Beginners Guide to Slow Cooking!

Where do I begin?

It’s a question I’m asked a lot!
You’ve bought a shiny new slow cooker, or perhaps you bought one a long time ago, but you’ve still never used it.
You want to get into this slow cooking you see so many others raving about, but you just aren’t sure where to start?

We can help ?

Firstly let me reassure you, slow cooking IS easy!
There isn’t anything technical or highly skilled that you need to master in order to cook fantastic slow cooker meals
It’s mostly add raw ingredients, cook slowly over several hours, and serve – it’s that easy ?

Later on you will feel more confident to try recipes that perhaps need a browning stage first, or maybe one with several steps/phases of cooking
However to begin, start with the KISS method – keep it simple sweety!

One thing that may be useful to begin with is to visit the BLOG page of this site first
It’s packed with heaps of fast-to-read, info packed articles on various topics and tips for slow cooking
I’d suggest starting with clicking on each of these blog topics below for a quick rundown before you begin:

That’s the basics to get you started. 
Go back later and read all the others but that’s enough to get you off and cooking!

What about the recipes??
What’s “an easy recipe” to start with.

  1. You don’t need a recipe if you don’t feel sure about doing one!!

Pick up one of those easy meal bases at the supermarket, the kind that has the sauce in a jar or some powder in a packet and it tells you what meat to add to it and how long to cook it for.

Whiles it’s true that you can use ANY meal base or jar, you may find it easiest to start with the ones specifically labelled for slow cooking first, just so the times are clearly listed for you.
Later you’ll learn the common cook times and be able to adapt oven or stove top instructions to slow cooking one’s no problem – but to begin with, start with those specifically listed for slow cooking to take out any guess work.

This is another great blog to come back to later on that topic: Converting regular recipes to slow cooking
Here’s some example of jar or packet meal bases made for slow cooking below:

Now back to our tips…

  1. Here’s a very general guide to cooking times to get you started!

This is a generalisation but it gives you a ball park to experiment with.  Slow cookers can vary in heat and cook times so this gives you an idea of how long each type of meat may take to cook. 

Of course before serving, test that it is fully cooked through.  You’ll soon learn the times as second nature the more you do it.
But here’s a rough guide ?

Mince based dish – 4-5hrs low
Chicken breasts – 3hrs low
Chicken thigh fillets – 4-5hrs low
Chicken bone in pieces – 5-6hrs low
Diced red meat – 5-6hrs low
Roast meat 1-2kg – 6-9hrs depending on weight
Sausages – 5hrs low

  1. Always ensure all meat is fully defrosted before slow cooking.  

Remember this blog article on this topic is important and gives you more info – Never slow cooker from frozen

  1. Keep hard root type vegetables cut small to help them cook through to tender.

Something I hear a lot is “Everything else was cooked but my potatoes were still hard” 
If that happens to you keep them cut smaller next time, place them towards the bottom of the slow cooker and right from the start of cooking time. 
Softer veg can be added later but hard vegetables like potato and carrot etc should go in from the beginning.

  1. Can I slow cook with cream from the beginning or do I have to add it at the end?

From the beginning is totally fine ?
BUT make sure it’s cooking cream (photos and info on what that is HERE)
If you can’t purchase cooking cream than add 1-2 tsp cornflour to regular cream before adding it and this does the same thing.
Again, more info on that in this blog topic here SPLITTING AND HOW TO AVOID IT

  1. Can I add pasta to my slow cooking?

Yes you can, but, with certain adaptions made for it.
Here’s all the info you need on that here in this article: ADDING PASTA TO SLOW COOKING
Read that before slow cooking with pasta

  1. What’s some super simple recipes to get me started?

On our website you’ll find categories in the green boxes on the recipe page,  Eg Beef, or Mince, or Chicken etc etc
This can help you narrow down your recipe to the kind you want to cook.
Or, you can search an ingredient/s in the search box, eg type ‘garlic, pasta, cream’ in the search box if you are feeling like something creamy and garlic for example. This will help you to get the kind of dish you crave.

But what may be a great start is the category of the recipe page labelled in the green box as 4 INGREDIENTS OR LESS.  These are all super simple recipes with just a few ingredients, so a great place to start to gain your confidence ?

Otherwise let me throw some really simple family favourites your way you might like to try to begin with:

Once you feel confident start exploring the other 3000+ recipes we have for you on our website, or the thousands of others in our recipe books (available here)

If in doubt remember to stop by our Facebook group  and ask me or any of the other almost 700,000 group members HERE
Everyone is super helpful in answering questions, giving tips and sharing recipes
We can help you every step of the way 🙂

Before you know it, YOU’LL be the one helping other newbies as you feel confident and capable yourself!

If there is anything else you are not sure of, please leave a comment below and I’m more than happy to help answer it 🙂

  • Happy Slow Cooking!!

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