Portable Crock Pot

Published September 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

Overview:

This device, a 20-ounce handled lunch tote that resembles a mini slow cooker, is designed to both transport and warm your food for hot lunches at your desk. Once plugged in, it supposedly warms food as a conventional slow cooker does—no office microwave necessary.

We toted a crock filled with refrigerator-cold chicken soup and homemade chili to work and plugged it in as soon as we arrived. We also put the insert and lid through five dishwasher cycles. The good news was that the warming element worked well: The appliance operated inside the temperature-safe zone by quickly heating food above 140 degrees. After about 2 hours, it reached a maximum of 175 degrees and held food at that temperature until the unit was unplugged, keeping our food safe and ready to eat. (Note: It does not insulate as a thermos does, meaning that food will not be kept cold before heating. Nor will it cook raw food like a slow cooker.)

The downside was durability. While the crock didn’t leak when new, the lid lost its snug fit and began leaking a bit after… read more

This device, a 20-ounce handled lunch tote that resembles a mini slow cooker, is designed to both transport and warm your food for hot lunches at your desk. Once plugged in, it supposedly warms food as a conventional slow cooker does—no office microwave ­necessary.

We toted a crock filled with refrigerator-cold chicken soup and homemade chili to work and plugged it in as soon as we arrived. We also put the insert and lid through five dishwasher cycles. The good news was that the warming element worked well: The appliance operated inside the temperature-safe zone by quickly heating food above 140 degrees. After about 2 hours, it reached a maximum of 175 degrees and held food at that temperature until the unit was unplugged, keeping our food safe and ready to eat. (Note: It does not insulate as a thermos does, meaning that food will not be kept cold before heating. Nor will it cook raw food like a slow cooker.)

The downside was durability. While the crock didn’t leak when new, the lid lost its snug fit and began leaking a bit after repeated heating, cooling, and trips through the dishwasher. Given that, we’ll continue to use the microwave to reheat leftovers.

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