Slow-Cooker Tips and Tricks
Chances are, if you live in the US and you cook, you’ve got a slow cooker. If you haven’t used it in a while, it’s time to renew your friendship. Think of it as a food delivery service: You come home, there’s food that’s ready to eat and your house smells great. We’ve got plenty of slow-cooker recipes for soups and stews, chicken, chili, pork and more. Read on and we'll answer several questions cooks often have about slow-cookers. Dig into the info and make something delicious today.
How full to fill a slow-cooker
- Fill a slow-cooker between ½ and ¾ full. If it's not full enough you risk overcooking. Too much and it will take too long to start simmering and it may over flow while cooking.
The Best Meat to Cook in a Slow Cooker
Keep a lid on it
- Leave it alone. Don't lift the lid, unless you want to extend the cooking time by 15 to 20 minutes. To check the progress in a round slow cooker, spin the glass lid until the condensation falls off, and you’ll be able to see inside. If the recipe gives you reason to lift the lid, replace it quickly.
Follow the recipe
- Stick to the cooking time. Slow cookers work by simmering food at a low, even temperature, so adhere to the recipe.
Easy slow-cooker prep
- You can prep your recipe a day ahead of time and refrigerate the crock. Be sure to place it in the base cold: Do not preheat the base, or the crock could crack. You may have to add extra time for cooking, up to an hour. To be sure your food is cooked, use an instant-read thermometer to check and be sure meat is cooked to at least 165°F.
Reheating food in a slow cooker
- It is not safe to reheat food in a slow-cooker. The crock and glass lid are safe for microwave or oven use up to 400° F. And either of these options is a safe way to reheat.
Making a dessert in a slow cooker
- You can make a dessert in a slow cooker. It’s best to use a smaller size, 3- to 5-quart slow cookers work well. Follow recipe directions carefully. Try our Slow-Cooker Apple Crisp.
Adding dairy to a slow cooker
- Add milk, cream or sour cream to your recipe during the last 15 minutes of cook time: Adding dairy products too early can cause curdling. Slow-Cooker Short Rib Stroganoff is a delicious recipe with sour cream added at the end of the cooking time.
Adding fresh herbs to a slow cooker
- Your best option is to add chopped fresh herbs to a dish that is completely cooked. The flavor will remain fresher and the color will be most vibrant if the herbs do not cook for a long period of time.