The slow cooker is not the most glamorous cooking appliance for contemporary chefs. In an era where Instant Pots, air fryers, and sous-vide machines dominate the food media landscape, a simple device that simmers food for a long time seems almost archaic.
In 1940, the modern slow cooker was patented. It was designed to prepare cholent, a traditional Jewish Sabbath dish consisting of meat, beans, and vegetables stewed together. The Naxon Beanery, as it was formerly known, was slow to gain popularity, but that all changed in 1971 when it was renamed the Crock Pot. It quickly gained popularity among American home cooks, and since then, inventive slow cooker enthusiasts have come up with creative uses for their favorite appliance.
This list of slow cooker ideas includes both obvious, tried-and-true uses and some unexpected tricks. Prepare to be amazed by the variety of foods that can be prepared in a slow cooker. If you still need a slow cooker, this list may convince you to purchase one immediately.
Advantages of Utilizing a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker meal eliminates the temptation to order takeout, which is frequently less nutritious and more expensive. Typically, slow cookers allow for one-step preparation. Placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker saves time on trial and cleanup.
Slow cookers are helpful all year round. The aroma of hot soup is welcoming after a chilly winter day. Slow cookers are also beneficial during the summer because they do not heat the kitchen like an oven.
Due to prolonged, low-temperature cooking, slow cookers aid in tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat. Slow cookers enhance the flavor of foods. Slow cookers can cook various foods, including one-pot meals, soups, stews, and casseroles. A slow cooker is more energy-efficient than an oven.
The Finest Applications For Your Slow Cooker
We encourage you to do so if you have never tried homemade yogurt. Not only is the final product delicious and creamy, but it is also incredibly satisfying to make something you would typically purchase from a store.
You probably already know that Instant Pot yogurt can be made. This appliance has a yogurt-specific button and automates the process to make it simple. You may have yet to learn that making yogurt in a slow cooker is also incredibly easy.
According to HGTV, all you need to do to make yogurt in a slow cooker is heat milk on high for two hours and combine it with a small amount of store-bought yogurt containing live bacteria. Then, seal the slow cooker, place it in a warm location for approximately eight hours, and return to creamy, fresh yogurt. The slow cooker is ideal for this procedure because its gentle heat will not scorch the milk as it warms up. This is an excellent project to begin in the evening to enjoy yogurt in the morning.
Slow cookers are renowned for their prowess at preparing savory dishes, particularly moist ones like braised meats. You may be surprised to learn that slow cookers are also helpful for baking.
It seems counterintuitive, but a slow cooker’s low, even heat produces a delicious cake. The batter for this banana pudding cake is made with boxed cake mix and instant pudding, making it the most straightforward cake recipe imaginable. It takes approximately three hours to bake, but you do not need to monitor it during that time. This is a set-and-forget cake recipe. Before pouring the batter into the slow cooker’s inner pot, it is advisable to line it with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking.
Slow cookers are also excellent for making cheesecake. Cheesecake is temperamental and prone to cracking or overbaking. Slow cookers are so gentle that they aid in producing a creamy and evenly cooked result.
Rice is a simple side dish, but it must be challenging to prepare adequately on the stove. Rice is prone to burn, and it isn’t easy to get the heat and moisture levels just right, so the rice is fluffy and perfectly cooked. A rice cooker can solve all these problems, but you need to eat rice daily to justify purchasing such a cumbersome appliance.
Here, a slow cooker becomes your best friend. According to A Clean Bake, you will not experience the same issues with burning in a slow cooker as you would on a stove. Additionally, the rice will cook more evenly if you remember to stir it halfway through the cooking time. Even better, you don’t have to worry about the rice while cooking, allowing you to concentrate on preparing a flavorful side dish to accompany it. The only disadvantage is that slow cooker rice requires planning, which takes approximately 2.5 hours to cook.
Making fondue at home conjures up images of cheap fondue sets in thrift stores across the United States. The slow cooker is the answer if you want a taste of cheese-dipping fun from the midcentury without committing to a fondue pot. You need to allow yourself to fondue with others.
The slow cooker is ideal for any dip that benefits from being kept warm. Each of our queso recipes would hold up well in a slow cooker. Buffalo spinach and artichoke dip recipes could be adapted for a slow cooker. Thanks to your slow cooker, you will never have to deal with congealed, cold cheese-based dips again.
Chocolate melting can be a demanding process. As Leaf explains, chocolate dislikes being exposed to high temperatures. If chocolate is accidentally overheated, it can become grainy or even burn. For silky chocolate, low, regulated heat is optimal. Fortunately, you have a slow cooker.
You should set your slow cooker to the lowest possible temperature. The safest option would be a “warm” setting lower than “low.” The next step is to add chocolate pieces and cook them with the lid on until they melt.
