Tips for converting regular recipes for the slow cooker

The slow cooker truly may be the greatest invention since sliced bread. For most recipes you can dump the ingredients and let them cook for several hours with little interruption on your end.

You can convert nearly any of your favorite recipes to slow cooker meals. Slow cookers are great for soups and stews, but they are just as great for other recipes too, if you know how to do it. Check out these handy tips for turning any oven-friendly dish into a slow cooker meal:


Meat Matters:
Meats with a lot of fat and tissue do well in the slow cooker because they break down slower, according to Bonappetit. Choose meats that have skin and fat for more flavorful results.

Time it right:
Converting your favorite casserole to a slow cooker meal? Check out these conversion times from Life Hacker.  A 35 to 45 minute recipe should be cooked on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Have a recipe that calls for 50 minutes to three hours of cooking time? Heat it in the slow cooker on low for 8 to 10 hours and high for 4 to 6 hours.

Some precooking is required
Browning some foods before tossing them into the slow cooker will make the recipe taste better. Foods you should consider browning before hand include: large pieces of meat (sear for extra flavor), ground beef, onions and garlic. While these foods are safe to cook from raw in the slow cooker, The Kitchn recommends a precooking these particular foods to release extra flavors.

Extra moisture
Some meats like, chicken or ground beef, cook just fine in a slow cooker with no extra help. Larger cuts of meat, like roast, may need a little bit of water or stock to create steam. This steam helps cook the meat faster and more evenly, Bonappetit says.

A word of caution: moisture builds up in a slow cooker. Adding too much liquid can prevent dishes from thickening. When making a dish that should thicken, try reducing the called-for liquid by about half.

The slow cooker is a great tool to use on days when you have little extra time or when you simply don’t feel like cooking in a hot kitchen. Changing your favorite recipes to the slow cooker is a great way to free up a little extra time in your day.

Have a slow cooker recipe but want to aren’t sure about the cooking time on a different setting? Here’s a handy guide from Stockpiling Moms: