HomeSlow Cooker Recipes How To Use A Slow Cooker Or Crock Pot

How To Use A Slow Cooker Or Crock Pot

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Everyone should own a slow cooker or crock pot, and in this post, I am going to talk about how to use a slow cooker.

The joy of having a slow cooker is that you can prepare the food quickly in the morning before you go to work, let it cook all day, and when you come home in the evening, your meal is ready to serve.

The meal can be cooked up in and then served from the one pot after limited preparation. The time saved with a device like this is simply amazing. Just coming through the door to the sight and smells of a meal already prepared and ready to go on the table, is a major stress reliever at the end of a long day.

If you learn how to use a slow cooker properly, just coming through the door to the sight and smells of a meal already prepared and ready to go on the table, is a major stress reliever at the end of a long day.

How To Use A Slow Cooker

Here are some tips that you can use to get the most out of your slow cooker.

Keep the lid closed: Each time you open up the slow cooker to take a peek inside during the cooking process will add an additional 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time.

Don’t Stir:  Curb the urge to stir; it’s usually not necessary and tends to slow down the cooking process.

Choose the right cut of meat: The tougher and fatty meats like chuck, shanks and pork shoulders are ideal for a slow cooker, as they become meltingly tender with the moist, low heat of a slow cooker. Leaner cuts like pork tenderloin tend to dry out. Likewise, dark meat chicken — thighs, drumsticks, etc. — will remain juicier than white meat breasts.

Brown the Meat First: You can just pile food into the slow cooker, turn it on and get tasty results. But taking a couple of minutes to brown your meat and saute your vegetables before adding them to the crock, adds more flavor to the end result.

Dredge the Meat With Flour: Before browning try to dredge the meat in flour, and the sauce will come out thicker.

Don’t fill your slow cooker more than two-thirds full.

Stick with stews, roasts, and soups: These types of dishes work out best in the slow cooker.

Reduce the Liquid: Cut back about 20 percent of a regular recipe’s liquid if cooking in a slow cooker for better results.

If following a normal recipe cut back a bit on the following ingredients: Onion, garlic, hot spices.

And last but not least, never put frozen food in a slow cooker, as it will take to long to cook.

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, Digital Timer, Stainless Steel

  • 6-quart capacity is perfect for 7+ people or a 6 lb. roast.
  • Easy-to-use locking lid featuring lid gasket for extra sealing for less mess on-the-go.
  • Programmable digital control lets you program cook times anywhere from 30 minutes up to 20 hours; Works on 240 Watts at 120V A.C. and 60Hz.
  • Shifts to Warm Setting Automatically once the cook time is complete.
  • Removable oval stoneware that is also stylish for your table.

To find out more about this Crock-Pot, simply click on the blue link or the pot.

If one doesn’t already have a slow cooker, the first consideration centers on its size. Small versions are often used for appetizers, dips, and salsas. Generally, these are 16 oz. or quart size and are perfect for serving during brunch or potluck dining events or cooking for one. A large family may be best served with a 5 qt. or even a 7 qt. model. The type of cooking one does is also a consideration. If the cook plans on slow cooking a full rack of fall off the bone baby back ribs in the crock pot, they are going to have to spring for the larger version.

Another consideration is whether the cook wants to be able to set or control the temperature or just go with a push button model that cooks with preset low or high-temperature settings and sometimes a warmer setting. If the “low” setting is too low and the lid is not on properly, the cooking temperature can drop below the safe level for cooking some foods. Finally, the question of heating elements needs to be considered.

Hamilton Beach 33473 Programmable Slow Cooker, 7-Quart, Silver

  • Easy programmable meals – no watching or stirring.
  • Easy-clean touch pad with removable, dishwasher safe stoneware & lid.
  • Wraparound element for even heating.
  • Temperature setting – choose warm, low or high; No watching needed when cooking time is up it automatically shifts to warm.
  • Time setting – you can select 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours of cooking time.

Finally, the question of heating elements needs to be considered. Crock pots and slow cookers can come with bottom or side elements or both. Pots with side elements often require more liquid in recipes to avoid the risk of drying up over long cooking times.

