Everything you need to know about slow cooking!
Slow cookers are an easy way to make a lot of food easily, and with easy cleanup. While some might consider a slow cooker to be a single-use appliance, they’re actually pretty versatile, able to work for a variety of recipes and even some craft projects! Once you know a slow cooker’s full potential, you’ll want to use it for everything in the kitchen!
But like any appliance, there are a few things to consider before buying one. We’ve got the tips you need on picking the cooker that’s right for you, as well as some usage tips to get you started with your new device! Note that “Crock Pot” is a brand of slow cooker, so we’ll be referring to them by the generic product name here.
Size & Shape
Before choosing a slow cooker, consider what you want out of it. Will you be roasting a whole chicken? Do you want leftovers to save after every meal? These questions are essential for choosing the proper size and shape you’ll want in your cooker.
You’ll find cookers ranging from just 1 quart to around 7. It’s recommended to stay on the small side for feeding two (3 or 4 quarts is great!) and skewing higher for large families or those whom can’t get enough leftovers. No matter your family size, it’s best to ensure your cooker is big enough for roasting meats if that’s something you intend to use it for.
Now, for the shapes! Rounded cookers are recommended as they’re easier to clean without crannies and corners. Some might find that an oval cooker is more versatile than a perfect circle, as it can fit a whole chicken or ribs with no fuss.
When comparing models, check the rim of different cookers. Look for a graduated rim that’ll keep your food from spilling when moving!
Features to Look For
Slow cookers are all so different from each other, but there are a few specific features we recommend seeking out. First, you’ll want a cooker with a removable insert. Not only does this mean an easier cleanup (your insert can soak in the sink totally submerged, where a standard cooker could not) but you can also easily move your dish from table to fridge.
We recommend glass lids over other material, as glass will withstand the test of time without warping or breaking up. You can also keep an eye on your food through the translucent lid. And when it comes to ensuring your food is cooked as planned, we can’t recommend temperature probes enough. These will check the temp of your meal, taking the guesswork out of whether meats are cooked too much or too little.
Slow cookers can be programmable, or non-programmable. Being able to program your cook time is great because you can walk away from your cooker knowing that it knows what to do–and often, once your cooking time has elapsed, it can automatically keep your food warm until it’s ready to serve.
Ten Ways for Using Your New Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are amazingly versatile, and come in handy even for purposes unrelated to cooking. Check out all these ways your slow cooker can be your MVP appliance:
- Make a roast, of course! It’s a waste of good resources to go without slow roasting some protein. Make a delicious pot roast!
- Make something for later. There are tons of freezer meals you can make in a slow cooker, which makes it easy to plan out a week’s meals to reheat when you’re busy
- Get saucy! Slow cookers are a great way to cook up a delicious sauce, like this yummy tomato sauce. In a similar vein,, you can make dip as well!
- Break bread. Would you believe you can slow cook a loaf of bread from scratch? You can!
- And when there’s plenty of bread on hand, why not make a sandwich?
- Slow cookers are also the ultimate soup machines. We especially love this curried lentil-tomato soup.
- Go for the ultimate comfort food: a must-try mac and cheese slow cooker recipe.
- Don’t forget dessert! A slow cooker is so versatile that you can make brownies, cheesecake or yogurt!
- Make soap. Yes, you heard right–you can make your own soap in a slow cooker!
- Make candles. We kid you not, you can slow cook some homemade candles as well!