Crockpot Basics

Slow cookers are great time savers. Find out everything you wanted to know about choosing a slow cooker and how to use it. Plus, a recipe!

I love my slow cookers!  

I have 3 that I use on a regular basis.  One is a large one for big items, like a whole chicken or turkey.  One is a all-in-one that also is a deep fryer.  The only downfall about it is that the liner is not removable.  The one above is the that gets used the most.  It has been a real lifesaver on those days when I have 3 things going on at the same time.

There are a few things to consider before purchasing a slow cooker. 

  • Size.  Make sure you buy a slow cooker that will be large enough to cook the meals you want to in it.  It is recommended to not fill your cooker more than 2/3 full.
  • Shape.  Something that is overlooked and should be considered.  Shape of the slow cooker is important.  Round ones are great for soups and such.  If you are planning on cooking roasts and such in one, consider an oval.  You will get more length in your cooking surface.
  • Liner.  I didn't realize until I bought my first crockpot, the all-in-one, how handy the removable liner is.  If you are going to be putting together your ingredients the night before, a removable liner is the way to go.  I find it handy to prepare things as much as possible the night before in the liner and keep it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, I pull it out and let it get to room temp before setting the liner in the heating unit to cook.
  • Temperature.  According to how you want to cook in your slow cooker, you will want to look at temperature settings.  My all-in-one cooks by degrees, where my everyday one is a low or high setting.  My low setting is about 170 degrees and high is 210 degrees approximately.  I also have a "warm" setting which is great for keeping food warm in case dinner is delayed or the food cooks faster than I planned.
  • Lids.  Check out your lid before cooking.  Most slow cookers come with a see through lid which helps in keeping an eye on the cooking process.  My larger slow cooker does not and it is really hard sometimes to resist the urge to lift the lid to take a peek.  They say, removing the lid during cooking adds about 20 minutes each time to the cooking time.

Cooking with a slow cooker is really easy and a great time saver.  Most slow cooker recipes will explain when to add items that do not take as long, like some vegetables and pasta, to the cooker.  You will want to keep an eye on the amount of liquid.  Do not let the liquid escape from the slow cooker....

To view the entire article and recipe click here


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