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Nutrition Articles  ›  Quick and Easy

Slow and Easy Crockpot Cooking

You DO Have Time for Home Cooked Meals

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietician
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Cooking Time
  • Dried beans should be cooked and softened before you add them to the recipe. Cover the beans with 3 times their volume in unsalted water and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Boil 10 minutes, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer 1-1/3 hours or until the beans are tender. Discard the water after boiling. The beans can now be added to the Crockpot recipe.
  • Cook pasta, rice and noodles until just tender. Add to the Crockpot toward the end of cooking.
  • Uncooked meat and vegetable combinations require 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.
  • One hour of simmering on a range, or baking at 350 degrees in an oven, is equivalent to 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.
  • Fresh vegetables should be added at the beginning of cooking. Canned and frozen vegetables (remember to thaw first) should be added during the last hour of cooking.
  • Do not remove the cover of the crockpot unless it's necessary for stirring, though most recipes don't need stirring. You can lose 30 minutes of cooking time each time the lid is removed.
Safety Concerns 
Although your Crockpot thermometer may be at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, everything in the pot may not be at that temperature. To avoid problems, follow one or more of these tips:
  • If you plan to cook on the low, 200 degree setting, run the Crockpot on the high, 300 degree setting, for the first hour. Then turn it down to the low setting.
  • Put the removable stoneware pot and the food contents in the microwave. Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes, stir and then place in the Crockpot on the low setting.
  • Never use frozen vegetables in the crockpot. Always thaw them in the microwave or on the stove first.
  • If you start with chilled meat, make sure the liquid you add is boiling.
  • Warm meat before adding it. Either brown the meat on the stove or use the microwave.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • RDDY4CHANGE2
    I am always lifted the lid! Peeking in the oven, dishwasher...wash
    ing machine. My husbands will tell me that I just cut the efficiency by "whatever" percent...I might leave the lid on now! 30 minutes per time the lid it taken off! Yikes. - 2/25/2014 12:50:44 PM
  • I love cooking in my slow cooker. Thanks - 1/3/2014 2:51:01 AM
  • Awesome tips! - 10/24/2013 12:39:44 AM
  • I love my slow cooker! I don't know why I didn't get one much sooner. - 9/24/2013 7:38:40 AM
  • My favorite crockpot recipe is dumping some frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts and jarred pasta sauce to cover, then leave it on low all day. Once you come home, you can have it over pasta, quinoa, or even veggies. - 7/9/2013 4:49:10 AM
  • FRACKIAM1:

    I'm not sure about beef, but I cook frozen chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) all the time, and end up with very versatile cooked chicken -- cubed for casseroles, shredded for quesadillas, tacos, and such, or tender pieces to use as the main protein. I usually add enough water or chicken broth to cover, and add herbs, spices, or even salsa as desired. I usually cook a good 8-10 hours or overnight, so it's always cooked through just fine. Cook enough ahead of time, and you have plenty to make a variety of dishes! - 7/21/2012 5:43:31 PM
  • Ocliao
    It depends on how many people your trying to feed, I use my 2 qt a lot, but on campouts and pot lucks I may use 1 or 2 5 to 8 qt depending on what I am going to do for my part, and how many there are of us.
    - 7/21/2012 5:20:34 PM
  • I'm single and use mine for stews, a simple one is 1 med can of stew, 1 can mixed veggies, drained, 1 can diced tomatoes, drained, set on low, about 1/2 to 1 hr ahead of dinner add 1 c of rice, or pasta, or 1 small tube of refig bisquits, the little ones make good dumplings, and what you don't use can be "baked" in a small cast iron skillet on stove top.

    I do this a lot, all day on low when working, 1 hr hi, then low for 1/2 day when home, using a 2 qt pot.
    enough food for 3 med or 2 large meals.
    - 7/21/2012 5:16:04 PM
  • I have a crock pot and use it at least once a week and love it. BUT I have a question. Can you put frozen meat in it and let it cook all day? If anyone has or has not done this I would like to know. - 7/21/2012 4:55:40 PM
  • I love using my crock pot, although I use it more in the winter. - 7/21/2012 12:03:32 PM
  • From someone who REALLY uses a crockpot, frozen veggies work just fine! Do you think a package of frozen broccoli won't cook in 6 hours in a crockpot? LOL. I also put meat and chicken in my crockpot right out of the fridge. No problem. - 7/21/2012 7:16:14 AM
  • Thank you for all these tips.!! - 7/21/2012 3:35:09 AM
  • what size crockpot is the best? - 7/4/2012 10:26:50 AM
  • 1954MARG
    Crock pots are great for batch cooking if you have a weekend off cook something each night and each day over the weekend and you get out of cooking for 2-3 weeks. - 6/7/2012 4:07:22 PM
  • I thought you were supposed to have your meat the same temp as the crock pot... example if your crock pot is cold, your meat should not be hot.

    I haven't made much in my crock pot except pot roast. I do need to utilize it more though. THe awesome thing about mine is it has a timer, so you set it to high/low and program the hours for it to cook, then after that it goes to keep warm. It's so awesome. - 5/23/2012 4:21:00 PM