Cooking In A Slow Cooker With Great Results

Fiesta Chicken

My most recent slow cooker dish, fiesta chicken. Chicken with Mexican style tomatoes, a chopped onion, chopped green pepper, minced garlic, garlic powder, cumin and oregano and just a dash of salt for flavor.
My most recent slow cooker dish, fiesta chicken. Chicken with Mexican style tomatoes, a chopped onion, chopped green pepper, minced garlic, garlic powder, cumin and oregano and just a dash of salt for flavor. | Source

The Smell Of Dinner Cooking Fills The House ~

It's so incredibly nice to have the technology to put food in a device like a slow cooker in the morning, and then to just have it cook all day, filling the house with that wonderful smell of dinner cooking. I've found it to be really handy on days when I want to get a lot of writing done. I just put dinner in the slow cooker and let it simmer away.

Even with something as easy as a slow cooker, there are some tips that you can use to help your food to turn out its best. Yes it easy to use a slow cooker, just turn the little dial to low or high, depending on how long you want the food to cook. But there are still some things you need to know for great results.

  1. Keep that cover ON the slow cooker! ~ As tempting as it is to constantly be lifting the lid to "check" on dinner or to just make the house smell even better, keeping the lid on the cooker allows the heat to stay inside where it belongs. If you keep lifting the lid, you'll have to let food cook about an extra 15 minutes. So, unless your recipe says to stir something after a certain amount of time, try to keep the cover on.
  2. To save some time in the morning ~ You can put food in the slow cooker the night before and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Because the slow cooker has been chilled like this, you will have to remember to add at least an additional hour or even 1 1/2 hours to the total cooking time.
  3. Choose cuts of meat that are normally tough ~ Choose cuts of meat that are normally considered by most people to be too difficult to cook to a nice, desirable tenderness. The extra time the meat spends going through the slow cooking process allows for a breakdown of that tough tissue that usually makes it so tough and chewy. Because of the very slow cooking process, you will most likely get a melt in your mouth result. Some great examples of good cuts of meat to try are brisket or chuck steak.
  4. Don't over-fill the slow cooker ~ This is just as important as under-filling the cooker. If you don't put enough into it, food can cook too fast and dry out. If you overfill it, you could have an overflowing mess on your hands!
  5. Browning is always a good option ~ Some recipes will tell you to brown meat first. This is a good idea for beef, and especially ground beef. Sometimes the recipe will also say to brown chicken. You don't have to brown it, but if you do, it should add more flavor to your recipe, especially if you also add meat drippings from the pan.
  6. Experts recommend never putting frozen food in a slow cooker ~ Make sure to thaw cuts of meat before placing them in the slow cooker, or use the thaw setting on your microwave to thaw meat first. This is to help ensure food safety. You would not want anyone getting sick from meat that wasn't cooked properly. If frozen meat is cooked in the slow cooker, it isn't always dangerous, but you could be taking a risk.
  7. Remove food from the slow cooker to refrigerate it after eating ~ As tempting as it might be to just put the heavy crockery liner into the refrigerator with the leftovers still in it, (covered of course), this is not a good idea because the glass used for slow cooker liners is so thick. Food won't be able to cool down properly, making it risky. Harmful bacteria can build up in food if it can't cool properly. It's always best to put leftover slow cooker food into another container before refrigerating it.
  8. If your recipe calls for mushrooms ~ Add them about 45 minutes before cooking is done so they won't overcook. If dairy products are to be used, they need to be added about 1/2 hour before cooking time is done to prevent overcooking.
  9. Cut Meat Into Smaller Pieces ~ You don't want to ever put a huge chunk of meat into a slow cooker. It's much better to cut the meat into smaller pieces to be sure the meat cooks properly. This helps to cut the risk of harmful bacteria being allowed to cause illness.

Following these tips will help to ensure you get the most out of your slow cooker and enjoy incredibly easy and tasty meals from it. The smell of food cooking when you walk in the door after a long day is a wonderful thing to come home to. Or if you are like me and you are at home during the day working from home, the smell is a wonderful thing to have in the background. If you have animals like we do, they will most likely be in the kitchen sniffing.

I always thought that sniffing in the kitchen would be a "dog thing," but we have a little brown tabby mix cat named Misty who loves to walk into the kitchen with her little pink nose up in the air sniffing. I think the smell of food cooking lets her know she is home, because she IS home. Enjoy your slow cooker and be safe using it and it will give you years of fantastic, easy to prepare and delicious meals!

My Recipe For Delicious Fiesta Chicken

2 tbsps. Oil

2-3 Lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into about 3 pieces per breast

1 Green Pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, Mexican style (with mild chiles)

1 tsp. minced garlic (I use dried, McCormack Brand, not fresh, but you can use fresh)

1/4 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. Oregano


In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsps. of oil and cook the chicken pieces until slightly browned. Overcooking might result in dry chicken, slow cooker will complete the chicken's cooking, so it's better to slightly under-cook. Remove chicken and drain pan. Place onion, green pepper and garlic in skillet and cook until slightly cooked. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and stir. Then place cover on top and TRY not to uncover it for the duration of cooking. Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours. Great with Mexican style rice or white rice and steamed vegetables.

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Comments 14 comments

Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

KathyH, these are great tips. My goal is to use the slow cooker more so when I get home for work dinner is ready. And, hopefully you're going to do a recipe hub on that delicious-looking Fiesta Chicken recipe!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Thanks, I have been meaning to dig out my slow cooker too. I plan on doing maybe two week and you have some great tips.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

I might just do that, Career mommy!:-) Thank you for your great comments and thanks for reading! :-)


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

You're welcome, Jackie! I love using our slow cooker, but I find that I mostly use it in the winter months. It seems like anything you make in it turns out to be comfort food! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I appreciate it :-)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I love my slow cooker I throw things in frozen or thawed and use it all the time. The meat is always so tender. I guess I'm not suppose to put it in frozen, never knew this. Found out something new. Voted up.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks, moonlake! I was reading that if everyone who is going to eat the meal has good immune systems, it is probably OK to use frozen meat. It's usually when someone has a compromised immune system that they can get sick from it. Glad you learned something! Thank you for commenting and for the great vote! :)


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

Hi Kathy,

thanks for the great information inside

of your hub that I just read. i've always watched

my mom slow cook foods and I've always wanted to

learn how and what your suppose to do and not suppose

to do when it comes to slow cooking and food.

voted up.


davidcharder profile image

davidcharder 3 years ago from Show Low, AZ

Hey Kathy, makes me wish I had a slow cooker! The picture looks mouth- watering, but no recipe? I guess it's microwave pot pie dinner for me tonight.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

So glad this was helpful to you, torrilynn! Thanks so much for your great comment! I appreciate that! :-)


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Aww, David, you guys are twisting my arm for that recipe... I'll put it on here when I get some time, probably tomorrow. :) So glad you liked this! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

I've never used a slow cooker, but my daughter does and likes it. I just might start using one now that I see how convenient it is. Thank you for the additional tips!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

You're welcome, Sunshine! Hope you enjoy using it if you decide to try it! I enjoy using ours. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I appreciate that! :-)


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Great tips here. I use my slow cooker mostly through the winter months. I must admit though that I have once or twice put the pot with leftovers into the fridge but I usually let it cool down first, won't be doing that anymore.

Your recipe sounds delicious and one I will be trying.

Thank you for sharing


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks so much, Rose may! I'm so glad you found some helpful tips here! I hope you like the chicken recipe if you get a chance to try it! Thanks again for reading and commenting! I appreciate that! :-)

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