Are you ready to get started on some easy meals? Adding ingredients to your slow cooker is a great way to simplify your dinnertime routine. Not only will you have some great tasting meals, you’ll also have more time in the evening to spend with your family. If this sounds like something that you want to get started with, check out these 12 secrets to the perfect slow cooker recipes.
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1. Use a Liner (easy cleanup)
Many people use slow cookers for their meals because it’s easy to do. Unfortunately, the mess afterwards can be hard to clean up. Cut the mess for your perfect slow cooker recipe by using a liner. You can find slow cooker liners at many stores, all for a reasonable price. This extra step is definitely worth it since it will cut your clean up time in half!
2. Right Size Crockpot
When loading up the slow cooker with your next meal, make sure you have the right size crockpot. What many people do not realize is that if your crockpot is too full or too empty, your meal will not cook properly. Too full slow cookers can take longer to cook, while too empty slow cookers can easily burn or cook too quickly.
3. Keep it Low
Most slow cooker recipes come with two separate heating instructions. One might tell you to cook your meal on high for 4 hours while the other says to cook it on low for 6-7 hours. When possible, choose the lower heat option. By cooking for a longer period of time on low, you’re giving your meal the chance to cook through evenly, without burning the outside. This is the best way to get a moist and flavorful meal.
4. Check Your Cook Time
How long are you going to cook your meal? Most recipes come with a range of cook times that you can use. For example, it might tell you to cook your meal for 4-5 hours. When this happens, err on the side of caution and cook your meal for less time. You can always turn the heat up to cook it a little longer when you get home, but you can’t go back in time when you have a burnt meal!
5. Be Cautious when Warming Your Meal
After your meal is cooked, many slow cookers turn the heat down and keep the meal on the warmer. Be careful when using this feature. If you are planning to eat your meal right after it’s done cooking, the warmer is great for keeping your food the right temperature. However, if you are working a long day and won’t be home for a few hours, you run the risk of the warmer feature cooking your food for too long. In this case, you can lessen the cook time slightly so that when the slow cooker switches to the warming feature, your meal will be perfectly cooked by the time you get home.
6. Try New Recipes
Don’t be afraid to try new recipes! As comforting as it can be to cook the same slow cooker recipes over and over again, a new recipe might be the perfect meal you’re looking for. If you and your family don’t like it, you can always throw the recipe out, never to be seen again. More than likely, however, that new recipe will turn out to be a new family favorite.
7. Spice It Up (extra)
When cooking your meal in the slow cooker, don’t be afraid to add a little extra spice. Since your meal is going to be cooking for a few hours, some extra spice and flavors can really make the meal taste even better. The last thing you want to do is use too little spices and then have a bland meal.
8. Add Some Extras
Another great way to make the perfect slow cooker recipe is to add some extras. If you’re cooking a pot roast in your slow cooker, don’t be afraid to add some potatoes, carrots, or cabbage to the recipe. Not only will you have a delicious side to go with your meal, these extras will help add flavor to your main dish!
9. Ask for Advice
Let’s face it — there are people out there that are simply miracle workers in the kitchen. If you are not one of these people, don’t be afraid to ask for some advice. Ask some of the cooks in your family about the best recipes or tips they might have for the slow cooker. They are sure to give you some advice that will transform your recipe into perfection.
10. Trial and Error
Unfortunately, trial and error can be the best way to get the perfect slow cooker recipe. If there’s a recipe you want to try, follow the instructions and see how you like the meal. Think about what you would change for the next time you cook it, then follow through. Try that same meal a week or two later and make those changes you were thinking about. Write down your notes so that when you finally have the recipe just right, you know how to make it the same way again!
11. Keep it Moist
Anytime you have something on heat for a couple of hours, evaporation will happen. The same can be applied to your slow cooker meals. If you do not have the right amount of liquid in the slow cooker, your recipe is going to be dry and hard. Instead, keep it moist by adding liquid such as water or chicken broth. The right amount of liquid will help keep your meal tasty and soft.
12. Don’t Overcook
One problem many people have is overcooking their meals. By testing out a recipe a few times, you’ll know how to perfect that meal. An overcooked slow cooker meal is NO fun!
What are some of your best tips for the perfect slow cooker recipe?