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Slow Cooker and Crockpot Cooking Tips

Make the Most of Your Slow Cooker

What's not to love about crockpot cooking? After all, you can put just about everything from Cuban chicken to beef chili in the slow cooker, then set it and forget it (until you're hungry, that is). As straightforward as a slow cooker sounds, however, there are a few tips to bear in mind that guarantee you'll yield the best results.

  • Take advantage of the slow cooker to cook the cheapest cuts of meat — shoulder, shank, and ribs. Braising them over time will result in a tender piece of protein.
  • Trim proteins of excess fat, which cooks at a faster rate. Vegetables don't cook as quickly, so layer them at the bottom of the appliance, closest to the heat source.
  • To add more depth of flavor to your meal, brown your meat in a skillet first. Then deglaze the pan with a little bit of stock, wine, or water, and add those browned bits of flavor into your slow cooker, too.
  • For a thicker sauce, dredge your meat in a little bit of flour before browning it in a skillet.

For some can't-miss crockpot tips, read more.

  • It goes without saying: always use fully thawed meats. By placing half-frozen ham in the slow cooker, you run the risk of it not being cooked through.
  • Your crockpot should be at least half full, but not topped to the brim, so that food will cook through but not too quickly.
  • Once the cooker's on, don't peek, ever! Each time you open the lid during cooking, you're releasing contained heat that's necessary for cooking. You could potentially be adding another 15 minutes of cooking time with each lid lift.
  • Don't add spices like black pepper or cayenne until the end of cooking is near; they can become bitter over a long cooking period.

Do you often cook with a slow cooker? Share your favorite tips with us below.

Join The Conversation
lindabalac lindabalac 3 years
I have a roast in the slow cooker right now! I'm making a Mississippi Pot Roast, which consists of a 3 lb pot roast, 1 packet Ranch dressing mix, 1 packet Au Jus gravy mix, 6 pepperoncini peppers, and a stick of butter. I put in the roast first, top it with the Ranch & Au Jus Gravy mix, the 6 peppers and the stick of butter on top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 7 years
mmm thanks yumsugar
Food Food 7 years
If you're looking for some great slow cooker recipes, check out our Sunday Slow Cooker series!
kimmberli kimmberli 7 years
Thanks for the tips! I had never used a slow cooker before, but my husband had one in his pantry that had been given to him by his mother (she taught him to make chili in it) so I've experimented with it a couple times recently. I made a really great jumbalaya last week after being inspired by the pics on yumsugar. I definitely violated the "no peeking" rule though, which probably explains why it took my beans 6 hours to soften!!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 7 years
anyone know any good recipes online? I bought companys coming slow cooker recipe book but I need new stuff!!!
GummiBears GummiBears 7 years
Thanks for the tips.
chiefdishwasher chiefdishwasher 7 years
There is nothing better than walking into your home on a winter night and smelling your dinner that has been slow cooking all day!
brownsugamama brownsugamama 7 years
I love my slow cooker! I do need to get some of those Reynolds bags for easy clean up though.
J-Rabbit J-Rabbit 7 years
I received a slow cooker as a gift last year and didn't really use it. But this year I've been making lots of soup and even risotto. It's so easy and the food comes out really well.
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