My small kitchen appliances get quite the workout during the summer, especially once it gets so hot that even the thought of turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen is enough to turn my stomach. In addition to my Instant Pot, and more recently, my air fryer, I’ve been getting a fair amount of use out of my slow cooker over the past few weeks too.
Since I’ve had to refresh my own memory about the dos and don’ts of slow cooker cooking, I figured that it would be a good time to put together a refresher here on the blog too! So that’s how today’s post of ten essential slow cooker hacks was born, and I know you’ll find these just as useful as I have! :-)
10 Smart Slow Cooker Hacks (+ 4 Bonus Tips)
1. Heat Two Things At Once
Use tin foil to create a divider in the center of your crockpot. Place a slow cooker liner over the top and push it down into the two cavities. Now you can use your crockpot to cook or heat up two dips or soups!
2. DIY Double Boiler
Use your slow cooker as a double boiler by placing whatever you want to heat into a glass jar, placing the jar into the slow cooker, then pouring in a few inches of warm water. This trick is great for melting chocolate, making salves, and more.
3. Prevent Condensation Drips
Catch drips of condensation before they reach your food by placing a cloth or a thick paper towel under the closed lid of your slow cooker. This is especially useful when you’re making things that will suffer from getting soggy, such as crockpot brownies or bread.
4. DIY Humidifier
Use your crockpot as a humidifier by filling it with warm water and turning it on High. Moisture will start to escape the crockpot after an hour or so and help to increase the humidity in the surrounding area. Humidifiers can be a lifesaver in the winter, as the warm, dry air from your furnace can dry out your nasal passages and increase your chances of getting sick.
5. Avoid Crockpot Catastrophes
If you’re adding cream or cheese to your crockpot recipe, add it toward the end of the cooking time to avoid any issues with curdling. Likewise, foods that are already cooked will break down quickly in your crockpot, so add cooked pasta, veggies, and beans towards to your crockpot near the end of the cooking process.
6. Erase White Residue
Despite your best cleaning efforts, the removable stone crock in your slow cooker may develop a stubborn white residue over time. You can erase the powdery mineral residue by wiping it with white vinegar. You could also try sprinkling baking soda into the crock, pouring a bit of vinegar onto it, then giving everything a good scrub with warm, soapy water.
7. Sear Your Meat
For slow cooker recipes that call for meat, you can make the finished product more flavorful by searing the meat in a hot pan before putting it in in your slow cooker. Searing meat at high temperatures creates caramelization on the surface, which will infuse your final dish with a deeper flavor than you’d be able to achieve otherwise.
8. Keep A Lid On It
Unless your recipe instructs you to stir during the cooking process, keep your hands off that lid! A lot of heat escapes from a slow cooker every time you remove the lid, and it can take up to 30 minutes to heat back up to where it was before you opened it.
9. Rescue Runny Soups & Sauces
On the other hand, if your slow cooker creation is looking a little runny, you may want to remove the lid. Removing the lid will allow some of the water to evaporate, concentrating and thickening the soup or sauce for a thicker finished product.
10. Avoid Dry Meat
Slow cookers pair best with larger, fattier cuts of meat, because the “low and slow” cooking method melts the fat an helps keep the cut moist and delicious. If you’re cooking a leaner cut, you can avoid it coming out tough and dry by choosing a large cut that’s harder to dry out. (For instance, chicken breasts will dry out pretty quickly while a whole chicken will stay very moist.)
4 Bonus Slow Cooker Tips
11. Adapt Your Favorite Recipes
With a few simple alterations, you can make many of your favorite standard recipes in your crockpot. Download my handy printable guide to slow cooker conversions at the link below.
Read More: Stovetop/Oven to Crockpot Conversion Chart
12. Clean The Interior Of The Cooker
The removable stoneware part of your crockpot is easy enough to clean in your dishwasher or by hand, but what about the actual cooker? Spills happen and food can end up crusted on to the interior of the cooker, but you can learn how to clean away those stains at the link below.
13. Make Something Interesting
Beyond the usual meat dishes, soups, and stews, there are all sorts of unusual things you can make using your slow cooker. Learn about 10 unusual things you can make in your crockpot, from brownies to crayons, by reading the post at the link below.
14. Give Your Crockpot A Makeover
Giving your slow cooker a chalkboard finish makes it easy to label what’s inside, so you can serve the food as-is while your guests know exactly what they’re getting. It also just looks stylish! But you don’t need to go out and buy a new crockpot to cash in on this trend—learn how to give your existing crockpot a chalkboard makeover at the link below.
What are your best slow cooker hacks?