What Size Slow Cooker Should I Get? 

Crock Pot is one of the most popular brands of slow cooker, and the terms are often used interchangeably. In this article we will explore how to find the right size for your situation.

I’ve used them as a professional chef, as a dad for big meals, and as the cool guy that brings the barbecue meatballs and cocktail wieners to the cookout. 

You’ve decided you want a slow cooker, and here is a guide that will help you pick the right size.

How big do you need?

Crock Pot or Slow Cooker Sitting on Stovetop

To pick the right slow cooker size for you, consider where you might keep it on the countertop or in your cupboard, and how many people you plan on feeding.

If you live by yourself and have a smaller apartment, a small slow cooker might be the smart choice.

If you have a family of three, four, or more, a larger slow cooker with potential for leftovers might be the more economical choice.

What you plan on using your slow cooker for is a big factor, too. Rotisserie chicken won’t fit in a smaller slow cooker, and a rack of beef ribs will require an even larger one.  

In the following sections, I’ll pitch the best use cases for slow cookers of each size.

For A Family of 4

family eating together

Slow cookers with a 5-6 quart pot are a great option for families of three to four.

They are large enough to cook a whole chicken, and can make plenty of soups and chilis that make great leftovers.

These are a great size for making pot roasts with plenty of room for vegetables and potatoes.

Pro-tip: Searing the meat for a pot roast before putting it in the slow cooker helps caramelize and seal flavors on the meat’s surface. 

I would even consider this size for a one or two person household. Since most recipes fit well in a slow cooker of this size, leftovers can be saved for meal prepping.

For 1-2 People

Couple Eating Meal

Slow cookers with a 3-4 quart pot are my ideal choice for people cooking for themselves. 

3-4 quart sized slow cookers might seem like a lot for one person, but when you consider the leftovers it can produce, it makes the size worth it.

It is the perfect size for a soup that can keep feeding for a couple of days.

Pro-tip: You can use a dish or pot inside the slow cooker if you are making a smaller portion, do not want leftovers, or only have a certain amount of ingredients on hand.

Pulled pork is one of my go-tos for slow cookers–it holds up to a week in the refrigerator, and is great for meal prep.   

For Gatherings of 5 (or More)

Friends Gathered To Eat

Slow cookers in the 7-10 quart range are ideal for families of five or more.

You can make full racks of ribs in them or large quantities of soup or pulled pork.

Slow cookers this size might seem pretty big, but when you consider that you can still feed the family, and still have enough for leftovers, it is an economical choice.

Soups and chilis cooked with this size can make large batches.

This is also a great size for hosting parties, and serves well to keep a lot of food warm. 

For Sauces, Drinks, and Appetizers

Slow cookers with a 1-2 quart pot are among the smallest you can buy.

I would recommend against getting anything smaller than a 1.5 quart slow cooker for even one person.

Small slow cookers can make it difficult to get all the ingredients you want into a small space, and can get quite crowded when you want to make something like pot roast. A lot of slow cooker recipes call for quantities that don’t fit that well into smaller slow cookers.

Pro-tip: If your living and cooking space is dictating what size slow cooker you’re getting, halving or quartering a recipe will help you get everything you need into the slow cooker.

Small slow cookers excel at keeping dips and liquids warm for small gatherings.

I have fond memories of my sister keeping hot cocoa warm in a small, 1.5 quart sized slow cooker.    

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best size slow cooker for a family of 4?

For a family of four, I would recommend a slow cooker no smaller than 6 quarts.

What is the best size slow cooker for a family of 6?

For a family of 6, a 7-10 quart slow cooker will feed the family and still make enough for leftovers.

About the author

Ryan worked the Twin Cities circuit as a line cook, sous chef, and kitchen manager for over 15 years. Though he doesn’t cook professionally anymore, he loves to share his restaurant expertise with anyone that needs a tip. Once a cook, always a cook.