Slow Cooker Tips





Browning Meats
Some recipes call for you to brown the meat and others don't. Why? In slow cooker cooking, the purpose of browning is to eliminate fats. Too much fat can cause overcooking. If the meat is lean, well trimmed and not highly marbled, it doesn't need to be browned. It should be wiped of all excess juices and package residue before going into the slow cooker

It's best to use whole herbs and spices rather than the crushed forms. The whole berry or leaf is hardier and will stand up to the long cooking times better. It will break down over a longer time and will be at its peak just when you're ready to serve. Make sure you taste before serving and adjust the seasoning if needed.


Beans used in soups don't need to be soaked before using if you are going to cook the soup on high for 3-4 hours before being turned down to low
Sugar and foods high in acid, such as tomatoes, will have a hardening effect on beans. Therefore, always soften the beans thoroughly before using in such things as chili or baked beans

Large, tender cuts of meat such as leg of lamb, or prime rib roasts are best suited for the conventional oven. Don't spoil a good cut of meat by overcooking it in a slow cooker. The slow cooker is best used on the tougher cuts of meat.

Pasta will become very glutinous if added to a slow cooker when dry. Its best to parboil pasta to the tender but not completely cooked stage, then add

Fish is much too tender to use in a slow cooker. You'll end up with flakes o' fish. If you want to use fish, wait and add it in the last 20 minutes of cooking

Most slow cookers use the temperature settings of 200* for low and 300* for high. With this information you can gather that 1 hour of cooking on high will be in the range of 2 to 2 1/2 hours on low. Foods such as pot roast and stews are best cooked on low to keep them from boiling (212*F). Cooking at higher temperatures will generally give you a tougher piece of meat. Remember that the slow cooker works by simmering at low temperatures. Don't remove the lid unless you're checking for doneness or stirring. You'll lose too much heat and will extend the cooking time. Every time the cover comes off, you lose heat that is equal to 30 minutes of cooking time so trust the recipe! 

Poultry is one of those tender meats than can easily be overcooked. The best cut of chicken to use in slow cooking is the thigh. You can use breasts if you prefer but you'll need to watch them more carefully to avoid overcooking. Its best to leave the skin on then remove before serving. About 4 1/2 to 5 hours on low should be sufficient. If you use a whole cut up chicken, remember that dark meat takes longer to cook, so put the thighs and legs on the bottom.

Believe it or not, but hardy vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnip, etc.) cook more slowly than meat. To avoid undercooked veggies, place them on the bottom and the meat on top. Add tender veggies (peas) and strongly flavored veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, greens) in the last 15-60 minutes.