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Can you put frozen chicken, beef or pork in a slow cooker?

Cooking meat in a slow cooker while still frozen is not recommended as it takes a long time for the meat to reach cooking temperature. This increases the chance of food-borne illnesses. It is alway recommended to defrost meat in the fridge before cooking it in the slow cooker.

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Cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker

It is not recommended to cook frozen cuts of meat in a slow cooker as it takes a long time for the meat to reach cooking temperature. This increases the chance of food-borne illnesses. It is alway recommended to defrost meat in the fridge before cooking it in the slow cooker.

If you have time, it's even better to brown or sear your meat in a pan before adding it to your slow cooker. This step isn't necessary, but browning the meat on all sides gives the meat extra colour and flavour. Usually this can only be done beforehand, as slow cookers don't get hot enough to brown food, though some newer appliances have a 'sear/brown' option. 

Convert an oven or stovetop recipe to a slow cooker cooking tiems

Converting a slow cooked recipe from the stove or oven to a slow cooker can take trial and error, but it's worth it for the added convenience. Consider the following:

  • Decrease the amount of liquid: Since the ingredients are being cooked at a lower temperature, the liquids won't reduce as much. Usually about 3/4 of the liquid required in the recipe is enough.
  • Adjust herbs and spices: The lower heat of a slow cooker means about half the amount of fresh herbs and spices will be enough to flavour your meal. Dry herbs and spices should be added in the last half hour of cooking, as their flavour will dull if cooked too long.
  • Take notes: It's best to try converting a recipe when you're home so you can adjust the recipe and needed and take notes on what works best.
  • Adjust the time: See the chart below for approximate cooking times.
Stovetop or OvenSlow cooker set to lowSlow cooker set to high
15 - 30 mins4 - 6 hrs1.5 - 2.5 hrs
35 - 60 mins6 - 8 hrs2.5 - 4 hrs
1.5 - 2.5 hrs9 - 12 hrs4.5 - 6 hrs
3 - 5 hrs12.5 - 18 hrs5 - 7 hrs

 

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