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Slow-Cooking Savvy: FAQs

Although using a slow cooker is pretty simple, boning up on the basics is a good idea. Here, Betty Crocker Kitchens experts tackle some of your most common slow cooking conundrums.

Still stumped? Hop over to Ask Betty and submit your question directly to the Betty Crocker Kitchens.

Q. Can I crank up my slow cooker to high and speed up my dinner?
A. Turning your slow cooker to high will cook the contents more quickly, however you may want to try this only when you’ll be able to monitor the progress. Cooking on high all day may overcook the food and some foods will be more sensitive to high heat cooking than others. Some slow cookers have a special program that starts on high and moves later to a lower heat. You’ll want to read the directions on your slow cooker and do a little experimenting with what works best. All of Betty’s recipes have been tested for optimum results at the time and heat level provided.

Q. Can I cook stuffing in a slow cooker?
A.
Yes! Using your slow cooker to make the stuffing is a great way to keep your oven free for other dishes. You'll want to follow a recipe that specifically uses the slow cooker though, to ensure tasty results. We have several slow cooker stuffings on bettycrocker.com--simply search for "slow cooker stuffing.” Here’s one you might like!

Q. Can I season my slow cooker meal with fresh herbs?
A. It’s best to finish off with fresh herbs, stirring them in during the last hour of cooking so they stay flavorful. (Some herbs, such as oregano and basil, can change flavor with an extended cooking time.) Use dried leaf herbs instead of fresh or ground. They retain their flavor better during the long cook times.

Q. Can I put a whole chicken in my slow cooker to cook it?
A. No, this is not a food-safe procedure because the temperature inside the bird doesn't heat up fast enough to prevent bacterial growth. The same is true with meatloaf. Neither should be prepared in a slow cooker.

Q. Can I reheat my leftovers in the slow cooker?
A. We recommend not reheating leftovers in the slow cooker because it takes too long for the food to reach a safe internal temperature. It’s best to reheat leftovers in the microwave, oven or on top of the stove.

Q. Can I store leftovers in my slow cooker?
A. No. Cooked food should be transferred to storage container within two hours after cooking is finished.

Q. Can mashed potatoes be kept warm in the slow cooker?
A. You can use the slow cooker to keep the potatoes warm. Heat the potatoes until hot and place in the preheated slow cooker. The potatoes can be kept on warm or low for up to two hours. You may need to stir occasionally!

Q. Can I use frozen meat in my slow cooker?
A. No, you must thaw frozen meats and poultry completely before cooking in your slow cooker. Thawed, raw meat and poultry should cook a minimum of three hours to ensure thorough cooking.

Q. Can I brown meat the night before?
A. No, brown poultry and meat just before placing in your slow cooker. Bacteria might survive and grow in the food is browned the night before and then refrigerated.

Q. How can I make clean-up quicker when using my slow cooker?
A. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray to make cleanup easier. You can also try using a plastic liner (like these made by Reynolds)—they make cleanup a snap!

Q. Can I cook fish and/or seafood in the slow cooker?
A. Fish and seafood fall apart during long hours of cooking, and some seafood, such as shrimp, becomes very tough. Add these ingredients during the last hour of cooking.

Q. How can I keep tender vegetables’ texture when cooking in the slow cooker?
A. Add tender vegetables, like fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini, during the last 30 minutes of cooking so they don’t become overcooked and mushy. Frozen vegetables that have been thawed will keep their bright color and crisp-tender texture if you add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

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