How to Convert Your Favorite Recipes into Slow Cooker Recipes


Would you just die of shock knowing that not everyone is fan of the slow cooker? That’s right; not everyone has taken their favorite recipes and turned them into slow cooker recipes designed to encourage faster meals (or lazier meal planning) because they just don’t all like the slow cooker. Personally, we feel that people who don’t like the slow cooker just haven’t tried it. Or perhaps they have tried to use the slow cooker for meals, but they haven’t figured out that they can make the best recipes they know in the slow cooker, and their dislike for these meals stems from the fact that they simply don’t have enough flavor.

We don’t know why anyone would not want to use the slow cooker, particularly this time of year when schedules are busier than ever and cooking dinner becomes a big production of, “I just don’t have enough time in the day to do everything,” and the kids are overindulging on McDonalds and other not-so-healthy menu items. If you haven’t decided that the slow cooker is for you just yet, let us encourage you to try it (either again or for the first time). Contrary to popular belief, your recipe selection is not limited with the crock pot. You can make virtually everything in here, and we have some tips that will help you convert your favorite dinner recipes into slow cooker recipes perfect for busy days.

Consider the Recipe

You can use just about any recipe that has an hour-long cooking time. Things that don’t require constant attention, the frequent addition of new ingredients and things that don’t need you to check on them all that often are wonderful in the slow cooker. You can make just about any soup or casserole recipe in here. Additionally, chicken and pork main dishes work really well in the slow cooker. These recipes often call for a long cooking time in the oven or stove, which is why they’re also amazing in the slow cooker. You might even find that your favorite recipes have just a bit more flavor when cooked in the crock pot, since there is more time for the juices and the flavor to release slowly; and it’s trapped in there thanks to the lid.

Converting Cooking Times

This is, perhaps, the biggest reason more people do not convert their regular recipes into slow cooker recipes. They aren’t sure how to convert baking times. It does sound intimidating, telling yourself you have to figure out how much time you need to cook something that usually takes an hour in the oven; and it’s a scary thought to think that you might overcook things or make them taste less than amazing. However, it is possible for you to make things delicious in the slow cooker even if you have to look at the recipe and figure out how to cover the time on your own. We do, fortunately, have a few suggestions for you.

If you recipe says to cook your food for an hour in the oven, our suggestion is that you place it in the slow cooker for 4 hours on High. If you’re doing it before you go to work, let us recommend you place it on a low setting for as many as 8 hours to thoroughly and properly cook your meal the way that as intended. Additionally, soups and stews almost always taste better when they are cooked longer, so you’re almost always going to want to stick these recipes in the crock pot for 8 hours on low to really capture the flavor and taste you’ve been looking for.

Brown Your Beef

This is perhaps one of the most well-known tips, but often one of the most ignored. The slow cooker is designed to help you out when you need to cook a home cooked meal with little time. It’s a great way to ensure that you have the time to get everything done with minimal effort. However, if you’re cooking a dish that includes sausage or ground beef, you absolutely want to include meat that’s already browned. When you attempt to brown meat in the crock pot, it often turns out inedible and less than delicious. In fact, it might end up tasting a bit fatty and it will almost assuredly come complete with a strange texture you don’t want to deal with when cooking. Go ahead and brown those items before you cook them to ensure they’re as delicious as they can possibly be.

Always Use Less Water

This is especially important if you’re working on a dish such as soup or stew. The amount of water you would use on the stove must be reduced by about half. Why? Because the water – or other liquid – you use on the stove is drastically reduced by the amount of boiling that comes from the heat of the stove. When you use the same amount of liquid in the slow cooker, your water does not evaporate. It just sits there and causes everything to be overly watered down, soupy and less than amazing.

The general rule is that you should use about half the water since that’s what evaporates when you engage in stove-top cooking. This will help provide more flavor, less liquid and a much more consistent taste for you to enjoy.

One last tip we have for those who want to convert those other recipes into slow cooker recipes is to make sure you do not add soft vegetables too soon. These will do nothing but become mushy and gross, and they will ruin the flavor of your dish. Instead, add soft veggies last, when you have about a half hour left to cook your meals. Additionally, if you’d like to, add your harder veggies from the start. Things like potatoes and carrots can actually cook all day long without becoming mushy and tasteless. They’ll stay delicious and flavorful for long periods of time in the slow cooker, which makes for delicious meals.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New York Culinary Experience


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