Slow Cookers are a Cook’s Best Friend

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

More leisure time and a homemade meal?  Save money on groceries, use less electricity, and enjoy better flavor?  You bet! And with a slow cooker, you don’t even have to be there while your dinner cooks. 

With the invention of the original Crock-Pot® in the 1970s, we’ve been able to layer ingredients in our slow cookers, leave the house for work or play, and come home, hours later, to an inviting aroma-filled house and evening meal.  Rival still manufactures the Crock-Pot®, but many other manufacturers are in the game with competitive models. The “crockpot” moniker has become an icon for any slow cooker.

These days, choices are not limited to 2-temperature manual units; they also come programmable, with multiple time and temperature settings, countdown timers, built-in thermometers, and automatic temperature shifts to warm in case you are late getting home. There are slow cooker sizes and settings to fit your family’s individual needs. 

Though shape is not necessarily a deal breaker when purchasing, it is a consideration.  A money-saving attribute of slow cooking is that tougher, less expensive meats are rendered meltingly tender and juicy. Larger roasts and whole chickens fit better into an oval-shaped model and will cook more evenly, although you can trim them to fit into a round one.

It’s easy to adapt your favorite oven or stovetop recipes to slow cooker cooking. Regardless of yield, if your dish normally cooks in 15 to 30 minutes, you can count on 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours cooking in a slow cooker on High power or 4 to 6 hours on Low.  If it takes 35 to 45 minutes, you should allow 2 to 3 hours on High power or 6 to 8 hours on Low.  Main dishes like roasts and stews that cook up to 3 hours will take 4 to 5 hours on High or more than 8 hours on Low. For instance, Sweet Merlot Beef Stew should cook in about 4 hours on High or 8 to 10 hours on low; after you brown the meat, add everything to the slow cooker for the total cooking time, including the onions and mushrooms.

Other tips for successful recipe conversion:

*To eliminate excess fat, remove skin from poultry and trim excess fat from meats before cooking.  Pre-brown meats, and drain before adding to the crockpot, especially ground meats.

*Brown chops and roasts to caramelize the outsides for richer flavor and attractive appearance. For Low Country Smothered Pork Chops, prepare the chops as directed and layer in the cooker with the strips of green pepper, onion, garlic, half of the broth, and Worcestershire.  Add more broth as needed to thin the gravy. 

*Vegetables, especially roots like potatoes, rutabagas, and carrots, cook more slowly than meats, so cut pieces uniformly and add them at the beginning.  (It can take 8 to 10 hours on Low for a “baked” potato to cook until tender!) Italian Chicken and Vegetable Soup is a perfect example; just put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, reserving half a can of broth to add at the end of cooking, if necessary.  Let it cook 2 to 2 1/2 hours on High or 4 to 6 hours on Low. 

*Most stews, soups, and other braised dishes require less liquid. If you end up with too much, pour it into a saucepan and reduce it until flavorful and thickened. If you need more liquid, it can be added at the end of the cooking time.

*Cheese, milk, cream, and other dairy: Add dairy products close to the end of cooking.

*Uncooked rice, however, requires standard liquid amounts.  It cooks fast, so add it to the slow cooker during the last hour of cooking on High or 2 hours on Low.  It is better to cook pasta separately and add it before serving.

*Most slow cooker liners are removable, allowing you to fill it up to a day before cooking. Remove the stone liner and assemble the casserole in it; cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  You can prepare Chicken and Rice Casserole ahead and cook it 1 1/2 to 2 hours on High or 4 to 6 hours on Low or until it is hot, stirring in cheese during the last hour of cooking.

*Spices tend to loose their power during long, slow cooking; be ready to re-season towards the end.


