By design, slow cookers take longer to cook a meal than a stovetop; however, they reduce the time the cook spends in meal preparation. Once placed in the device, food is ready in 4 to 8 hours.
Slow cookers heat from the side of the pot and hold food at temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees. This process allows cooks to choose less expensive cuts of meat. The slow heat cooking breaks down the connective tissue that causes these cuts to be tough, resulting in a tender finished product.
Slow cookers have a ceramic liner and lid that are important elements of the design. The liner ensures even heat and the lid keeps the steam and heat in the pot. As the steam condenses on the lid, it drips back onto the food in the pot to keep it basted without any interaction from the cook.
When using a slow cooker, users simply place the ingredients in the pot and have the freedom to go about their day until the meal is ready to eat; there is no need to stir the pot or check on it in any way. Slow cookers actually work best when left alone. Each time the lid is lifted, the time to complete the process increases.