Thread Number: 42339  /  Tag: Small Appliances
Hamilton Beach Crock Watcher Auto Shift
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Post# 445470   9/1/2021 at 18:21 (1,017 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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So I walked through Goodwill yesterday and found a vintage appliance I simply couldn't pass up—a Hamilton Beach Crock Watcher six-quart slow cooker with 'Auto Shift' technology. Made in about 1976, the thing looks like it's hardly been used. It has the usual two power settings—high and low—plus a third setting called Auto Shift, which automatically switches the setting from high to low after a couple of hours. Pretty nifty, especially for that period.

What initially attracted me to this appliance were the graphics, which are just so period cool, but then the $5.00 price tag sealed the deal, especially when I got ten percent off with my school ID. I have no idea why it was priced so cheap. Slow cookers at Goodwill usually start at about twice that.

I'm giving it a test run right now with a batch of chili. It's definitely got the house smelling good. The proof will be when I serve some up in a little while. It's been cooking for almost three hours and I usually let it go for four, so I may go ahead and eat some because I'm getting hungry but let it cook a little longer before I put the rest in containers.

The link below is a period TV spot for this model.


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Post# 445471 , Reply# 1   9/1/2021 at 18:29 (1,017 days old) by luxflairguy (Wilmington, NC)        

If you want to know more about these go over to AW. There are several threads about this! Greg

Post# 445479 , Reply# 2   9/1/2021 at 19:44 (1,017 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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So I had some of the chili a little while ago and it was good but it needed to cook a bit longer. I've turned the pot from Auto Shift to High and will let it roll for a couple more hours before I put it into containers. That said, I was able to verify that the Auto Shift function works as it should because it was very warm standing next to the pot an hour after I first turned it on to the Auto Shift setting but it was less warm when I dished up my bowl of chili. When I went back to the kitchen to put my dish in the sink, it was noticeably warmer as I walked past the crock pot.

Since it's not possible to let you sample the chili I made, I'll do the next best thing and give you the recipe and let you make some yourself and try it:

1 pound lean ground beef
2 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans of chili flavored beans
2 15-ounce cans of black beans
1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
1 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
1 tbsp minced garlic (aka 'jarlic')
2 tbsp chili powder (I prefer Badia)
2 tsp ground cumin

-Empty the cans into the slow cooker, juice and all and turn it on high.
-Chop the pepper and onion in the food processor and saute with jarlic and olive oil in a skillet until the onions are translucent, then add to the slow cooker.
-Brown the ground beef and add to the slow cooker.
-Add the chili powder and cumin, if you haven't done so aready.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until the chili has been bubbling for at least an hour. Set slow cooker to low for at least another hour or until you just can't stand it any longer. Honestly, the longer it cooks, the better it gets. I've let it cook overnight and eaten it for breakfast.

This is a fairly mild but flavorful chili. If you like it a little more 'el scorcho', feel free to chop a fresh jalapeño pepper and add to the bell pepper, onion and jarlic mixture and/or add cayenne pepper to taste.

Post# 445481 , Reply# 3   9/1/2021 at 20:17 (1,017 days old) by luxflairguy (Wilmington, NC)        


Post# 445500 , Reply# 4   9/2/2021 at 08:39 (1,017 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Sorry if my chili recipe was somehow offensive. I did check AW, as you suggested, but I didn't see any posts relating to Hamilton Beach slow cookers. Maybe I wasn't looking in the right place.

Cooking the chili a couple of extra hours on high did indeed help last night's batch immensely. Obviously, I'm going to need to learn the intricacies of this particular device (should be a fairly gentle learning curve) but all in all, I think the Crock Watcher was a good buy for what I paid and it has thus earned a permanent place in my kitchen.

