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How to Use a Crock Pot: Tips and Tricks

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!

Crock Pot sitting on the kitchen counter

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.

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 crock pot that’s recommended for the recipe.  Most recipes on Suburban Simplicity are for a 6-quart crock pot.

Crock pot pulled port tacos [1]

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 crock pot to cook.

The reason why is It takes a while for the crock pot to come to a cooking temperature where bacteria can’t grown, 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.

Crock Pot pulled pork being prepped for the crock pot. [1]

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 crock pot 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 savor and make clean up a breeze. However, they aren’t the most environmentally friendly, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons as to whether you want to use them.

[2]

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 recipes 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!

How to use a crock pot to cook meat.

Brown Meats on the Stove First

Is it necessary? No, but browning your meat first before it goes in the crock pot does dramatically improve the flavor. Quickly searing the meat on the stove first adds a savory caramelized flavor you just can’t get from the slow cooker on its own.

Here’s a amazing recipe for Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches [3].

Crockpot French Dip sandwich next to a delicious dipping sauce. [3]

Skip the Chicken Skin

Do you like rubbery, chewy, chicken skin? Didn’t think so!

It’s best to remove it off before adding your poultry to the crock pot. However, leave in the bones—they’ll help the meat stay tender.

One more note on chicken: It’s the magic meat that doesn’t need browning before going into the crock because it would be overcooked after the going from stovetop to crock pot.

Here’s a delicious recipe for Crock Pot White Chicken Chili [4].

Slow Cooker White chicken chili in a bowl [4]

Proceed with Caution when Cooking Pasta in Your Crock Pot

Macaroni and cheese? Pizza Casserole [5]? 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 [6]?

Crockpot Pizza Casserole is an easy weeknight dinner everyone LOVES! Simple and delicious every time. It's even great leftover for lunch the next day!

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 [7] is a good example.

Crock Pot Chicken Curry [8] 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 crock pot keeps things cool.

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!

Can Crock Pot Insert Go in the Oven?

According to the CrockPot® brand [9], “All CrockPot® 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.”

This post contains affiliate links. Disclosure policy here [10].

Easy Crock Pot Recipes You’ll Want to Try

Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tacos [1]

Crock Pot Chicken Curry [8]

Crock Pot Taco Soup [11]

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili [4]

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches [3]