One of the best parts of slow cookers is the fact that you can walk away from them, but don’t walk away for too long. One of the most common mistakes that people make with slow cookers is overcooking. I feel like the assumption is, since you can’t easily burn something, you can’t overcook and that’s just not true. Although the idea of low and slow often leads to great results, not everything needs a marathon session. Smaller cuts of meat, vegetables and starches in particular will decline in quality due to over cooking, so as soon things are done cooking, turn your crock pot on the warm setting ASAP.
If you want things to cook uniformly, they’ve all got to be the same general size. If you’ve ever opened a bag of frozen chicken breasts, you know that those things can vary in size, so try to grab comparable pieces. Also, while you are prepping vegetables, try to cut them into pieces that are roughly the same size and shape.
Cheese is often the best part of a dish, but in a slow cooker, it has a chance to go wrong. Add the cheese too early and often times, it ends up as a gooey, rubbery mess. Unless the recipe specifically calls for something different, adding cheese is probably something you want to do just before serving.
If you’ve ever had a rattling lid on a slow cooker or burning on the bottom, you likely had too much in your slow cooker. Slow cookers are designed to function at their best when they’re around 1/2 full. An overfilled slow cooker may need more time too, so don’t over do it.
While slow cookers are a great equalizer of meat cuts, some are better suited for slow cooking than others. Well marbled cuts or cuts with higher fat content tend to do best in slow cookers, so look for pork shoulder, chicken thighs and chuck roast. If you want any sort of a sear on the meat, you’ll probably need to brown it before you put it in.
Our 5 tips for National Slow Cooker Month will hopefully have you enjoying a plate or bowl of something delicious soon!