Slow Cooking is Good Cooking Article -
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Slow Cooking is Good Cooking

After a long day, walk in the door to the enticing aroma of a delicious, slow-cooked dinner.

Is Browning Better?

You don't need to brown meat before cooking it in a slow cooker, but there are some advantages. If you sear it with a little oil in a hot skillet, the meat develops more complex flavors. Always brown ground beef or any ground meat before adding it to your slow cooker: otherwise, the meat will clump together and add lots of grease to the finished product.

Go Easy on the Juice

Because slow cookers work at low temperatures with lids on, there's nowhere for the liquid to go, so it just collects on the lid and bastes the food. If you're adapting your favorite recipes from the stovetop or oven to the slow cooker, decrease the amount of liquid you use.

Lightly Spice

Whole spices such as bay leaves, peppercorns, or cinnamon sticks will give slow cooker items a very intense flavor if left in the pot for the entire cooking time, so use them sparingly. Ground spices as well as fresh and dried herbs, on the other hand, can lose much of their flavor if allowed to simmer for several hours in the slow cooker. It's better to add these items during the last two hours of cooking if you can manage it.

Sooner or Later

The slow cooker is one of the few cooking methods where you can cut the cooking time by turning up the temperature and still get great results. If something takes 10 hours on the "low" setting, you can safely cook it for 5 hours on the "high" setting with very similar results.

Slow cooker recipe collections:

