Free up time and oven space by converting some of your family’s favorite recipes into crockpot recipes. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. Here’s what you need to know to get it right.
What Type of Recipes Convert Well?
Just about any oven or stove-top recipe can be converted into a crockpot recipe, but the best candidates are casseroles, soups, stews and dishes that call for long simmering or roasting times, which is great because these also happen to be the recipes that will free up the most time, if you switch to making them in your crockpot.
How to Tweak Your Recipes for a Crockpot
Since crockpots cook a bit differently than your oven/stove, you’ll need to make a few tweaks to your recipes to ensure they turn out right. Here’s what I recommend:
- Brown ground meat before adding it to the crockpot. This will add a lot of flavor, and allow you to drain off the excess fat, so it doesn’t end up in the finished dish. Larger cuts of meat can go straight in the crockpot, but will have more flavor, if you take a few minutes to sear them first.
- Use half as much liquid as the recipe calls for, unless you’re making a soup or stew, a recipe where the ingredients need to be fully covered by water to cook (example: to cook potatoes for mashed potatoes) or a dish that calls for being covered the entire time it’s cooking. Since crockpots work best with the lid on, the liquids in the recipe won’t have a chance to evaporate, like they would on the stove or in the oven. To maintain the intended flavor in the recipe, also halve the spices and seasonings called for.
- If a recipe doesn’t call for any liquids or sauces, add 1/2 cup of water or broth. This will help to produce the steam that’s required to get your crockpot up to temperature quickly.
- Wait to add these ingredients until the last 30 minutes: soft, quick-cooking veggies, like peas, corn, peppers and greens, dairy products, like milk, sour cream or cheese, pasta, rice and shrimp. This will keep ingredients from turning out mushy and overcooked, and in the case of dairy products, it’ll prevent separation and curdling.
- If your recipe isn’t as thick as you’d like it to be at the end of the cooking time, remove the lid from your crockpot, and turn the temperature to high, so some of the water evaporates; or add cornstarch to thicken the dish.
How to Convert Oven and Stove Times to Crockpot Times
|Stove/Oven Cook Time||Slow Cooker on Low||Slow Cooker on High|
|15 to 30 minutes||4 to 6 hours||1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours|
|35 to 45 minutes||6 to 10 hours||3 to 4 hours|
|1 hour (or more)||8 to 12 hours||4 to 6 hours|
For these times to be accurate, your crockpot needs to be at least two-thirds full. Otherwise, your recipe is likely to cook faster.
Some crockpots cook hotter than others, so you may need to experiment a bit to land on the right cook time for your particular crockpot. Be sure to make notes on your recipes, so you can replicate your conversion successes.
Some Recipes I’ve Successfully Converted to a Crockpot
Over the past couple years, I’ve converted several of my family’s recipes to the crockpot both to save time on busy nights and to free up oven space when I’m cooking big holiday meals. Here are a few of my successes.
If you have a specific recipe that you’re hoping to convert, you may find that I’ve already done the work for you. View my full collection of crockpot recipes to see.