Crock Pot Alternative
Every off-season we look for new products to add to the tailgate fold and keep our eyes peeled for new ideas. Some are good while some fall by the wayside. Up today, is the Wonderbag. I know, what the hell is a ‘wonderbag’?! It calls itself a “non-electric slow-cooker.” Skeptical? Yep. So we gave it a test run on a couple of recipes and here’s what we found.
The basic idea is that you start cooking something in a pot–say a gumbo, queso, chili, etc, bring it to a boil, bag it in the wonderbag (with no electricity), and it continues to the cooking process by sustaining the heat levels for up to 12 hours. Candidly, we only tried 2 recipes that required up to 3ish hours of sustained heat. We started with an Irish Beef Stout Stew, knowing it needed to continue to “cook” for 3 additional hours after taken off heat. But dammit, it worked.
We started with a beef stew per a recommended recipe. After prep and cooking it on the stove for less than an hour, we pulled the pot off the burners, slid it into the wonderbag, used the cover attachment, and bungied it up nice and snug, as directed.
It seemed completely ridiculous…at first.
I mean, look at it, the wonderbag is a puffy, giant, scrunchie-looking “bag” that fits a large pot. Still, it’s filled with beads of insulation and a heat tolerant fabric. It’s basically the Yeti Coolers of non-conventional crock-pots. It totally sustained the heat for the 3 hours. When I opened the top I figured it would be luke warm at best, but to my surprise, it felt as hot as when I pulled it off the stove. Not even kidding, I had to use pan holders–3 hours later!
Inexplicably, it worked. Here are the pros and cons:
- Freakin’ works. Crazy insulation sustains heat long through tailgate times (and supposedly up to 12 hours–though only tested to 3 hours)
- No electricity needed. This is great for prepping at home before a game, then finish cooking at the tailgate. Also great for queso…sustained heat without having to plug in a crock-pot
- Excels in transport. While it has a big footprint in a car or truck, there is zero chance it spills. So, portable-ish
- For $50-$65, it’s a reasonable price point
- Lots of colors and sizes to choose from
- It’s puffy. It gets pretty compact when not in use, but during use, it’s a bit bulky
- Recommended trivet before placing your pot in it, for stability
- Lid could be easily lost…would be nice to have it connected to the base, but not a huge deal
- We prefer compact, efficient things at all costs since there are so many things to pack for tailgate times. This is not compact.
- Tailgate use is limited to queso, chili, stew, etc, if you have an extra half table to dedicate to it
- While not super compact, it’s PERFECT when a generator is not an option
- Any potluck that requires driving
Under the right circumstances, we would use it. But it’s not a tailgate supply staple. I think 2ish games out of the 6 home games we will bring it along.
Overall, we’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.
We’ve yet to review a potential tailgate product with any focus on providing additional uses and benefits to a less developed country and their struggling communities. This is the exception. The wonderbag has a foundation that supports and works with these communities to help with food prep and sustainability of resources. It’s a huge perk and applause for seeing the potential impacts of a product with non-conventional cooking methods and applying that to bettering lesser fortunate parts of the world, and the people living there. Check out their efforts.
Of course, available on Amazon or the Wonderbag website.
Recipes we tried:
Irish Beef Stout Stew and Artichoke Dip