Jul. 6, 2009 2:40 pm
I love to use my slow cooker but have run into a problem - all of the meals I make in it end up terribly dry! I am worried that the lid isn't sealing properly. Any tips?
Aug. 19, 2009 7:12 pm
Anwhidden, you could try to add more liquid to you dishes. Even if you add the amount the recipes call for, all slow cookers are different.
Aug. 30, 2009 9:34 am
When making a roast in the slow cooker,should the vegetables be put on top or under the meat?
Eleanor Gibney 
Sep. 28, 2009 9:24 am
I resently read that vegetables should be put on the bottom. I have not tried but will next time a recipe calls for vegetables. It seems to me the vegetables would become soggy. Experimenting will tell if it is corrwect.
prof chris cooke 
Nov. 3, 2009 4:09 pm
RE DRY food. We had a bad "slow-cooker" that cooked too fast (even on the lowest setting). Result: tough, dry meat, and over-cooked everything. I always line the bottom with vegetables (eg onion slices) so the meat does not contact the ceramic. "Slow cooking" works best when slow; manufacturers do not always test their products. I should have returned this lemon.
Nov. 21, 2009 7:16 am
I have a gripe about my crock pot(isn't it the same as a slow cooker?)It is the removable ceramic type, and I love it for cooking most things, but NOT Chili. Each time I have tried using my usual recipe, the chili has a weird "tinny" or "acidy" taste. I therefore do not use my crock pot for anything with a lot of tomatoes in the recipe.
Dec. 10, 2009 2:49 pm
Reading the comments above, I've come to the conclusion that most slow cookers, cooks fast. When I put my cooker on 8 hrs.,It's done in 4hrs. And I haven't even added the vegetables yet.Everything is burnt around the ceramic container and I added a lot of liquid. Any suggestions?
Dec. 18, 2009 7:12 am
slow cookers make some of the best meals!! I love all the possibilities of meals as wells as the convenience of "throwing it all together" the cooking part is left to minimum! I love to cook with a passion but the food from a crock pot tastes soooo good! nothing ends up as moist!
Dec. 25, 2009 1:06 pm
There are some slow cookers that in fact cook way too hot and too fast. One that I had even would bubble at the top and the liquid would start going all over the counter. These are typically the large ceramic type with removable crock. I recently purchase a new one and it is so much better. They have been improving. What I did with my "too hot" crock-pot was put the meat in frozen if I was going to cook all day or cut the time down by half most times (adding a little bit more liquid) if I was using food that wasn't frozen.
Dec. 26, 2009 6:18 pm
Ya know....isn't there a difference between a slow cooker and a crockpot? These recipes seem to be for a crockpot. A slow cooker (hard to find) cooks from the bottom only. A Crockpot cooks all around. Right? 
Dec. 30, 2009 9:44 pm
Bernadine, I often use a "crock pot liner" in my crock. This way the food doesn't get that "burnt" taste (and it makes clean up sooooo much easier). You can find the liners in the same aisle with the foil and plastic wrap. They come in a box of four. I really like to use them when I'm making queso and/or black beans (both of which are a booger to clean up). Hope this helps.
Jan. 4, 2010 2:19 pm
I would like to cook raw pot roast that I've cut into chunks with some vegetables. I usually do this on the stove but would like to cook it in my new crockpot using minimal, if any, liquid (I'm not sure how this will affect the flavor). Does anyone have any suggestions? I am new to the crockpot club! I have enjoyed reading all of your wonderful comments! Thanks!!
Jan. 6, 2010 6:34 pm
I cant seem to find many recipes that dont include using a skillet/oven. i don't have an oven since i live in a basement apt. I want to know if pasta can be cooked in the slow cooker without a stove first? any ideas?
Jan. 7, 2010 8:53 am
to make sure your slow cooker is sealing right,put just a lightcoat of oil around top in side .i found this out this past summer hope it helps you .
Jan. 10, 2010 12:45 am
I've used a slow cooker for years. And I've gone through at least 4 or 5, I've lost count. The brands and quality are highly variable, you just keep going till you get a good one and then use it until it dies. The 'too fast, too hot' cookers are unfixable in my book. I have one of those in our camp that I can watch like a hawk when I do use it. Otherwise, it would be in the trash. One hint, save the tops from the broken electronics and cracked crocks. Many are interchangable or will do in an emergency break.
Jan. 13, 2010 10:28 am
please remember when using crock pot to use the correct size for whatever you are cooking. the crock should be at least 2/3 full. otherwise it will cook too fast and there won't be enough liquid. i learned this the hard way when hubby bought huge crock for just the 2 of us.
Mar. 2, 2010 7:43 am
