Crockpot Cookings Ten Essential Tips

If you're new to crockpot cooking and have decided you want to give it a try -- whether it's to save time, money, or just to add some variety to your cooking methods -- then you may want to read up on the essential crockpot cooking tips.

  1. For meat dishes, defrost meat completely -- especially if you're using roasts. Why? The center of the meat may encourage bacterial growth if it remains cool long enough. You can thaw food overnight in the refrigerator or use the microwave just before adding to the crockpot.

  2. You may need to cut and trim the meat before you place it into the crock. It's best that roasts and other large cuts fit into the crockpot, but if not, trimming is better than stuffing! If taste and health are important, get rid of extra fat and skin also. This will decrease the fat content and take away any oily flavor. If veggies are part of the recipe, cutting meats and vegetables the same size will ensure even cooking.

  3. If your recipe is a mixture of meat and root vegetables -- such as potatoes, carrots and onions -- put vegetables in the bottom of the pot and then place the meat on top of the vegetables. This will enable more even cooking as these root vegetables usually cook more slowly than
    meat. Now if you use vegetables to garnish and to add some color to your dish -- such as red or green peppers, herbs or tomatoes -- then these would be added on top when the cooking is almost complete.

  4. Before adding anything, spray your crockpot with cooking oil as it will make cleaning much easier.

  5. Now that you've decided how to layer and if to layer, you're ready to fill the crock. Most crockpots are about 1/2 to 2/3rds full for all recipes. Check the guidelines that come with your crockpot as it will give you a recommended capacity level.

  6. If you're adapting one of your recipes from the oven to the crock, you may have to reduce the amount of liquid in a recipe. Crockpots retain their moisture much better than other cooking methods.

  7. Crockpot recipes usually take about 7-9 hours on the low setting. So plan accordingly. Temperatures can range from about 170-300 degrees.

  8. Do not remove the lid while the food is cooking, unless it's specifically required -- such as adding garnish or dairy products at the end. If you do, the heat will escape which will reduce the temperature and add about another 20 minutes to the cooking time. General rule: One peek and add 20 more minutes to wait, two peeks and 40 more minutes to wait etc...

  9. Add any dairy products -- creams, cheeses -- during the last hour of cooking. And if these are used to thicken sauces at the end of cooking, you may want to turn up the heat setting.

  10. Buy a crockpot cooking book! This may be the best tip as you'll be given recipes with step by step guides. The more you follow the specific crock recipes, the easier it will be for you to adapt your own.

Good luck on your crockpot adventure!

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About The Author, Jaycee Fox
Jaycee Fox writes on subjects with the goal of achieving a healthy and balanced life. She has a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters degree. If you're interested in the many resources in helping to achieve that balance -- even Jaycee's recommended crockpot cooking books -- then check out Jaycee's website at