Post# 445526 , Reply# 5   9/2/2021 at 18:35 (1,016 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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I remember those on the shelves when it was new

Post# 445555 , Reply# 6   9/3/2021 at 09:49 (1,016 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Odd name...

human's profile picture
I would have been about 13 when they came out but the funny thing is I don't remember these slow cookers when they were new and I certainly don't remember the name. While the TV spot I found had a very familiar feel as an artifact of its era, I can't say that I actually remember seeing it. What I do vaguely remember is the alternate exterior graphics that looked like red bricks. Somebody I knew must have had one of those.

When I first saw this one at Goodwill, I actually had to look twice at the label on the front to recognize that it was a Hamilton Beach product and not a genuine Rival Crock Pot. I'm sure the lawyers helped come up with the 'Crock Watcher' name to make customers think 'crock pot' without actually saying it on the label. With that in mind, I probably saw them on store shelves and the 'Watcher' part of the name just didn't register. It just makes me wonder how many people got them home without realizing it was a knock-off--a good knock-off, but a knock-off nonetheless.

Post# 445590 , Reply# 7   9/3/2021 at 20:40 (1,015 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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I've seen a Dominion by Hamilton Beach version that had a gingham pattern, as well as that brick version, as Hamilton Beach-Scovill had bought out the Dominion Electric Company in the early 1970s.

Some of these also, had a crock that was sealed to the unit and couldn't be removed. Not sure what that was about, as it is a lot less convenient for cleanup. I guess those might be older, as I seem to recall the earliest Rival Crock Pots are the same. I see those pretty often in avocado or red-orange in thrift stores.

Post# 445594 , Reply# 8   9/3/2021 at 21:45 (1,015 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Our orange one did not lift out and that would be circa 1974

Post# 445598 , Reply# 9   9/3/2021 at 22:19 (1,015 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I had one of those early Rival Crock Pots in avocado with the non-removable crock. It was the base model. My mom got it new when I was in elementary school but she seldom used it and passed it on to me when I was in college. It worked really great but it was a pain to clean since it couldn't be immersed in water. I had that thing for some 20 years until about 2005 or 2006 and used it regularly until I donated it to a family my church was helping out who had come to town from New Orleans with nothing after Hurricane Katrina.

Post# 445601 , Reply# 10   9/3/2021 at 23:40 (1,015 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Hours was still working until about 8 years ago when mother broke the lid. I suggested possibly a lid from some of her stainless cookware would fit it did but it also motivated me to get her a new one that would be easier to clean probably still working somewhere

Post# 445645 , Reply# 11   9/5/2021 at 11:58 (1,014 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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After I got rid of the avocado Crock Pot, I found one slightly newer, maybe late '70s or early '80s vintage, with a removable crock but a cheap plastic lid that was clouded from repeated runs through the dishwasher. As luck would have it, my neighbor across the street had a yard sale one Saturday, mainly to get rid of her dead husband's massive collection of golf clubs. On one table, I found the crock and lid to the same Crock Pot, which she had saved after it "just quit working one day". The lid was perfectly clear, unlike mine, so I bought it for the princely sum of a dollar. As far as I'm concerned, the other great bonus of the one I just got is it has a nice, heavy glass lid.

Post# 446501 , Reply# 12   9/26/2021 at 04:54 (993 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
That's a crock

I always thought that would be a great name for a slow cooker. I always remove the ceramic crock from a dead cooker, when possible. Some are really nice and can still be used for oven cooking. You can always drill a couple drainage holes in the bottom and use as a sturdy, heavy flower pot.

Post# 446512 , Reply# 13   9/26/2021 at 10:11 (993 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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Yeah the crock pot reminds me of some of that pottery that was popular in the 60s or 70s. In fact, I think those crock inserts were made by some such company, if I remember right.

I've seen some of those Crock Pots with the clear plastic lids and never got why they did that instead of the glass. They just don't hold up. I don't believe any of them on the market now are like that, but I could be wrong.

Post# 446562 , Reply# 14   9/27/2021 at 04:54 (992 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
your chili recipe

I've put all the ingredients in the pot of my slow cooker. I'm going to set the timer for 5 hours, the first 3 hours on high, then I'll check it and probably lower it to low for 2 more hours. I may just let it cook on low until morning!