If a person really enjoys mixing things up and experimenting with recipes, one pot/slow cooking provides a great number of possibilities and even chances to have some fun. The real strength of the crock pot in the kitchen is for slow cooking leaner and cheaper cuts of meat. The moist, long, slow cooking provides very tender meats with fat that is either dissolved or very easy to remove.

There are some do’s and don’ts in crock pot cooking. Some meals require ingredients to be added in stages. For example, a stew may require the meat to be cooked for a few hours before firm vegetables are added and then softer veggies can be added as cooking is finalized. Rule of thumb, add things like spices, herbs, and seasonings at the beginning of the cooking cycle and things like frozen vegetables and seafood at the end. Since ingredients are generally thoroughly cooked over a long period of time, a lot of stirring is not recommended or the food breaks apart or worse, turns to mush.

Crock pots are so versatile that they can even be used for creating desserts and bread. Interestingly enough this is one area where care must be taken during preparation. This is particularly true if these recipes are going to be left unattended while they cook. An over beaten or whipped dessert can raise the lid straight off of the crock pot and create quite a mess. This is certainly not what one needs to come home to after a long day at work.

A crock pot or slow cooker can deliver menus as classic as pot roast and vegetables, as simple as a cream cheese layer dip, or as complex and spicy as paella. It can also keep your garlic mashed potatoes warm on your Thanksgiving serving table. The crock pot or slow cooker is a very versatile cooking tool and great for any busy cook.

The thing to remember when wondering how to use a slow cooker is to experiment and have fun with it. No two meals will ever be the same.

8s COMMENTS

8 thoughts

  • A Habil
    March 27, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Hi there, thanks for this very interesting article, I have never used slow cooker before, so it is quite strange for me.

    I wonder why do you say ‘Don’t fill the slow cooker more than two-thirds full.’ Is there any particular reason why?

    Plus, for price wise, is slow cooker more expensive than pressure cooker?

    thanks

    • admin
      March 28, 2017 at 9:29 am

      They say you shouldn’t fill the cooker too full or it may overflow when the liquid boils, although this hasn’t happened often in my case.

      I haven’t tried a pressure cooker yet, and think they are a little more pricey than a slow cooker. They do cook the food a lot faster though.

  • Gareth
    March 27, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Hi as someone that goes out to work everyday, and has to come home and think about cooking a dinner, which is a nightmare I might add, I am thinking of investing in a slow cooker. I like the idea of throwing everything into a pot, and when I come home just to be able to just eat and not have to stand there and have to prepare your dinner.

    This method of cooking really would suit me. The only problem I have before I purchase a slow cooker is what is the difference between a slow cooker and a crock pot if any?

    And which one would be the best for someone out to work all day?

    • admin
      March 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

      The main difference between a slow cooker and a Crock-Pot is how the heat is dispersed throughout the appliance. Slow cookers cook with heat from the bottom and allow a wide range of temperatures at which to cook the food. Crock-Pots cook with heat from the sides and tend to cook at two or three main temperatures: low, medium and high.

      Other than that it is a personal preference, as they both work with the same recipes.

  • Nick
    April 2, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    My fiancee and I use a slow cooker often. We both have very busy schedules. We both like onions, garlic and hot spices. Why is it important to cut back on those spices when using a slow cooker? We have used several recipes that offer a choice of low for X amount of hours and high for an X amount of hours. Is there much to consider if we decide to cook on low vs cooking on high?

    • admin
      April 3, 2017 at 9:22 am

      If you have too much garlic, onion or hot spices, remember that the slow cooking process will make those flavors dominate.

      The only difference between cooking on low and high is that the food is ready sooner on high, so use low if you are leaving early in the morning and only coming back after work in the evening.

  • Christopher Chadwick
    January 13, 2018 at 1:07 am

    When I was single I used the crock pot a lot, use to go to the Bi-Lo and pick up pre-made crock pot stews, chicken dumplings, and make chili quite often. The 6 quart cooker would be a perfect size. I think organic foods are more popular because people are more educated on what chemicals they put in the foods.

    • admin
      January 15, 2018 at 4:07 am

      Thanks for stopping by Christopher. You are lucky to have instant pre prepared meals that you can just throw into your Croc Pot. But you are right, one has to check the labels and see if it has only healthy ingredients, which so many of these ready to prepare meals lack nowadays.

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