The most common mistakes made with slow cookers

The slow cooker might just be one of the best products created during the last 50 years. And although it can be a "set it and forget it" way to prepare a meal, there are some things you should do to avoid the most common mistakes made with slow cookers.

The most common mistakes made with slow cookers

Don't open the lid

It is so tempting to take a peek when you're cooking food in a slow cooker.

It's especially hard to not open the lid when it looks as if the food isn't cooking properly or it's taking longer than you think it should. But whatever you do, don't take off the lid.

Every time the lid is removed, it can take a long time for the slow cooker to rebuild its internal heat and you'll just prolong the completion time.

Be sure to brown and submerge meats

Part of what gives meats their delicious roasted flavor comes from browning, which allows for a nice sear and carmelization while it seals in the juices. So when a recipe calls for meat to be browned on the stove before putting it in the slow cooker to cook, heed that advice.

In fact, you'll get browner gravy and a much richer taste in your finished dishes if you follow this one easy step.

You also need to make sure that your meat is submerged in any liquid in the slow cooker. The submerged meat will cook quicker than meat not under the liquid, which means that meat above the surface might be undercooked or tough. So, keep your meat submerged to help everything cook evenly.

Cooking at the wrong setting

Slow cooking can be an art and a science, so pay attention to the way your slow cooker heats.

If your dishes seem to always be overcooked, your slow cooker is probably cooking on high even though you have set it on a low setting.

To fix this issue, just cut back on the time you cook the dish before you put it at the warm setting. It may take a few attempts at fixing a particular dish or experimenting with your slow cooker to see what will work best.

And to be safe, if your slow cooker has a tendency to act sporadically, try out a dish for your household alone before you prepare it for guests.

A busy cook's best friend

A slow cooker can be a busy cook's best friend, especially when taking care to follow a few simple guidelines that can help you avoid common mistakes.

So put this advice into practice and you'll set yourself on the fast track to slow cooker expertise.

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