I can tell you that it tasted good even before I turned on the heat. I wanted to use up some left over chicken and a piece of steak I couldn't finish earlier and I could only get the hamburger in a two-lb. package so I added two more cans of beans and away we go. Film at eleven Billy

Post# 446573 , Reply# 15   9/27/2021 at 10:28 (992 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Glad you tried the recipe. I've cooked it on Low overnight before and then awoken to that aroma in the morning. I've even been known to eat a little of it for breakfast. It's actually quite good in an omelette. Enjoy!

I agree. Today's slow cookers lack character. They're usually either black or silver with a black or white crock. The lids seem to all be made with thinner (tempered?) glass, rimmed with metal and with a small vent hole, again rimmed with a metal grommet.

I'm not sure when the brown crocks disappeared. Maybe the 1990s? I know Rival continued to make the original Crock Pot with the non-removable crock well into the 2000s and maybe still makes it today. The newer ones had white crocks and less dated graphics but were otherwise the same exact design.

There was a Hamilton Beach outlet somewhere in eastern N.C., where my dad traveled for work. One time, he came home with several crocks that my mom used as planters. I don't remember whether we drilled holes in them or not.

Post# 446582 , Reply# 16   9/27/2021 at 15:29 (992 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Come and get it!

Gave the chili 7 hours in the slow cooker. Wow, I'm sure this is the best chili I've ever had! You're right about the aroma. I had everything in the pot and realized that I was out of cumin. With 11 minutes left before Safeway closed (2am) I got there just as they were making the announcement for closing.

When I returned you could smell the chili even though I hadn't turned the cooker on yet. I followed your instructions to the tee,(tea?) just added about a tbsp of red pepper flakes for a little extra heat. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it's going to be my go to recipe from now on. Also I topped a bowl of chili with shredded chedder cheese for breakfast! Hearty. Billy

Post# 446609 , Reply# 17   9/27/2021 at 21:36 (991 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
A time honored recipe...

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Hey, I'm glad you liked it. This recipe's got some history to it. I found it in an old cookbook my mother had called 'Secrets of Southern Cooking' when I was probably in my early teens. The book was seriously old, outlining traditional hearth cooking and wood stove methods. Mom helped me adapt it for the Crock Pot (and canned beans as the original called for using dry beans, soaked overnight before cooking). I've been experimenting with it and tweaking it ever since.

Post# 446825 , Reply# 18   10/5/2021 at 21:09 (983 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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Never knew the non-removable ones were made that long!

I visited my grandmother over the weekend and noticed she had gotten a new small Rival crock pot. It was black with a black crock and that rimmed glass lid. She had made some beans in it.

She's also got a larger white GE (Walmart) branded Crock Pot that she's had for a while.

At one time she had one of those Presto type that's an actual metal pot that sits on a heated base, and you can also use it on the stove to get things cooking initially before simmering. I think she might still have it, not sure. She loved that one, but I seem to remember it might have burned out. Maybe not. The knob had long since broken off but it still worked. In fact, I don't remember it ever actually having the knob. lol

Post# 446890 , Reply# 19   10/7/2021 at 10:02 (982 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I'm giving the Crock Watcher a second run this weekend. This time it'll be eastern N.C. style pulled pork barbecue! I got a Boston butt pork shoulder roast (I've never understood why they call it a 'butt' when it comes from the shoulder) on sale yesterday. Gotta get the rest of the ingredients together today to make that and some slaw to go with it. Granted, it would be better if I had the facility to actually smoke the meat, but that's one area where my gas grill falls woefully short. The finished product from the slow cooker is mighty good, though. The recipe linked below is pretty close to what I do.


Post# 446919 , Reply# 20   10/8/2021 at 09:07 (981 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Edgar, what about some liquid smoke?? I have before, but not much

Post# 446922 , Reply# 21   10/8/2021 at 11:11 (981 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Liquid Smoke...

human's profile picture
Yes, I use that in the slow cooker; in fact, I just bought a brand new bottle yesterday in preparation for this weekend's cooking. It's an okay substitute but it doesn't really infuse the meat with smoky flavor the way actual smoke does.

