Six mistakes you should avoid when using your slow cooker

Using a slow cooker seems simple, and it is – at least in theory. l FILE

Using a slow cooker seems simple, and it is – at least in theory. l FILE

Published Mar 26, 2024


Using a slow cooker seems simple and it is – at least in theory. Simply throw everything you need for your recipe into the appliance, turn on the heat, and wait.

A few hours later, you will find a fully cooked dinner waiting for you.

And with many of us trying to cut back on costs, the slow cooker is also a handy helper when it comes to meal planning, creating cheaper dinners that go further, and making the most of great-value store cupboard ingredients.

But are you getting the best out of this clever appliance or is your slow-cooker game falling flat?

Here are some of the things you might be doing wrong.

A slow cooker can be a very handy asset in the kitchen.

You add herbs too soon

When food simmers for a long time, the flavours soften and mellow, and some herbs are not strong enough to survive to the end. Wait until the end of the cooking time to add soft herbs like parsley and chives.

On the other hand, hearty herbs like rosemary or thyme can go in at the beginning and the flavour will carry through, though you may still want to add a bit more before serving, especially if the recipe has been cooking for a long time.

You add dairy products too soon

In general, it is also always best to add dairy products like milk and cheese towards the end of the cooking time. If you simmer them for hours, they can curdle or break.

You are not searing your meat first

If you are throwing raw meat straight into your slow cooker, know that there are better ways. While you technically can slow-cook with raw meat, you will get your best results this way.

You will have better luck in the flavour department if you sear it first – browning adds a nice, caramelised depth to the dish.

Not all vegetables should go into the slow cooker at the same time. l PEXELS/COTTONBRO STUDIO

Tossing in delicate veggies too early

Not all vegetables should go into the slow cooker at the same time, as some cook faster or slower than others or have a more delicate texture that will break down easily in prolonged heat.

For example, peas and mushrooms can be added to the hot dish closer to serving time. That way they do not become overcooked and mushy.

Tasting before it is done

There is a reason most slow cookers have a glass lid. It is so that you can view the process. If you remove the lid, then you will lose heat and moisture, which may result in a longer cooking time for your favourite dish.

You are not using the right amount of liquid

How much liquid goes in your slow cooker? If you are converting a traditional recipe to your slow cooker, be wary of adding too much – you should cut the amount by about half since the lid traps moisture instead of letting it cook off.

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