We’ve shared some of our favorite tips before on how to make the most of your slow cooker. Here are a few more extensive tips to help your slow cooking projects. Whether you are making Halibut Stew or Honey Bananas, we want you to be able to optimize the life of your slow cooker by using it correctly and keeping it clean. Enjoy these five rules of slow cooking.
Feel free to share your favorite slow cooking tips in the comments below!
- Deglaze for extra flavor – If you have the extra time, sear the vegetables and meat before putting in the crock pot. Use an aluminum pan (not a non-stick pan). When you are done searing, remove the vegetables and meat and “deglaze” with water or chicken stock. Simply put the liquid into the hot pan to loosen whatever stuck to the bottom of the pan while searing. This will be a great flavor addition to your meal. Pour the liquid right into the crock pot.
- Make sure you buy the right size – 5-6 quart slow cookers are great for cooking meals with the intention of having leftovers. The smaller sizes, like a 1-2 quart cooker, are much better for chutneys and sauces.
- Use the right cuts of meat –Cook equally sized pieces of meat. For example, cube your beef up into even pieces and quarter a whole chicken to assure even cooking. Make sure that you trim any fat off of the meat before putting it into the slow cooker.
- Omit salt – Try using other herbs instead of salt for enhanced flavor. If you are using dry herbs, add them about an hour into cooking for the best flavor. If you are trying a recipe that is not usually for slow cooking, only use half the amount of fresh herbs that your original recipe calls for.
- Save your money – The slow cooker not only is a great time saver, but it will save you money as well. You can buy the cheaper tough cuts of meat, like a roast or stew meat, and still end up with incredibly tender beef. The slow cooker will break down the tough tenders so it melts in your mouth.
- Never put the hot insert on a cold surface or run under cold water. It might crack!
- Always lift the lid straight up and very gently to avoid the condensation running into your food. You wouldn’t want water ruining a delicious dinner like Mexican Shredded Beef.
- Cooking low generally requires twice as much cooking time as cooking on high.
- Add any dairy products (like cheese, sour cream and milk) during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Cook pasta and rice outside of the slow cooker and add it at the very end of the cooking process.
- If you prepared the slow cooker overnight and stored it in the refrigerator, add 1-1 ½ hour of extra cooking time.
- Spray the insert with non-stick cooking spray to make clean up much easier and prevent staining. We like to fill this reusable cooking spray bottle with olive oil (not Extra-Virgin) or canola oil to make our own cooking spray. Check out these other cleaning tips here.
- Never use your slow cooker to re-heat leftovers. It won’t get hot enough to bring your food to safe eating temperatures.