If additional protection against burning is desired, Tbsp. suggests filling jars with chocolate and placing them in a water bath in your slow cooker. This may be the best option if your slow cooker lacks a warming function. This method has the added advantage of allowing you to melt multiple types of chocolate at once, which could be useful if you create decorative patterns.
Slow cookers have significant advantages over ovens when roasting a perfect, juicy cut of meat. Since slow cookers heat food at a low temperature for an extended period, there is more room for error than with a hot oven. When conventionally roasting lean meats in the oven, only a few minutes can make the difference between perfectly cooked and tragically dry. A slow cooker provides additional moisture because it is a humid environment.
These benefits are evident in this recipe for pork loin roast prepared in a slow cooker. The pork is simmered for approximately five hours, producing succulent, tender meat. In addition, aromatic sautéed vegetables and a small amount of flavorful cooking liquid add flavor and moisture to the final product. With this method, you are not limited to pork loin; you can adapt the same basic steps to various roasts, though the cooking time may need to be adjusted.
Soups and stews
This is a traditional method of using a slow cooker, and for a good reason: it works wonderfully. There is no better feeling than starting a delicious stew in the morning, going to work, and returning home to a ready-to-eat meal. It is the ultimate hack for weeknight dinners.
Slow cookers are far superior to stovetops when it comes to making soup. First, you do not need to monitor the food in a slow cooker. In addition, you know that the temperature won’t rise too high and that nothing will catch fire if you use enough liquid.
Practically any soup or stew can be prepared in a slow cooker, but we’ve got you covered if you need some inspiration. This white chicken chile recipe is a tried-and-true classic that is certain to please a crowd. Try our recipe for khoresh-e holu, a sweet-and-sour Persian chicken stew with peaches, if you’re looking for something a little more special.
Does anyone want to spend a great deal of time preparing breakfast in the morning? When we wake up groggy and irritable, the last thing we want to do is labor over a hot stove. Thankfully, there are slow cooker recipes for sweet breakfast treats that require little more than turning on the slow cooker. The only drawback is that they take some time to cook, so they may not be ideal if you are the type of person who wakes up hungry.
This French toast recipe for the slow cooker combines brioche bread with a flavorful custard. You can combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker insert the night before, refrigerate it, and then place the insert in the slow cooker and turn it on in the morning. Cinnamon rolls are another classic breakfast food that works well in the slow cooker. While our slow cooker cinnamon rolls method is semi-homemade, if that seems too much work, we won’t judge you if you opt to use store-bought cinnamon roll dough instead.
Recognize Your Slow Cooker
The majority of slow cookers feature two or three settings. Using the low setting, food will take between six and ten hours to cook. Using the high setting reduces the cooking time to four to six hours. Set the slow cooker to high for the first hour of cooking, and then switch to the appropriate setting. One hour on high is equivalent to approximately two hours on low. One hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit equals about four hours on high or eight hours on low. Similarly, three hours in the oven corresponds to four to six hours on high and eight to sixteen hours on low.
The capacity of slow cookers ranges from 1 to 7 quarts. Larger slow cookers are ideal for large cuts of meat and soups, while smaller slow cookers are ideal for dips and sauces. A 3.5- to 4-quart slow cooker is perfect if you cook for four or fewer people. If you cook for five or more people or want leftovers, a 5-7-quart or larger slow cooker is ideal.
Slow Cooker Safety and Tips
If you are hesitant to leave your slow cooker on and cook while you are away during the day, consider cooking food at other times, including while you sleep. When food is finished cooking, it should be cooled and stored in the refrigerator before being reheated in the stove or oven.
Here are some fundamental guidelines and safety precautions to observe when using a slow cooker:
- Before using your slow cooker, rub the interior with oil or nonstick cooking spray to make cleanup and maintenance easier. Slow cooker liners make cleanup easier.
- Before cooking frozen meat or poultry in a slow cooker, it should always be defrosted in the refrigerator. To ensure thorough cooking, never place frozen meat in a slow cooker.
- Fill the slow cooker to between one-half and two-thirds of its capacity. Cooking too little or too much food in a slow cooker can affect the cooking time, quality, and safety of the food.
- Because vegetables cook more slowly than meat and poultry, begin by placing them in the slow cooker. Add liquid, such as broth, water, or a sauce, on top of the meat and vegetables.
- Add liquid to the recipe, such as broth, water, or barbecue sauce. Since liquids do not evaporate in a slow cooker, you can typically reduce liquids by one-third to one-half when converting a non-slow cooker recipe for use in a slow cooker.
- Set your slow cooker too high for the first hour and then low for the rest of the cooking time.
- Maintain the lid in place while cooking. Removing the lid retards the cooking process. Each time the lid is removed, approximately 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time are lost.
- Add grains, such as pasta, at the end of cooking, or they will become mushy. You can cook pasta or another grain, such as rice, separately and incorporate it before serving.
- During the final hour, incorporate milk, cheese, and cream to prevent curdling.
- During the final 45 minutes of cooking, soft vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini can be added.
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