Guys, there’s just something extra special and amazing about a Slow Cooker. Being able to prepare a meal hours ahead of time is so incredibly helpful. Not to mention, the amazing smells and aromatics that will fill your house as it’s cooking away.
Crockpots and Slow Cookers are sooooooooo versatile. You can make something for every meal of the day in them. Quite often you don’t even need to use other dishes, pots or pans to make this meal, making cleaning up a breeze. Speaking of clean up: Tip #10 is a total a game changer.
Slow Cookers are especially great during the holidays, and they’re perfect for fall weather meals like soups and casseroles. But folks, you can absolutely use them all year long. You can take regular meals and turn them into extremely flavorful meals, as slow cooking brings out true, deep flavors of your meats, spices, and other foods.
Helpful Crockpot Tools
These are the super handy tools that I use to make whipping up delicious dishes in the slow cooker even easier:
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24 Great Crockpot Tips, Tricks and Hacks
Tip 1: Don’t Overfill Your Crockpot
When adding your ingredients to your Slow Cooker, you shouldn’t fill it higher than about ⅔ of the insert size. Filling it any higher doesn’t allow the crockpot to get hot enough to evenly and properly cook your recipe safely.
Tip 2: Pay Attention To Crockpot Size In Recipe
Make sure you’re paying attention to your Slow Cooker size and what they recommend in the recipe. This is especially important when you’re doubling or tripling a recipe. And you’ll want to take note of the size of your crockpot – do you have a 3-4 quart, 5-6 quart, or 7-10 quart size?
Recipe recommendation: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter.
Tip 3: Don’t Open The Crockpot Lid
This is one of the top mistakes people make when using the Slow Cooker. I know it can be tempting to taste test as your recipe cooks, or maybe you just want to get a nice strong whiff of the delicious recipe smell up close. But do your best to leave the lid on while it cooks or bakes.
Every time you open the lid, it drops the cooking temperature drastically. You want to ensure that your meal is safe to eat and won’t require extra time to cook. It can take up to 30 minutes to get back to its original temperature, so leave that lid alone!
BTW, this is a good time to inspect your lid to make sure it’s still in tip-top shape. When your lid is on the cooker, it shouldn’t have any gaps or ways that steam can escape.
Recipe Recommendation: Crockpot Cheesy Potatoes with Bacon.
Bonus Pro Tip: If you notice your lid isn’t in the best shape and still need to use the cooker, wrap some aluminum foil over the top to keep in as much steam as you can before placing the lid on.
Tip 4: Enhance Flavors By Browning Meat First
If you’re looking to add tons of flavor to your dish, brown the meat before adding it with the rest of your ingredients to the Crockpot. Trust me, if you have the time, browning your meat really does brings out the flavor, so it’s well worth the little bit of extra effort.
Recipe Recommendation: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken.
Tip 5: Think Outside The Main Course
Slow Cooker recipes go beyond just soups, stews, chili, and main dishes. You can make something for every meal of the day in your Crockpot. Did you know you can even bake with it too? Desserts like this decadent Crockpot Chocolate Lava Cake or luscious Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread Pudding are so delicious and so easy prepare you’ll never want to use your oven again.
Want to start your day off right? These super easy and totally delicious Crockpot Breakfast recipes are exactly what you need!
Tip 6: Use Your Crockpot When Entertaining
Put that slow cooker to use when you’re hosting a party. Use it to make delicious appetizers like these classic Grape Jelly Meatballs, or try whipping up a batch of crowd-pleasing Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate or Orange Mulled Wine. With a Crockpot (or 2!) in your arsenal, entertaining will be a breeze!
Tip 7: Free Up Space On Your Stove Or Oven
Whilst cooking for a crowd can take up the whole kitchen quickly and the oven can make the kitchen warmer than necessary, that’s another reason cooking with a slow cooker is so awesome.
Use your Crockpot to keep things warm too. Prepare a favorite side dish, like these classic and creamy Mashed Potatoes in the slow cooker, and then keep it on the warm setting until you’re ready to serve.
Tip 8: Use A Kitchen Towel Under The Crockpot Lid To Catch Condensation
Using a towel underneath the lid isn’t very important with some recipes, like soups or stews. But folks when you’re making slow cooker bread dough in your slow cooker, removing any extra condensation is helpful.
Tip 9: Use A Timer
Guys, I love that Crockpot recipes can be cooking away while I’m getting other things done, but sometimes the timing doesn’t always work out just how I want it to.
Or maybe you work outside the home and need dinner to start cooking while you’re still at work. Don’t worry, I have just the fix for you. Grab your Christmas lights timer and set it up. Now you can easily have dinner starting while you’re still working, out running errands or transporting the kiddos here and there.
Some makes and models of slow cookers have a programmable timer, so check your own model before grabbing that holiday timer. And many of the latest models are even WiFi-enabled and have an app you can use to turn on or off your slow cooker remotely.
Recipe Recommendation: Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas.
