20 Slow Cooker Tips
Learning slow cooker tips can help you understand the
differences between cooking in a slow cooker, oven cooking, and stove top
cooking. They are all different. I've been using mine for the last ten years
and planning meals with this kitchen appliance in mind has simplified my
cooking. It is so handy for nights that I will be home late and my family loves
the home cooked flavor of the meals.
These slow cooker tips will save you any incidents where part of your meal is not ready! Carrots are famous for cooking slower than other vegetables, and I have suffered through many stews with half cooked ones! Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!
Helpful Slow Cooker Tips
- Great way to transport a potluck meal and keep it warm at a
party, even if the meal was not originally slow cooked.
- It will not heat up your kitchen in the warmer months of the
- If you peek at your meal while it is cooking, it will take
15 or 20 minutes to gain back the steam. Resist the urge to peek.
- Spices cooked in a slow cooker tend to lose flavor, so
- Herbs tend to gain flavor in the crockpot. Add them the last
30 minutes of the cooking and taste the meal before serving. Add more fresh
herbs if needed.
- Slow cookers cook better when they are more than half
full. Cook more and freeze part of the
meal for later or use for lunch leftovers.
- Milk products can curdle, so most recipes call for them to be
added at the end of the cooking cycle. Don’t add them early.
- Use less liquid than you think. Liquid is not lost during
the cooking process. If the meal seems too soupy then remove the top, and cook
the meal on high until the liquid evaporates (half an hour or more). Most meals
call for only ½ cup of liquid. It’s enough!
- Meat and Vegetables should be sautéed before being added for
the best taste and presentation. If you don’t have time, you can skip the browning
and it will turn out fine. I just like the browned look better.
- It is helpful to cook large quantities of meat at one time
and freeze them into small portions for slow cooker use. This allows you to assemble
your meal quickly with zero mess.
- Unthaw frozen meat first, or add extra cooking time to the
recipe, 4 to 6 hours extra cooking time on low, or 2 hours extra cooking time
- Vegetables take longer to cook than meat. This is important
to remember when cooking stews or recipes full of vegetables. If the time seems
longer than usual, that’s why. Carrots take forever! I usually cut them smaller
than the other vegetables. Place vegetables on the bottom layer in the liquid
and meat on top. I have never overcooked vegetables.
- It’s a good idea to cut all of your meat and vegetable
pieces in similar sizes, except carrots and this is one of the best slow cooker tips to remember because uncooked carrots take forever to finish cooking!
- They can help to save money on your grocery bill. There is
no need to buy the best cut of meat because tougher cuts of meat turn out very
tender. Beef round steak makes wonderful stew meat. Better cuts of meat tend to
be dry in my opinion.
- If you eat your big meal at noon, put your crockpot meal on
before you go to bed on low, and a great meal will cook all night long.
- Spray your slow cooker with a spritz or two of olive oil for
easy clean up.
- Assemble your crock pot meal at night, place it in the
refrigerator, and then pull it out in the morning before you leave for work and
turn it on.
- You can substitute vegetarian meat subs for meat. I have
done this on occasion and none of my family has ever guessed. It works great in
- Most recipes can be cooked on high or low, even if a recipe
calls for one or the other. Don’t be afraid to make changes. I usually cook
foods on high for half of the cooking time recommended for low and double the
cooking time from high. Usually I cook foods on high for 4 to 6 hours and on
high for 8 to 10 hours. I will cook them on the high end of the recommended cycle
if they include a lot of vegetables.
- The low setting of your crockpot is around 200 degrees and
the high setting is around 300 degrees!
These 20 slow cooker tips are ones that I have learned over
time, through trial and error. I have never cooked baked goods in my slow
cooker, which many people do, but I have cooked steel cut oatmeal and it turns
out wonderful. Just pop it in the night before with raisins and nuts, and you
will wake to a great hot breakfast waiting the next morning. This works well
when family members are leaving at differing times in the morning.
A Crockpot is a wonderful addition to family life. If you
can read, you can prepare a tasty meal that seems like you fussed all day. It’s
easy to cook real food that tastes like Grandma’s healthy cooking, and these slow cooker
tips will prevent you from making errors!