I remember when I got my first crock-pot. It was a gift from my mom shortly after I got married. I had an idea how to use it, and I was scared as well. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true! After using it to make more than just chili, spaghetti sauce, and roast, I quickly learned that using a crock-pot could be my best friend to get dinner on the table without all the mess!
Tips for Crock-Pot Cooking
Here are some tips for making sure you use your crock-pot to its full potential.
There are several kinds of crock-pots (also known as slow cookers), but the three main types are manual, programmable, and mini-crocks.
Manual Crock-pots work best if you will be around most of the day to use them or if you want to keep something warm such as at a party, football get-together or even a pot-luck. They have dials that you need to turn and are very easy to operate. Manual Crock-Pots make good first crock-pots because they are so simple to run.
Programmable Crock-Pots are a working mom’s best friend. You can usually program them to run for a certain length of time and then switch to a different temperature. These are ideal if you won’t be home for most of the time you food is cooking.
Mini-Crock-pots are perfect for parties because they are just the right size for dips, sauces and even fondue for cheese and chocolate. They usually feature a manual dial, and some don’t have one at all as they only have one setting that switches on as soon as you plug them in.
Crock-Pot Cooking Tips
- Make sure there is always enough liquid in your Crock-Pot meals. If they dry out, there is not only a chance of scorching your dinner, but it can create a fire hazard as well.
- Just about any recipe can be a crock pot recipe. It is just a matter of adding enough liquid to the pot. Usually adding 1/3 more liquid is pretty universal unless you are making something that is liquid like a soup or chili as the slow cooker doesn’t reduce down liquids the way a stove or oven does.
- Try not to open the lid during cooking. When you do this, you loose up to 30 minutes of cooking time and 50 degrees in temperature. Try not to use recipes that you will need to mess with or stir.
- If you want to cook something faster, the high setting is usually pretty good, but remember that once it heats up, it will usually take half the time than cooking on the low setting.
- Sear meat such as pork or beef before you place it in your crock. Not only will it help shorten the cooking time, but it will add a sweet caramelized flavor to your dish.
- Add herbs and spices until about halfway through the cooking process. Since slow cookers cook over an extended period of time, you don’t want to have the flavoring take over your dish. Other things you should not add until the end include cheese, dairy products, noodles, and pasta or rice. Waiting until the end, will not give them enough time to cook thoroughly.
More Time Saving Tips for Cooking
- 10 Kitchen Hacks for Keeping Produce Fresh
- Kitchen Hacks: How to Easily Cut A Pineapple
- The Best DIY Hacks For Grilling This Summer
- Meal Planning Organization Tips to Get Organized
What are some of your favorite things to make in a crock-pot? Do you remember your first crock-pot?