Tip 10: Keep Your Cooker Clean
Use some white vinegar, baking soda, and hot water to scrub and clean off any white film that may be hanging on to the side of your insert. You’ll be amazed at what a simple, natural cleaning solution can do for your favorite cooking gadget.
Tip 11: Use Liners And Foil
To avoid those white film stains I just mentioned and to make quick work of clean up when cooking or baking, using crockpot liners makes cleanup soooooo quick and easy. You can even use aluminum foil in a quick pinch or a heavy dose of non-stick cooking spray.
Great Pro Tip: I’ve seen people use a liner with foil to divide a slow cooker in order to serve two different dips at once.
Tip 12: Cook Overnight
Save time and energy and cook some meals overnight. This is especially helpful when making dishes that don’t require stirring or adding ingredients at specific times.
Recipe Recommendation: Spiced Crockpot Pinto Beans.
Tip 13: Don’t Store Food In Your Crockpot
If you have leftovers make sure to store them in a separate airtight container. Don’t store your food in your crockpot inside the refrigerator. You have to make sure the insert has cooled down completely before chilling it.
Tip 14: Break Tip #3
If you mess up on your soup or stew or need your recipe to reduce down. Peeps, just go ahead and take that lid off if you need to fix that soup or stew that has too much liquid.
Recipe Recommendation: Crockpot Creamy Tomato Soup.
Tip 15: Don’t Be Afraid To Use Those Freezer Meals
Folks, you know I’m all about those freezer meals. Prep everything ahead, pop it in the freezer for later when you’re in need. Then when you’re ready to make that meal, grab it out of the freezer and either thaw and dump or just dump it straight in the slow cooker depending on the recipe.
Recipe Recommendation: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole.
Tip 16: Watch Your Liquids
While you do need liquids for cooking many things in the slow cooker, keep in mind that it’s designed to pull the liquid out of bigger, juicier cuts of meat as it cooks. So, don’t over do the liquids.
Guys, this is the best time to use those cheaper cuts of meat that have nice amounts of fat in them. Go ahead and use what you have stocked up on when it’s on sale.
Tip 17: Use Flour To Thicken
Sometimes you work really hard on a meal and it starts to look like it might not turn out right. Well, in the case of sauces and some soups and stews, if you see it’s turning out a little more thin or watery than you prefer, you can toss in some flour to thicken it up a bit.
Recipe Recommendation: Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce.
Tip 18: Wait Until Last Minute
Yeap, guys, I said wait until the last minute for something about a slow cooker recipe. I don’t mean to prepare your meal or start it. I mean, wait to add some items. Add your dairy towards the end if you can and wait to add extra add in spices until the end.
The recipes that take a few hours to cook will have had nice time to bring out and enhance those true flavors from your herbs and spices, so wait to test out the flavoring before adding more in.
Tip 19: Start With Room Temperature Meat
Guys, make sure your meat is room temperature when adding it to the cooker. Using meat that has come to room temperature is more flexible, relaxed and will release the flavors from the fats and juices more evenly. This helps bring out more flavor to your meal.
Recipe Recommendation: Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs.
Tip 20: Know Your Slow Cooker
Keep in mind that every make and model of Crockpot can cook differently, at different temperatures and require different times. Make sure to become good friends with your user manual and adjust recipes as necessary.
Bonus Pro Tip: Keep ingredients in mind when choosing between cooking a recipe on HIGH for shorter time versus LOW for longer time. Some ingredients will hold up longer and some will become mushy quite quickly on HIGH setting. Again, the perfect time to check your manual if it has any tips for your specific model.
Tip 21: Give Your Slow Cooker Room
Make sure your cooker has enough room around all sides. The cooker itself can get quite warm and emit some heat in the process. Just to be safe, make sure you have at least 6 inches of cleared space surrounding the crockpot. Make sure it’s not too close to walls, appliances or other kitchen gadgets.
Recipe Recommendation: Spicy Lentil Curry.
Tip 22: Properly Clean Your Cooker
Every time you use your cooker, make sure you clean the insert. Even if you use the liners, make sure you clean and wipe down the insert in case any liquids or anything else has seeped through. Just follow the easy steps below:
How To Clean Your Crockpot
- Fill your insert with hot water, add a few drops of dish soap, and scrub.
- If you have some cooked-on food, put the insert in the crockpot and turn it on for about an hour.
- Toss the soapy water and scrub the insert. Everything should come off quite easily.
- And remember: do not ever submerge the heating base in water!
Recipe Recommendation: Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Pasta.
Tip 23: Register Your New Crockpot
Make sure to register your Slow Cooker as soon as you get it. Whether you choose to register online or use the mail-in card, registering means that you can stay informed on product updates or any recall notices. And should you encounter a problem with your Crockpot within one year of your purchase, your guarantee can easily be validated.
Even More Slow Cooker Recipes
- Crockpot Green Beans and Bacon.
- Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs.
- Maple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
- Crockpot Orange Chicken.
- Slow Cooker Weight Watchers Turkey Chili.
- Crockpot Christmas Candy.
- Slow Cooker African Peanut Stew.
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