Food

Do or Don’t: Slow Cookers

Do or Don't: Slow Cookers

I’m here to plead my case for the old-school appliance (where do you stand?)…

Last September, I ordered a slow cooker almost as large as my refrigerator (I chose the Crock-Pot). “Oh, the possibilities,” my aunt texted me, when she found out. “Welcome to the club.”

But, from the beginning, the slow-cooker rallying cry — “fix-it and forget-it” — did not apply to me. Most recipes required two to six hours of simmering time, but my workday is eight hours. (Would everything burn?!) And secondly, when it was cooking, I was ALWAYS thinking about it. As Sam Sifton wrote for The New York Times, a slow cooker began to feel like “an exercise in vague worry.”

Still, a handful of successful dinners, especially bean and chicken recipes, kept me from losing hope, and soon I realized a winning combination: Crock-Pots and lazy weekends. On those days, my schedule was flexible — I could handle a three-hour recipe while I was puttering around my apartment. And the meal would feed me for a better part of the week. Maybe the process is “best for afternoon cooking while a game or opera plays on the radio, for while you’re doing chores or running errands,” Sifton agreed. There you have it — the slow cooker reign continues.

If you’re still on the fence, here are nine hearty weekend projects to win you over:

Crock-Pot Indian Butter Chicken

Reader, meet the reason I bought a slow cooker: This Indian butter chicken. #worthit

Crock-Pot Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup is always on my dinner rotation, and this spicy version has everything I like in a recipe: minimal prep, not too many ingredients and a good excuse for chips.

Crock-Pot Tomato White Beans

Two of life’s sweetest pleasures? Beans on toast and a slow-cooker recipe that requires zero work (no chopping, mincing or sautéing). This tomato and cannellini bean recipe checks both of these boxes.

Shredded Crock-Pot Chicken

Crock-Pot shredded chicken has transformed my lunch game. One batch of this recipe makes enough chicken for five midday meals — tacos, salads, wraps. (This two-ingredient recipe is also near and dear to my heart.)

Crock-Pot Black Bean Enchiladas

These vegetarian enchiladas are only meal I happily eat on repeat. And repeat. Annnnd repeat.

Crock-Pot Chicken Parmesan Soup

This chicken parmesan soup is comfort food at its easiest.

Crock-Pot Cuban Panini

Can you even handle these melty Cuban pulled-pork sandwiches?!

Crock-Pot Black Bean Soup

PSA: Crock-Pots turn dried beans into masterpieces. “No presoaking, no simmering, just tossing cold dried beans in the slow cooker for three hours and they are perfection itself: bean nirvana,” Smitten Kitchen says of her black bean soup recipe.

Crock-Pot Vanilla Cake

Dessert is one of the slow cooker’s most underrated specialities. This vanilla cake has caramelized edges and a cult following (note: commenters recommend baking a little less than the suggested time). Also, who’s up for testing Martha Stewart’s cheesecake?

Where do you stand? Do you have any go-to recipes or tricks?

P.S. What food geniuses eat for lunch, and nine quick family dinners.
P.P.S. FYI, the This Is Us explosion of a slow cooker is not a thing, don’t worry. :)

(Top photo by Jade Li.)

  1. Carrie says...

    When I make my pot roast in the slow cooker, I always let it cook overnight instead of while I’m at work. I put it in the fridge in the morning then reheat when I get home. It’s much easier to get rid of excess fat when it’s been in the fridge, plus the flavors meld together and become more delicious by dinner time. It’s the same principle that makes day two stews taste better :)

  2. sasha says...

    I tried both the black bean soup and veg enchiladas last week, and both were delicious.

    Two hints, I strained the salsa for the enchiladas, a little worried that they must be too wet. It worked great, enchiladas not too mushy at all.
    And I use the strained liquid from salsa as part of the water in the soup, worked great as well.
    I also halved both recipes since my crock pot is on the small side, also worked just fine.

