5 Ingredients You Should Leave Out of the Slow Cooker

updated Sep 12, 2019
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While it may seem like the slow cooker can do pretty much everything, there are certain instances when it really just isn’t the best one for the job. So before you dump anything and everything in it, read this first. Here are five items that are better left out of the slow cooker.

1. Delicate Vegetables

If you take a look at slow-cooker recipes, you’ll see a trend — they call for hearty vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, and winter squash. That’s because these vegetables hold up to low, slow cooking for hours. Tender, delicate vegetables like peas, asparagus, corn, and leafy greens would turn to mush by the end. That’s not to say they can’t be added to a slow-cooker meal; if you want to use them, toss them in right at the end, in the last half-hour of cooking.

2. Tender or Lean Cuts of Meat

Perhaps the best trait of the slow cooker is its ability to transform cheap, tough cuts of meat into meltingly tender ones. That’s because they are cooking for hours until they’re practically falling apart. Cuts like beef or pork tenderloin and chicken breast will become tough and dry when cooked in the slow cooker. Instead look to methods such as roasting quickly over high heat, searing, or sautéing.

3. Too Much Alcohol

When you add a few big glugs of alcohol to something you’re cooking on the stove, it reduces and cooks off while adding flavor to the dish. That’s because the saucepan or skillet isn’t covered. A slow cooker is both covered and at a low temperature, so the alcohol doesn’t have as much of an opportunity to evaporate, leaving you with something that might be too boozy. A few tablespoons is OK, but if you really want to make that red wine-braised beef, reduce the wine before adding it to the slow cooker.

4. White Rice

On the stovetop, white rice takes no longer than 20 minutes to cook. so there’s really no need to turn to the slow cooker to make it. The problem with tossing it in is that it runs the risk of getting overcooked and mushy. Sturdier, longer-cooking rice varieties like wild and brown, however, can successfully be cooked in the slow cooker.

5. Cream and Other Dairy

Toss something like milk, cream, or yogurt into your slow cooker at the beginning of cooking and the result is a grainy, unpleasant mess. That’s because cooking any dairy product for too long can cause it to curdle. The same goes for the slow cooker, and particularly for recipes cooked on high. Instead, add that splash of heavy cream to your slow-cooker soup just before serving.