A good roaster has a lot in common with your standard crock pot. They both give you the chance to slow-cook your way to delicious soups and stews. Low temperatures and long cooking times tenderize tough meats, let flavors merge and mingle, and give you hearty meals that you can cook and serve without slaving over a stove. So why get a roaster at all? We're glad you asked the question we just posed.
The first benefit is the most obvious: capacity. Your standard roaster can handle a good-sized turkey, a ham (which is good at any size) or its namesake, a full roast, with all the necessary carrots and potatoes. Look at all you can do with a roaster and you'll see just why it's a fun necessity for any foodie.
These days, automatic timers are standard fare on roasters or slow cookers, but many roasters are now able to cook at higher temperatures that you can't reach with a slow cooker or a crock pot. This allows you to roast or even bake like a standard oven does instead of at the minimal range of low-temp cooking that comes with a slow cooker. Try removing a covered roasting pan from a 400-degree oven when it has a full-sized Thanksgiving turkey inside, and you'll see how much more convenient a counter-top roaster can be. (Don't try that. It's terrifying and really hot.)
Whether you're entertaining for a whole house-full, or you've been spared guests but still have a hungry family, roasters are perfect for the occasion. Many roasters include separate pans that let you transform your roaster into a portable steam table. Just make sure everyone gets a clean plate before they go back for seconds.
You heard it here first: Roasting a whole turkey can be energy efficient. The power required to operate your standard roaster is far less than that of a conventional oven, and the roaster is better designed to retain that heat. So the next time you decide you want to cook a whole roast complete with potatoes and carrots, just tell your family that you need more bay leaves in order to decrease your carbon footprint.
What's always a sure thing is the low-maintenance, no-hassle cleaning of the standard roaster. The days of your grandmother's white-speckled steel finish are gone, though. Ceramics and non-stick surfaces are the order of the day, and being dishwasher-safe is the rule, not the exception. You'll be able to clean your roaster quickly and simply, so you can be ready for the next roaster meal you've got in mind to please the masses.