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.