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Slow cooker tips

Become a master of your slow cooker this season with our handy tips and tricks. We teach you ways to make the most of your set-and-forget recipes for both sweet and savoury cooking.

Slow cooker on bench with vegetables in front

1. Prep ahead

Prepare veggies the night before, so they’re ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning. Cut veggies into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly, and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Meat in frying pan, hand holding the meat with tongs

2. Brown the meat

For the best flavour, brown the meat first in a frying pan over medium-high heat before transferring to your slow cooker. This gives a richer colour and flavour to your finished dish.

Meat in frying pan, hand holding the meat with tongs

3. Watch the liquid

Don’t add too much liquid. As the food cooks, steam and juices are released and condensation is trapped inside the cooker. If the finished dish is too watery, remove the cooked meat. Simmer the mixture in a saucepan on the stovetop, or uncover the slow cooker and cook the liquid on high until it thickens slightly.

Meat and vegetables in slow cooker with the lid on

4. Keep it covered

Try not to remove the lid of your slow cooker to check the food while it cooks. When you lift the lid off the slow cooker, heat and moisture escape and the food will take longer to cook.

Person putting green beans into a slow cooker that has meat and vegetables inside.

5. Cook in stages

The long cooking time doesn't suit all ingredients, such as fresh and canned vegetables, cooked pasta and rice, fish or seafood and dairy products, which can curdle if overheated. Add these kinds of ingredients to the slow cooker towards the end of cooking time.

Kettle pouring water into a slow cooker holding 3 baked custards in small ceramic bowls

6. Make a water bath

A slow cooker is great for cooking desserts that need gentle simmering in water too, such as steamed puddings and baked custard. Place the dish on an upturned heatproof saucer in the slow cooker. Add enough water to come halfway up the side of the dish, then cover and cook on high.

Slow cooker on a bench with vegetables in front of it.

7. Clean it easier

It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to clean your slow cooker, but here’s a gentle trick that can help you avoid too much scrubbing. Fill the slow cooker bowl with water, add dishwashing liquid and turn it on low for an hour. For an extra-clean result, add a little bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar.