The stoneware pot should always be filled from 1/2 to 3⁄4 full, to avoid over and under cooking.
- When only half full, check for doneness 1 to 2 hours before recommended cooking time.
- To avoid spillovers, do not fill slow cooker more than 3⁄4 full.
Always slow cook with the lid on.
- Do not open lid during first 2 hours of cooking; this allows heat to rise efficiently.
- Open the lid as little as possible to assure even cooking. Every time the lid is removed, the cooking time increases by 15–20 minutes.
Most recipes can be cooked on either HIGH or LOW. Many recipes will give the time for both.
- Low: Often used for longer cooking times, 8–10 hours, or less tender cuts of meat.
- High: Cooking on high setting is similar to a covered pot on the stovetop. Foods will cook on high in about half the time required for low cooking.
- Additional liquid may be required as foods can boil on high.
- Warm: Only use to keep cooked foods at a food-safe serving temperature and should not be used to cook foods. It is not recommended to use “Warm” for more than 4 hours.
Many standard recipes can be converted to slow cooker recipes with a few simple tips:
- Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, turnips, and beats require longer cooking times than most meats. Always place them on the bottom of the stoneware pot and cover them with liquids.
- If adding fresh milk, yogurt, or cheese it should be done during the last 2 hours of cooking. Evaporated milk, condensed soups, or non-dairy milk such as almond, rice or soy milk may be added at the start of cooking. If possible, substitute milk or yogurt with one of these ingredients.
- Rice and pasta are not recommended for long cooking periods. Cook them separately and then add to the slow cooker during the last 30 minutes.
- Liquids do not boil away in a slow cooker like they do in conventional cooking. Reduce the amount of liquid in any recipe not designed for a slow cooker. The only exception would be soups.
- Foods cut into uniform pieces will cook faster and more evenly than foods left whole such as roast or poultry
- Removed excess fat before serving with a slice of bread, or a spoon to skim it off the top.
- To save time, fill the stoneware pot the night before and refrigerate. You may need to add some extra cooking time because the food and stoneware pot are cold.
- Milk products, especially those low in fat, tend to curdle if cooked too long; add them toward the end of the cooking time.
- Evaporated milk, condensed soups, and non-dairy milk such as almond, rice or soy milk are great substitutes for milk and cream.
Soups and Stews
- Because there is little evaporation, soups and stews require less liquid than usual.
- If too thick, add additional liquid in last ½ hour of cooking or at serving time.
- Condensed soups and dry soup mixes add great flavor and body to sauces and gravies.
- The higher the fat content, the less liquid needed. Also, place thickly sliced onions under fattier meat to keep it above the drippings.
- Browning before cooking in the slow cooker is not necessary; however,browning meats, lightly coated in flour gives more body and flavor to sauces. This works for ground meat as well.
- Make sure top of meat does not touch the lid.
- Cooking times will vary depending upon the size of the meat, the bones and the cut. Meat with bone-in will take longer to cook. Lean meats and poultry will cook faster.
- Meats slow cooked in liquids develop great flavor with a minimum of effort.
- Use HIGH for more tender cuts of meat; use LOW for tougher cuts.
- Always thoroughly thaw meats before cooking them in the slow cooker
- Place vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, turnips, and beet at the very bottom of the stoneware pot and always cover them with liquids. They usually take longer to cook than most meat.
- Vegetables cook well; they develop better flavor and don’t break down as they would in your oven.
- Fish cooks quickly; add it for the last 15 minutes.Seasonings
- Fresh herbs should be added at the end of the cooking cycle. If cooked too long they lose their color and flavor.
- Dried herbs work well in the slow cooker and can be added at the beginning. They can become stronger on longer cooking; begin with less and add at end, if needed.
- Some spices and dried herbs, such as cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and whole peppercorns can become quite intense with long cooking, so use sparingly.
- If using bay leaves, remember to remove before serving.
- Whole herbs and spices flavor better in slow cooking than crushed or ground