I find that the best roasts that I cook are in the slow cooker.
Apr. 8, 2010 6:38 am
Can you leave cooked food sit in a slow cooker with it not turned on. If so, for how long would the food stay warm and at what setting. We are doing scalloped potatoes for an event and there are very few plug ins there. Could food sit for two hours safely.
May 5, 2010 9:17 am
Crock-Pot is a registered trademark of the Rival Company and cannot be used without permission. Slow cooker is the generally accepted generic term for this type of appliance.
Jul. 11, 2010 5:55 pm
Cube and seal steak by searing/frying before cooking can help keep moist, does anyone have kid friendly recipes - mine are fussy fussy eaters and dont like stew! even though we adults in the house love it in winter As for the cooker Even when they no longer work the slow cooker keeps going - Keeping the parts / centres and lids of slow cooker/crock pots when they stop working is really good - we had one that died (brought second hand) we kept the centre and used it for a serving dish at dinner parties - people thought it was a brilliant server and wanted to know where we got it!
Jul. 13, 2010 5:17 pm
If over cooking or burning is a problem try raising your meat off the bottom of the cooker by placing on a bed of potatoes. Using your favorite potato, slice in half the long way and place flat side down on the bottom, then place your meat and any veggies on top. Potatoes and and slow cookers are a match made in heaven anyway, so you can kill 2 birds with one stone by minimizing stove top mess. Rich
Jul. 27, 2010 12:15 pm
any advice or instructions for baked potatoes in the crock pot? ive heard you can do this, but have not been able to find a recipe! thanks
Jul. 30, 2010 9:35 pm
Sheaw77 my crockpot recipe book says to prick the potatoes with a fork, wrap in foil,&cook on low 8-10 hours, hi 2 1/2-4. I have also put a small ham ,and small squash half wrapped in foil in at the same time. This has always been great just for the two of us.
Aug. 3, 2010 8:31 am
In regards to the amount of time food can safely sit out. Hot foods need to be kept at a temperature of at least 145 degrees and cool foods need to be kept below 40 degrees. Temperatures between 40 and 145 degrees are called the “danger zone”. No food should be within the “danger zone” for longer than 4 hours. If the food is kept at or above 145 degrees or at or below 40 degrees it can sit out for 2 hours.
Sep. 9, 2010 1:19 pm
I have found a crock pot that has a teflon coating instead of stoneware. It is a breeze to clean and is much lighter(easier to work with).
Oct. 1, 2010 8:56 pm
Muskokagal could you please give us that recipe? I would love to have it! Thanks!
Oct. 30, 2010 3:39 pm
The most important thing that is NEVER mentioned in any of these recipes is the temperature. Not all crock pots are equal in the temp output. Older units have less wattage both in the low and high settings. So, I am assuming that your recipes have the newer version of the crock pot and I will adjust my cooking times to suit my older unit... Just a friendly reminder for the writers.
Nov. 7, 2010 12:44 pm
How do you convert recipes for small crockpots/slow cookers to larger cookers?
Mary Strickland 
Jan. 9, 2011 3:01 pm
At our local dollar tree, i buy the packs of 8 plastic shower caps,,,i put one over the top of my slowcooker lid while it is careful of the built up steam when removing the shower cap,,,,,OUCH.
Jan. 18, 2011 7:25 am
Some recipes say "use a liner" --- what tyupe of liner would you use?
Jan. 19, 2011 1:11 am
I just purchased a slow cooker after wanting one for many years. I live overseas so I get discouraged when I see recipes calling for canned soups (cream of mushroom, celery, cheese, etc.) because I don't get those in Europe. How can I filter out/find recipes that don't require canned soups?
Mar. 9, 2011 7:31 am
I personnally like to use lower guality cuts of beef and use a pressuer cooker, under pressuer for 6 to 8 minutes, than add meat to slow cooker. Meat is very tender and mosit,
Mar. 15, 2011 3:37 pm
I am at the very beginning of the bigginer cooks lol and my crock pot has really made things easy for me. I did not know that there were SO many different things that I can make in it, I havent cooked on the stove in over a month! lol
Mar. 15, 2011 8:01 pm
I love to cook roasts. It's so easy and always tastes good. I'm going to cook my corn beef in it this year. I love coming home and having dinner ready.
Apr. 9, 2011 12:14 pm
Suggestions: put your ingredients in a Reynolds Oven bag, fold top of bag over edge of cooker. Clean up is fast and easy. Otherwise try spraying the inside of the cooker with PAM cooking spray for items you want to keep it's shape, e.g., lasagna, stuffed peppers, etc.
Apr. 9, 2011 12:17 pm
