the potluck dinner (how many times have you gotten there and realized you forgot a spoon?).

Ready to make some black beans? Instead of buying black beans in a can, making them yourself is a fabulous way to save money, not mention control over ingredients and avoiding cross-contamination.

Rinse 2 pounds of black beans. Remove any broken or discolored beans. Place the beans in the vessel for the slow cooker. Cover the beans liberally with water; use 14-15 cups. Luckily, this slow cooker can accommodate that! At this stage it’s not possible to use too much water, but it is possible to use too little water. The goal is to let the beans absorb as much water as possible – they will expand as they do so. Cover the vessel and let the beans soak overnight.

In the morning, skim any floaters from the top. Drain the water from the beans. Place the beans back in the slow cooker vessel and add just enough water to cover them (about 5 cups) and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook on low for 6 hours.

I decided to program the slow cooker for 6 hours on low, and found it very easy to do so. With the program mode, the slow cooker will automatically switch to “warm” when it reaches the time limit – something I wanted to test.

At about 3 hours, skim the foam. After cooking on low for 6 hours (or whenever you come back to it after it turns to warm), check the beans to see if they are done. At this point you may choose to add up to 1 tablespoon more of salt (depending on your preference). Cook the beans for up to 2 more hours, checking them every 30 minutes, until they are done. Mine took exactly 7 hours, total.


Now, back to the slow cooker. I must tell you that I have discarded many slow cookers over the years due to running too hot on low, the outer vessel getting too hot, or just being the wrong size. Some of these were expensive/high-end slow cookers. I don’t think I’ve found another one that I like as much as the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker .

I love the programmability, but what I like best about the machine is the size and design. The large vessel with the glass lid is well positioned so that there is no leakage and no mess inside the slow cooker where the heating elements are. The low temperature was truly low (thank you Hamilton Beach!), and I could touch the outside of the slow cooker while running without fear of burning myself. Even the cover design is such that you don’t need to use an oven mitt to open it. This is one fine machine that is replacing what I was using previously.

I could live without the clips on the side and the spoon holder in the lid, but that might be a great feature for you if you tailgate a lot. The one design change I would make is to lengthen the electrical cord. I had to rearrange the appliances on my countertop to be able to get this close enough to an outlet to plug in. (The cord is about 2 feet long, 3 feet would have been perfect.)

The Giveaway


Now, one of you can win a Hamilton Beach slow cooker. Simply leave a comment below with what you’ll make first in your slow cooker. The slow cooker will be shipped to a randomly chosen winner from Hamilton Beach. You have until midnight on Saturday October 11th to enter. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 13th. Good luck!

55 comments:

Lisa Brown said...

I would make a spicy chili and rice in the slow cooker; perfect for the fall :)
jslbrown2009(at)aol(dot)com

Gina Wildorchid said...

I would love to make some pulled pork BBQ! It has been a while since I have made this, and I have a craving! :)

Thanks for the chance to win!
wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

Tammigirl said...

I will make some delicious chicken tacos first. Or maybe some pinto beans with a big ham shank. What a lovely dilemma!

Tammigirl said...

I will make some delicious chicken tacos first. Or maybe some pinto beans with a big ham shank. What a lovely dilemma!

Blue Bear Aware said...

Not sure where to start. Beef Brisket would be a favourite, for sure.
(Many. many years ago my husband bought me a slow cooker for Christmas. I was completely offended and took it back (it was obviously a dig at my terrible cooking). Three kids later, a slow cooker would be a godsend in this house, but I have been too stubborn to buy one. Winning one would be a completely different story! Thank you for the opportunity!

Cheyenne Clark said...

Chicken Tortilla Soup! It is a perfect fall soup for the Southwest and it is delicious :)

Jenny Sprague said...

I'd make beef stew!

Jessica said...

I would try a pulled pork or chicken recipe!

veggiemama said...

I would make a lentil vegetable soup!

Unknown said...

I would see if I could modify this yummy Cybele Pascal recipe for crock pot success! http://cybelepascal.com/allergy-friendly-pasta-e-fagioli-with-cheesy-garlic-croutons/#.VDLvCKbfz6E.facebook

Jack's Momma said...

