Below are some helpful tips that I have gathered over the years of crock pot cooking:
Use cooking spray. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray prior to adding ingredients. It makes cleanup a whole lot easier!
How much time? Generally crockpot meals take 6-8 hours on low and 3-4 hours on high. One hour on high equals 2-2 1/2 hours on low.
Brown meat first? Although some recipes may ask you to brown the meat beforehand, it is really not necessary (with one exception). Browning chicken or beef prior to putting in your crockpot adds color, not really any cooking benefits. The one exception is this – ground meat, if required to be browned within the recipe, must be browned before adding to your slow cooker.
Use cheaper cuts of meat. Most crockpot recipes don’t call for filet mignon. Because the crockpot simmers meat over a long period of time, it is better to use cheaper cuts of meat. Round steak, chuck roasts, and other such cuts turn out juicy and delicious in the crockpot.
Don’t lift the lid! It’s logical; the steam in the crockpot is what cooks the food. If you lift the lid, the steam escapes therefore adding more cooking time.
Use the correct size crockpot. Your crockpot should be no more than 2/3 full (but no less than 1/2 full), with space between the cuts of meat if there’s more than one piece).
Everyone can enjoy! If you’re like my family, not everyone eats at the same time. Once the meal is cooked, reduce the temperature setting to “keep warm” (if you have that setting on your crockpot). This is especially nice for kids who eat at 5pm, high schoolers who eat at 8pm, and a husband grabbing a bite at 10pm.
Still have questions? Email me; I’m happy to help you enjoy crock pot cooking!