Here are a few things for success with your slow cooker!
Choosing the right slow cooker. Don’t use a 4 quart slow cooker for a 6 quart recipe. Also, note that all slow cooker cook differently because heating varies tremendously among brands. So get to know your slow cooker.
Cook on low when possible. Recipes cooked on low are more moist and tender.
Cook chicken on low and for no longer than 6 hours if possible especially when it’s a stand alone dish and not in a soup. This will produce more tender flavorful chicken and keep it from becoming too dry and stringy.
Sometimes you may want to brown your meat first. While this is not a rule set in stone it does add more flavor to the dish and helps ground beef and turkey hold their texture better.
Vegetables like carrots and potatoes often take longer than meat to cook. So cut them into bite sized pieces or put them at the bottom of the slow cooker where it gets hotter and place the meat on top.
Use dried leaf herbs rather than ground or fresh because they keep their flavor better over the long cooking time. Or stir in fresh herbs during the last hour of cooking.
Don’t take the lid off the slow cooker unless instructed to before the end of cooking time. Removing the cover adds up to 20 minutes of cooking time!
Milk, sour cream, and cheese may break down and curdle during the long cooking time. Wait to add these ingredients until the last 20 minutes of cooking time or follow the recipe.
Fish and seafood can fall apart or become very tough if cooked too long. Add these in the last 15 minutes of cooking time or follow the recipe.
Safety first! Using a slow cooker is a safe way to cook food when used properly. It is advised to never put frozen food into your slow cooker as it greatly increases the risk that your food will not reach a safe temperature to kill bacteria. Remove leftovers from the slow cooker and transfer them to the refrigerator or freezer within 1 hour after cooking has finished. If you can’t eat your food right use the warm setting to keep your food hot. However, don’t use this setting for more than 4 hours.