I have been cooking in the crockpot for years. It is one of the first ways I learned to cook, actually.
I grew up watching my mother us it, but she mostly made pinto beans and roasts in it. As I became a busy mom, my search for easy recipes became a must and my crockpot became my number one kitchen tool.
My Crockpot Ravioli recipe is the most viewed recipe post on this site with over 87,600 pageviews since it posted late last summer. It is the perfect dinner for a busy night. (And to think, I was concerned about posting recipes on my site because I am not a chef….)
I do get questions from readers about cooking in their crockpot. Sometimes their food does not come out the same as my photograph.
10 Crockpot Tips
I own a couple of crockpots. The one I use in 95% of my recipes is my 6 qt. oval.
It has a digital timer.
I can set it for 4 hours or 6 hours (which is considered high) or I can set it for 8 hours or 10 hours (which is considered low). Once the cook time is done, it automatically switches to warm.
I highly suggest getting this type of crockpot because you do not have to worry about over cooking, burning food, etc in the crockpot. This is especially handy when you’re not going to be home during the day. Afterall, the beauty of crockpot cooking is to cook with very limited babysitting.
- Your crockpot should be 1/2 to 2/3′s of the way full when cooking. Never fill it all the way to the top- it will take forever for it to cook your food. This is why I use my 6 qt. I am cooking for a large(r) family. So, when I put 6 chicken breasts into my 6 qt crock, there is room for the heat to move around. If I took those same 6 chicken breast and put them in a 4 qt crockpot, it would take them longer to cook. Make sense?
- 1 hour on high is like 2 hours on low, when your crockpot is at the proper cooking level.
- A crockpot does not really reduce liquid. If your dish is too soupy when the cooking time is done, out it back on high and take the lid off and cook for another half hour or so. It will reduce a bit.
- Dairy products seem to separate in the crockpot. Generally, it is best to add these in the last 30 minutes or so of the cooking process.
- Every time you take the lid off of your crockpot, you add about 20 minutes of cook time.
- I throw chicken breasts into the crockpot frozen all the time. It is ok, I promise.
- Beans leave a weird residue to the inside of your crockpot. It is a starchy film. This is normal. If it does not come out of the dishwasher clean, use some vinegar on a paper towel to wipe it clean and then rise. Or, just know that it will likely come off the next time you cook in it. The starch residue is ugly, but not harmful.
- Removable crockpot inserts can totally be cleaned in the dishwasher. Just make sure it is 100% cool before putting it into water or it can crack. I learned that the hard way.
- If your chicken breasts come out of the crockpot dry, try recipes that involve covering the chicken completely in liquid or try using dark meat chicken like thighs.
- Many recipes can be adapted to become a crockpot recipe simply by reducing the liquid content by about 20%.
Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I will do my very best to answer them.