Tag Archives: slow cooker

8 Ways to Adjust Any Recipe for a Slow Cooker

Embrace slow cooker season by tweaking your favourite recipes for some serious countertop cooking. Here are 8 important tips for perfecting your slow-cooker game and ensuring you get it right.


1. Choose the Right Recipe
If the recipe calls for braising or slow-roasting, consider it a good dinner omen because chances are it’ll be a slam-dunk in the Crockpot. While you can bet that almost any soup or stew will work, don’t forget that recipes for things like pulled pork, chicken thighs and even ribs, all benefit from a slow and low cook time, which means it’s perfect for the slow cooker.

2. Cooking Meat
There’s no hard and fast rule for slow cooking meat, but tough and inexpensive cuts happen to work best, since the tough fibres have time to relax and soften during a low and slow setting. To coax the best flavour out of your meat, take the time to brown it well before putting it in the Crockpot so that you seal in as much moisture and flavour as possible. That being said, meats like a well marbled pork shoulder, chicken thighs and legs, and brisket all trump boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which tend to dry out in the slow cooker.

3. Opt for Fresh
If you’ve got fresh vegetables, use them. While we love frozen vegetables for quick cook recipes, they tend to release more water and steam in the slow cooker, which can add excess liquid and make for soggy vegetables. Also remember to chop all your vegetables roughly the same size to ensure even cooking.

4. Be Mindful of Seasoning
Cooking in the slow cooker doesn’t allow aggressive seasonings and flavours time to meld and mellow the same way they do when simmering on a stove or in the oven. Be careful when using strong seasonings like paprika, chili powder and cumin, which should be used in moderation, and adjusted or added at the end. When it comes to wine, reduce it before adding it to the mix so you can properly cook off the alcohol and leave behind the concentrated flavour.

5. Know When to Add Ingredients
Leave delicate ingredients like herbs for the final 30 minutes, and starchy items like rice or pasta for the end. If the recipe calls for dairy, add it at the end of the cooking time so the fat won’t separate, and when it comes to veggies like green peppers, pop them in about 20 minutes before the timer goes off to keep them from turning bitter.

6. A Rule for Starch
If your recipe calls for cooked pasta, cook it a few minutes before the suggested time on the box, until it’s a bit firmer than your traditional al dente and then add it in near the end. For rice, try converted or long grain versions, and add an extra 1/4 cup of liquid per 1/4 cup of uncooked rice or choose parboiled rice, added about 20 minutes before the dish is done. For longer cooking recipes, add fully cooked rice just before serving.

7. Liquid Remedy
Since cooking liquid doesn’t have anywhere to escape in a slow cooker, it will simply accumulate and make recipes like chili and stew too soupy. A good rule of thumb to follow when adapting a recipe for the slow cooker is to halve all liquids. If you find it’s still too much, transfer the dish to a heavy-bottomed pot and simmer uncovered until it reduces and thickens up.

8. Time it Right
If your recipe calls for 15 to 30 minutes in the oven, it’s going to need roughly 4 to 6 hours on low or 1 1/2 to 2 hours on high. If it says cook for 35 to 45 minutes, set your Crockpot on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. For a recipe with a longer cook time of 1 to 3 hours, set it on high for 4 to 6 hours or leave it on low overnight for 8 to 12 hours.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Soft and Sweet Squash Cornbread

By Kelly Kwok

When I was growing up, there were regular family gatherings at our house. We had a large extended family that lived close by, so they would come over every other weekend for dinner.

On one particular occasion, my new aunt brought over a tray of the most delicious cornbread I had ever tasted. She said it was her mom’s famous family recipe. It received rave reviews from all of us and from then on, she always brought extra servings of this cornbread to every gathering.

When I was old enough to learn how to bake on my own, I immediately asked my aunt for the recipe. She happily wrote it down for me and explained that the buttermilk was what gave the cornbread its soft and tender crumb. Now that I make cornbread for my own family, I always like to sneak in a little bit of puréed vegetables. It adds a healthy dose of sweetness along with moisture.

Making it in the slow cooker frees up the oven so that you can bake a pie or roast some vegetables at the same time. This cornbread goes well with a bowl of chili or a roasted chicken dinner.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Cornbread, Courtesy of Kelly Kwok, lifemadesweeter.com, Niagara Falls, Ont.

Slow cookers are wonderful for multi-course meals because you can prep one dish, like this cornbread recipe, and move on to making more complex dishes while it’s cooking.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 1/4 cups (300 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (175 mL) cornmeal
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp (45 mL) of honey (or 3/4 cup/175 mL granulated sugar, for an even sweeter cornbread)
1 large egg
2/3 cup (150 mL) cooked butternut squash purée
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Line slow cooker with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In large bowl, whisk melted butter with honey. Whisk in egg. Whisk in butternut squash, then milk.
4. Slowly add flour mixture to squash mixture and stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix – it is okay to see a small amount of flour.
5. Pour batter into foil-lined slow cooker and spreading evenly with offset spatula. Cover with lid.
6. Cook on low for 2½ to 3½ hours or on high for 1 to 1½ hours, or until edges are golden brown and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. (Cooking time may vary.)
7. Using foil as handles, lift cornbread from slow cooker and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve with chili, honey or your favourite buttery spread.

Tip: If you want your bread sweeter, feel free to add more honey, or an additional 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Alternatively, if you like a less sweet cornbread, reduce or omit the honey.

Tip: Cornbread is best enjoyed the same day, but it will remain soft for two days. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container overnight.

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A food blog sharing family favourite recipes with a creative twist, along with a mix of healthy and sweet treats in between.