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17 Genius Tips & Tricks For If You Own A Slow Cooker

How to easily cut cleanup time, figure out high vs. low, and slow-cook like a pro.

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7. The same goes for things like pasta, (cooked) beans, and small vegetables.

Sauces can cook low and slow, but in order to keep pasta al dente, you'll want to add the noodles within the last 10 minutes or so — or, for the very best results, cook them separately on the stovetop. (Recipe for short-rib sauce here.) Similarly, things like cooked beans and tender vegetables should go in last, since you only want them to heat through and not turn to mush.


9. Avoid overcooking by running the slow cooker overnight instead of during the day.


No more stressing out about leaving work on time or letting that pulled pork overcook while you're stuck in traffic. This way you can also take your time with any prep the night before instead of rushing through it in the morning.

10. Things that don't require any stirring (like dried beans) are ideal overnighters. The same goes for stews or chilis that taste better after they've had a chance to sit.

Three cheers for coming home to reheat-and-eat dinners that are actually delicious. (Also: more on how to slow-cook dried beans here.)

11. Make sure hot food cools down properly before you store it.

If you cook overnight and are pressed for time in the morning, you can expedite the cooling process with a DIY ice bath. More info on that — and on why you should never put hot food in a cold fridge — at The Kitchn.


12. Don't open the lid unless you have to.

Unless you're adding ingredients or the directions call for you to give your food a quick stir, avoid lifting the lid. The lid traps heat, and every time you remove it, it can take up to 30 minutes to regain proper temperature. (Recipe for Braised Short Ribs and Cabbage here.)

13. But you ~should~ remove the lid if you end up with too much liquid.

If you've accidentally added — or are left with — too much liquid, remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking. This will let some of that extra liquid reduce down. (Recipe for Corned Beef & Cabbage Soup here.)

14. Big, fattier cuts of meat are usually what slow cookers do best.

Lean meat (like chicken breasts) can get tough when heated for long periods of time. But fattier cuts — like short ribs, shanks, or shoulder — are ideal when they're cooked low and slow. The heat lets them break down over several hours, and the fat helps keep the meat juicy and tender.


17. Maximize your meal planning by adding freezer-friendly recipes to your roster.

Big-batch, freezer-friendly options mean you can prep (or bulk prep) in advance. Then just pack away, and use whenever you’re ready. Find more easy slow cooker recipe ideas here, and vegetarian ideas here.