Why I Love My Slow Cooker

In case you’d forgotten the merits of the slow cooker, well, let’s review them today. 

salsa verde beef

 

This post does include Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees.

Which of your friends and neighbors will spend hours cooking a meal while you go galivanting around doing whatever else is on your to-do list? Who will fill your home with good smells and make you feel like a rockstar chef? Who will do it all without making a sink full of dirty dishes?

Who will make this awesome Salsa Verde Beef that your kids scarf down and your husband raves about?

Yep, the slow cooker, that’s who.

I probably don’t need to tell you all the beauties of this small kitchen appliance, do I? Twenty years ago it was relegated to a garage shelf to gather dust. I was a newlywed then and slow cookers were not as highly respected as they are today.

The slow cooker has found new life in the new millennium, thanks to cookbooks like Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook and Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. (As a side note, as I type this, the Kindle version of Make-It Fast is only $1.99 right now, so go grab it before they change the price.)

crockpot

 

Yep, the slow cooker is cool again. But, I was slow cooking back when slow cooking wasn’t cool. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Anyway, the slow cooker does all that I’ve said:

  • limits the number of dishes used
  • fills your home with good smells
  • cooks a meal while you go do something else
  • makes you a rockstar chef in the eyes of your family

Use of a Slow Cooker

The slow cooker is incredibly easy to use, provided you remember a few guidelines.

1. Don’t overfill.

A slow cooker’s optimum capacity is around 2/3 to 3/4 full. Any more or less will throw off the recipe.

2. If space allows, have a couple cookers of different sizes.

Since the size of the cooker matters, Beth Hensperger suggests in Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook to have multiple and varied sizes and shapes of slow cookers. When I read that, I let my mom treat me to a couple smaller sizes than I had. I currently own 1-, 5-, and 6-quart sizes in different shapes.

3. Don’t expect it to look pretty.

Slow cooked food tastes fabulous, but rarely is it “eye candy”. Be content that it can take cheap, tough meat and transform it into something wonderful. Case in point: my children’s absolute favorite, Sauerkraut and Pork.

sauerkraut

Some of my favorite recipes include:

Care and storage

There aren’t too many tricks to caring for a slow cooker. Make sure you wipe down the sides well after each use. Do not immerse the electronic metal casing in water. Wash the removable crock and lid well with soap and water. Dry everything well and store the pieces together in the cupboard.

Purchasing a machine

I’ve never done any real research when purchasing a machine. Mine have been whatever Target had on hand when I happened to go there. I have two Crockpots (a 5-qt round and a 6-qt oval so oval that it’s not made anymore, but this is similar) and one small Proctor Silex.

I’ve seen slow cookers go on clearance often. OFTEN. So, watch for mark-downs. Likewise, you’re bound to find used or new machines at yard sales and thrift stores. Ask around among friends and relatives. Someone might have one getting dusty on a shelf because they don’t know that slow cooking is cool again.

What’s your experience with a slow cooker?

Love it or hate it? Do tell.

Disclosure: This post does include Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees.

(Check out past posts in which I wax eloquent about the bread machinethe food processor,the immersion blenderthe waffle maker,  the Keurigthe electric griddle, the home juice extractor, and the toaster oven.)

Would you rather subscribe by RSS?
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post

Comments

  1. love, Love, LOVE my slow cookers. I too have a round 5 qt. and oval 6 qt that has a timer which I love cause when time is up it switches to warm. In the winter I put meals in the cp 1 or 2 days a week before leaving for work. I dont’ know what I’d do without mine. Thanks for the tip on the cookbook. I grabbed it at $1.99 for my kindle, whoo hoo!

  2. To remove the white build up on the crock–usually from cooking beans–cook something acidic. Anything with tomato will do.

    Also, don’t bash the crock on the side of a cast iron sink. You’ll spend an hour digging shards of crockery out of your garbage disposal. Just guess how I know.

  3. Oh, and on the thread of things not to do: put something really cold in the slow cooker and turn it on. Cracked mine!

    Love mine – I have three. I love to use multiples when I have company. For instance, I might put soup in one and sweet potatoes in the other.

    Oh! And you can “bake” bread in them. It’s perfect when you’re craving fresh made bread and it’s way too hot to turn on the oven.