  3. Rachel says...

    I hear you about worrying all day about a hot appliance, unchecked, while you’re out of the house. Here’s a tip I heard from somewhere years ago…
    When I need to, I prep everything the night before, start cooking when I go to bed, let it cook overnight, and then check it and refrigerate it when I wake up in the morning. I’m sleeping 8 – 10 hours anyway, might as well let a pot roast finish cooking! I’ll still have something yummy for dinner, but I don’t need to worry about dinner burning if I get home too late.

  4. Mandy says...

    This:
    https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/slow-cooker-roast-pork-sandwiches

    Could stay in slow cooker for 8+ hours on low, easily. I made with sauteed peppers and onions instead of broccoli rabe. So good. Half of people made sandwiches, half put on tacos.

    Making this tonight, 1-2 hours in slow cooker!:
    https://www.thekitchn.com/slow-cooker-orange-chicken-recipe-253412?utm_source=k_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=01232018&recip_id=146809

    Can’t wait to try the shredded chicken.

  5. Keri says...

    Love my slow cooker! My work days are usually closer to 10 hours, so absolutely everything is always burnt. Still beats cooking at 8pm

  6. I bought a slow cooker with a timer. When the timer is done, the setting automatically switches to “warm” which keeps the food at a lower but still safe temp.

  7. Alexandra Marie says...

    One thing we do with our crock pot that makes me feel like a thrifty domestic goddess is that we save all of our chicken bones and veggie scraps (even onion skins), and egg shells in a plastic bag in our freezer. When the bag gets full we put it in the crock pot, cover with water and let simmer on low all night (and sometimes all day as well) for some amazing homemade stock.

  8. This post and comment section is better than any cookbook! Thanks for reminding me how fantastic my old 70’s crockpot is!

  9. Jan says...

    I purchased a timer device for my crockpot so I could start a 3-hour cook before I got home from work. I picked up my timer at a hardware store for less than $10 and its never let me down.

    • Malia says...

      This is so smart. You’re talking about those timers people use with their lamps, right?

  10. Pui says...

    Stella, thank you for this post! I will add that if you love your Indian Butter Chicken Recipe, please please please try this: http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/crock-pot-thai-chicken-thighs-106499#activity-feed

    All you need is chicken + salsa + peanut butter + cilantro (if that’s your thing). I know it sounds a little weird, but it’s SOOOOO tasty and easy. My family loves it. (P.S. that’s obviously not my recipe, just thought you might want to try since it’s so mindlessly easy to make, and it’s similar to your Indian Chicken).

  11. Heck yeah, I love my crockpot. I inherited a sweet 70s brown striped and floral-patterned one. I think it’s only a 4-quart but it’s plenty big enough for just myself. I like to make a pork tenderloin (or chicken thighs, if you don’t eat pork) with chopped dried apricots, applesauce, shallots, and cider vinegar. The apricots break down as they cook and the sweet/tangy sauce combo is so killer.

    • Jen says...

      This sounds delish. Do you have the actual recipe with measurements?

  12. Michal Conger says...

    I leave mine way longer than the recipe calls for all the time! I either start with frozen meat; switch it to “warm” when I leave the house (if the meat has started cooking nicely); or set it on warm from the beginning. Most crock pots seem to run so hot compared to the one I grew up with that food stays at a simmer all day on warm once it’s heated up. I’ll leave a 6-hour recipe for 10 hours, easy. Don’t relegate perfect chili or lentil soup or BBQ chicken to the weekend!

  13. Madie says...

    I like the idea, because lord knows I need help getting dinner on the table STAT at the end of a long workday, but I’m not sure I’d ever have time for the prep in the morning! It is ALL I can do to get breakfasts made and eaten, lunches made, coffee in hand, etc. and OUT the door in the AM with the hubs and kids… Who has time for crock pot prep? Especially something that needs browning first. I cannot wake up any earlier. Maybe I’d use it on the weekends, but I might as well just use my Dutch Oven for that…?

    • Dee says...

      I never brown my meat first, everything still cooks fine! I also put all the ingredients in the pot the night before and leave it in the fridge so its ready to put on the next morning. Works a charm every time :)

    • Kate says...