More Delicious Paula Deen Slow Cooker Recipes to Try:

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Peppers

Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup with Cinnamon Cheese Toast

Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage Sauerkraut Soup

Slow Cooker Gingerbread Spoon Cake

Slow Cooker Pulled Pickle Beef Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs

Slow Cooker Cheese Stuffed Meatballs and Sauce

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

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I have 2 rather cheap slow cookers....I honestly do not like either one. What is a good brand ? I love slow cooking ! Thank you in advance, Betty

By Betty Stotts on January 04, 2014

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Yeah...Should have looked here BEFORE I tried to make a stew. It had no flavor and was just...not good. Turns out, I used to much liquid. Oh well, I'm checking out the stock pages before I try making my own.

By Vicooper13 on November 10, 2013

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Keep that great smile going. We're all behind you. Look forward to seeing you on t.v. soon.

By Carol on October 14, 2013

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I appreciate the section regarding slow cookers, and it's just the season here in New England. What would someone need to know to take something like Paula's "Bobby's Goulash" recipe and turn it into a slow cooker recipe? Any helpful hints would be very much appreciated! We are missing Paula on our TV's, glad to find this site! ~Melissa

By Melissa on October 14, 2013

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I think you are great; love all your products and your cook books. I just want you to know I am one of your biggest fans. Linda

By Linda on September 26, 2013

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A friend posted a recipe (with this link). I support you Paula Deen...a hard-working, talented woman. Americans CAN WORK HARD ALL THEIR LIVES.Get back up and make your empire even bigger! smile

By Karen on September 21, 2013

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Paula Deen, you stop that crying and start laughing again. You are Food Network all by yourself!!

By Ann on September 21, 2013

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Love U Paula and so glad you are fine after all the mess. You are a strong woman and hope U feel the love of thousands if not millions of us out here who think U are a wonderful woman!

By Rosalie on September 20, 2013

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Welcome back sweet lady, I have so missed your smile and laughter. Loved your show and you too.

By Susan Wilson on September 20, 2013

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Paula, glad to see you back. Some people just need their claim to fame. Unfortuately at someone elses expense. I am happy to see you back. I have allways watched your cooking shows and have tried many of your recipies. I am a fan. Thank You for hanging in there. My wife and I both did not believe for a moment the accusations thaty were made. And we are ashamed of the food network. I do not like the shows they have on now.Keep us informed of where you are and we will make sure our friends know as well.

By Howard LaGray on September 20, 2013

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Paula, I have always been a fan but I now have great respect for you on how you handle yourself during the recent trails that you have gone through. You are strong, classy and fun, my kind of woman!

By Vickie Tucker on September 19, 2013

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Welcome back Paula! Miss your shows! Love your recipes & love using my crock pot! Can't wait to try these out! Stay strong & stand proud!

By Tammy K Orisich on September 19, 2013

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It's so good to see you are back, Paula! You were "shafted"! My best to you....

By Claudia Baumgart on September 19, 2013

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Ms Paula Im so glad your back.I made this beef stew you show on here and was gone nothing left.Thanks for sharing you your families recipes I love it and you too.

By Judy Cook on September 19, 2013

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I am from Houston Texas U.S.A. and now live in Poland. I am amazed that you can not find a slow cooker crock pot anywhere in country of Poland. Please tell me how I can find one. I miss mine so much!!

By Danny J Greenfield on September 19, 2013

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Lovin' all of Paula's recipes. Lovin' Paula Deen!!!!

By Ellen Stovall on September 19, 2013

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Paula I'm so happy that you stood up for yourself. the recipeds that you have on i am printing them, going to try each of them good luck to you and your family.give that lil baby that you got a hug.

By sandy on September 19, 2013

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Paula I have miss your cook shows, hope you get back soon

By wanda on September 18, 2013

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Thank you Paula, we love you! Please give us some of the recipes for our type 2 diabetes. I was going to order your magazine but I don't know if these recipes are in there.

By Delores Bender on September 18, 2013

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HEYPAULA I SURE MISS YOUR SHOW AND I DON'T THINK THAT THEY DID YOU RIGHT BUT THEN THAT IS HOW THING'S WORK GOD JUST HAD A BETTER PLAN IN MIND FOR YOU I LOVE YOUR RECIPE'S AND HOPE TO SEE MORE OF THEM AND PLEASE TELL YOUR BOY'S I SAID HI AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. YOUR FRIEND SANDRA

By sandra price on September 18, 2013

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By icebabes on October 15, 2011

Slow cooking is normally identified with big hearty dishes like stews etc.  Nice to see some fresh dishes.  slow cooking is found in alot of cultures.  A traditional moroccon slow cooker is called a tagine.

