A dish that cooks itself may seem too good to be true, but with the slow cooker, it's a simple reality. With just a few quick steps earlier in the day, the slow cooker tenderizes meats and veggies, blends flavours and ensures dinner is ready when you are. These one-pot wonders are perfect for any day you need an extra hand.
- Ingredients can be prepared the night before and refrigerated in the stoneware bowl. In the morning, simply place bowl in heating base and turn on to desired setting to cook.
- Like a coffee maker, slow cookers can be plugged into any socket in a safe spot to save a little more kitchen space. It is also electrically economical. It requires less energy to cook the same recipe in a slow cooker than on the stove or in the oven.
- The slow cooker does not brown the meat. If you prefer the look and taste of browned meat, quickly stir-fry it before adding to the slow cooker.
- Use less tender cuts of meat such as stewing beef, shank, blade or brisket, as they won't dry out with this moist heat method of cooking.
- Cut veggies into same-size pieces so they cook evenly.
- If using frozen veggies, add 30 minutes before serving.
- Root vegetables take longer to cook than meat, so place vegetables on the bottom and meat on top.
- It is best to use fresh or whole herbs and spices in the slow cooker due to the long cooking time. Ground spices and herbs tend to lose their flavour.
- To convert a traditional recipe into a slow cooker one, reduce the liquid by 50 percent and increase the cooking time (1 hour in the oven equals about 6 to 8 hours on LOW in the slow cooker).
- Taking the lid off your slow cooker, even just to give it a quick stir, drastically reduces the heat and extends the cooking time. Only lift the lid if instructed to do so in the recipe.
- Meat reaches temperatures of up to 190°F in the slow cooker and is therefore a perfectly safe method of cooking. Be sure to follow the temperature and time specified in the recipe.
- A slow cooker should never be pre-heated. Simply put the stoneware container in the slow cooker base, cover and set the temperature.
- To speed the cleanup, spray the inside of the slow cooker with no stick cooking spray before filling with ingredients.
- Do not add cold water to slow cooker immediately after use as this could cause it to crack. Either add warm soapy water or let the slow cooker reach room temperature before cleaning.
- Don't fill it up. Your slow cooker should be one-half to two thirds full. If it's too full, it will take too long to start simmering. If it's not full enough, you risk overcooking.
- Customize it. If you want to thicken the juices or concentrate flavours, remove the lid and cook on HIGH for the last 30 min.
- Stick to the cooking time. Slow cookers work by simmering food at a low, even temperature, so adhere to the recipe.
- Check out our delicious slow-cooker chicken recipes and slow-cooker beef recipes to make dinnertime a cinch!