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Slow Cookers: Your Personal Freedom Machine
slow cooker

There are few things better than coming home at 5:00 pm to the aroma of a home-cooked meal. No, you don’t have to hire a personal chef; the secret is having a simple, small appliance – a slow cooker. Most slow cooker recipes require a little prep in the morning, and then you can basically forget about it until you are ready to eat 10 hours later.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Spray the inside of the cooking container with cooking spray for less sticking and easy cleaning.
  • Always thaw frozen ingredients before adding to the cooking container.
  • Do not use the slow cooker for large roasts or whole chicken because the food cooks so slowly. It could remain in a dangerous temperature zone for too long.
  • Dense root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes take longer to cook so cut them into small chunks or pieces of the same size and place them in the bottom of the cooking container to ensure even and thorough cooking.
  • Add tender or watery vegetables, such as fresh mushrooms, fresh tomatoes or summer squash, during the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking to prevent them from getting mushy.
  • Precooked pasta and rice are recommended for slow cooker recipes for better results.
  • Some seasonings such as basil, ground red pepper (cayenne) and red pepper sauce become quite strong and bitter during cooking, so start with small amounts and add more during the last hour of cooking, if needed.
  • Fill the cooking container no less than half full and no more than two-thirds full.
  • Don’t peek! Only remove the lid when the recipe says so. Removing the lid more frequently will cause heat to escape and the food will take longer to cook.

Slow-cooker meals can rescue you from hectic weekdays or give you the freedom for leisurely weekend activities. In your fast-paced life, a slow cooker is a cook's best friend.

View our slow cooker entrees recipe collection to find some great slow cooker recipes to try for yourself.

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wondering why the lid on my slow cooker pops so much, spitting steam. Can anyone out there help me out with this? (I follow the recipes exactly)

Posted Jan 11 2013 by Sally
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

I'm wondering what type of slow cooker you have and are you cooking on High or Low temperature.
Posted January 14, 2013

My husband complains that meats cooked in my 7 qt crock pot come out dry. I use plenty of liquid during cooking. The lid to this crock pot does not sit flat on top, it can rock back & forth, could this be the problem?

Posted Jan 10 2013 by Maggie
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

How tight the lid fits may be the problem. When cooking in a slow cooker you should always try not to open the cooker during the cooking time since when you do you need to add about 30 minutes extra cooking time. When opened the cooker cools slightly and you need to compensate for that and cook the food a little longer. So, how tight lid fits could be a reason why juice or liquid is evaporating similar to if the slow cooker was opened.
Posted January 11, 2013

Today's slow cookers are not "slow." Even on the low setting, everything does a low boil. Slow cookers in the old days were great but I guess manufacturers decided there was some kind food safety issue with the lower cooking temperatures. Wish I could find one that did a simmer and not a boil.

Posted Jan 10 2013 by Bev

I had a very nice 6-qt digital crock pot. The electrical power in my neighborhood flickers and goes off momentarily on occasion. If this happens when my digital crock pot is in use, the crock pot goes off with the loss of power and does not come back on. On more than one occasion I have come home at the end of the day to find a roast, or some other recipe in my crock pot that is barely cooked. Now, I will only use my digital crock pot if I know I will be home all day to watch it. Meanwhile, I went out and bought a second crock pot with a manual dial... "OFF-LO-HI" to use when I am away for the day. This crock pot will come back on in the event of a power outage.

Posted Jan 09 2013 by Chuck
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Thanks for your comment. I found your experience very interesting!
Posted January 09, 2013

I attended a safety seminar and the lecturer, a retired fireman suggested not leaving a slow cooker on if no one is at home. He said there had been some fires caused by slow cookers left unattended.

Posted Jan 09 2013 by Bertha
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Thanks for your comment. it is always wise to keep safety in mind.
Posted January 09, 2013

I have noticed that meat cooks faster than vegetables. Since the heat comes from the side of the cooker, not the bottom, it is better to arrange the vegetables on the outside and the meat in the middle, rather than putting the vegetables on the bottom.

Posted Jan 09 2013 by augusta
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Thanks for your comment. Root-type vegetables typically should be placed near the sides or the bottom of the slow cooker because they often cook slower than meat. Otherwise, more tender vegetables are placed on top of the meat. The goal is to have all ingredients done at the same time.
Posted January 09, 2013

Since I am alone, a friend gave me a small slow cooker (not one of the teeny tiny ones - it's about 6-8 inches across) but I can not locate any recipes for this small size cooker. I can't be bothered breaking down a large recipe and wondered if there is a recipe source out there for this size cooker. It did not come with a recipe book included and it is a brand name applicance. Has no thought ever given to the "single or alone crowd?" It's just like buying bananas at the market. They don't want you "beak the hand" but are forced to take more than you want. So single folks should be punished for being single??? I don't think so! Any thoughts on this question???

Posted Oct 26 2010 by Gail

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