Recently bought a Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker. It's digital and has a probe for large cuts of meet. So easy to use. If I'm not home when it is done cooking, it goes to WARM. What a great invention for women on the run.
May 2, 2011 1:02 pm
I have a problem with everything in my slow cooker ending up soupy, even when I don't add liquid to the pot. Then everything comes out tasting so bland and overcooked. Any solutions?
Jun. 3, 2011 1:05 am
I love my crock pot. I've been using it for years. I love it for roasts and chickens. I'm thrilled to find these new recipes.
Jun. 11, 2011 10:08 am
Kshelton, I searched online for the "Sweet 'n' Tangy Pot Roast" recipe that Muskokagal referred to b/c I'd love to have it too. Not sure if this is the same one, but check it out at the following link and see what you think.
Aug. 13, 2011 6:19 am
We just bought a new digital slow cooker and threw out our old one because it cooked things too quickly even on low. My first use of this one for a brisket recipe was a disaster. I mistakenly told the butcher to cut up my meat- shouldn't have done that. It cooked too quickly and became dry. Plus the spices were too much for the little pieces of meat. uggh- I really want to get good at this slow cooker thing. I think instead of getting frustrated with my new appliance, I will start cutting the cooking times down and try to use my own instinct instead of following the recipe to the tee. Also, the instructions say "don't lift the lid!!" My husband says this is a hog wash and I have to agree with him. Instead of mutilating an nice, expensive piece of meat- better to lift the lid and give it a test for done-ness! I hope to find some good slow cooker recipes on this site to put into the rotation! I am a good that needs all the help she can get!! :-))
Sep. 16, 2011 12:32 pm
I don't have an oven at the moment and this site has made me fall completely madly in love with my crockpot. I have found so many different recipes here from main dishes to desserts I forgot that I even missed my oven.
Sep. 25, 2011 2:49 am
To: SHEAW77 For an easy recipe go to type in- Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes. This is one of my favorite recipes sites... To: Yaz Try not to take the lid off while cooking. Each time you do, it takes several minutes to regain temperature and moisture back. Happy Cooking * Everyone
Oct. 13, 2011 2:42 pm
NADES - I don't know if you ever got an answer to your soup question. I had been wondering about a substitute because I don't like using those chemical filled soups all the time. Here is a good article about substituting:
Nov. 16, 2011 4:30 pm
When do I add rice to a slow-cooker when making soup? I started a pot of chicken soup this morn at 0845, and want to add rice to it, but don't know when to throw it in, or if I should cook the rice on the stove and serve the soup over the rice.
Dec. 21, 2011 9:24 am
For adjusting stove top recipes to Crock Pop: 15 minutes regular cooking EQUALS 1 hr in a crock on HIGH I have used this successfully, as a guide, for several years with no other adjustment.
Jan. 4, 2012 9:54 pm
Radio Personality and Chef, Melinda Lee, had a segment on crockpots. There are just a lot of over heated crock pots out there. To test your crock pot put water in it and set it at LOW. Come back periodically to see if the water boils. If it boils, your crockpot is too hot and you're always going to have problems. I think she has a list of crockpots on her site that were the most consistently really "low cookers.
Jan. 14, 2012 5:43 pm
I figured out how to cool a hot pot: My slowcooker gets too hot as well. It is HamBeach, and reaches 200 degrees, per the manual, on low and high. I saw a post about hot pots: her advice was to line the ceramic pot with tin foil, then cover that with a crock pot liner bag. I tried that AND the potatoes as a liner. I finally was able to cook a chicken without it being as dry as toast. It actually cooled it too much, and I had to pull out the potatoes. Next time I'll use less foil--I used 2 sheets to fully line it.
Jan. 14, 2012 5:45 pm
How to fix a hot pot: Oops, should have said, "...and potatoes on the bottom."
Mar. 3, 2012 8:47 pm
I broke my crockpot/slow cooker (i think they are the same thing) lid years ago. I just cover with foil and a stoneware dinner plate. Add more liquid if food is dry. I have never had that problem, prolly cuz I add enuf liquid?
Tym F 
Mar. 6, 2012 4:03 am
I called the Crockpot people recently to complain about a new Crockpot that cooked too fast and lid did not seal; they said FDA had issued new regulations that required them to raise the cooking temp, and that the non-sealing lid was then necessary to avoid a sort of "pressure cooker" situation; thus the new pots need less time & more liquid. (Of course, they offered to sell me a new recipe book designed for the new cooker . . .)
Mar. 14, 2012 4:31 pm