By Oven Cleaning on December 11, 2010

Ms Paula,
Everywhere I go I have people tell me that I remind them of you. The way I look, the way I dress, etc. From NC and I cant pull off your accent. If I ever get the chance to be on the show that makes ladies over to look like a celeb, Im going to beg them to have me favor you more. Learning more and more from your cooking hints and I need the help. Continue in success. Respectfully Nancy.

By Nancy Adams on October 27, 2010

i also love this website. i use it for all my recipe questions. for Xmas my daughter bought me the set of red pots and pans, i truly love thisset of pans. the first set since i was married 23 years ago! i have never met you paula, but would love to. so if you are ever in the spanaway, wa. area come on by and see me!!

By traci long on October 04, 2010

I love this website, I’ve found so many useful, delicious recipes.  I have EVERY issue of the Paula Magazine and EVERY cookbook you’ve written, and I think I have every special magazine you have come out with.  For Christmas my husband surprised me with a set of Paula Deen Cookware and I must admit it’s the best cookware ever.  I previously had Magnalite that I have used 39 years and never thought I’d like any other kind but PAULA YOU PROVED ME WRONG.  I accidently burned some dried beans in one of the pots and I mean burned them bad.  I just knew my pot was ruined.  Imagine my surprise when I put water in the pot, made one (yes one) swish with a paper towel and the whole burned mess came out of the pot…..I’M WAS AMAZED.  PAULA, YOU HAVE HAVE IT GOING ON GIRL!!!!  Love You, Michael, your boys and that precious grandson.  Shirley Burchett of Caddo Mills, Texas

By Shirley Burchett on August 17, 2010

Love her and just found this site and you can bet I will be looking forward to seeing the site everyday…I am a diabetic and wish she could cook and bake more things for us to see..love   Judy

By Judy Stoneburner on July 26, 2010

Quite some time ago I caught the end of your show with pulled pork sandwiches. I can only remember a few ingredients (apple juice, cider vinegar, liquid smoke), so I need more of a complete recipe before trying it!

Thanks!

By Dianna Myers on June 19, 2010

I am interested in getting the recipe of a pot roast that was shown on your tv show concerning slow-cooker recipes.  I believe it was made with a bottom round roast and had lots of onion, carrots, possibly garlic, and was possibly covered with tomato soup or something else.  Could you give me some possibilities?  Thanks so much!

By nancy.judas on May 06, 2010

Hey Jeni and Christine! The fabulous dish towels were found on Etsy. Handmade by a wonderful girl named Angela Pingle. Paula loved them so Angela sent us a bunch for the show and for photos. You can reach her through her etsy store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TweedledeeDesigns

Thank you so much for noticing!
Libbie Summers, Paula Deen Food Editor

By Libbie Summers on February 05, 2010

Paula,
I, too, love that little dish towel! I am with Jeni from Illinois…where can we get those?
Thanks!

By Christine English on February 05, 2010

Paula,
Where did you get the dish towel in the slow cooker picture (orange and brown with little brown bird)?  I have to have one of those - it matches perfectly with my kitchen!
Thanks!

By jeni anderson on February 05, 2010

Hey Paula and fans -
For this slow cooker recipe section - you should really have included the mac and cheese recipe whihc is located elsewhere on your site - I have not personally made it *yet* - but from the reviews - it sounds incredible.

Also - just a note - I saw Miss Paula on Oprah and having never watched her show (I don’t have cable - only basic channels) I was touched by her warm, genuine, down to earth manner and her great sense of humor.  Best wishes to you and thanks for all the great recipes.
t.

By Tammie T. McConnell on January 31, 2010

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm