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Learn how to make the most of your slow cooker with these Brilliant Slow Cooker Hacks You Need to Know!
Slow cookers are must for any busy household. Just toss in the ingredients before work, let the slow cooker do the work for you until you get home, then enjoy a delicious, home cooked meal with hardly any effort! We often think of slow cookers making warm, comforting meals when it’s cold outside, but they’re also useful to use in place of a hot oven to keep your kitchen cool in the summertime.
While using a slow cooker seems pretty straight forward, today we’re exploring Genius Slow Cooker Hacks that will make cooking with this handy appliance even better. For amazingly delicious slow cooker recipes, check out 35 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes for Incredible, Effortless Meals.
For more incredible kitchen tips, see the following articles:
Worried you won’t remember all these great Slow Cooker Tips? Pin this article to use as a handy reference guide!
You may be wondering, what’s the difference between a slow cooker and a Crock Pot? While the terms are often used interchangeably, a Crock Pot is just a brand of slow cooker.
Need a slow cooker? My favorite is the 7-in-1 Instant Pot. It’s a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, sauté, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and warmer all in one! Get it now for a great price on Amazon.
Want a dedicated slow cooker? This Crock Pot lets you cook and carry on the go with a locking gasket lid.
Amazing Slow Cooker Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
1. CONVERT ANY RECIPE TO AN EASY SLOW COOKER RECIPE WITH THIS CONVERSION CHART.
You may have to adjust the amount of liquid called for in the recipe (like adding 1/2 cup water or broth if no liquid is called for), but otherwise, converting a conventional cooking recipe to an easy slow cooker recipe is simple with this conversion chart.
PRO TIP: If you are making soup or stew, add the veggies first and the meat on top to ensure the veggies are cooked to perfection.
2. CLEAN YOUR SLOW COOKER EFFORTLESSLY WITH BAKING SODA.
Do you have stubborn, stuck-on foods in your slow cooker that just won’t scrub away? Put 3 tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of dish soap or Sal Suds in your crockpot, then fill it with water.
Turn your slow cooker on low, and heat the mixture for a few hours. Dump the water, and scrub with a little more baking soda. Your slow cooker should be good as new!
3. CREATE TWO COMPARTMENTS WITH FOIL TO SERVE A CHOICE OF DIPS AT YOUR NEXT PARTY.
4. BROWN MEATS BEFORE ADDING TO THE SLOW COOKER.
To lock in juices and add flavor, sear meats on the stovetop before adding to your slow cooker.
5. ADD DAIRY AT THE END OF COOKING.
Adding dairy to your recipe too soon can cause it to curdle. If possible, wait until the end of the cooking process to add dairy ingredients.
6. SAME THING GOES FOR PASTA, BEANS, AND TENDER VEGGIES.
While meats, sauces, and hardier vegetables can cook long and slow, certain ingredients like pasta, beans, and small veggies should be added near the end of cooking time to ensure they don’t turn to mush.
7. COOK THE MAIN DISH AND SIDES TOGETHER BY WRAPPING THEM INDIVIDUALLY IN FOIL.
Making a roast and potatoes, but don’t want the potatoes to cook in the meat juices? Wrap them separately to cook in the same pot without mixing flavors.
8. USE YOUR SLOW COOKER TO KEEP MASHED POTATOES WARM ON THANKSGIVING.
Set your slow cooker to low, and let it warm up before adding the mashed potatoes. Cover the potatoes with the lid to keep them warm all through dinner.
For more Thanksgiving tips, check out 21 Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Super Simple.
9. SAVE MONEY WITH DRIED SPICES.
A slow cooker cooks long and slow, which causes fresh herbs and spices to lose their freshness benefits – their fresh taste, color, texture are all gone at the end of the cooking process. Dried spices are much cheaper, easy to use, and taste about the same as fresh.
PRO TIP: Increase your seasoning when cooking in a slow cooker – the long, low heat tends to mellow out flavors.
10. USE YOUR SLOW COOKER AS A HUMIDIFIER.
Need to moisten your home’s air, but don’t have a humidifier? Fill your crockpot 3/4 full with water, turn on high, then let the steam escape. Keep adding water as needed, and never let your slow cooker run empty!
Adding moisture to the air can help you feel better when you’re sick and can prevent and relieve nose bleeds, sinus and allergy symptoms, dry skin, and more. Want to invest in a humidifier? I recommend this one.
11. MAKE AN EASY CHOCOLATE FONDUE WITH YOUR SLOW COOKER.
Fill pint sized mason jars with chocolate chips and candy melts. Fill your crockpot halfway with water, and set to high. After about 30 minutes, stir the chocolate. If it’s melted, set your slow cooker to low to keep it melted for a few hours.
Don’t cover the slow cooker during this process. Added moisture will get into the chocolate and cause it to seize.
12. MAKE DELICIOUS HOMEMADE YOGURT.
Do you and your family consume a lot of yogurt? Save money by making a large batch of yogurt in your slow cooker! When you make your own, you can control what goes into it and avoid all the added sugar in most yogurt brands. Plus, homemade yogurt tastes far better than store-bought!
Via Mom On Timeout
13. AVOID OVERCOOKING BY RUNNING THE SLOW COOKER OVERNIGHT INSTEAD OF DURING THE DAY.
Never worry again about leaving work on time or getting stuck in traffic and overcooking your meal. Cook your food in the slow cooker overnight, store in the fridge, then reheat when you get home.
14. USE A SLOW COOKER LINER FOR EASY CLEANUP.
Line your slow cooker with a BPA-free liner to make cleanup a breeze.
15. MELT WAX AND ADD WICKS TO MAKE YOUR OWN CANDLES.
Melt wax directly in the candle holders in your slow cooker, then add color and your favorite essential oils to make these easy DIY candles right at home. These candles make wonderful gifts!
For more easy DIY gifts they’ll love, check out 40 DIY Gifts Perfect for Any Occasion.
Via Bonzai Aphrodite
16. REUSE BROKEN CRAYONS.
Make use of those old broken crayons by melting them in your slow cooker to make new ones.
Via TP Craft
17. HEAT TORTILLAS OVER YOUR SLOW COOKER.
Cover your slow cooker – preferably filled with some delicious Mexican food – with a class pie plate or serving tray instead of a lid. Put your tortillas inside the glass dish a few minutes before serving with your slow cooker meal.
18. MAKE YOUR SLOW COOKER SMALLER WITH A CASSEROLE DISH.
When using a slow cooker, it’s important to make sure not to over- or under-fill the pot to ensure foods are cooked correctly.
Have a large slow cooker, but want to make a small quantity of food? Cook the food in a small casserole dish placed inside the slow cooker to avoid overcooking.
19. FRESHEN YOUR HOME WITH A DIY SLOW COOKER POTPOURRI.
Make your home smell like the holidays with this DIY potpourri recipe containing cinnamon sticks, apple peels, orange rinds, whole cloves, and cranberries.
For more easy, natural ways to freshen your home, check out 17 Brilliant All-Natural Home Scent Hacks You Need to Know.
Via Serenity Cove
20. LINE YOUR SLOW COOKER WITH FOIL FOR EASY CLEANUP AND EVEN COOKING.
If the food you cook in your crockpot comes out crispier on the edges than you’d like, line the pot with foil first. The foil will help distribute heat more evenly and makes cleanup a breeze!
21. KEEP THE LID ON.
Unless a recipe calls for it, try to avoid removing the lid from the slow cooker while in use. When the lid is removed, the temperature inside your slow cooker can drop dramatically and take up to 30 minutes to warm up again!
Only open the lid if you absolutely have to.
22. REMOVE THE LID FOR THICKER SAUCE.
Huh? Sarah, I thought you just told me not to remove the lid unless I absolutely have to. While that’s true, there is one instance where you may want remove the lid.
To thicken sauces at the end of cooking, remove the lid, and turn the slow cooker on high to allow water to evaporate from the sauce. Only do this after the meat has been thoroughly cooked.
23. COOL FOODS COMPLETELY BEFORE STORING IN THE FRIDGE.
Adding hot foods to your refrigerator can increase the temperature in the fridge to unsafe levels, causing spoilage. Be sure to cool your food completely before putting it in the fridge.
If you’re short on time, use an ice bath to expedite the process. Check out this article for more information on using ice baths to cool food.
Via The Kitchn
24. DON’T STORE FOODS IN THE SLOW COOKER BOWL.
The bowl can stay hot long after cooking, especially if you leave your hot food in it. Transfer your meal to another container before storing. Storage containers with locking lids will also keep foods fresher longer than bowls covered with cling wrap.
Create more room in your refrigerator with these Top 10 Refrigerator Organization Hacks That’ll Make Your Fridge Seem Twice as Big.
25. UPGRADE YOUR MEAL PLANNING WITH FREEZER-FRIENDLY RECIPES.
Set aside an afternoon to prep freezer-friendly recipes for healthy grab-and-go meals.
26. BIG, FATTY MEATS ARE BEST.
Fatty cuts of meat are what slow cookers were made for. Lean pieces like chicken breast can turn tough in the slow cooker. Stick with fattier cuts like short ribs, shanks, and shoulders for best results. Bonus: Fatty meats are also the most flavorful.
Via drywell on Etsy
27. USE CHEAP CUTS OF MEAT.
Save money with cheap cuts of meat. The long cooking time will help break them down and make them tender. Here’s a guide to inexpensive cuts of meat to help you choose.
28. DON’T OVERFILL YOUR SLOW COOKER.
To get the best cooking results, be sure not to over or under-fill your slow cooker. Filling the slow cooker bowl about 3/4 of the way full is optimal. Any less, and you might overcook your food. Any more, and your slow cooker will have a hard time cooking your food thoroughly.
29. BUT IF YOU ONLY USE YOUR SLOW COOKER FOR MEAT, YOU’RE MISSING OUT.
Slow cookers are typically used for big, hearty meals, so you might be surprised to learn they are also great for easy desserts (even cheesecakes!), party snacks, and cocktails.
30. CATCH DRIPS BEFORE THEY REACH YOUR FOOD.
Place a towel or thick paper towel under the closed lid of your slow cooker to catch drips of condensation before they reach your food. This trick is especially useful for recipes that tend to get soggy like brownies and bread.
These Easy Slow Cooker Hacks will help you make the most out of your slow cooker and create delicious meals your whole family will love!
What do you think of these Must-Know Slow Cooker Hacks? Did I miss any of your favorite tips? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!