Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 Review

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com
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Slow, steady cooking and a rich set of features, including a temperature probe, make this 6-quart programmable model a top choice.

Pros: Hundreds of reviewers sing the praises of this 6-quart programmable slow cooker (starting at $49, Amazon). Food is cooked thoroughly and evenly, according to Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 reviews on Amazon and Walmart.com, and users are rarely disappointed. They tell of setting the temperature to low, walking out the door, and returning home eight or nine hours later to a warm and perfectly cooked roast, stew, soup, pot of beans, or chicken in pasta sauce. Giddy reviewers without much practice in the kitchen report great success preparing healthy and flavorful meals without much effort.

CNET testers who evaluated five competing slow cookers, including three that sell at higher prices, determined that the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 retains heat extremely well, doesn't reach its maximum temperature too quickly, and finishes the job in the expected amount of time.

Cons: As with any product that has been available for quite a few years (with minor tweaks and updates) and garnered several thousand reviews, gripes surface here and there. Some reviewers complain that the outer shell of the unit gets way too hot. Others report that it just stops working after a few months of light use, and sometimes smack in the middle of cooking dinner. (What do you say to the family then?) One review on Target.com reports that a pot that was filled with frozen ribs, barbecue sauce, and liquid and set on high for six hours exploded all over, and another laments random failures that waste lots of ingredients. The CNET expert grumbles about the display design and multiple button pushes required to get the cooker going. Still, users crow that the budget price is hard to beat, especially given the pile-up of features and the cooker's versatility.

Features: As on other programmable slow cookers, users can choose the high or low heat setting and the desired cooking time; on this model the remaining time shows up on the digital display. Unlike other programmable cookers, the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 can also function in manual mode, meaning users choose the desired heat setting and manually switch the unit to warm or off. The cooker automatically powers down after a total of 14 hours.

One unusual feature is the temperature probe, which monitors the internal temperature of a roast, chicken, and the like. A current temperature reading shows up on the display alternately with the chosen temperature. Once that point is reached, the unit automatically switches to warm mode. One reviewer lauds the benefits of the temperature probe for making soap in the slow cooker and others say it ensures moist and tasty pork shoulder, turkey breasts, and other large cuts of meat. A minor snafu, according to users, is the length of the probe: Apparently it's too short for small roasts.

The Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 is fully loaded. The lid is made of tempered glass, comes with a gasket, and locks in place with wire clips. The handles are set wide and remain cool during cooking. Users can choose any of three cooking modes: high, low, and warm. The manufacturer says the 6-quart capacity of the oval stoneware crock can accommodate a 6-pound chicken or 4-pound roast. The lid and crock are dishwasher-safe.

Takeaway: Minor complaints aside, this is one slow cooker that demands full attention. A slightly older model, the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33967, is also still available and may be cheaper than the 33969 model. The handles and lid top are different and the 33967 comes with a clip-on spoon, but otherwise the two are identical. Go with whichever design you prefer, or whichever price is lowest.

Maralyn Edid

Maralyn is a veteran reporter, writer, researcher, and editor. From her early years at Crain's Chicago Business and the Detroit bureau of Business Week, then on to a long-term stint at Cornell University's ILR School and now at Cheapism.com, Maralyn has been -- and remains -- committed to getting ...

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