      Oh I hear you 100% on this and I stopped using my crockpot on weekdays for a while because of it. Last week though I was desperate for some hot ready made dinners and I started doing the prep at night! Brown meat, chop veggies, etc, put in fridge, then just dump in crockpot in the morning. Sometimes I also just cook things while we are sleeping, refrigerate in the morning, and reheat after work. Good luck!!!

  14. Megan Mayer-Rothbarth says...

    Slow cooker or Instant pot — pros? cons? and which one to buy?

    • Ellen says...

      INSTANT POT AND YOU WILL NEVER REGRET IT.

      Includes a slow cooker function but can pressure cook most Crock Pot recipes in 1 hour. Some sauces, meats and soup in…12 MINUTES. Has a sautee function built in (hello brown bits!) and makes meat that is more tender than anything that has ever come out of a slow cooker.

      I’d recommend reading some of the reviews on Amazon for the Instant Pot Duo, great way to get a feel for people’s uses.

  15. My crockpot and I are in a loving long-term relationship. I can’t imagine life without it.

    • Susan says...

      Ditto! My go to recipes are brown sugar chili and taco soup for the colder months.

  16. Dee says...

    Since the last This is Us episode I am going with a NO.

    • Leilah Korbines says...

      This was my same thought!! I’m afraid to use mine now….

    • Sally K says...

      With people being afraid to use their Crock Pots, I wondered what appliances are most responsible for house fires. You may be surprised. I’d never thought about more technologically advanced electronics and appliances having increased circuitry which would make them an increased risk for fire.
      http://www.thesilverlining.com/westbendcares/blog/five-common-appliances-that-cause-house-fires

      The National Fire Protection Association site said that “ranges or cooktops, with or without ovens, accounted for the majority (62%) of home cooking fire incidents and even larger shares of civilian deaths (87%). Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires and fire deaths.”

    • CM says...

      Is that the link for the carnitas?

  17. christen Ibarra says...

    Oh bummer the New York Times won’t let me look at that vanilla cake recipe! :-( is there another link to that same recipe?

    • Susan says...

      Found it on Pinterest by googling baker’s name and “slow cooker cake”

  18. Amirah says...

    Getting a slow cooker with a timer you can program is the key! I always program it for an hour less than the recommended cooking time and then it’ll switch to the warm mode until I get home and voila- no more overcooked meals.

    Also, as some others mentioned- the instant pot is a game changer. You can control the timing more accurately, its also a rice cooker, the pressure cooking option means you can put together last minute meals, and the saute option is so helpful for slow or pressure cooked meals where you need to saute onions or garlic or even brown the meat beforehand.

    I moved to a different city a few months ago and survived primarily on instant pot prepared meals for 3 months until I finally bought a new set of pots and pans.

  19. Shelley Calton says...

    Hey Stella!
    I love a crock pot! Even if you aren’t a good cook, a crock pot meal always turns out yummy. I’m loving the recipes that you posted. I’m planning on giving them all a try in the next week or two.
    Thanks so much.
    Shelley

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Aw, thank you, Shelley!!!!! xoxoxoxo

  20. Anna says...

    I just got a new one for Christmas, replacing my harvest golden oldie. I love crock pots. They have been a lifesaver for this crazy career woman. I’m also a pressure cooker fan and often team up the crock pot and the pressure cooker to pull off meals.

    • Ann says...

      Hey Anna, What meals do you cook in a pressure cooker? My mother only used one to can vegetables and fruits so I never considered it’s use for any other purpose. I’m curious
      thanks,
      ann

  21. I make a boatload of chickpeas to store in freezer bags. Dump in the dried ones with about an extra inch or two of water, turn it on low, see you in 8 hours or so. Baking frozen chickpeas to throw in salads (or with roasted cauliflower) is my favorite easy dinner option now!

  22. jennifer says...

    Has anyone tried the rice cooker pancake in a slow cooker??? lol. Wonder if it works as well? I have neither and so must live vicariously!

  23. Masha says...

    I’ve borrowed a million different slow cooker cookbooks at the library and I think I just found my favorite just a couple weeks ago; it’s America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition. It has so many recipes that are ridiculously easy (dump and go!) and ridiculously delicious. I love that ATK isn’t afraid of using frozen or canned things for simplicity; not all of us have spare hours in our day for prep.

