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Slow Cookers

How to Adapt Traditional Recipes to Slow Cookers

2 Mins read

You can adapt most conventional recipes to slow cooking by following a few standard guidelines.

How to Adapt Cooking Times to Slow Cookers

The table below shows how to convert between conventional cooking time and slow cooking times when the slow cooker is set to either high or low.

Normal Oven
15–30 min
1 1/2–2 hrs
4–6 hrs
35–40 min
3–4 hrs
6–10 hrs
50 min–3 hrs
4–6 hrs
8–18 hrs

Converting between High and Low Settings

One hour in a slow cooker set on high is approximately equal to two hours on low.

Slow Cooking at High Altitudes

When cooking at high altitudes, increase the cooking time and decrease the liquid content slightly.

How to Adapt Recipes to Slow Cookers

Many common recipe ingredients react in particular ways to slow cookers’ low heat and long cooking times. If you know how these ingredients respond to slow cookers, you’ll be able to adapt nearly any recipe to slow cooking.

Liquids and Slow Cookers

  • Reduce liquid: Most recipes require about half as much liquid when prepared in a slow cooker. If the original recipe includes liquid that will be lost during cooking, reduce the liquid ingredients for slow cooking.
  • Add liquid: At least some moisture is necessary for slow cooking. If the original recipe is entirely dry, you may have to add liquid.

Spices and Slow Cookers

  • Ground herbs and spices: These often disintegrate and leave little flavor when cooked for long periods. Ground herbs and spices should be added to a slow-cooked dish only during the final half hour of cooking.
  • Whole herbs and spices: Whole herbs and spices stand up better to extended cooking times and release their flavors over time.

No matter which herbs or spices you use, taste for seasoning about an hour before serving and adjust the herbs and spices if necessary.

Dairy and Slow Cookers

  • Fresh dairy: Fresh milk, cheese, sour cream, and other dairy products break down during slow cooking. They should be added only in the last hour of cooking.
  • Condensed soup or evaporated milk: Condensed soups and evaporated milks don’t break down during slow cooking and can be used as substitutions for milk or other dairy ingredients in a recipe.

Fish and Shellfish

Fish and shellfish tend to disintegrate when cooked for long periods. Raw fish should be stirred into the recipe during the last hour of cooking time, while precooked fish should be added during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Commercial Slow Cooking Meals

Many companies sell frozen prepared meals specially designed for slow cookers. To prepare a commercial meal made for slow cookers, simply follow the instructions on the packaging.

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