Last Updated on January 11, 2021
EDITOR’S NOTE: The second time we used this slow cooker, the “on” light on the base stopped working on the high setting, but the slow cooker still heats to the appropriate temperature. In early January of 2021 we contacted the company that services the warranty, and they promptly sent us a new base. Unfortunately, the new base has the same problem. Read more in our update toward the end of this post.
While pressure cookers and Instant Pots have stolen the spotlight in recent years and they have their uses, there is no denying that an old-fashioned slow cooker — also known by the name brand Crock Pot — can be a helpful cooking tool. Aldi sells both pressure cookers and slow cookers at different times through the year as limited-time Aldi Finds. Most recently, Aldi sold a 7-quart slow cooker.
Earlier this year, the handle broke off of the lid on my Crock Pot brand 7-quart slow cooker after nearly 14 years of use. I jerry-rigged the handle so I could still use it, and I waited for Aldi to sell a slow cooker so I could put it through the paces for Aldi Reviewer.
The Ambiano 7 Quart Slow Cooker (product code 56829) cost $18.99 at the time of publication. That’s less than other most other manual 7-quart slow cookers from Amazon, Walmart, or Target. Aldi has sold this slow cooker for the last few years, and last year it cost $19.99, so the price has decreased by $1 this year.
- A removable ceramic pot that can also be used as a serving dish
- A tempered glass lid
- Ideal to cook for 8 people or a 7-lb. roast
- An oval heating base
- A control knob with 3 heat settings (low, high, and warm)
- Cool-touch handles
- A choice of matte black or stainless steel
- A three-year warranty
- Made in China
After sales support can be obtained by emailing [email protected] or calling 1-888-367-7373. That indicates that service is provided by Wachsmuth & Krogmann, an international company with U.S. operations based in the Chicago suburbs. They service other Aldi products including toasters and the robotic duster.
The slow cooker comes with the removable ceramic pot, the heating base, a tempered glass lid, an instruction manual, and a warranty sheet.
I purchased the matte black design, and it is a nice-looking slow cooker. It is pretty basic in terms of functions, with just a simple manual knob to control the temperature. It doesn’t have a digital display, and you can’t program it to cook for a set amount of time. That means that when your food is done cooking, this slow cooker will not automatically switch to the warm setting or the “off” setting. You have to change the setting manually.
I had those fancier features in my old name-brand Crock Pot, but the tradeoff is that I now have a slow cooker with a working handle on the lid. (I did try to see if the new Ambiano lid would work on my old Crock Pot, but it doesn’t fit.)
The manual states that the low setting is for slow heating, approximately 5-6 hours to reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit, while the high setting is for fast heating, approximately 3-4 hours to reach 121 degrees. The warm setting is used only for keeping already-cooked food warm at around 185 degrees, and it’s not recommended to use the warm setting for more than 4 hours. The manual also says to add 10 minutes to your cook time every time you remove the lid.
Before using the slow cooker, you’ll want to wash the pot and lid, and wipe down the heating base with a soft damp cloth. For cleanup after cooking, use a soft cloth moistened with a mild soap solution. For cooked-on food, you can soak the inside of the pot in warm soapy water, but don’t soak the entire pot in water. That’s because there is an area on the base that has to remain unglazed for manufacturing purposes. The unglazed area is porous and will soak up water.
I put the slow cooker to its first test making a simple batch of chili on the low setting. It was simmering and bubbling after about 3 and a half hours, and it seems to heat about on par with my older Crock Pot.
The knob is simple to work, and the heating base heats up pretty quickly. The base also has rubber feet that keep it from sliding around on the counter, and my old Crock Pot actually does slide around some, so this Ambiano model comes out the winner in that area. (I can’t say the same for other Ambiano small kitchen appliances from Aldi, such as the Ambiano Toaster Oven, which slides all over my counter.)
The manual notes that the slow cooker “may produce an odor when switched on for the first time, as residues from the production process are eliminated.” It made my kitchen smell like I was using the self-cleaning feature on my oven, but once my chili really got cooking, the odor faded. The smell should go away for good after the first few uses.
A few other notes from the manual:
- Do not use frozen meat or poultry in this; thaw it first.
- If you need to pre-cook or brown foods prior to slow cooking, this must be done in a pan on the stove, not in the slow cooker.
- The slow cooker must be at least half full for best results.
- When cooking soups and stews, leave a 2-inch space between the top of the pot and the food surface to allow simmering.
- Do not preheat before adding ingredients.
- Some ingredients aren’t ideal for slow cooking. Pasta, seafood, milk, and cream should be added toward the end of cook time.
- Food should be cooked with a liquid, gravy, or sauce, which you can prepare in a separate pan and add to the slow cooker if you need to.
- After food is cooked, if you switch the knob to off and leave the lid on, there will be enough heat in the pot to keep food warm for about 30 minutes. If you need to keep food warm for a longer time, use the warm setting.
- It’s not recommended to store food in the ceramic pot in the refrigerator, but if you do, wait at least 45 minutes after taking it out of the refrigerator before adding it to the slow cooker base to allow it to warm slightly.
I’m curious to see how this slow cooker does over time, and I’ll update later, but my initial thoughts are that this is a good slow cooker if you need a slow cooker and don’t want to spend a lot of money. It doesn’t come with the fancy features of some other slow cookers, but it looks good and, more important, it gets the job done.
Update (1/11/2021): The second time I used this slow cooker, the light on the base stopped working when the knob was turned to the high setting, but it still heats to the appropriate temperature (I used a food thermometer to be sure). I sent a message to the email address listed on the warranty card, and they responded very quickly and sent me a new base in less than a week. When I received the replacement base, I plugged it in and tried the knob on all settings, and it worked correctly. A few days later, I went to cook some ribs and the light on the new base stopped working on the high setting. I decided not to contact the warranty service company again because the new base still heats up and, while the company might send me another base, I’m not confident it would be glitch-free either.
The Ambiano 7 Quart Slow Cooker is a solid choice. It doesn’t have fancy features and operates using a manual knob with high, low, and warm settings. You can’t program it or set food to cook for a certain amount of time, but if you need an inexpensive slow cooker that will cook your food, this one fits the bill. While it was still very new, the light stopped working on my slow cooker on the high setting, but the warranty company was easy to work with and they sent me a replacement base in the mail. However, the new base has the same problem.