Wish you could have your favorite beef burgundy for dinner, but don’t have time to stand over the stove? Convert the recipe into a slow cooker one (hey, we already did the beef burgundy for you!). With these three rules of thumb from our Test Kitchen pros, you’ll be slow-cooking all your family faves in no time.
1. Skip the Guesswork
Instead of floundering around doing test after test, find a similar slow cooker recipe to use as your guide. Note the amount and volume of meat and vegetables it calls for, plus the cooking time, heat setting and amount of liquid you add to the pot.
2. Time It Right
Slow cookers cook slowly because they’re set at lower temperatures. Most of them hit about 190º on low and 300º on high. Typically, we like to start with this basic formula:
1 hour of simmering on the stove or baking at 350º = 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high in a slow cooker
That’s how long it takes for meat to reach food-safe temps. So reduce cook times accordingly: If your pork tenderloin roasts for 30 minutes in the oven, for example, reduce slow-cooking time to 4-5 hours, and so on.
3. Tweak Ingredient Amounts
Because slow cookers trap steam, you may need to reduce the liquid measurements in your new recipe. If the original calls for 6-8 cups of water, for example, start with 5 cups. Don’t leave liquid out entirely, though. If the base recipe doesn’t include any liquid at all, add 1/2 cup of water or broth to create some steam in the crock.
Before you get inspired to bake your signature chocolate chip cookies in the slow cooker, keep in mind that most baked goods just don’t turn out right without an oven. (We have a vanilla cheesecake that does, though!) For best results, stick to main dishes like these dump dinners, soups and saucy appetizers.
Follow these tricks and you’ll have a slew of new low-and-slow recipes before you know it.