I am so excited to share this post with you. We focused on all the crockpot tips we could find and I realized it still wasn't enough. In my opinion, you can never have enough crockpot tips or crockpot recipes so I built a page dedicated to everything crockpots. It has more crockpot tips, crockpot recipes, a SUPER large infographic with everything you could ever want to know. Best part, if I am missing any tips, leave me a comment and I will get it updated.
I have seen so many inventive ways that people use crockpots, I would love for you to leave a comment with any crockpot tips you have to share with everyone.
- Use the right size. Crockpots are available in a variety of sizes that range from 1 quart to 8 1/2 quarts. Use the size crockpot that is recommended in each recipe to ensure the crockpot is not over or under-filled. Many recipes work best in a 5 to 6 quart crockpot.
- Not too little, not too much. Fill the crockpot one-half to two-thirds full or according to manufacturer recommendations. Food will not cook properly if the crockpot is filled to the brim. On the other hand, if the crockpot is less than half full, the food will cook too quickly and potentially burn.
- Keep a lid on it. Crockpots work by trapping heat and cooking food over a long period of time. Every time the lid is lifted, enough heat escapes to require the cooking time to be extended by 15 or 20 minutes.
- Plan ahead. Prep all of the ingredient the night before to add to the crockpot the following morning. In addition, store the cut meat, chopped vegetables and measured ingredients in separate containers in the refrigerator until it is time to add them to the crockpot.
- Select meat wisely. Crockpots are ideal for cheaper, less tender cuts of meat like stew meat and shoulder cuts. The longer cook time breaks down the tough connective tissue, which results in tender, juicy meat.
- Brown meat first. To maximize flavor, always brown meat, especially ground beef, on the stove top before adding it to the crockpot. This step can be omitted in most recipes, but it does add a caramelized flavor to the dish.
- Layering matters. Carefully follow the layering instruction in the recipe. Food cooked on the bottom of the crockpot cooks faster due to being immersed in the simmering liquid. Thus, food that takes a longer time to cook should be placed on the bottom of the crockpot while food that cook faster should be placed at the top.
- Spice it up. Fresh herbs and spices gain flavor in the crockpot while dry herbs and spices lose flavor. Therefore, it is best to use a little less of fresh herbs and spices as their flavors will intensify while cooking. On the other hand, dry herbs and spices should be added during the last hour of the cooking time.
- Low vs high. In general, the low setting on a crockpot is approximately 200 degrees F while the high setting is approximately 300 degrees F. Typically, one hour on high is approximately equal to 2 hours on low. Furthermore, meat cooked on low for 6 to 8 hours is more tender than meat cooked on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- Storing leftovers. Always use refrigerator or freezer-safe containers to store leftovers. Never store the uneaten food in the crockpot or the crockpot liner as the food will not cool down quickly enough to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. For more tips on storing leftovers in the freezer, please see this post.
- Temperature is important. For food safety reasons, food needs to reach a temperature of 140 degrees F as quickly as possible in a crockpot. For this reason, frozen food should never be added to a crockpot. All foods should be thawed or defrosted first in order for the crockpot to quickly reach 140 degrees F.
- Safety first. If the crockpot was accidentally never turned on or set on “warm” the entire day, or even a couple of hours, all of the food must be discarded. Regardless of how much money was spent on ingredients, the food must be thrown away due to risk of illness.
- To get the Ultimate Guide to Slow Cookers for even more information, click here.