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Adapting Recipes for the Slow Cooker

You can adapt a lot of standard recipes to work in your slow cooker. Recipes that do work in the slow cooker do require some changes in relation to ingredients, the amount of liquids, and length of cooking:

  • Vegetables: To ensure that vegetables of the same type cook evenly, cut them into uniform, equal-sized pieces. Quick-cooking vegetables can be added 20 to 30 minutes before the recipe has finished cooking.

  • Dairy products: Milk and most dairy products tend to curdle in the slow-simmering slow cooker. Add them during the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking.

  • Pasta and rice: Uncooked pasta and rice become pasty and starchy in the slow cooker. Cook pasta and rice on the stove and then add them to the slow cooker a few minutes before serving, or add them uncooked 30 to 60 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

  • Seafood: Fish and shellfish tend to overcook and fall apart in a slow cooker. Add them toward the end of the recipe, 30 to 60 minutes before the dish is done.

  • Liquids: Use approximately half the liquid called for in the traditional version of the recipe. Because the slow cooker cooks covered at low heat, liquid doesn’t boil away as quickly.

  • Cooking times: When looking for recipes to convert, choose those that take at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to make. These recipes usually contain ingredients that hold up well to long cooking times.

    Use the times listed in this table as a general rule when converting cooking times.

Converting Cooking Times
Traditional Recipe in Minutes Slow Cooker Low Setting in Hours Slow Cooker High Setting in Hours
45 6–10 3–4
50–60 8–10 4–5
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