I use wood chips in a stainless steel smoke box on my gas grill and it works reasonably well for smaller cuts of meat like chicken or pork chops but at best, I can only get about a half hour of smoke with that setup, which is not nearly enough for a seven-pound Boston butt roast. Part of the problem with the slow cooker in this respect is a lot of the fat is dissolved into the liquid and ultimately discarded; whereas on a grill or in a smoker, the fat is where most of the smoke flavor is absorbed.

The recipe I use for the slow cooker uses a lot of vinegar, a little red pepper and brown sugar, which infuses the meat with a very different flavor profile but the liquid smoke tends to get lost in that mix.

Post# 455483 , Reply# 22   8/5/2022 at 09:57 (680 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Chili flavored beans

Hi Edgar, For some reason I can no longer find the chili flavored beans as called for in your recipe. At first, back when you posted the recipe, I had no problem, but now can't find them in any store. So I was wondering if you know of the actual brand who puts them out? Armed with an actual brand name I might have better luck trying to convince my local grocer to order a case or two!

Thanks, no hurry! Bill

Post# 455498 , Reply# 23   8/5/2022 at 17:09 (679 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I mainly make chili in the fall and winter, so I haven't looked for any chili flavored beans lately. I'll make a point of doing so next time I'm at the grocery. I've noticed that the stores around here are stocking smaller quantities of things, as well eliminating slower moving SKU's from inventory. I think that's one way they're coping with persistent supply chain issues. While it's not too surprising, it can be somewhat frustrating. That said, I'm pretty brand agnostic when it comes to canned beans and usually just grab the store brand or whatever's on sale. I looked in my cabinet and what I have on hand is "Dakota's Pride," chili flavored beans, which is an Aldi store brand.

Post# 455574 , Reply# 24   8/8/2022 at 01:53 (677 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Thanks Edgar

I'll keep an eye out for them. I mean I've made it with just doubling up on the other beans in the recipe and it's still the same good chili.Thanks for responding!

Post# 455814 , Reply# 25   8/13/2022 at 16:49 (671 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I was in Aldi yesterday and this thread came to mind so I checked the shelves and sure enough, they had the Dakota's Pride chili flavored beans in plentiful quantity. that said, you can certainly make it with whatever beans you have on hand or want to use and it'll still be great.

Post# 455903 , Reply# 26   8/15/2022 at 19:59 (669 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Thanks for checking

Nice to have the confirmation that they indeed exist. The last time I saw them in this store was around the time stores began having shortages. I had the beans on my list. As I was walking down the aisle to pick up a can there was this man literally swiping all the canned beans on a 4ft. section into his cart.

He had easily over 100 cans. I asked him if I could have just one can as I drove down here specifically for said beans. He side eyed me and begrudgingly handed me a can. What a guy,sheesh. Hoarders!

Post# 456701 , Reply# 27   9/12/2022 at 10:55 (642 days old) by Human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Saturday was a dreary, rainy day with highs in the mid-to-upper 60s, cool for this area this time of year, so I decided to break out the Crock Watcher and make some chili. I had ground beef and all the necessary seasonings on hand, but I needed a bell pepper, an onion, and cans of beans and tomatoes, so I headed out to Aldi in the rain. They had everything I needed, including the chili flavored beans, but not the diced tomatoes with green chili peppers (it's always something), so I substituted fire roasted tomatoes, which worked out just fine. On a whim, I also added a pinch of red pepper flakes, which gave it a subtle bite, but not really enough to qualify as a 'kick'. This ended up being just right for my palate. I ended up with about three quarts of chili, two of which are headed for the freezer today. I'd rather enjoy it when I'm in the mood than burn myself out on it, simply because it's there. At this point, I have to say the Crock Watcher is now my favorite of the three slow cookers I own.

