The Worst Slow-Cooker Mistakes You're Making

These 4 common slow-cooking mistakes are easy to correct
The Worst Slow-Cooker Mistakes You're Making

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Improve the flavor of simple stews, like this slow-cooker beef stew by browning the meat before you add it to your slow-cooker.

Your slow-cooker may be your saving grace when it comes to cooking dinner on a tight schedule, but are you using your favorite lazy cook’s tool correctly? Read on for four cooking mistakes that are commonly made when cooking with your slow-cooker that should be avoided:

You don't brown the meat first. Sure, you can add raw meat directly to your slow-cooker, but you miss out on the great flavor that comes from searing the meat to caramelize the proteins. You just can’t achieve that flavor in the slow-cooker since the whole point of the apparatus is to cook food slowly at a low temperature.

You open the lid while cooking. Slow-cookers cook at a low temperature, and the lid traps the heat, so while it may be tempting to open the lid for a quick taste, you actually add cooking time whenever the lid is removed and your slow-cooker has to heat back up.

You don’t submerge the meat. Cooking meat in a liquid speeds up the cooking process because the braising liquid conducts heat. To make sure your meat cooks evenly, every piece must be submerged or else the results will be uneven with some pieces overcooked while the unsubmerged pieces might be undercooked.

You add dairy products too soon. Adding cheeses, a splash of cream, sour cream, or butter can add wonder flavor and texture to braising sauces, soups, and more that you are cooking in your slow-cooker; however, you need to carefully consider when you add dairy — added to soon and the dairy products are likely to curdle from the prolonged exposure to heat.

For more tips on how to use your slow-cooker, check out our complete guide along with 101 slow-cooker recipes you have to try.