Everyone has days where spending an hour in front of the stove making dinner feels like too much work, and that’s just fine. After all, modern Americans are very busy. The good news is that there is a simple solution for eating delicious, healthy meals even on days when cooking feels like too much of a chore. Slow cooker recipes make for a hassle-free meal preparation experience that all home chefs will appreciate from time to time.
Where to Find Great Recipes
This article will introduce a few basic slow cooker recipes to get home chefs who are new to the technique started, but many people will likely be wondering where to find a wider selection of meals to cook with crock pots. They can try slowcookermeals.com. The site has a wealth of recipes organized by category to make meal planning easier.
Slow Cooker Basics
Before trying any specific recipes, it’s worth learning the basics about how to use a slow cooker to the greatest effect. Here are a few things every chef needs to know:
What Slow Cookers Are Good At
Slow cookers are great for cooking specific types of meals. These electric appliances simmer foods at low temperatures for long periods, often hours. The low-and-slow method of cooking is great for things like tenderizing or breaking down large pieces of meat, but cooking pot roasts is far from the only thing they can do. Crock pots are also fantastic for soups, stews, ribs, and even some types of drinks, dips, and bread.
How to Use a Slow Cooker
Using a slow cooker is easy. Just prepare the ingredients, toss them in the pot, set the cooker to low or high according to the recipe, secure the lid, and let it be. When the dish is done, set the crock pot to keep warm until it’s time to eat.
Although using a slow cooker is easy, getting the perfect meal every time requires a small amount of finesse. Top tips for crock pot cooking include:
- Never filling the slow cooker to more than ¾ of its capacity to prevent both overflow and overcooking.
Avoiding checking on the food by opening the lid, which releases the heat and extends cooking times.
Browning meats like ground beef and pork chops in a skillet before tossing them in the slow cooker.
Using specialized slow cooker recipes to ensure the best results.
Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker
People who already cook regularly using their crock pots know how amazing they are, but some home chefs require winning over before they head out to buy new equipment. Here are just a few of the benefits of using a slow cooker that are compelling enough to make up anyone’s mind:
Slow cookers typically allow one-step preparation. All it takes is cutting up the ingredients and placing them in the pot, and no additional prep work or cleanup is required.
Easy, Healthy Meals
For those who are tempted by fast food and packaged meals, slow cookers present a healthier alternative. Having a meal cooking in a crock pot that is both nutritious and delicious will make it easier to avoid the temptation to stop for take-out.
During the colder months, slow cookers are wonderful for making winter stews. In the summer, they heat the kitchen significantly less than ovens. There are recipes for every season.
Save Money on Meat
Long, low-temperature cooking helps to tenderize meat more effectively. For people cooking on a budget, that typically means being able to buy less expensive cuts.
Bring Out Flavor
Slow cookers are also great at bringing out the flavor of meals. From soups and stews to casseroles, just about everything cooked in a crock pot will be delicious as long as the chef follows a good recipe.
Best Foods for Slow Cookers
Now, on to the good stuff. Let’s take a look at a few easy-to-make, delicious, and nutritious meals that home chefs can cook in their new crock pots.
Chicken cooked in a crock pot always comes out juicy, not dry. Classics like chicken pot pie and chicken noodle soup are always delicious, but there are plenty of other options, as well. Try specialized slow-cooker recipes for:
. Chicken lasagna
Buffalo chicken sliders
There is something new to try every night of the week for poultry lovers.
Beef is one of the best meats to make in a slow cooker because of how juicy and tender it will be. Anyone who has ever tried slow-cooked barbecue ribs can attest to the fact that crock pot cooking can produce meals that make the whole family happy. Beef lovers can try:
. Pot roast
Spaghetti and meatballs
The best part is that crock pot cooking is so easy, even novice chefs can try a few recipes and then start experimenting on their own. Dishes like taco soup and sweet-and-sour meatballs can become dinner staples in households that enjoy slightly more unusual meals.
Delightful Vegetable Dishes
Crock pots aren’t just for cooking meat, so don’t get the wrong idea. There are plenty of slow-cooked vegetable dishes that make perfect sides or alternatives to meat-based meals for vegetarians. They include:
. Garlic mashed potatoes
Corn on the cob
Green bean casserole
Stuffed sweet potatoes
Just about anything that can be cooked on a conventional stovetop can be made in a slow cooker as long as the cooking times and temperatures are adjusted appropriately.
Start Trying New Recipes Today
Getting a new slow cooker is an exciting event for home chefs who are sick of having to spend hours each night in the kitchen just to produce a delicious dinner that keeps everyone happy. Some people find that it takes time to get used to preparing everything in advance, but even crock pot skeptics will come to love their new kitchen appliances once they’ve tried a few recipes and gotten a feel for what works given their diets.