The name Crock Pot is practically synonymous with slow cookers, but there certainly are more options out there than simply the Crock Pot branded products, which are manufactured by Jarden Consumer Products. If you're on the market for a new slow cooker, here's a comparison of two popular 6-quart models: the Crock Pot VersaWare Pro Slow Cooker (Model SCVI600B-SS) and the West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker (Model 84716).
The Crock Pot VersaWare Pro has a removable stoneware insert that can be used to saute food on the stovetop, handy when you need to brown ingredients first. The insert is also microwave-, dishwasher-, oven- and refrigerator-safe (It is not freezer safe, according to a call to the company's consumer information line). The oval-shaped pot has a 6-quart capacity. While the temperature switch is manual (It includes low, high and warm settings), there's a digital countdown timer that can be set for as long as 20 hours or as little as 30 minutes; when the timer goes off, the cooker automatically shifts to the warm setting. The VersaWare Pro comes with a recipe book containing about 50 recipes.
Like the Crock Pot Model, the West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker has a 6-quart oval cooking pot, which has a nonstick finish and can be used on the stove or in the oven. It is also refrigerator and freezer safe, but cannot be used in a microwave, according to the manual. The slow cooker has low, medium and high settings, in addition to two keep warm settings (most slow cookers only have two heat settings, plus a keep warm setting). As a bonus, it comes with a removable roasting rack, and when the cooking pot is removed from its base, the base can be used as a small nonstick griddle. The West Bend slow cooker is manual and there isn't a countdown timer.
The Crock Pot VersaWare Slow Cooker has an attractive gold-colored heating base with a brushed finish and a streamlined control panel in the front with two knobs and an illuminated digital timer display. The black stoneware crock nests into the heating element and comes with a matching stoneware lid that is emblazoned with the Crock Pot brand in raised letters.
The West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker has an oval-shaped black aluminum pot with riveted metal handles, a nonstick interior. The clear glass lid is trimmed with metal and has a black plastic stay-cool handle on the top. The pot sits on top of the heating base (which also functions as a griddle), rather than nesting inside. The heat setting is controlled by a simple knob on the front of the heating element.
The Crock Pot VersaWare Slow Cooker has a 3-year extended warranty. The West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker has a 1-year limited warranty.
The Crock Pot VersaWare Slow Cooker has a regular price of $89.99, but can be found for as little as $74.99. The West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker has a regular price of $70.99.
The Bottom Line
With similar sizes, shapes and pricing, the Crock Pot VersaWare Slow Cooker offers more value, since it has the added advantage of having a countdown timer.