Versatile Slow Cooker with Many Unique Talents
The 360 Cookware Slow Cooker combines function with ease of use to give you more cooking options while taking up less space in your cupboards.
At the heart of this smart cooking system is a heating base with four adjustable heat settings. This base is compatible with most of 360’s stockpot options. With this versatile system, you can use your pot on the stove, on the cooking base, or in the oven.
I was especially impressed by this cookware’s quality and unique design. Both of these features combine to give you the option to cook without added oils. The vapor-lock lids hold moisture, flavor, and nutrients in the pot so you can enjoy tastier, healthier meals with no extra effort.
This isn’t a cheap slow cooker by any means. But that extra investment is worth it for a quality pot that doubles as a normal stovetop accessory or as an easy-to-use crockpot.
Review Criteria Ratings
- Separate base and stovetop-compatible pot
- Vapor cooking or traditional cooking compatible
- Four heat settings
- Holds heat better while using less energy
- Great for warming, cooking, and baking
- Lid handles get hot
- No off switch on the cooking base
- The base has limited functionality
Should You Buy It?
If you want the option to slow cook meals in addition to preparing healthy recipes on the stovetop, the 360 slow cooker is a great choice.
This is a highly versatile system that will open up your cooking options without crowding your cupboards.
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360 Cookware Cookware Overview
360 Cookware has a huge line of cookware products, from premium pans to flatware. Their slow cooker base was made as an extension to their unique vapor cooking line of pots and pans.
Unlike a traditional slow cooker, this base is meant to be used with their stove-top stockpots. This kind of versatility not only helps reduce clutter in your cupboards but also increases your cooking options.
With the 360 slow cooker base and pot, you can sear meats on the burner, then braise them to perfection in the slow cooker—all with one pot!
The slow-cooker-compatible stockpots come in a variety of sizes, from 2.3 quarts to 6 quarts. They are made with the same high degree of quality as all of the company’s cookware.
The outer layer, which contacts the cooking surface, is made of high carbon steel. This material is better at conducting heat than traditional stainless and is more durable.
The inner layer, which is what comes into contact with your food, is surgical-grade stainless steel. This layer is also highly durable. And it has been sanded down to a smooth and even finish that gives it natural non-stick qualities.
Between these two layers is a layer of aluminum. It is a highly conductive metal that will provide you with even cooking and reduced energy consumption. This layer is fully encased and bonded to food-safe stainless on each side to prevent heavy metals from leaching into your food.
The pots’ unique choice of materials is why they are so effective at cooking on low heats. The other reason has to do with the lids.
The 360 cookware lids are made to mirror the exaggerated curvature and upright walls of the pot. Along with the exaggerated flanges on the pot and lid, this shape also helps trap heat and moisture for cooking food more efficiently.
Because the lid allows so little moisture to escape, you can cook vegetables and meat without adding water or oil to the pot. This process also helps retain more flavor and nutrients than traditional cooking methods.
This vapor cooking method works well on the stovetop at lower temperatures. But it is especially well suited for cooking with the highly controllable, low-heat output of a traditional slow cooker. This is exactly why 360 designed their slow cooker base.
This is just one example of how this company’s attention to detail and dedication to functionality benefit the customer.
360 Cookware is equally dedicated to creating quality products using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Since their founding in 2004, they have continued to produce quality, green cookware made in the USA.
Between the quality cookware and the company’s principles, there is a lot to love about 360.
Their slow cooker set, especially, brings a lot of joy to the cooking process. The base allows for precise heating for flavorful slow-cooked meals while the quality vapor-lock pots reduce the need for added oils while trapping all that yummy flavor inside.
The 360 slow cooker is designed for effortless cooking that produces fantastic results. But how does it perform in the real world? Find out in our full 360 Cookware slow cooker review below.
How It Performs
I had a chance to try out the 360 Cookware slow cooker base and 4qt stockpot for myself. I spent time cooking with the pot on the glass stovetop and plenty of time experimenting with the base. Here is where this cookware set impressed and where it fell short of expectations.
