Slow cookers can be a life-saver when life gets crazy. You can set ‘em and forget ‘em without having to babysit your meal, use them to cooked dried beans (it’s the budget-friendly way to go!), there’s less mess to clean up, they’re great for cooking inexpensive cuts of meat, and you can make hearty, and often healthy meals for your family.
To help you step up your slow cooker game, we asked our team to share their best tips, tricks and hacks.
All of those root veggies you tossed at the bottom of the slow cooker -- make sure they’re all similar in size so everything will cook equally. This is how you avoid the some-veggies-are-mush-while-others-are-still rock-hard situation.
READ: 9 Unexpected Things You Can Make in Your Slow Cooker
Use the “Low” Setting As Much As Possible
Our culinary producer Jeanette Donnarumma says that by keeping your slow cooker on “low,” not only will your food turn out tender and juicy, but it’s also the best setting to use when you’re going to be at work all day, so you can come home to a meal that’s already cooked. Prep your veggies that morning, or even the night before and just toss ‘em in before you leave for the day.
Brown Meat Before Adding to the Slow Cooker
Rach says it all the time: color = flavor! However, if you’re in a pinch and simply don’t have the time to do it -- it’s not the end of the world. It’ll still taste great! (Just not AS great, ya know?)
MAKE: Melissa d'Arabian’s Slow-Cooker Spaghetti Squash
Aluminum Foil Is Your Friend
Did you know your slow cooker can be used to bake, too?! That’s right, peeps. It’s not just for chili. Simply line the slow cooker insert with foil so you can easily pull it out when it’s done, like Grant Melton, our senior culinary associate producer, did here when he made his chocolatey hazelnut BROWNIES and creamy cheesecake.
One of our viewers even found a way to heat two different dips in her slow cooker by using foil as a divider. Pretty cool, huh?
Add Brightness + Texture to Your Meal With Something Fresh
Once your meal is done, Rach always recommends adding a fresh topper so your dish has texture and an additional layer of flavor. Think freshly chopped herbs, gremolata, avocado, sprouts, crushed tortilla chips, or even nuts for a little crunch!