The trick to a perfectly-cooked Crock Pot is to layer the ingredients in the right order: Dense, tough veggies on the bottom, delicate ones on top – and meat or lentils on top of everything.
It’s Healthy Kitchen Hacks Wednesday – the day we share our favorite time-saving kitchen tricks and cooking shortcuts to help you make healthy and delicious meals.
Now…onto today’s featured Healthy Kitchen Hack:
How to Layer Ingredients in the Slow Cooker
Here’s hoping you’ve never had mushy mystery vegetables from the slow cooker. And let’s not even talk about shoe-leather meat.
The issue is the order in which ingredients are placed in the slow cooker. To preserve their texture and individual flavors, quick-cooking and delicate vegetables must be placed on the top. Hearty, tough veggies must be placed on the bottom of the slow cooker.
And meat is generally best on top. If you place it directly on the bottom heating element, the meat can overcook, while the veggies are still crunchy.
Layer ingredients in this order:
Bottom – Next to the bottom heat source, the temperature is highest. Place dense vegetables like:
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, beets, soaked dry beans, butternut squash and other winter squash
Middle – Medium-dense vegetables go here so they cook through, but don’t get mushy:
- Celery, fennel, carrots, green beans, bell peppers – and sometimes onions (although onions are usually sauteed first for more flavor)
Top – Add these tender vegetables the last 30 minutes of the cooking time
- Zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, canned beans, fresh herbs
Very Top – Place meat on the very top so the meat juices drip down and flavor the entire pot – and meat doesn’t over-cook.
- Chicken, beef, pork, venison, tofu and lentils. Fish is a bit tricky, check out my Healthy Kitchen Hack for How to Cook Fish in the Slow Cooker. Avoid mushy veggies! How to Layer Ingredients in the Slow Cooker #HealthyKitchenHacks via @TspCurry Click To Tweet
Now that you know, try out a few of our slow cooker recipes and enjoy a perfectly cooked pot:
Have you ever experienced mushy mystery veggies from the slow cooker? What’s your fave slow cooker recipe?