The stockpot I received as part of this set is absolutely beautiful.
The quality of the build is apparent just by lifting it. It is thicker than any other pot I own and gives the impression that it will last for decades.
This stockpot also has a distinct look compared to traditional pots and pans.
The curves on the bottom are highly exaggerated, while the top flange is wider than most pots. The lid bears the same design elements.
Of course, the shape of the pots, the quality of the metal used to forge them, and the unique lids are necessary for vapor cooking.
The vapor cooking method, which is fairly intuitive when cooking on the slow cooker base, allows you to use less liquid and oils in your recipes. It also holds heat more efficiently, which means less energy is needed to keep food at the necessary temperature.
I should mention, this is not a pressure cooking system or anything similar. Even with the vapor cooking aspect, your slow cooker meals will take about the same amount of time as a traditional crockpot. But this method will cook things more evenly without creating hard crusts along the top and side of the pot.
As far as the base itself, there isn’t a lot going on.
It is lightweight but feels well constructed. The knob has four heat settings, from 1 (warm) to 4 (what would be medium in a standard slow cooker).
There is no off setting. Anytime the base is plugged in, it’s on. There is no timer or auto-warm functionality, either.
Overall, I loved the cookware set but would have liked a base with more functions.
Related post: 360 Cookware Stainless Steel Pots and Pans Review
A Note About the Lids
These lids are designed to form a strong seal with the pot to keep vapor contained inside. Impressively, they do this without any rubber gaskets or extra parts. It is simply the shape of the metal edge that allows this to happen.
These pot lids seal so well. In fact, they will lock onto your stovetop or counter with ease. The manual warns against setting a warm, wet lid on glass surfaces because the seal is so tight — it could break the glass when you try to pull it off!
After I accidentally set my lid on my granite countertop, I had to use ice and a cold rag to release the seal before I could remove the lid. That is some serious sealing power!
The base came well-packaged in its own special box. The 4qt pot came packaged with a larger set of pans that I also had the chance to review.
Both the pot and base came with their care manuals. Each included tips and information on using the vapor cooking method. The base manual also featured a handful of recipes specific to the vapor-cook slow cooker.
This guide was invaluable since the vaper cooking method requires different amounts of liquid and seasoning than traditional slow-cook recipes. But it is also way too limited.
Luckily, the website does include a few more recipe ideas and more in-depth instructions. It is worth looking at these resources before cooking your first meal with this unique slow cooker set.
How Do They Cook?
As I said in my full 360 Cookware review, cooking with these pots and pans on the stovetop is a joy.
You can use them for traditional cooking with added oils or for vapor cooking, in which case you won’t need to add any additional oil or water. As long as you keep the temperatures low and pay attention, these pots deliver an awesome cooking experience.
They cook evenly, use less energy, and give you the option for low-calorie, health-focused meal prep.
Cooking on the slow cooker base is equally as enjoyable.
In many ways, the cooker base just functions as another range coil, except that it is much easier to control the temperature output.
The slow cooker’s setting 1 is low enough to warm dinner rolls and keep food at the optimal temperature for serving. On the other hand, settings 2 and 3 are great for slow-cooking soups and stews. And the highest setting, which will be much lower than high on a traditional slow cooker, works best for cooking meats and vegetables.
The most notable difference I found between this slow cooker and a traditional one is that the food seemed to cook much more evenly. There is no need to stir your food in this cooker because there are no hot spots — the food on the edges cooks at the same rate as the food in the middle.
The typical dried-out crust that forms when cooking in a traditional crockpot didn’t form with the 360 Slow Cooker. This is thanks to moisture recycling and balanced heating.
Not only did this make for a tastier meal, but it also made cleanup a breeze!
Overall, I enjoyed cooking with the stockpot, both on the stovetop and on the slow cooker base. The base doesn’t have a ton of functionality but it was able to cook so evenly that I would still choose it over my traditional slow cooker.