  4. My slow cooker is my most used kitchen appliance. We have slow cooker meals usually 5 nights out of 7. (Tonight it’s Tomato, Basil and Corn soup; tomorrow is Spice-Rubbed Chicken Thighs). What I and my family love is that I can prepare dinner at whatever time of day I’m available, and we can eat whenever it’s convenient for us….much less stressful than doing the ‘dinner dance’ in the early evenings! I’ve found that (almost) anything can be converted for the slow cooker. I have a 3-crock cooker that sits on my counter all the time, a larger oval one for stocks and soups, and a small one for veggie meals that will be just for me.

  5. Yes to having multiple sizes, especially when feeding large groups! Mine are the type you have to program on or off, high or low, etc., which is nice because they turn to warm automatically when they finish cooking. But it’s not nice when the power goes off midday. :(

  6. Love my slow cooker! I could not live without it! I always feel like super mom when I make something in the slow cooker and it is done when the kids are hungry, no other dishes need to be dirtied and the kitchen is already clean!

  7. Thank you for the kind words and for plugging my cookbook; I appreciate it!
    I have had so much fun learning everything I can about slow cooking — it has certainly changed my life for the better!
    have a happy Friday, steph

  8. I’ve used crock pots for over 30 years and they’ve always been cool in my opinion.. ;) I I rarely care what the Joneses think.. Never have and never will..

    I’ve always used a pressure cooker too.. its very cool… and Im glad to see they’re coming back in vogue though they’ve never gone out in my home.. Makes a great meal fast..

    My mom used both in her house my whole life.. so they’ve always been in my cooking arsenal … Whatever makes life easier without giving up goodness.

  9. Thanks for the heads-up on the $1.99 book. I am happy to now have it :)
    I use my slow cooker many times a week. Best invention ever (but don’t tell my bread machine).

  10. I love my slow cooker, too. I own two different sizes – well, I actually four, I just realized. I often leave the smaller ones for dips when I entertain, but I bet one of them could cook dessert. I need to look into that! I tend to use my slow cooker more in the winter, but my goal is to start using it more year round.

  11. Do you have any concerns about lead in the glaze used on the crock? The research I did a while back seemed to confirm that pretty much every crock glaze contains lead, but the manufacturers stand by their “it’s all within safe limits” language. I still use my slow cooker, but a lot less often since I learned that …

  12. Rachel W. says:

    I love slow cookers. Just this weekend my niece and I put a beef roast to cook in her slow cooker before we went to sleep. We woke to the delicious smells of slow cooked beef. Yum yum! We had beef roast and rice for breakfast. :]

    We use the larger slow cooker we have for gumbo and, also, for beef steak and liver. We cook other dishes in it but those are the two I love love love cooked in a slow cooker.

  13. Rachel B says:

    Most favorite thing to cook in my crock pot is pinto beans for refried beans. 2 lbs of beans makes 5-6 meals worth of refried beans . Blend in the food processor with some of the cooking liquid and freeze in quart bags. The other meals I cook in a crockpot are husband favorites – pot roast, meatloaf and pork with kraut.

  14. I got some weird reactions when people learned that a crock pot was on my wedding registry list in 1994, but I got one and still use that same one today. It only has the off/low/high settings, but is perfect for most things for a small family. I bought a “little dipper” sized one when Wally World had them available for $5 near a Thanksgiving one year. I don’t know why they were so cheap, they were $15 next time I saw them, and then they weren’t carried at all, but I was happy to have seen it and picked it up. The big oval one with the timer is really lovely to make large pots of soups or chili or things I’ll divide and freeze. I use one of the crocks probably an average of once a week. Some weeks not at all, but other weeks literally daily. Summertime – to avoid anything heat-creating – and wintertime – all those lovely soups – are probably when I use it most.

  15. I {heart} my crock pot. It’s old. I don’t know what I will do when this one goes…. I used my other one to death! Anyway – I have this big oval monstrosity. LOVE it!
    We cook whole chickens, roast beef, beans, soups, you name it – we’ve probably tried it.

    I’m with Kim H, I’ve been using them for 30+ years…
    It’s a love affair for sure. I mainly use in Fall – Spring. Summer not so much.
    But, she deserves a break too!
    Blessings,
    Em

Share Your Thoughts

*