For years and years I've had a crockpot that has a temp setting of low/high. My larger crockpot (going to be used for cornbeef in the am) is temp controlled. The manual is long gone..What's the temp equivilent to low vs high?? I'm guessing 250/350 respectively?
Mar. 26, 2012 8:25 am
If your food is ending up too dry, keep in mind that even stuff in a slow cooker can be over cooked! Meat will only hold its moisture for so long before the fats and collagen break down and you have to rely on a sauce to make it palatable.
Mar. 30, 2012 10:27 am
@socalkelly & @rt: Thanks so much for your tips on "too hot" slow cookers! I only bought mine a few months ago and I was beginning to think it was just me... I will test mine a.s.a.p.! When I decide to replace this one, I'm definitely going to get the programmable type with the meat probe.
Apr. 10, 2012 5:16 am
Most of the slow cooker recipes make too much food for me. If I halve the recipe what does that do to the cooking time?
Apr. 14, 2012 3:52 pm
Cooking a whole chicken in the crock-pot is awesome. Make up a dry rub, coat the chicken and pop it in the crock-pot. No liquid necessary. Cook on low 8-10hrs. Mine always comes out in four pieces! So tender and moist. My family love it!
Jul. 11, 2012 6:33 pm
For those that are having "too hot" crock pot issues. I wrote Rival & they said they have increased the internal temperature of crocks over the years; hence the issue. Their "solution" is to add vents to future models. Sigh. Seems like it would be easier to have a slow cooker cook slowly. Anyway; I have found Cuisinart to be an excellent model.
Jul. 20, 2012 10:25 am
I am just starting to use my slow cooker more regularly. I used it once or twice a month before to make roast. I've never had a problem with the meat burning or being too dry, but I add a lot of liquid to my recipe. Then after a day of leftovers I cut up what's left, sometimes add stew meat,add some spicy V8 and some other veggies and make a beef soup. I'm trying chicken and dumplings for the first time right now, and plan to test out more recipes over the next few weeks so I can have some ready in the freezer for when the new baby comes at the end of Aug. I lost the lid in a move a few years ago, so I just cover with foil. I uncover several times throughout cooking to test if I need to add any seasoning and it never causes a problem, but I don't really follow time guidelines when I cook roast. I start it early and let it cook for most of the day, the longer the better because it makes the meat more tender.
Oct. 3, 2012 12:16 pm
Ok, I just bought a 71/2 qt. simple crockpot from wamarts. No bells and whistles. I used "pam spray" for easy cleanup. I "seared the prok roast(or put in oven at 375, till brown". I put "pockets of garlic and fresh basil inside "boston pork roast" I place thick sliced onion on bottom, roast on top. and a half box of "beef broth, with "dry onion sopu mix. I wanted it in 5 hours, so I set on high(just over 6 lb.) I did NOT take cover off till 3rd hour,(they tell you to at least wait that long) After that, I checked for tenderness every hour. When I "knew, it would be another hour before "perfect", I sauteed fresh mushrooms in butter /garlic, then added to pot. I also took some ""cornstarch, with a little water mixed", and added to juices from meat and beef broth. Cooked another hour, it made "its own gravy. I made chopped carrots and potatoes in oven on 375, cause my husband likes his veggies crisp.That bone, "just fell out of that roast when I went to transfere on a platter to serve. I
Oct. 3, 2012 12:21 pm
YES! Browning is MUCH Better...If you can't do it in the morning before work, Just do that part the night before, refriferate, then put in your crock pot in the morning(use onions(chopped big) on bottom. after "first spraying lightly with Pam. Add garlic cloves to taste aso. Some low sodium beef broth, whatever you like.Just make sure NOT to lift the lid for at least three hours.After that, once an hour till done.(Unless you aren't home) Never overfill with liquids. about two inches is enough for a roast/ or chucks of any meat,ribs, .Have fun with it, I am!
Oct. 26, 2012 4:24 pm
just bought a slow cooker and its the best thing that i purchased thought it would be hard to use but so far i made things in the crock pot and it was delicious and tasty
Nov. 4, 2012 12:52 pm
Tips: Newer slowcookers/crockpots cook at a higher temp. You can check the temp. this way: (1) Place 2 quarts of water in your cooker (2) Cover. Heat on low 8 hours. (3) Lift lid immediately check temp. with an accurate thermometer. (4) The temperature of the water should be 185°F. If it is higher, food may overcook and you should reduce the overall cooking time. If temperature was lower, your foods will probably not reach a safe temperature quickly enough, and the cooker should be discarded. Many stove top recipes can be adapted for a slowcooker. • Low (in a slowcooker) = 200°F approximately (in an oven) • High (in a slowcooker) = 300°F approximately (in an oven) • In a slowcooker, 2 hours on low = 1 hour on high Fill the cooker no more than 2/3 and no less than ½ full
