How to Use a Crock Pot with tons of tips and tricks. Ideas that will make using this time-saving kitchen appliance simple and easy!
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How to Use a Crock Pot
Crock Pots, or Slow Cookers as they can be called, make your job in the kitchen so much easier! We can't say enough about this beloved kitchen appliance. Let's talk about How to Use a Crock-Pot.
This is one appliance that you can leave on while you're out or overnight, so it's working hard while you're busy doing other things. Make sure you know our 10 Tips for Better Slow Cooking before you make your next recipe!
The beauty of a slow cooker is that it's so darn simple to use. However, there are a few must-know tips and tricks.
Let's take a look.
Tips for Cooking in a Crock Pot
If you're just getting started or need a quick primer on how to best use your Crock-Pot, here are several Crock Pot Tips you need to know.
Crock Pots Come in a Range of Sizes
Make sure you use the size crockpot that’s recommended for the recipe. Most recipes on Suburban Simplicity are for a 6-quart crockpot.
Never Place the Crock in the Crock-Pot Directly From the Refrigerator
The heat extremes will cause it to crack. (We speak from personal experience, whoops! :))
Defrost Frozen Ingredients Before Cooking
Ok, we used to be guilty of this one. However, to avoid a food safety hazard, you really should defrost your frozen ingredients before placing them in your crockpot to cook.
The reason why is It takes a while for the crockpot to come to a cooking temperature where bacteria can't grow, so between the time it takes for the meat to thaw and start cooking, it gives the bacteria time to bloom and potentially become a food safety hazard.
Recently, this recommendation has been relaxed so that you can put frozen food into your crockpot to cook. So, you decide what you're comfortable with.
Don't Overcrowd Your Crock Pot
In general, it's best not to fill a slow cooker more than two-thirds of the way.
Overfilling it will make it harder for the crockpot to reach its target temperature, which can, in turn, produce a food safety hazard if the temperature remains too low for too long.
Tips for Using Your Crock Pot
Cut Cleanup Time in Half by Using Slow Cooker Liners
If really pressed for time, Slow Cooker Liners can be a time saver and make clean-up a breeze. However, they aren't the most environmentally friendly, so you'll have to weigh the pros and cons of whether you want to use them.
Get Rid of Annoying Stains with White Vinegar + Baking Soda
After using your slow cooker for a while, you might see a white residue. This is easily removed with a simple solution of vinegar and baking soda.
Add Dairy Products Like Milk or Cheese at or Near the End
To make sure dairy products like milk and cheese don't curdle during cooking, add them at or near the end of the recipe cooking time.
Don't Open the Lid Unless You Have To
Unless you're adding ingredients or the directions call for you to give your food a quick stir, avoid opening the lid. The lid traps the precious heat needed for cooking.
Every time you remove it, it can take up to 30 minutes to regain its proper temperature, which adds to your cooking time!
Brown Meats on the Stove First
Is it necessary? No, but browning your meat first before it goes in the crock pot dramatically improves the flavor. Quickly searing the meat on the stove first adds a savory caramelized flavor you can't get from the slow cooker on its own.
Here's an amazing recipe for Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches.
Skip the Chicken Skin
Do you like rubbery, chewy chicken skin? We didn't think so!
It's best to remove it before adding your poultry to the crockpot. However, leave in the bones—they'll help the meat stay tender and add extra flavor.
One more note on chicken: It's the magic meat that doesn't need browning before going into the crock because you would overcook it after going from stovetop to crockpot.
Here's a delicious recipe for Crock Pot White Chicken Chili.
Proceed with Caution when Cooking Pasta in Your Crock-Pot
Macaroni and cheese? Pizza Casserole? Sure, there are slow-cooker recipes that totally work, but you definitely need to proceed with caution. More often than not, pasta can become a mushy mess.
So, be careful with these types of recipes! But did you know you can make Crock Pot Pizza with Deep Dish Crust?
Maximize your meal planning by adding freezer-friendly recipes to your roster.
Big-batch, freezer-friendly options mean you can prep (or bulk prep) in advance. Then just pack away, and use whenever you’re ready.
Crock Pot Tater Tot Casserole is a good example.
Crock Pot Chicken Curry would also be a great recipe you could make in a big batch and then freeze for later use.
Keep Your Kitchen Cool in the Summer
No need to turn your oven on and heat the whole house in the summer. Your crockpot keeps things cool.
Can Crock Pot Insert Go in the Oven?
According to the Crock-Pot® brand, "All Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker removable crockery inserts (without lid) may be used safely in the microwave and the oven up to 400°F. If you own another slow cooker brand, please refer to your owner's manual for specific crockery cooking medium tolerances."
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