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Slow Cooker Tips for Flavorful Fall Meals

Created September 26, 2023
Searching for the secret to making fall meals simple? We’re blowing the lid off it! From delicious dinners to holiday sides, follow these helpful slow-cooker tips to take your fall recipes over the top.

Make Slow-Cooker Recipes That Wow

Fall is officially on, and the holiday season is right around the corner. This is the time of year when we all start craving dishes that are warm, satisfying and full of cozy, comforting flavors. When it comes to that kind of cooking, there’s no cooker like the slow cooker!

From regular dinners to special celebrations, slow-cooker recipes are an easy way to take any family meal over the top. They’re perfect for hectic weeknights—just add your ingredients in the morning and come home to a delicious dinner in the evening. Slow-cooker recipes are especially a hit for the holidays. They taste great and give you added prep options when your oven and stove are tied up. Slow-cooker dinners are also amazing for those between-holiday meals, when you’d rather kick back on the couch than cook anything complicated.

Follow these top 10 slow-cooker tips to become a pro at making low-stress dishes that wow in no time.

1. Use the right size


Slow cookers can range in size from one quart to six quarts. Be sure to see what size your slow-cooker recipe requires. For optimal results, fill your slow cooker two-thirds to three-fourths full. You can go as low as half full, but be mindful that your dish may cook slightly faster.

2. Keep a lid on it


Did you know that each time you lift the lid on your slow cooker, you must add 15 to 20 minutes to the cook time? Slow-cooker recipes do not require stirring during the long cook time, due to the consistent low heat. Resist the temptation to lift the lid!

3. Brown meats first


Browning meats before placing them in a slow cooker improves the color of the meat and helps lower fat. It also improves the flavor and overall appearance of your slow-cooker dinner.

4. Cover your potatoes 

Peeled potatoes will darken if exposed to air during cook time. Keep your slow-cooker dinner looking appetizing by ensuring potatoes are covered with liquid.

5. No extra liquids

Slow cookers do not allow for evaporation, so don’t add extra liquids to your recipes. Ingredients may appear dry before cooking, but trust the process. Everything should go as planned if you follow the slow-cooker recipe.

6. Choose the right cook time

Slow-cooker recipes often specify a range of time, rather than a specific number of hours. (Eight to ten hours is a common window for many recipes.) It helps to know how the food will turn out differently when cooked for eight hours than if cooked for ten hours. For example, after eight hours of cooking, large pieces of meat can usually be sliced. After ten hours, the meat will shred.

7. Add vegetables last

Add tender vegetables, like fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini, at the end of the cook time. This will help retain their color, texture and flavor as well as improve your slow-cooker recipe results.

8. Thicken the juices

Liquids tend to be thin after you remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker. Remember to allow time for them to thicken before serving your slow-cooker dinner, dessert or appetizer. Use a small amount of flour to thicken the liquids and cook on a low setting. This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes and is well worth the time.

9. Don’t forget to thaw

Adding frozen ingredients directly to your slow-cooker recipe can affect cook time or add too much liquid. Thaw frozen foods, such as vegetables, before adding them to your slow cooker.

10. Save and reheat safely


Slow-cooker recipes make great leftovers! Most dishes can be safely reheated on the stove or in the microwave. Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers and refrigerated within two hours of cooking.

When things get hectic, don’t be afraid to go slow! You’ll love the ease and convenience of assembling slow-cooker dinners, desserts and appetizers for all your fall meals, and the results are sure to get rave reviews from the whole family.