I would make Italian Beef, one of our favorites! Slow cookers are a BLESSING! :)

laurelvb said...

Gosh I love simple giveaways when you only have to do one thing. Thank you! The first thing I would make is stock, because I make it every week and my crock pot, pot just broke. Woe is me.

Wendy Rozema said...

The first thing I'd make is Slow cooker Lasagna!!
wendywynsma@gmail.com

Kathryn @ Mamacado said...

Oh my goodness Colette, you said it...my slow cooker is WAY too hot on low. It basically boils everything I cook and in no way SLOW cooks anything. This one sounds great. I'd make some butternut squash, white bean and kale soup in mine. One of my favorite soups for the fall!

Kristin said...

I would make a big pork roast for pulled pork tacos! :) I love the idea of a programmable slow cooker!

Andrea said...

Mongolian Beef!

Tyneisha said...

I will make a very hearty beef stew!

Lindsey said...

I'd make some pulled pork. Nom

Joan Kubes said...

I'd love to make some stuffed bell peppers.

Dough Maven said...

I think a pot roast with lots of potatoes would come out great!

Angela H. said...

I would make fava bean soup.

Natalie Lyons said...

I would make seafood chowder with shrimp and crabmeat. It is so creamy and rich

Rebecca Petry said...

Pot roast with carrots and potatoes! My 4 year olds favorite =)

Kate Hufnagel said...

When I win (lol), I'll make my infamous pulled pork! Slow cookers are the best, especially this time of year!

Lisa Perron said...

I would make a vegan chili!! Yum!

kt said...

Chicken noodle soup (allergy friendly of course!)

THANKS FOR THE OPP!

kate(at)busybeekate(dot)com

Trista Ramirez said...

I would make a big batch of chili. Perfect for football and fall!

Peggy of Allergy Free Test Kitchen said...

Soup! Got to love the crockpot in Fall!

0e9fc470-4e2a-11e4-b1e3-abb0aee71230 said...

I would make beef stew!! Perfect for fall!!!

alycia Hacke said...

I would like to make apple or pumpkin butter!

shannon wilkovich said...

I will be making a pot roast

Melissa Kelly said...

I'd make chili to go over baked potatoes and cornbread :)

Kelly Watters said...

Chicken Noodle Soup!

Scilla said...

I would make beef stew - looking forward to fall and soup!

Joe n Esther Yoder said...

Mmmm, chicken and black beans with cilantro!!!

Shari Gonzales said...

The first thing I'd make is vegan bean chili or maybe some vegan pumpkin chili!

Adriana said...

Pulled Pork.

Cecilia Tagtmeyer said...

I would make beef and noodles. It would be so easy to cook the meat all day and add the noodles when I get home from work.

Unknown said...

I would make chicken soup

Arena Thompson said...

I would make a black eyed pea, sausage and kale slow-cooker soup that my family loves :) arena.thompson [at] gmail.com

Anne said...

I would make chili!! Or, maybe ham bean soup (I have 2 ham bones in the freezer)!

Cheryl Mello said...

Portuguese beans for my family!!

Stephanie Torres said...

Everything allergen friendly and vegetarian! Yummy

Betsy Hartmann said...

I would make some Texas BBQ and serve it on homemade buns.

D Schmidt mummytotwoboys said...

The first thing I would make would be sweet and sour meatballs.

mummytotwoboys@yahoo.com

cindy jones said...

I would make the classics pot roast or stew beef..gotta love em.

Anne said...

I would make sweet pork for tacos. Yum!

Juli Poloway said...

I would make brisket using my dad's recipe.

amanda whitley said...

i would make beef stew since its the perfect meal for a chilly fall night. heavensent1988 at yahoo dot com

christina dutra said...

I want to try making a chicken soap in the slow cooker.

1froglegs said...

I would make a stew, probably beef. We are definitely entering fall in our area and a warm stew would be good.

Laura Brewer said...

I would make split pea soup. :)

Ann Raye said...

I'd love to make a beef stew

Donna said...

pulled pork!

AnnaZed said...

I would make a pot of real Texas Chili
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