Post# 456772 , Reply# 28   9/15/2022 at 03:06 (639 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        

I've been adding red pepper flakes all along for a little extra heat and also smoked paprika. I don't know why I have trouble finding diced tomatoes with peppers, so I just open a can of chilies and chop them up.

The good will, thrift stores almost always have a couple crock pots back in the appliance section for $5-7 bucks. I think I'll pick one up next time I go in. Heck, if wait until half off day and use senior discount on top of that they'd practically be paying me to take it home!

The newer style cooker I have which can also be used as a pressure cooker cooks too hot to be like a crock pot. The slow cook setting is about 300degrees. I can't leave it for too long without having to stir the contents or risk scorching. It doesn't have that thick ceramic insert like crock pots so when the heating element comes on it's too hot all at once.

I don't think pressure cooking chili beans would be as tasty as slow cooking is.Plus I believe the beans would come out mushy, like re-fried beans. What is the main difference between a crock watcher and a standard crock pot? I may look for that instead.

Post# 456841 , Reply# 29   9/17/2022 at 21:51 (636 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Two different manufacturers...

human's profile picture
Crock Pot brand slow cookers are made by Rival and the Crock Watcher was made by Hamilton Beach. It was their upper end model back in the '70s. Its unique feature is a timer setting that would start it off on 'High' and then drop it to 'Low' after a couple of hours. Hamilton Beach also sold them under the Slow Cooker name without the automatic setting. They still use the Slow Cooker name today.

Post# 457217 , Reply# 30   10/3/2022 at 17:06 (620 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Lucky Crock Pot find (I think)

I cruised through the local thrift store near me and as always there were crock pots galore on aisle 10! I think there were nine pots available this week. Two were "instant pots"a newer version with more features. Then I spotted a Crock Watcher on the top shelf. It is the same as yours and looked brand new. I paid 8.95 which is higher than if I waited for half off day, which only happens once a month there.

No big. Question to you. Does the outer shell get hot to the touch on yours? Mine does. I'm heating up about 3 qts. of water to test with a candy thermometer at both settings. I'll see if I can download an owners manual that hopefully will describe what temps are achieved at either setting.

I just checked the temp on high setting and it's not even at 150 yet. I'll give it more time, it seems like I read that most crock pots go to 150 on low and 250 on the high setting. Have you ever checked yours for accuracy, it sounds like yours is working as it should.

Post# 457238 , Reply# 31   10/4/2022 at 19:29 (619 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I have not checked it for accuracy but it definitely does get hot to the touch on the outside and it does bubble/boil on high, but it can take a while to get there. The first time I used it and I tried the 'Automatic Shift' setting, it cut back to low before things came a boil. I could tell it had shifted to low because it didn't feel as warm in close proximity as it had when I previously checked it. After I turned it manually back to high, it reached a boiling/bubbling point within roughly another half an hour.

Post# 457243 , Reply# 32   10/5/2022 at 06:25 (619 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        

I finally got it up to 200 on high,but like you said, it takes a while. This is up from 120 on any setting so progress. I believe this is a NOS pot and about 45 yrs. old. I wanted too open it up to see if everything looked alright but they did a good job disguising the way it buttons up! No screws that I can see. Not even the legs are screwed to the base.

I was thinking maybe a control switch has a loose wire or was corroded so that there's only half power or maybe a condenser/resister was going out after 45 yrs. of hanging around. I'm also curious about the auto shift and how it works. Like is it a bi-metallic type of switch similar to thermostats,because I could see that acting up and effecting the amount of power going to the heating coils.

Well I'll just have to spend a little more time getting to the innards and checking it out. I did pull the knob off and spray some contact cleaner on the switch and worked it back and forth a few times. After that I started seeing higher temps. One thing for sure, with the amount of radiant heat it delivers it will double as a portable space heater this winter! Make chili and heat a room at the same time. I
'll let you know what I find out.