One downside to this cookware, whether used on the slow cooker or stovetop, is that the lid handles get really hot. So, make sure you have your hot pads at the ready.
How Do They Clean-Up?
After testing my stockpot extensively on the stove using traditional cooking and vapor cooking, I can confidently say that these pots are easy to clean—assuming you keep the heat low.
The non-stick functionality of this cookware works great so long as you don’t overheat the contents of the pan. If you keep your temps low enough to avoid sticking, cleanup is as easy as wiping them down with soap and water.
Even if you burn your food, it is surprisingly easy to bring the pan back to its original shine. All I had to do was soak the pot for a bit, then wipe it out with a rag. But if this isn’t enough, the manual suggests using a baking soda paste to scrub debris off.
When using the slow cooker base for cooking, cleanup is even easier.
The combination of the low temperatures of the base plus the vapor seal action of the lid means that food stays uniformly moist in the pot. No crust forms at the top, and food doesn’t stick to the bottom.
If you do everything right, cleaning up after your slow cooker meal is as easy as wiping the pot down with a soapy rag.
Even if you don’t do everything right, cleanup is still impressively easy. I left my slow cooker oatmeal on the warm setting with the lid off for about 30 minutes (this is why I need an off setting). A layer of overcooked oats formed at the bottom, and everything got a touch dried out.
But, after soaking the pot for about ten minutes, I still only needed a rag to clean it up.
Alternatives to the 360 Cookware Slow Cooker
The versatility and unique cooking talents of the 360 Cookware slow cooker make it an excellent choice if it happens to match your needs. If you are looking for something more traditional or cheaper, there are other great options out there.
In the more traditional realm, the All-Clad Programmable Slow Cooker is an excellent choice. This stainless steel plug-in cooker functions as a traditional slow cooker but with way more features than your typical crockpot. It has a digital display and timer function and a ceramic insert you can use for serving and reheating foods in the oven.
For those looking for something as versatile as the 360 Cookware cooker but at a more affordable price, the West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker is a great option. Like the 360, this slow cooker utilizes a separate base to heat a detachable pot.
|Feature||360 Cookware Slow Cooker||All-Clad Programmable Slow Cooker||West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker|
|Cooking function||4-level slow cooker, stovetop, oven||Slow cooker with timer and digital display||4-level slow cooker, stovetop, oven, griddle|
|Material||Stainless steel clad aluminum with stainless steel and plastic base||Stainless steel cooker shell with ceramic insert||Non-stick coated steel with glass lid and steel and plastic cooking base.|
Things to Consider Before Buying a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a must-own if you enjoy creating homemade soups, stews, and nontraditional baked goods. But how useful you find your new slow cooker will depend on the features included. Here are some things to consider before you commit to any one product.
- Functionality. Most slow cookers are pretty basic. They feature a single adjustable temperature dial, and that’s about it. Others have timer functions and auto-warm capability.
- Versatility. Your standard crockpot is built to sit on your counter and heat foods using electricity. But some options allow you to use it on the stovetop and in the oven. If you are short on space, a versatile slow cooker is a must.
- Price. There is huge variability in the prices of slow cookers. You can pick up a cheap crockpot for under $30. Others, especially those that utilize versatile, high-quality cookware, can retail for ten times that amount.
Slow cookers are a great way to make deliciously flavorful meals without slaving in front of a hot stove all day. But these bulky items tend to take up a lot of cupboard space.
The 360 Cookware Slow Cooker solves this problem while cooking more efficiently.
The low-profile base works with most of the company’s standard stockpots. That means you can use your pot on the stovetop or as a slow cooker, thereby reducing the amount of space needed for storage. And because of the unique shape and construction of these quality pots, your food will cook more evenly and pack more flavor than meals from a traditional crockpot.
To learn more about the 360 Cookware Slow Cooker System or purchase one for yourself, click here.