I know this post may sound silly to some. Using a slow cooker is simple, right? Yes and no. There’s more to it than throwing ingredients in and hoping for the best. There truly is a ‘method to the madness’, if you want premium meals. Here is my how to use a slow cooker: Crock Pot do’s and don’ts, so you can have the best possible outcome when using your slow cooker!
Use a liner
Slow cooker liners are life savers! Ok, maybe that is dramatic. They definitely are time saving, though. They also preserve the life of your slow cooker, because you don’t have to scrub all of the gunk that caramelized to the sides.
Use broth or stock instead of water
Unless a recipe specifically calls for water, it’s not going to give you flavor. Instead, trade your flavorless liquid for one that will really give your recipe a kick. Word to the wise, though- broth and stock contains salt, so be careful not to overdo it by adding more salt.
Brown your meats
Want the tastiest end result? Brown your meats beforehand. While it’s not absolutely necessary, especially if you are crunched on time, it certainly can make a meal.
Properly distribute ingredients
Hard ingredients that need more time cooking, should be placed at the bottom. This will allow them to get more heat and moisture, ensuring they are cooked evenly and thoroughly. Ingredients that are soft or that cook faster, need to be at the top to prevent them from overcooking.
Be creative with your Crock Pot
You don’t have to use your crock pot just for dinner. Get creative! You can use your slow cooker for so many things other than meat. You can make cakes, cinnamon rolls, soup, and beverages. You can even make lip balm, candles, air fresheners and heat up towels for a facial!
Add too much liquid
Think of your slow cooker having a vacuum seal, when the lid is on. There is no room for the liquid to evaporate. Having too much liquid can take away from the flavor of the other ingredients your cooking, especially chicken! If you do add too much, you can always scoop out the excess (and make a gravy out of it!).
Add ingredients too early
Dairy, like heavy cream or milk, for example, may curdle if it is cooked too high for too long. Cheese may liquify. Vegetables may become mush. Timing is so important when it comes to using your slow cooker.
I know, it’s incredibly tempting. The crock pot smells up the entire house, and you want to see how your masterpiece is doing. Unless you need to add an ingredient or you need to stir, keep the lid on as much as possible.
A slow cooker can only cook so much. If you overcrowd, you risk some ingredients being done, while the ingredients at the top are not. Even if you aren’t cooking for many people, I highly suggest getting a large crock pot. Regardless of the size, remember this rule: A crock pot should be a max of 3/4 full.
Use frozen meat
Make sure you meats are thawed prior to placing in the crockpot. Not only will they not be done in time to consume, but you pose a great risk of food borne illness.
Here are some various types of Crock Pot’s to suit your needs:
And some recommended tools:
Are you a frequent Crock Pot user? What are your favorite meals? What recommend tips do you have for those who are less experienced?