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How To Make The Best Slow Cooker Meals

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine.

Do you need to know how one can make one of the best sluggish cooker meals?  Meals that your loved ones will truly need to eat?  Attempt these seven straightforward ideas that I promise won’t solely change the best way you employ your sluggish cooker, however have everyone coming again for seconds.

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine.

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I purchased my first sluggish cooker about ten years in the past.  I used it to make cleaning soap. After listening to the moms at college raving about how straightforward it was to get dinner on the desk with a sluggish cooker, I caved underneath peer strain and purchased one for meals.  The first meals I made in my sluggish cooker have been disappointing.  They have been watery, missing in flavour, and never all appetising.

I persevered although, and experimented, and over time have labored out these easy ideas that assist me put collectively the perfect sluggish cooker meals ever.  Don’t consider me? Then why not attempt my Thai Pink Beef Curry, or my Leg of Lamb with Rosemary & Garlic, or what about Lime Cilantro Hen Tacos.

And don’t overlook to seize the free cheat-sheet from my useful resource library that may assist you to put collectively the perfect sluggish cooker meals for your loved ones.  You will get the password for the useful resource library on the finish of this publish.

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How to make the most effective sluggish cooker meals

Proper, so let’s get right down to it.  I don’t use all the following ideas each time I make a sluggish cooker meal, however I do use some mixture of the following pointers for each sluggish cooker meal I put collectively. The particular ideas that I exploit will rely completely on the recipe.

For instance, I don’t thicken the liquid in my Moroccan Hen Tagine, however I do make a thick gravy with flour for my beef and mushroom stew. In order you learn by means of the following pointers, take into consideration how you can apply them to your favorite sluggish cooker meals.

1. Brown Your Components

I all the time brown onions and fry off any aromatics (such because the spices, garlic, ginger) in my recipe.  The little additional time taken to brown the elements in a fry pan first makes an enormous distinction to the flavour of the ultimate dish.  No time to prepare dinner onions?  Make a batch of caramelised onions prematurely and use these as an alternative.  For some dishes, I additionally brown the meat, and infrequently the greens, earlier than including them to the sluggish cooker bowl.

As soon as the components are browned, and added to the sluggish cooker bowl, I pour a small quantity of inventory or wine from the recipe into the fry pan, scrape any sticky bits into the liquid, and pour the whole thing into the sluggish cooker.  Don’t throw this away!  It’s all flavour.

A blue & white patterned bowl, filled with slow cooker Thai red beef curry, showing chunks of beef, eggplant & green beans in a thick red gravy.

2. Scale back The Quantity Of Liquid In The Recipe

Most sluggish cooker recipes use an excessive amount of liquid (for my part).  Meat and greens, notably watery greens like eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, capsicum and zucchini, launch numerous liquid as they prepare dinner.  With liquid from the elements, plus added liquid within the recipe, it’s no marvel some completed dishes are watery.

I add round 1 – 1 1/2 cups of further liquid to most recipes.  In others, corresponding to my shredded hen, I add none.  This often provides me simply the correct quantity of tasty liquid within the completed dish.

There are exceptions to this rule; when cooking ribs and different bony cuts add simply sufficient liquid to cowl them, as they don’t produce sufficient liquid in the course of the prepare dinner to wash the meat. And soups.  Soups want liquid.

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three. Don’t Use Water

I’ve learn multiple sluggish cooker recipe that makes use of water because the liquid of selection.  Water has no flavour, and can add nothing to the dish. For the most effective sluggish cooker meals, use good high quality vegetable or bone shares as an alternative.

I don’t add wine on to the sluggish cooker, as I discover it doesn’t prepare dinner out correctly.  As an alternative I exploit any wine in a recipe to deglaze the fry pan (See level 1), and permit it to boil briefly earlier than including it to the sluggish cooker.

Overhead shot of two bowls filled with Slow Cooker Coriander Lime Shredded Chicken. A pile of fresh tortillas is in the corner of the shot.

four. Use Extra Spices Than The Recipe Suggests

Elements reminiscent of garlic, ginger, spices and herbs all add further flavour to a recipe.  Nevertheless lengthy, sluggish cooking can uninteresting these flavours, so I add beneficiant quantities of the aromatics firstly of the dish within the hope that some flavour stays on the finish.  Don’t be afraid to double the quantity of spices corresponding to cumin, coriander and even garlic in a recipe.

The exception: Chili peppers survive the lengthy prepare dinner, so until you want spicy meals, use the quantity said within the unique recipe.

5. Add Flour to Thicken The Dish

If I feel a dish goes to finish up fairly liquidy (and it isn’t soup), I’ll add a thickening agent together with the remainder of the components.  This ensures the completed dish has an attractive, shiny sauce moderately than a skinny gruel than runs off my plate.

Plain (all objective) flour or lentil flour (gluten free) are good choices, and might be added in a quantity or methods:

  1. Stir a tablespoon or two (relying on the dimensions of the dish) instantly via the elements earlier than including liquid.
  2. Combine the flour into any chilly liquid components earlier than pouring the resultant slurry over the strong components within the sluggish cooker insert, or
  3. Fry the flour off in a fry pan and stir within the liquid elements to type a gravy that may then be poured into the sluggish cooker bowl.

I’ve additionally seen individuals advocate using dried potato flakes to thicken sluggish cooker meals.  I haven’t tried this technique myself, however it has many followers so for those who give it a attempt let me know within the feedback under.

An Indian metal serving dish filled with Slow Cooker Lamb Korma Curry. Another dish of white rice sits in the background of the shot.