I wish I knew how to test the amp draw, my friend gave me a few testers from his fathers collection. I've only used one of them to test batteries around the house. like flashlights,remotes,mice and clocks,lol. Thanks for responding!

Post# 457515 , Reply# 33   10/21/2022 at 22:44 (602 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Well, I tried

Hi Edgar, Well finally spent the time to figure out how to open up the crock pot, to see if anything looked wrong. I couldn't get the pot up over 200 on any setting. The hollow tube centered in the bottom of the base acts as a drain and also holds the bottom to the metal housing.

After removing that the bottom plastic base just falls off. There are teo heating bands that wrap around the side of the cylinder, that's why the outside is so hot while running. I suspect the switch is faulty, it's the only moving part. Everything else looks fine.

The thrift stores almost always have crock pots, so I'll just check back until I find a suitable replacement. I will ask if I can return said crock pot if this happens again. Have you ever returned something to a thrift? For 8.95 I'm not going to return this, I've had it for a couple months anyway, and lost the receipt. I may try my insta-pot again.

I went to a crock pot web sight today (!) and people kept complaining that the lid to their c-pot doesn't fit very tight. They aren't supposed to, it's not a pressure cooker! On yours and mine the crock has a couple ridges that make it easy to use other lids. Pyrex casserole lids work for instance. You can use a higher domed lid if you need to. Ideally you want most of the steam to drain back in to the pot and not down the outside of the cooker.

One lady on the sight says her Hamilton Beach same model has been going strong for 35 years and she uses it a lot! Good news.

Post# 457521 , Reply# 34   10/22/2022 at 21:17 (601 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Thrift Store Returns...

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The thrifts I frequent around here—Goodwill, Freedom House, Habitat ReStore—all allow returns on electrical items such as household appliances and electronics. They usually give you a week or 10 days and issue a store credit instead of a cash refund. I've returned a few things without any hassle.

Post# 462361 , Reply# 35   4/16/2023 at 23:43 (425 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Chili shortcut!

IO still haven't replaced my crock pot that would only reach 200f on high. So in the mean time I'm back to using my stock pot and my gas stove. I got to thinking abouit how I've made chili beans where the dry beans are soaked over night and rinsed the next day.Those recipes called for about 4-5 hrs. cooking.

So given that canned beans are already cooked and basically heat and eat, I decided to reduce the cooking time and see how it goes. I was aiming for 2-2 1/2hrs. I put all the beans and diced tomatoes and the cooked onions and garlic and all the spices in and brought it up to boil,then put a cookie sheet over the top of stock pot to simmer for about an hour.

I waited until the second hour to ad the lightly browned hamburger The bell pepper and chilies went in the first hour also,forgot to mention. Along with the hamburger I added another can of diced tomatoes and a little more water.

Let it go for an hour and thirty min.Same great results in half the time.Cooking on stove-top means you can't leave the house or forget to 'stir the pot' now and then. This was my main push to shorten the time I'd be tethered to the kitchen.I don't think the chili suffered a bit by a shorter cooking time.

Looking forward to getting another "set it and forget it" crock pot. That's still the easiest way! Just thought I'd share this with you. Even when I use a crock pot I'm going to wait and ad the hamburger in the last hour,same with spaghetti sauce, so it won't dry out the meat as much.

Warming up about a cup of this and pouring it over freshly scrambles eggs with grated cheese makes for a hearty satisfying breakfast too!! Sloppy Joe's for lunch? Nice.

Post# 462395 , Reply# 36   4/18/2023 at 10:50 (424 days old) by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        
Once I had a 'brunch'

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for the family after a death anniversary Mass.  I made 7 dozen scrambled eggs, etc.  Those eggs stayed perfectly warm in a Crock Pot, on low.   Was amazing.

  I always make  spaghetti sauce in one, overnight.


Post# 462402 , Reply# 37   4/18/2023 at 19:49 (423 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I'm making some Brunswick stew in my slow cooker tomorrow. It's the best thing I know to do with a rotisserie chicken carcass.

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