We're all about slow cooking: from party dips to hearty stews, we love meals we can set and forget. That's why we couldn't believe our good fortune upon finding , which outlines the tenets of turning any recipe into a slow cooker masterpiece.
There are few things you can't cook in a Crock Pot, but Barnett does warn against dairy. Ingredients like sour cream tend to curdle, so opt for veggie or chicken stock instead.
Liquids, which are conductors of heat, are critical for slow cooking. Skimp on the water and your food may not cook thoroughly. Barnett recommends adding 1.5 to 2 cups of water to recipes that don't call for any liquid; you can always add more later if needed. Meanwhile, for recipes that are meant to simmer uncovered on the stovetop, like stews, you may want to reduce the liquid or remove the slow cooker lid towards the end.
Before placing ingredients in the cooker:
- Sear meats, unless you want shredded texture
- Fully cook ground beef
- Brown pre-cooked meats and tofu
- Cut vegetables to the same size, so they'll cook evenly
- Add hearty vegetables like carrots and onions first
- Never use frozen ingredients—they'll bring the cooking temperature down
Ingredients like rice and pasta should be added towards the end of the cooking process, to avoid turning to mush.
Barnett even has a handy guide for converting cooking times:
- Oven/Stovetop: 15 – 30 minutes = Low: 4 – 6 hours = High: 1-1/2 – 2-1/2 hours
- Oven/Stovetop: 31 – 40 minutes = Low: 6 – 8 hours = High: 3 – 4 hours
- Oven/Stovetop: 41 minutes – 3+ hours = Low: 8 – 10+ hours = High: 4 – 6+ hours
Learn more about making recipes slow-cooker ready at .