6. Focus The Sauce in The Completed Meal

A few times I’ve returned residence to seek out I’ve badly misjudged a recipe and our meal is swimming in a liquid sauce.  Ought to this occur, ladle the sauce right into a saucepan, and scale back the liquid over a medium excessive warmth, which can assist focus the flavour.  Pour the discount again into the sluggish cooker and stir it via the remainder of the dish earlier than serving.

7. Add a Recent Hit on the Finish

Including recent elements to your completed meal simply earlier than serving can change the flavour profile of your complete dish.  I all the time maintain again any recent herbs in a sluggish cooker recipe and stir these by means of on the finish, leaving the dish to take a seat for 5 minutes earlier than serving to permit the flavours to combine.

A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a sprinkle of parsley or gremolata, or perhaps a crack of recent black pepper added on the finish may also enormously raise a dish.

Overhead shot of a rectangular white dish containing slow cooker beef & mushroom stew.

Best Slow Cooker Prepare dinner Books

I do know, I do know.  There are a whole lot (Hundreds? Lots of of hundreds?) recipes on the web, so why would you want a cookbook? As a result of the web is usually a complicated place, and typically an excessive amount of selection is paralysing.  And since a few of us nonetheless like books (or is that simply me?).

These cookbooks have earned a spot on my bookshelf.  I personal all three of them, and I prepare dinner from them commonly.  The recipes are straightforward to comply with, all the time work out and are scrumptious.

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup.

Gear Suggestions for one of the best sluggish cooker meals

There are not any prizes right here for guessing that with a purpose to make one of the best sluggish cooker meal you actually need a sluggish cooker.  There are quite a few sluggish cookers obtainable, so I like to recommend that you simply think about your loved ones’s wants in terms of choosing the mannequin that’s best for you.  Contemplate:

  1. Measurement: A sluggish cooker operates greatest when 1/2  to 2/three full.  A 4L (quart) sluggish cooker will go well with most households, however in case you are feeding a bigger household chances are you’ll want to purchase a much bigger sluggish cooker.  Conversely, if cooking just for you and your companion a smaller machine might go well with you higher.
  2. Features: Do you need to sear your elements within the pot?  Would a timer be useful? Do you need to steam?  Or make yoghurt?  Newer sluggish cooker fashions present further features that you could be discover helpful in your kitchen.
  3. Non stick or Ceramic: Would you like a non-stick insert, or would you favor the extra acquainted ceramic insert.  Contemplate that a ceramic insert is extra vulnerable to breakage than a brand new non-stick insert, which can influence in your remaining choice.

I’ve used numerous totally different fashions of sluggish cookers through the years, however my favorite has come from Breville.  I’ve been extraordinarily proud of it, and will it ever die, I’ll substitute it with an analogous mannequin.  You’ll be able to take a look at their vary right here.

Along with a sluggish cooker, the 2 different items of kit I like to recommend are:

  • A great frypan for browning meat, onions and different greens.
  • A mechanical outlet timer.  These are a godsend if you already know you gained’t be house in time and don’t need your meal to overcook (and also you don’t have a brand new fancy pants machine with inbuilt timer).  Simply set your cooking time (you possibly can even delay the beginning time if mandatory) and are available residence to a deliciously cooked meal.

Slow Cooker Lamb Roast sitting on a white platter. The end of the leg has been shredded to display the cooked meat.

Steadily Requested Questions

What can I prepare dinner in a sluggish cooker? There are only a few issues you possibly can’t prepare dinner in a sluggish cooker.  Along with foremost meals, sluggish cookers are nice for cooking beans and do-it-yourself shares.  Or why not make granola, or bake a cake, or use the sluggish cooker as a bain marie for cheesecake. And if none of that grabs you, you’ll be able to all the time make cleaning soap.

Can you set meat within the sluggish cooker with out liquid? You do not want so as to add liquid to a sluggish cooker to prepare dinner meat.  Most meat cuts are moist sufficient that they won’t dry out within the sluggish cooker. Each my sluggish cooker leg of lamb and lime cilantro shredded hen would not have liquid added, but produce scrumptious outcomes.  The exception to that is ribs and different very bony cuts, which do require some liquid to prepare dinner correctly.

What’s the greatest meat for a sluggish cooker?  The greatest cuts to make use of within the sluggish cooker are the cheaper, harder cuts.  Contemplate gravy beef, chuck steak or stewing steak, hen thighs or pork neck.  These cuts all include sinew and fats that melts in the course of the lengthy, sluggish prepare dinner and bathes the meat because it cooks.  Leaner cuts, like hen breast, can dry out within the sluggish cooker and produce robust, flavourless outcomes.

Is it protected to go away the sluggish cooker on all day? Slow cookers run on a really low wattage, and are protected to go away on unattended all day.  Nevertheless, do ensure that the world across the sluggish cooker is obvious and that nothing is touching the machine while it’s unattended.

How lengthy can meals sit within the sluggish cooker?  As soon as the sluggish cooker as been turned off, any remaining meals ought to be faraway from the insert and refrigerated inside two hours.  Slow cookers are designed to carry the meals at a protected temperature to stop bacterial progress, however as soon as turned off the meals within the sluggish cooker will drop to temperatures that would encourage bacterial progress.

Get Cooking!

Are you prepared to start out cooking up the very best sluggish cooker meals?  You at the moment are outfitted with all of the information you could produce some superb meals.  And don’t overlook to seize my free cheatsheet which you could print off and hold useful so that you don’t want to recollect all the things I stated above.  The cheatsheet is in my Useful resource library, so merely request entry within the type under.

I additionally commonly submit new sluggish cooker recipes, so ensure you go to my recipe index for extra inspiration.

Take pleasure in!


Share any ideas you could have to make the most effective sluggish cooker meals within the remark under.

I’d love to listen to all about them.