    • Kate says...

      Yessss I own both of these volumes and have been cooking my way through them! So so good.

  24. Cindy says...

    I have had many disappointments doing beans in a crockpot without presoaking first (sorry Smitten Kitchen, I still love you). And there’s nothing worse than cooking something all day and biting into undercooked beans. Presoak first!

    • Meghan says...

      Always presoak the beans! Thank you!

    • Sally K says...

      I’ve been cooking beans in my Crock Pot without soaking for about 10 years with excellent results. The only time they’ve not been done in 3-4 hours was when the beans were old. However, I’ve recently learned that the results may vary widely among slow cookers due to temperature variations. I’m not sure if the variations are between brands or even within the same brand. So some of us will have success and others won’t.

    • CM says...

      For how long do you soak them?? Thanks!

  25. Rebecca says...

    I love mine. I was nervous like most people are at first, but food is so much better in a slow cooker. Especially meats.

  26. Kiley says...

    I’m with you! I do my big crock pot meal on Sundays, and then eat the leftovers for lunch the following week. This past month it’s been all about soups. Thanks for the new recipes to try!

  27. Ana-Maria Sinitean says...

    I am late to the slow cooker game, but my mom got me a CrockPot for Christmas this year and I am loving it! I use it 1-2x a week and given the huge portions, it’s an easy way to host friends for dinner! It’s allowed me to meal-plan, bring my lunch to work, and see my friends more often because food is always a unifying force.

  28. Leigh says...

    Leaving slow cooker on when not home makes me nervous. I’ll do it at night while we are sleeping. In my head that seems safer.

    • Laurie says...

      I’ve read online that the power wattage used by a slow cooker is less than that of your average lightbulb. So if you’re comfortable leaving the house with a lightbulb on, you should be good with a slow cooker, too. It convinced me!

    • Alison says...

      In an apartment with linoleum countertops, I would put a little cork trivet thing under each foot of the Crock Pot to ease my fear of it making the countertop completing melt/flame. Knock on wood, it’s been successfully in heavy rotation for years.

  29. Britt L. says...

    Love this! Thanks, Stella.

  30. S says...

    Get an instant pot instead! Why get a slow cooker when you could get an instant pot, which is both a slow cooker AND a pressure cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt maker! Much more economical from a space and spending perspective. Also pressure cooking completely solves the timing problem and makes most of these same recipes, like the pork or the chicken.

    • Anu says...

      Cosign!

    • Julia says...

      I love my instant pot, but it does a terrible job slow cooking!

  31. Katie Larissa says...

    Can we all agree, though, that it is THE WORST when a crock pot recipe calls for “browning” or “sautéing” something first??! If I’m using my crock pot, it’s because I want to dump and forget, and because I DON’T want extra cooking dishes to wash.

    • Veronica says...

      yes!!

    • Stacey Jones says...

      instant pot!

    • YES!!

    • I agree that it is a pain, but browning meat and chicken when the recipe calls for it makes a big difference in flavor. I’ll do it the night before and get everything in the crock pot for cooking the next day. However, if I am going to be at home, I use the Julia C. method of browning in my dutch oven and then adding the other ingredients to the pot and throwing it in the oven or cooking it on the stovetop. No need to use the crock pot on those days.

  32. Nicole says...

    My boyfriend and I aren’t big on leftovers so crock pots and slow cookers aren’t really for us UNLESS we are having company, in which case I love using these appliances. For our super bowl party this sunday I plan to make a big pot of my vegetarian chili on the stove, but I’ll transfer it to the crock pot to keep it warm. I’m also making beer queso and I ordered a very small crock pot to keep that warm. With friends coming and going during the party it insures that everyone gets a warm meal.

    • Jess says...

      I learned after some week-long soaks that a plastic crock pot liner will be your best friend when making queso! Makes cleaning up so easy.