Nov. 4, 2012 12:54 pm
Also Each time the lid is lifted add 20 to 30 min of cooking time
Nov. 12, 2012 5:54 am
Thank you all for sharing your experience on slow cookers. I have had mine for 3 years and am sorry to say that it has not made my family happy. It just is not SLOW at all. After reading your tips with potatoes, onions and foil I am going to start all over again to earn my cooker its deserved popularity
Nov. 25, 2012 12:33 pm
Hello & thank you all for the wonderful tips. I am new to cooking and would love to have a slow cooker to cook while I am at work. But from what everyone is saying about the slow cookers that cook at higher temps, I'm not sure if this is possible since I won't be home to check on it from 8a-530p. Any suggestions on a good and true slow cooker that I could leave unattended for that long and not have overcook and dried out food?
Nov. 25, 2012 12:51 pm
And by the way, I live alone. So I am thinking it would be fine to get a 2qt cooker? My only concern with that is that 1 person reported that the heating part got so hot it burned through. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Jan. 12, 2013 6:58 am
I have been watching the slow cooker videos and have a question. If you are suppose to fill a slow cooker 1/2 to 3/4 full to cook properly, why do the videos show lining the bottom of a slow cooker with the meat (pork chops) adding the liquid and putting the lid on. That pot is nowhere a 1/2 full. Am I missing something?
Jan. 16, 2013 1:56 pm
In response to deerme86 & eldest65: I've been cooking with a slow cooker for just 2 years now. I have never heard about a certain level the crock pot has to be filled to. Most of the recipes I use fill my crock pot to the brim, usually smashing the food down with the lid. LOL! I let it cook for 7 hours on "low". They can cook longer, doesn't hurt. I've never had a problem with my food being burnt or soggy vegetables, as others mentioned. However, I do have to place my meat on the very bottom, if potatoes are in the recipe I'll put those in first and then meat on top of that, and then add everything else. For me, meat and potatoes must be on the bottom or they will not cook all the way, and crunchy potatoes just aren't my thing. I could not find the exact crock pot I own, but the closest one to it can be found at this link:
Jan. 18, 2013 8:21 pm
I absolutely adore my original crockpot that came with the little mini dipper warmer crock. I'm cooking spaghetti sauce in mine as we speak. I always brown my meat separately before adding it to my crock so I can strain the grease off. One tip I'd like to share is to add your veggies in the last hour of cooking so they don't end up mushy and soggy. This is a useful tip for dishes like spaghetti sauce, stews and chili....soups also. When I come home from work I don't mind waiting an hour for the veggies to cook while I unwind with a glass of wine. It sure beats mushified vegetables that have cooked for hours while you're out. My crock pot is definitely among the list of ten things I could NOT live without. I use mine constantly to make meal size portions for my deep freezer, for nights when I'm tired and don't want to cook but still want something nutritious and delicious. My crockpot is just awesome with a low, high and keep warm setting. It's huge too, so I can make lots and lo
Mar. 15, 2013 8:10 am
I'm new to slow cooker cooking. None of the recipes that I've found include the size of the slow cooker. I've found some that I really want to make at the quantity that calls for, i.e., 18 servings. But it's hard for me to tell without testing/experimenting if the amount will fit. One particular recipe by Kathyb (Creamy Slow Cooker Potato Cheese Soup) doesn't say. So, any tips would be greatly appreciated. I tried looking for a way to e-mail Kathyb to ask her but couldn't find the way. Thanks so much!
Apr. 13, 2013 3:53 am
In response to Deerme86: I am on my 3rd slow cooker, which is a Hamilton Beech 6 qt programmable slow cooker. It is by far the best cooker I have owned. The others that I had did not allow for programming and therefore over-cooked the meal if I was late coming home from work. This cooker allows me to use the program mode, which lets me set the HOURS and TEMP I want to it to cook. Then, when the time is up, it automatically switches to WARM. There have been days when I am super late getting home from work and the meal is still perfect - not dried out or over-cooked. I love this cooker and use it all the time....and even though I am cooking only for the two of us, I have not found it necessary to use a smaller cooker.
Oct. 12, 2013 2:33 am
I agree with amatchmaker. I also would like to see the size of the slow cooker in the directions.
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