Knowing how to use a slow cooker is important, especially as the weather gets colder. In fact, if you live in the US and you cook, chances are that you’ve got a slow cooker. If you haven’t used it in a while, why not break it out today and prepare a hearty, flavorful slow-cooker dish which the whole family will enjoy? With these slow-cooker tips from My Food and Family, using your slow cooker is easier than ever
Without a doubt, slow-cooker recipes are a dinnertime staple. You can think of a slow cooker as a food delivery service: You come home, there’s food that’s ready to eat and your house smells great. Slow cookers are a great way to save time when you have a busy schedule, not to mention the fact that they are an easy way to feed a large group of people. We’ve got plenty of slow-cooker recipes for soups, stews, chicken, chili, pork and more. Read on and we'll answer several questions cooks often have about slow cookers. Dig into the info on how to use a slow-cooker 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 overflow while cooking.
The best meat to cook in a slow cooker
- This long, moist cooking method is ideal for inexpensive cuts of meat because it provides plenty of time for tenderizing. , or are good options.
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 stoneware bowl. Be sure to place it in the base cold: Do not preheat the base, or the stoneware bowl 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. However, the bowl and glass lid for most slow cookers are safe for microwave or oven use up to 400° F. Either of these options is a safe way to reheat, but you should consult the owner's manual for safety information before use.
Making a dessert in a slow cookerYou can make a dessert in a slow cooker Follow recipe directions carefully. Try our .
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. 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.
With a variety of slow-cooker recipes to explore, your options are limitless. Check out our easy slow-cooker recipes to make everything from stew to chili to pulled pork. Don’t let that slow cooker sit in the cabinet collecting dust! Prepare a delicious slow-cooker dish for you and your family today.