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American Family Children's Hospital

General Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker

• Meats should be thawed before placing in slow cooker.

• It is not necessary to brown meat before cooking in slow cooker if the meat is lean, trimmed of fat and/or skinless. When using ground meat, brown it first and drain well (you can even rinse the cooked meat with water) to eliminate excess fat.

• Vegetables tend to cook slowly unless cut into 1/3 to 1/4 -inch pieces and placed near the bottom of the slow cooker.

• To cook boil-in-the-bag frozen vegetables: wipe and rinse the plastic bag, then pierce a small hole in the bag and place it on top of the meat or entree (pierced end up) and cook on low setting for 7 to 9 hours.

• Seasonings: whole herbs and spices are recommended since they will take longer to release flavors. In slow cooking the flavors of whole herbs and spices tend to peak at serving time.

• Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray before using for easy clean up.

• Assemble entrees in the evening and refrigerate overnight in tightly sealed container or plastic bag. In the morning, spray the inside of the slow cooker with a non-stick cooking spray, then add the prepared entree and liquid if needed, and cook.

• Revive stale crackers, chips, etc. place items in slow-cooker, do not cover. Heat on low setting 2 to 4 hours.

• Gravy: use flour/water or cornstarch/water paste to thicken liquids. Mix 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup flour or 2 Tbsp. cornstarch together and stir into the meat juices that have been skimmed of fat. Cook on high and stir until gravy thickens.

• Leftovers: freeze entrees in heavy-duty aluminum foil so portions will fit into the slow cooker with a little added water. To reheat, cook on low setting 10 - 18 hours if frozen, or 6 to 9 hours if thawed.

• Slow-cookers and crockery cookers may vary in the amount of time needed to cook foods thoroughly. You may need to make adjustments accordingly.