How to convert an oven or stovetop recipe to a slow cooker recipe
So, you've found a beautiful slow cooked recipe - that glossy gravy, the tender meat, the gorgeous veg... but it's an oven or stovetop recipe. And you don't have time to hover over a pot for three hours!
Good news, you can still experience all that slow cooked goodness by converting that oven/stovetop recipe into a slow cooker recipe.
Converting an oven or stovetop recipe into a slow cooker recipe can take a bit of experimenting to get it just right, but these are some simple tips to follow to make the process much easier.
Defrost your ingredients first
Only add thawed meats and vegetables to your slow cooker. Since slow cookers use such a low heat, frozen ingredients greatly increase the time it takes to bring the ingredients to temperature.
This not only increases the cooking time, it can increase the chances of food-borne illnesses. No thank you!
Defrost your ingredients in the fridge before adding into your slow cooker.
Place your ingredients differently
Whereas slow cooked oven and stovetop recipes usually have the vegetables and meat stirred together, there's a better way to do it in the slow cooker.
Place hard vegetables like potatoes and carrots on the bottom (where it's hottest), then place meat and others on top so everything will be evenly cooked.
Alter the amount of liquid
If you're cooking a stew or casserole where stock, water, wine or other liquids are added, reduce the amount you add. About 3/4 of the liquid required in the recipe is usually enough.
Since slow cookers use a lower temperature, the liquids won't reduce as much.
You can cook a slow cooked roast in your slow cooker without the need to add liquid.
Adjust herbs and spices
Slow cookers use a lower heat, so half the amount of herbs and spices will be enough to flavour your meal.
If using dry herbs and spices, only add them in the last half hour of cooking. Their flavour can become dull if cooked for too long.
Don't add dairy at the beginning
If your recipe calls for dairy, add it in the last 30 minutes of cooking or it may curdle.
Adjust the time
See the chart below for converting the times for stovetop or oven recipes into slow cooker recipes.
Each recipe will vary a bit, so this guide is approximate.
|Stovetop or Oven||Slow cooker set to low||Slow cooker set to high|
|15 - 30 mins||4 - 6 hrs||1.5 - 2.5 hrs|
|35 - 60 mins||6 - 8 hrs||2.5 - 4 hrs|
|1.5 - 2.5 hrs||9 - 12 hrs||4.5 - 6 hrs|
|3 - 5 hrs||12.5 - 18 hrs||5 - 7 hrs|
How to make the sauce thicker
Is your meat and veg cooked, but the sauce is still too thin for your liking? Next time, use a little less liquid.
To thicken your stew, follow these simple tips for thickening any stew.
It's always a good idea to write down what you did when you successfully convert a recipe.
We have a handy tool for you to record your recipes. It's a great way to keep your converted slow cooker recipes, family recipes and more, and you can turn your recipes into an eBook. Click here to find out more!
Discover more slow cooker tips and recipes
Want more slow cooker tips? Click here for more info about how to get the best results from your slow cooker recipes.
Find more slow cooked recipes below, or click here to see them all.