  33. Sally K says...

    I’m puzzled by all the Crock Pot fear following last week’s This Is Us (I saw the episode). The Crock Pot had a malfunction when they acquired it, it was left plugged in and then a towel was thrown on it. That’s a recipe for disaster.

    If you have an appliance with a faulty switch, frayed cord or other electrical problem, you have it fixed or get rid of it. This is just common sense. You also don’t put something flammable on or near an appliance that is plugged in.

    • Twyla says...

      Thanks for the spoiler…

  34. Blythe says...

    Between traffic and picking up kids, my work day often goes 9-10 hours. So my solution has been to either make slow cooker meals on Sunday and then put them in tupperware for the upcoming week OR to put a meal in when I go to bed (around 11) and have my husband turn the slow cooker off when he gets up in the morning (around 5:30). That gives it time to cool before I throw it in tupperware on the way out the door. It has totally solved my dilemma!

  35. Trish O says...

    It is a do

  36. Meghan says...

    How could this be a don’t!? I use mine all the time.

  37. I love, love, LOVE my slow cooker.
    I hate cooking chicken because it always turns out dry–put it in the slow cooker.
    Intimidated by ribs, pork shoulder, pot roast?— stick it in the slow cooker! Also, sometimes I don’t love working over a meal right before dinner, this way I can eat relaxed like the rest of my family.
    It’s great during the work week–goes to warm after 8 hours, and even on the weekend, when I am busy running errands or shuttling the kids till sometimes 3 or4 in the afternoon.

    • Also no cleaning five different pots and pans at the end of the prep. Love.

  38. That butter chicken really is so good.

  39. Linsey says...

    My crock-pot will automatically go to “warm” for an hour and then turn off after the set time.

    So, I will set it for “low” for 8 hours, then it is on “warm” for an hour, and is “off” when I get home from work.

    No burning worries here (or “This is Us” outcomes).

  40. Alison says...

    Ironic timing of this post – for those This is Us fans…

    • I thought the same thing! As soon as I saw that episode, I texted my sister and was like, “This is why I don’t trust crock pots!”

    • Ellen says...

      I’M RIGHT THERE WITH YOU! My immediate thought was “the timing of this post seems rather insensitive given the current situation on This Is Us 😫”

  41. Ramona says...

    Every time I try to jump on the “fix and forget it bandwagon,” I spend my day away thinking I left the oven on and will come home to the fire department putting out the flames at my house. Also, the result never matches my expectation; it’s always wetter, grayer and less tasty. Dinner just doesn’t take that much time to make, and a little chopping and browning in the evening is quite relaxing.

    • Sadie says...

      I’m so with you on the “wetter, grayer, and less tasty.” Also, frantically putting a meal together in the morning, instead of relaxing in the kitchen with a beer at the end of the day, is horrible. I’ve tried the Crock Pot thing, but it’s a no for me.

  42. Caitlin says...

    I used to like my slow cooker, until I got my Le Creuset large dutch oven. It’s PERFECT for making “slow cooker-like” meals in such a short time. I can get home from work and put a soup on, when it’s done (an hour or less depending on which veggies I use) it tastes like it’s been cooking all day. My favorite!

  43. Rosalie says...

    I thought all slow cookers switched automatically to “warm” after the cook time ends – mine does and it’s so practical. On days when I work late, my husband and kids have a warm meal waiting for them at dinner time, and I can eat later when I get home, without having to re-warm anything. One of our family favorites is slow cooker chili that we serve over tortilla chips, taco salad-style.

    • Ashley W says...

      Mine is super simple and only has off, low and high… a timer sounds like luxury! Might be time to upgrade…

    • Sally K says...

      I’ve made something like this with Trader Joe’s Salsa Autenica, 2 cans of drained black beans and 1 1/2 cups frozen corn. It can be served on rice or in tortillas. If you add liquid, it can be a tortilla -type soup.

  44. Marcy says...

    Can you please do a segment on what you pack for your kids lunches? Between restrictions on not being able to have food re-heated and limited heating of our thermos- I’m at a loss and looking for suggestions :)

  45. Hannah says...

    Like many others here, I’m a pressure cooker fan. I don’t use an Instantpot, however – or anything with buttons. I inherited a Fissler pressure cooker from my mom when she upgraded hers. I make the best soups and stews in it – or large amounts of perfectly cooked rice. This reminds me that I need to get it out more often. Maybe I’ll make goulasch tomorrow.

