Make quick, tasty meals with a slow cooker


Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Cass County, University of Missouri Extension

Something about cold weather makes us long for a warm meal waiting for us as we come in the door at night. Slow cookers are a great way to enjoy family favorites without a lot of hassle. The following tips really make a difference and will convince you to get that pot out and get cooking!

  • Have an older slow cooker with a non-removable liner? Use a cooking bag to line the pot for quick and easy cleanup!
  • To make cleanup easier, spray liner with nonstick spray before adding any food or liquid.
  • Slow cookers work best when they are half to three-fourths full. If you fill a pot to the brim, it can’t regulate the heating of the food correctly. Likewise, less than half full will cause food to overcook.
  • One hour on a high setting is equal to two hours on the low setting.
  • A high setting is equal to 300 degrees F and the low setting is equal to 200 degrees.
  • Want to convert a conventional oven recipe to the slow cooker? Use the chart below to guide you. (see the full version of this article for the handy conversion chart)
  • Each time you lift the lid, you increase the needed cooking time by 20 minutes. Check progress without lifting the lid, if possible. Spin the cover until the condensation falls off to make it easier to see inside.
  • For food safety purposes, you want to get the food inside the slow cooker to 140 degrees as quickly as possible (this reduces the chance of bacterial contamination), so use the high setting the first hour, then switch to the low setting to finish cooking.
  • Start with thawed foods because frozen foods take too long to get to 140 degrees. The extreme temperature difference between frozen food and the slow cooker can cause breakage. If you have to use a frozen cut of meat, add 1 cup of warm water to the pot, then place the meat in the pot…..

Get more tips and slow cooker recipes, such as Holiday Breakfast Casserole, in the full version of this article at


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