America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo

Slow Cooker vs. Crockpot: What's the Difference?

Great for slow, gentle cooks, we lay out the facts about these handy appliances. 

Published May 2, 2023.

The terms “slow cooker” and “Crockpot” are often used interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? 

Over the years, we've dived deep into slow cookers, testing them, researching them, determining which ones are the best on the market, and developing hundreds of slow-cooker recipes.

So are slow cookers and Crockpots the same thing? The answer is simpler than you might think.

Sign up for the Well-Equipped Cook newsletter

Shop smarter with our ATK Reviews team's expert guides and recommendations.

What’s the difference between a slow cooker and a Crockpot? 

A slow cooker and a Crockpot are the same thing, essentially. A slow cooker is an appliance of which there are lots of brands. Crockpot is one brand of slow cooker. Crockpot popularized slow cookers when they launched their version in the 1970s.

When a company’s product is so popular that it becomes synonymous with an entire category, it’s called “genericization.” Think Band-Aid and bandage. Kleenex and tissue. Thermos and insulated food jar. (I have more but I’ll stop now.) Thus Crockpot has been genericized into meaning the same thing as slow cooker.

So a slow cooker and a Crockpot are the same thing?

Yes. Some folks will tell you slow cookers and Crockpots have slightly different designs or features. They don’t. Regardless of brand, almost all modern slow cookers have a bin-shaped base with heating elements that holds a large crock. This is in contrast to the more retro format of a ceramic crock on top of a burner.

Features and designs vary widely from model to model and brand to brand. Crockpot itself has everything from basic to high-tech to the option to get your own face printed on your slow cooker. (I personally would love a slow cooker slapped with my mad face on one side and my happy face on the other. When I’m ready for folks to eat from it, I’ll turn it from mad to happy.)

400+ Recipes

This definitive guide on how to use a slow cooker builds on the test kitchen’s work testing and retesting recipes and pushing the limits of what a slow cooker can do.

Which is better, a slow cooker or a Crockpot?

Trick question! The bottom line: Not all slow cookers are Crockpots, but all Crockpots are slow cookers. It’s just a category versus a brand name. 

What's the best slow cooker?

Now that we know Crockpot is a brand of slow cooker, the question is: Is Crockpot the best brand of slow cooker? We’ve tested dozens of slow cookers (including some made by Crockpot) over the years. The ones that come out on top are from KitchenAid and Cuisinart. Learn more about our longtime winners and why we love them in the video below.

This is a members' feature.