    • My hubby got me both a slow cooker and an Instapot. I had to send the Instapot back to Amazon as it didn’t work. As soon as I tried to set it up an error message appeared. It seemed some part relating to temperature was faulty.

  46. My hubby bought me a slow cooker a couple of years back and I love it. I use to have one when we first got married (over 33 years ago) and used it occasionally.. However, the one I have now I use every week.

    I don’t only use it for preparing meals for me and my husband in. Especially love using it for doing slowly cooked beef cheeks, pulled pork, and roast chicken.

    I also use it for preparing food for our dog. She was diagnosed with a problem with her kidneys and our vet suggested it was down to the food we were feeding her. I now cook all her food and since changing over she’s no longer needing to take medication for the kidney problem.

    • Shannon says...

      I also use our crock pot at least once a week to make food for our two dogs. They are both healthy, but the homemade dog food has done wonders for their skin and energy. The crock pot has been a major time saver!

  47. I love my slow cooker, but jeeeeez, that photo is practically making me sob in my couch pillows again over sweet Jack Pearson’s untimely death by crock pot.

    Sniff, sniff.

    • had the same thought!! :(

    • Michele says...

      Call me crazy, but I am hoping for some kind of plot twist here. The lead up has been so straight-forward that it seems too easy. Also, Stella, I have been on the fence about a slow cooker, but am now a convert and will get one this weekend!

  48. SJ says...

    We had and loved using our mini slow cooker to simmer porridge for LO2 when she was a baby. Like you, we were working so we were out of the house most of the day. To enable the cooker to work it’s magic, and to prevent it from burning our house down, we got a timer! Our cooker is so small that it only has 2 settings- on and off, so I understand your situation very well xD

  49. Katrina says...

    I was all for it until the latest episode of “This Is Us”!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahaha (<3)

  50. Darling, you chose the wrong Crock-pot (my mother’s mistake, as well). Hers has no timer, just heat setting (0 for off, and I or II). Mine has a high and low setting, as well, but it’s timed. Four, six or eight hours. And we paid about the same for it. Happy slow-cooking. XO

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Agreed!!!! Definitely considering a switch!

  51. cgw says...

    Late to the convo, so probably someone has already mentioned it… but my slow cooker had (because I gave it to my niece…*) an automatic “warming” when it was done cooking for the allotted time. Does yours not have that function? So a 6 hour cook would automatically go to “warm” for the next 3 hours until I got home.

    *…when I got an Instant Pot, which does pressure cooking AND slow cooking (and other things like rice cooking, etc), and also has the warming function, plus a delay function too (but I have never used the delay since I can warm at the end).

  52. Alyssa says...

    Don’t, mostly… unless I do, which is on occasion. When I lived in New York, I did use mine more often, but honestly prefer a Dutch oven or soup pot for most recipes that are done in crockpots. I do like it when cooking meat for a big meal or to use throughout the week; but I can’t bear the smell of meat or aromatic vegetables cooking overnight or in the early morning!

  53. Kim says...

    You don’t have to worry about your long work day with your slow cooker. I set mine at the suggested recipe time (6-8 hours) and leave the house for 10 hours a day for work. It stops cooking and switches to a warm mode and when I come home, it’s fully cooked, but still warm. I don’t think about it at all when I’m at work.

    • I thought this, as well, when I saw that bit, but I think this is really a matter of the slow-cooker. I really can’t figure out why Crock-pot STILL produces ones without a timer—seems to defeat the purpose, and they really are not priced significantly lower than the timer ones.

  54. Joanna says...

    I was just thinking I need to pull out my slow cooker. Tired of creating meals each night. But I need some recipes. So thank you.

  55. Megan says...

    I love doing meats with a sauce over night. I wake up so hungry, but tough cuts (some roasts, pork shoulder, etc) really benefit from the long, slow cooking. I just put in a pork sirloin, dumped a bottle of korean bbq on it, and went to bed. Shredded a hunk of it up over my salad mix for lunch – delish!

