5 Common Slow Cooker Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Food

by John Griffith

A slow cooker is a lifesaver if you like to meal prep or you are cooking for many. It’s super convenient as it lets you cook entire meals safely without you even being there. You can go about your daily to-do list without worrying about having to cook later on. However, as easy as slow cooking is, it isn’t as simple as throwing all the ingredients inside and pressing a button. Well, while that is the gist of it, but there are some important steps and techniques that should not be overlooked. Some of the simplest errors may be leaving your meals tasting bland, watery, and flavorless. Even if you didn’t slave away on the stove top all day, you still deserve a better meal than bland mush. On the bright side, this can easily be prevented. Today we will share with you some common slow cooker mistakes that may be ruining your food and how you can avoid them.

Having a slow cooker is super convenient

slow cooker mistakes slow cooker with beef stew

Common Slow Cooker Mistakes 

You can make absolute culinary masterpieces with a slow cooker. From stews, to roasts, to dump cakes. This kitchen helper can cook both savory and sweet dishes. All you have to do is some minimal prep, leave it to do its magic, and come home to a home cooked delicious meal. Or at least that’s how it is supposed to go. However, there are some slow cooker mistakes that can really influence the outcome of your meals. Some you are probably making without even realizing. Well, we say no more mediocre meals! Here are some mistakes you need to avoid so all your meals can taste amazing from now on.

You can make absolute culinary masterpieces with a slow cooker

slow cooker with potatoes carrots and meat

#Overfilling the cooker

While it may be tempting to fill up your cooker all the way to the top if you are cooking up a bigger batch, it’s best to avoid it. The cooker may be able to fit all the ingredients but if it is too full, then it will have a harder time heating the food evenly. This will leave you with a dish that is parts overcooked, other parts undercooked. Yuck! Not only is it not great for the taste buds, but undercooked food that hasn’t reached a safe temperature throughout increases the risks of foodborne illnesses. An overfilled cooker may also begin to spill once the cooking process starts which will leave you with quite the mess. It’s recommended to fill up your slow cooker no more than three quarters, so there is still plenty of room for the ingredients to expand.

Do not overfill your slow cooker with ingredients 

slow cookers meals

#Putting in frozen foods

Frozen foods and your slow cooker do not mix well. The cooker will take care of the defrosting process, but this will create a ton of problems. Placing frozen items directly to your other ingredients will increase the time the cooker can reach a safe cooking temperature. The frozen foods will also add excess moisture and will cool down the other items in the appliance slowing down the cooking time even more. Food staying in the danger zone of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees for longer periods of time created the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Frozen foods and your slow cooker do not mix well

slow cooker mistakes frozen broccoli

#Putting fragile vegetables in too soon

Sadly, not all vegetables are created equally. Since the slow cooker has such a long cooking period, most vegetables will become super mushy by the time it is done. Delicate produce like peas and zucchini shouldn’t be added too soon to the cooker. These types of products should be added in the final moments of your cooking process if you want to preserve their texture and taste. If you are planning to blend all the ingredients in the end anyway, then you can add the more delicate produce in the beginning.

Not all vegetables are created equally

woman using a slow cooker

#Adding too much liquid

Slow cookers can make great stews and soups. However, when cooking with a slow cooker it is important to use less liquid than you would when cooking on the stove. Too much liquid will create a watery and unpleasant dish. Steam juices cannot evaporate from the cooker as they would from a pot on the stove. This means there will be extra moisture buildup. Reduce the recipe’s liquid amount by around twenty percent to start and adjust it as you cook it again. When cooking other recipes as well you also won’t need more than half to one cup of liquid as the slow cooker helps to preserve the natural moisture and juices in the meats and veggies.

Slow cookers can make great stews and soups

slow cooker mistakes overfilled pot

#Not searing your meat

Do not put your meat raw in the slow cooker. Instead, sear it a bit beforehand. Searing your meat helps achieve caramelization to the surface of the meat. This caramelization provides color, texture, and flavor. It also ensures the meat will stay nice and tender and that it won’t disintegrate inside the slow cooker. You can sear it simply with some salt and pepper. Add the dripping from the pan to the slow cooker to add additional flavor.

Do not put your meat raw in the slow cooker

uncooked meat on ice

These are some common slow cooker mistakes it is best you try to avoid. We hope you found this article useful. Now you won’t be unknowingly sabotaging your slow cooker and your meals anymore and you can enjoy yummy food.

These are some common slow cooker mistakes it is best you try to avoid

slow cooker mistakes slow cooker on counter top

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John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.