10 Tips for Cooking in Your Crockpot

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 tips for crockpot cooking

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 1 hour on high is like 2 hours on low, when your crockpot is at the proper cooking level.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Every time you take the lid off of your crockpot, you add about 20 minutes of cook time.
  6. I throw chicken breasts into the crockpot frozen all the time. It is ok, I promise.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Comments

  1. says

    Great tips! My crockpot recently went kablooie during a power outage/power surge. We are on the prowl for another, so I’m hunting down reviews for a good one. I think I might splurge and get one with a lid that clamps down for travel, as we often participate in pitch-ins. To be able to easily travel with a sloshing crockpot full of soup or chili would be awesome.

    Thanks for linking these crockpot tips to Food on Fridays!
    Ann Kroeker recently posted..Food on Fridays: Gluten-free, Dairy-free Pumpkin Corn MuffinsMy Profile

  2. SusanH says

    I use slow cooker liners all the time. Cuts cleaning time to zero. I also fill them the night before, twist tie it and put it into the fridge overnight in a bowl. In the morning all I have to do is put it into the crock pot, take off the twist tie, cover it and turn it on and I’m done with dinner!

    • Jenny says

      Crockpot liners (they are by the storage bags/plastic cling wrap at the grocery store – be SURE NOT to get the oven bags by accident – they look the same and both are made by Renyolds) – BEST IDEA EVER – also, near the last quarter of the year, there are often $1 off coupons for these – time to stock up – I LOVE my crockpot (so much I have 3 of them)

      Thank you for totally wondeful and easy recipes Crystal!!

      • says

        Thanks Jenny for stopping by.

        Many people love the crockpot liners. I am so glad you shared your experience with them. Believe it or not, I have never used them, but I know many folks who do.

        And thank you for your kind words about my recipes. I am so glad you enjoy them and find them to be easy. Have an awesome Thursday!

  3. Paloma says

    thanks a lot I am going to try out crock pot cooking 1st time ever! only thing is i have to plan like 4-8 hrs for the meal to be cooked-compared to if you cook on stove like maybe 1 hr. or so depending on what is being cooked.

  4. Yolonda says

    The tops of my meat tend to dry out, and I’m not sure if it’s that I’m not adding enough liquid OR cooking it too long. What do you suggest? Right now, I just don’t want to use it anymore, but really need to otherwise we’ll be eating out more often than not.

    • says

      Then your crockpot size is too large for what you are cooking. If it is less than half filled with food, things will cook quick and can dry out. What are you cooking that is drying out? Can you add more liquid?

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