    I have also enjoyed these:
    http://carpeseason.com/easy-crockpot-carnitas-with-crunchy-bell-pepper-slaw/
    http://tasty-yummies.com/creamy-crock-pot-pumpkin-risotto-gluten-free-vegan/
    https://www.marthastewart.com/313267/slow-cooker-beef-and-black-bean-chili

    While you sleep!

  56. Laurie says...

    Mississippi pot roast alone makes my slow cooker worth it. I love the smells! That butter chicken is calling my name. Also, someone please try the cheesecake or I’ll have to… 😉

  57. I’ve been resisting jumping on the crock pot wagon but these recipes are tempting me so. I love the win-win of “Crock-Pots and lazy weekends” – genius! Until I am completely on board, my alternative has been zojirushi rice cooker – not to cook rice but to cook beans and lentils. My aunt introduced me to it and it’s been a lifesaver. And I totally agree regarding turning beans into masterpieces. I just throw dry kidney beans, black-eyed peas and all types of lentils with enough quantity of water and voila! It takes 1-1.5 hours max on the ‘brown rice’ setting. I add spices later as needed and a meal is ready just like that!

  58. Lili says...

    martha (stewart, duh) has a whole slow-cooker cook book! (i think) Now that I think about it it may just be a very in-depth section on the website but EITHER WAY, the pulled pork with pickled red cabbage is unreal and so easy. slow cooker forever!

  59. anne says...

    If you think a crockpot is good — buy an instant pot, join some fb groups, completely change your life. You’re welcome ;)

    • Lana says...

      Agreed had a crockpot but haven’t used it since I got my instant pot 2 years ago. Instant pot makes everything more tender in a fraction of the time!

  60. Oh boy I’m gonna be the black sheep. I. Hate. Slow cookers.
    I hate the whole ‘just throw everything in there’ concept because nothing cooks properly. Onions and other vegetables need to be browned for flavour or they just develop a weird sad texture.
    It’s very difficult to find recipes that aren’t cream of whatever laden. I know it’s possible but they’re not as plentiful as more modern recipes.
    And meat? Forget it. I’ve tried and tried and tried every single different tip out there and I’ve yet to experience slow cooker meat that is anything better than ‘well I CAN eat this but I really don’t want to’.

    Haha I didn’t realize I was so passionate about my stance on this topic til now……

    • brittany says...

      check out Hugh Acheson’s new slow cooker cookbook called “the chef and the slow cooker”! the recipes have many steps and include a lot of ingredients but the results are seriously amazing!

    • Lyn says...

      I hear ya! And don’t even attempt anything with wine. Bleergh.
      Slow cookers are not essential to my recipe life, but it makes a few things in life easier. (Hello chicken stock, easy soups and congee). Also I don’t mind the browning the onions/cooking off the alcohol in wine steps before throwing it all into the slow cooker… And returning hours later to a delicous meal. I have used it many times to ‘effortlessly’ pull off taco lunch parties, and using the intervening time to make dessert and clean the house like a demon!

    • Carla says...

      I’m with you. How does meat cooked in liquid for hours end up so dry. I also know too many times where the crockpot itself melted, or the cord melted. Too much of a fire hazard. Pressure cooking is where it’s at.

  61. ellen says...

    I made tacos for 50 high school football players (jv and varsity teams) every tuesday for the whole season using 3 crock pots in my small home kitchen- 2 for meat, one for beans…. could not have done it without them….. one of the best seasons of my life. I am a crockpot YES!

  62. JB says...

    Dude – you need a pressure cooker. Its like a fast slow cooker. No smells stinking out your house all day, nothing drying out, spontaneous casseroles started at 7pm and eaten by 8pm. Anything you can do in your slow cooker can be done in a pressure cooker in less than an hour. Its changed my Sunday afternoon preparation as I can smash out 3 or 4 meals in a couple of hours.

  63. Mandy says...

    I think the Salsa Chicken might be life changing for me!