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6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Slow Cooker

crock pot slow cookersI love my slow cookers. Yes, that’s plural. I have more than one slow cooker, in various sizes for various needs and I think it’s probably the one kitchen small appliance I couldn’t do without. I think it’s a versatile kitchen appliance and, when learning to cook whether out of school, just married, or starting out on your own in your first apartment – a slow cooker is one of the first appliances many people start with. I love the new fall patterns available on Crock-Pot Slow Cookers at Walmart (psst: the Crock-Pot Casserole Crock Slow Cooker is on Rollback right now for $44.98!)

It’s hard to go wrong with a slow cooker meal, but it does happen. Follow these tips below for slow cooker success:

1. When cooking meat, choose wisely. Fattier, tougher cuts of meat do really well in a slow cooker which is great because they’re less expensive too. Chicken breasts can dry out quicker than chicken thighs, for example, so adjust your cooking time if you have the option of cooking with breasts instead of thighs. This recipe for slow cooker BBQ beef on a bun is one of the first recipes I made in my slow cooker.

2. Brown first when you can. One of the common complaints about slow cooker meals is that sometimes the flavors can blend together, when you don’t really want them to. One way to bring out the flavor of your meat, especially beef, is to brown it first. This slow cooker stew recipe recommends dredging the meat in flour first and then browning on all sides before adding to the slow cooker – try it!

3. Note your heat level.ย  A general rule of thumb is that your slow cooker meal will take twice as long to cook on low as it will on high. If you’re crunched for time (popping the items in after lunch, like most days) use the high setting (I like to turn it down to low for the last hour or so, if time allows). However, it’s best if you can slow-cook your meats over a longer period of time, especially when making something that you plan to shred later, like this recipe for slow cooker pulled pork.

4. Add your dairy last. Many of us learn this the hard way. If you add dairy ingredients like sour cream or whipping cream too early it will curdle and look awful. Add it in the last 30 minutes of cooking at most.

crock pot oval istir slow cooker

5. Don’t peek! As much as you’re tempted to check on the progress, have a taste, or give everything a little stir – don’t! The general rule is that for every time you open the lid, you’d need to add 20 minutes cooking time to your recipe! Opening the lid lets steam out and your slow cooker cool enough that it will take that long to get back to the same steam/temp it was before you opened it. If you really can’t resist the stir, consider this new item from Crock Pot, the Crock Pot Oval iStir Slow Cooker (available at Walmart now for $84.98, they were on display in an aisle this week!) Yep, it will automatically stir the food for you. Now you have no excuse to open that lid!

6. Use it for more than your entree. A slow cooker can be used to make drinks and even desserts. It’s not just for making your main dish though it does a fantastic job at that. I love using my slow cooker to make slow cooker baked potatoes in the summer months (who wants to heat up their oven for over an hour in July?) and in the fall, I make slow cooker apple cider when we have company which also happens to make my house smell amazing, double-win!

Love the festive slow cookers seen here? You can find the Crock-Pot Manual Slow Cooker wearing a cute little sweater at Walmart for $27.98 and Crock-Pot Casserole Slow Cooker on Rollback for $44.98 (I kept the one used in my TV segment, I couldn’t resist!)

Check out the segment below:

Eager to shop? Here’s your chance to win a $50 Walmart Gift Card to put towards a new Crock-Pot Slow Cooker or any of the small appliances, decor and of course fresh grocery items at Walmart for your fall gatherings!

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