Convert Your Favorites
You can adapt many conventional recipes for the slow cooker. Any oven or stovetop recipe that has some moisture in it--whether from water, broth, wine, sauce, or canned soup--should work beautifully in your favorite appliance, just keep these things in mind:
- Cut all liquid amounts in half when adjusting for the slow cooker.
- The low heat setting is approximately 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and high heat is about 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
- For every hour you'd cook something in the oven or on the stove, allow 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. (When in doubt, turn it on low and leave it all day or overnight.)
While you can cook just about any kind of meat in the slow cooker, some are better candidates than others. Chicken on the bone and cheaper, tougher cuts of beef, pork, and lamb turn succulent and fork-tender under the gentle, moist heat of the slow cooker.
Hint: for maximum flavor and a more appetizing color in the finished product, remove skin from poultry and trim visible fat from all meats, then coat meat lightly in flour and brown in a hot skillet before adding to slow cooker.
The Finishing Touches
As your dish nears the end of its cooking time, it's time to add the finishing touches.
- If there seems to be too much liquid, remove the lid and turn the pot up to high, allowing some of the water to cook out.
- If you'd like to thicken or enrich the sauce, now is the time to stir in cream, sour cream, shredded cheese, or a slurry of cornstarch and cool liquid.
- Brighten up the flavors with salt and pepper, lemon juice, or vinegar, and maybe a handful of fresh chopped parsley, basil, or cilantro.
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