Do you always seem to be in a rush or scrambling to get dinner on the table? Are you sick of spending an hour sweating over a stove to make dinner just to eat it in 10 minutes? Check out this list of the 40+ Best Slow Cooker Recipes to make that next weeknight dinner a breeze.
Why You Should Trust These Are The Best Slow Cooker Recipes You Can Make
- Cookbook Author: I'm the author of nine cookbooks. Most of them being best sellers. I spend hours upon hours in the kitchen and know a great pan when I use one.
- Experienced Reviewer: I've done various reviews in the past, so I have a wealth of knowledge about kitchen gadgets and what makes one better than another.
- Gadget geek!: I'm a self-proclaimed food tech enthusiast and have been known to purchase (and review) just about any kitchen appliance I can get my hands on.
How To Use A Slow Cooker
One of the reasons slow cookers are loved by so many is because of how easy they are to use. The ease of use is directly impacted by how many functions your slow cooker offers. While the way you use your slow cooker can vary slightly depending on which model you have, the process for cooking in one is generally the same:
- Add food
- Add liquid
- Set temperature (this can be customized on some models)
- Some digital models allow you to set the cooking time
- Forget you're cooking (not really--but it seems like it sometimes)
- Enjoy your meal when the cooking time is complete
Digital Slow Cookers Vs Manual Slow Cookers
If you're looking for more cooking options to further customize your slow cooker recipes, consider purchasing a digital slow cooker. If you're concerned about ease of use and value simplicity in your food prep, consider a manual slow cooker. Confused about the difference in the two? Let me give you a small breakdown of what makes them different:
Manual Slow Cookers
Manual slow cookers are the most simple when it comes to functionality. Generally a manual slow cooker will have a knob that turns to select the different cooking functions. The cooking functions that they typically offer are:
Digital Slow Cookers
Digital slow cookers are for the home cook that likes to be able to customize their slow cooking experience a little more than they can with a manual slow cooker. This type of cooker has a digital panel that lets you adjust cooking functions with the push of a button and monitor the time remaining on a digital display. These are the most common cooking functions you can adjust with a digital slow cooker:
- Set custom cooking time
- Low tempeature
- High temperature
- Keep Warm
- Some offer adjustable cooking temperature controls
Not sure which slow cooker is right for you? Read my article on How To Choose A Slow Cooker to help you decide.
How Much Liquid Do You Put In A Slow Cooker?
The amount of liquid you need to put in your slow cooker to make the best slow cooker recipes can vary depending on the dish you're making. One of the most common mistakes people make when using their slow cooker is using too much liquid.
Depending on the ingredients you're using, you may need to adjust the amount of liquid you add to your crock. Ingredients such as meat and veggies will release liquids as they cook and create the moisture they need to create steam and cook perfectly.
If you're wanting a soup or stew, go ahead and fill a good portion (around half) of your crock with water. If you're attempting to make pulled meat for wraps or sandwiches, or a perfectly steamed vegetable side dish, go ahead and skip the water.
The best way to ensure you're not using too much liquid is to use a reliable and tested recipe. All of the recipes listed below have been tested and give specific liquid measurements to take all of the guesswork out of your slow cooking experience.
Slow Cooker Temperature Settings High vs. Low
If you're an old school slow cooker user, you're probably used to converting low temperature cook times to high temperature cook times (or the other way around) to get dinner on the table a little quicker or slower depending on how your day plays out.
While this isn't an exact science, let me give you a few pointers to help you adjust cooking times according to heat settings if you're not familiar with making these adjustments on your own.
The high-temperature setting is best for dishes that you want done in a short amount of time that don't contain large portions of meat.
This setting will bring the liquids in your pot to the boiling point in 4 hours. It is not a guarantee that your food will be cooked thoroughly within this time frame. It is best used for soups or stews that have precooked ingredients or bite sized pieces of meat that are going to be shredded to add to other dishes.
If the recipe you're using calls for cooking on low temperature for anything less than 6 hours, don't try to use the high setting to speed up the process. If it has a cook time of 7+ hours, you can usually reduce the cooking time by 2/3 and cook on the high-temperature setting.
Cooking your slow cooker recipes on the low setting is the best way to get the best flavor. Many recipes recommend using the low setting to slowly infuse the flavors of the ingredients into the dish. This setting will bring the liquid in your dish to the boiling point in 6 hours.
Generally, if a recipe suggests using the high-temperature setting, you can often adjust to the low setting and double the cooking time to achieve the same results.
Note: You should always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of any protein to ensure it is safe to consume at the end of every cooking cycle.
Can You Put Raw Meat Into A Slow Cooker?
There are mixed opinions on whether you should cook raw meat in a slow cooker. When people refer to meat as "raw" in this situation, they mean without searing or browning it first.
The short answer to this is yes. You can put raw meat into a slow cooker and still achieve totally safe to eat food.
Do I Have To Brown Meat Before Slow Cooking?
As I previously mentioned, you don't HAVE to brown or sear your meat before you add it to your slow cooker. However, depending on the cut of meat or the recipe you're preparing, it can significantly improve the overall flavors.
When you sear a cut of beef or pork, it helps to trap in some of the juices in the meat and locks in the delicious flavors. If you don't sear the meat before you add the liquid and other ingredients the flavors from the proteins can seep out into the liquid you added and dilute the overall flavor of your dish.
What Can You NOT Cook In A Slow Cooker?
Let me start this off by saying that we are NOT the slow cooker police. Virtually anything can be made in a slow cooker, but the quality of the food that you prepare can be directly impacted by preparing it in a slow cooker.
Here are a few different types of foods that are best made with a different kitchen gadget for the best results:
- French Fries
- Fried Chicken
- Dishes with Alcohol
Best Slow Cooker Recipes
More Articles On How To Cook
- Maillard Reaction
- What Is Sous Vide?
- Pot In Pot Cooking
- Why Did I Get The Instant Pot Burn Message?
- 6 Most Important Buttons On Your Instant Pot
If you love this list of the Best Slow Cooker Recipes, make sure you share them with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest so they can try them too.
Originally Published November 18, 2020