Slow Cooker Sunday: Converting Conventional Recipes to use in a Slow Cooker

Prior to having a Slow Cooker I really wasn’t confident in the kitchen.  Whenever I cooked it was like a meticulous science experiment, following recipes word for word and if I didn’t have an ingredient all hell would break loose as I wouldn’t know what to use instead.

However, the more and more I have used my slow cooker the more confident I’ve become.  I now feel comfortable converting some of my conventional recipes to use in slow cooker.  So, I thought I’d share some of my tips with you.

Below is a list of cooking times.  The good thing about slow cooking is that it is forgiving and if you leave it in for an extra hour or two it’s not a problem and sometimes leads to a better result (e.g melt in your mouth meat).

1)  If a recipe calls for liquid you’ll need to reduce the amount you use as the liquid will not evaporate whilst cooking.  I tend to reduce the amount of liquid by 125-250ml.  It’s always better to have less liquid and add more if needed, than having too much resulting in a watery dish.

2) However, if you are cooking rice, beans, or pasta, don’t reduce the liquid called for. You generally need twice as much liquid as product to cook these ingredients.

3) Conversely, if the recipe doesn’t call for any liquid I’d encourage you to add approx 125ml of stock, type depending on the dish.  If in doubt use vegetable stock.

4) Not all people agree but I always brown meet prior to putting in the slow cooker as this reduces the amount of fat swimming around the top.

5) If you’re adding tender vegetables such as Mange Tout, Broccoli or Peas, I tend to add them about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time or then end up overcooked.

6) If the recipe calls for lentils or beans, I tend to par boil for about 10 minutes or alternatively use tinned ones.

7) I know it’s hard to resist, but try not to take the lid off too often as all of the heat escapes and the slow cooker will have to get back up to temperature.  The beauty of slow cooking is that you don’t need to continually stir the contents.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?  If so please do leave a comment. For more recipe inspiration click here.

Slow Cooker Sunday is all about sharing our favourite recipes.  Don’t forget they don’t have to be done in a Slow Cookers as long as its been slow cooked.

Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

13 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Sunday: Converting Conventional Recipes to use in a Slow Cooker”

  1. Great tips. The biggest thing I had to get to grips with when slow cooking was getting root veg right. Meat has always gone well for me (I sometimes brown and sometimes don’t). However with veg I came unstuck a couple of times if say spuds or carrots were too big or not cooked enough. I have a curry recipe that has potatoes in. First time I followed recipe and it was fine. Second time I had quite a bit of meat so thought I’d leave them out and couple of hours later changed my mind and bunged them in…. to say they were undercooked would be an understatement!! Lesson learned! Funnily enough I inherited my SC from MiL who could never get veg right either.

    1. Weirdly root veg takes as long as the meat does. I tend to cut it into bite size pieces to ensure it cooks. I have to admit, I’ve got this wrong on occasion as well and it’s not pleasant.

      1. Yes that’s definitely the one thing you have to get your head round. Right must dust off the SC now the old man is back from India and I’m not just cooking for one any more! :-)

  2. There are some great tips here, thanks for sharing them. I’m pretty confident in the kitchen but my slow cooker scares me a bit, which was exacerbated by my first attempt at using being a total disaster and it coming our more or less raw after 7 hours. I came to the conclusion that I’d put too much into the pot and my second attempt with a smaller batch came out much better!

    1. From what I’ve read you shouldn’t fill it more than 2/3 full. As mentioned above I always brown meat and this may help. :-) Don’t give up. I can’t wait to try the Lamb Recipe.

  3. The browning the meat thing also works with flavour. The browning is due to maillard reaction which is where the nice tasting stuff comes from. When you effectively steam / simmer food like you do in a slow cooker, it can mean you don’t get those lovely flavours so it is worth doing with meat and with onions particularly I think.

    Thanks for the guidelines on adaptation!

  4. Hehe, I love your apron design! I’ve never tried working with a Slow Cooker but I have been been meaning to look for a second-hand one for a while – thanks for the great tips! : )

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