Slow cookers were designed to cook meals at a slow rate to give them a full flavor and so the meat was tender. Can you put raw chicken in slow cooker? The answer is yes. Chicken is one of the meats that can go in a slow cooker without any problems.
Raw chicken can be placed into a slow cooker. It takes approximately 2.5 to 3.5 hours to cook a boneless skinless chicken breast. A whole chicken can also be cooked in a slow cooker and it is recommended that it is cooked on high for at least one hour.
Slow cookers are a great tool to have in your kitchen. You can prepare a whole meal and let it cook all day. There are, however, a few things you should keep in mind when using a slow cooker. In this article, we’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of your slow cooker.
The Dos for Cooking Chicken in a Slow Cooker
There are many things that you should do when using your slow cooker. These things will keep your food and slow cooker safe and delicious.
Cut Large Pieces of Meat
To ensure your larger cuts of meat cook through properly, cut them into smaller more manageable pieces. This could include cutting a roast in half or even smaller if you like.
Brown your meat
If you’re making a meal with ground meat then you’ll need to brown it before adding it to the slow cooker. Slow cookers don’t reach a high enough temperature to brown ground meat safely. Also browning your chunks of meat will give them more flavor.
Submerge Your Meat
If you want your meat to fall apart and be tender then submerge it completely. This is where cutting up the meat comes in handy so you don’t overfill the slow cooker.
Using broth instead of water in your meals will make them much more flavorful. The broth will seep into the meal and bring out the flavors of the ingredients, making it a much better choice than just using water.
Clean Pot with Non-abrasive Pads
Foods can stick to the ceramic pot when making meals in a slow cooker. As tempting as it may be to use something like a Brillo pad to clean the mess, you can scratch the ceramic and ruin it. Either soak the pot and use a soft scrubber or use slow cooker liners. Liners make it so there’s no scrubbing.
Thaw Frozen Meats
Always thaw out your meat before adding it to the slow cooker. Frozen meat can take longer to reach a safe temperature. If meats don’t stay at a high enough temperature then bacteria can grow and stay on the meat, which can cause food poisoning.
The Donts for Cooking Chicken in a Slow Cooker
Now that we’ve covered some things you should do with your slow cooker, let’s go over the don’ts.
Grounded Meats, Raw Eggs, and Raw Seafood
As we’ve discussed above you should brown any ground meats you plan on adding to the slow cooker. As slow cookers don’t reach high temperatures you should never add raw eggs, as they won’t properly. Seafood cooks quickly and dries out in slow cookers, so you should avoid adding them until near the end.
Avoid Adding Dairy Until Later
If a recipe calls for a dairy product you should add it near the end of the cooking process. Dairy can curdle if cooked for long periods like in a slow cooker. By adding them near the end you ensure the dairy doesn’t ruin the meal but adds to it.
Don’t Start With Frozen Ingredients
We’ve talked about thawing out your meat beforehand for safety reasons. The temperatures with frozen foods are too low to be considered safe. When it comes to adding frozen vegetables to the mix they can also lower the temperature of the cooker. It’s better to use fresh produce in your slow cooker to ensure everything cooks thoroughly.
Don’t Taste Test Your Meal
Although it may be tempting to pop the lid off and test the meal in your slow cooker, doing so could ruin the meal. By removing the lid you release the heat and condensation inside the slow cooker, lowering the temperature and potentially drying everything out. Don’t open the lid until it is necessary.
Don’t Reheat Your Meal in the Slow Cooker
It’s not advised to reheat your meal in the slow cooker. They are meant only for slow cooking and could ruin your leftovers with growing bacteria if you use the slow cooker to reheat them.
Instead, use your oven or microwave to ensure proper reheating.
Don’t Use a Chipped or Cracked Slow Cooker Pot
You should never use a damaged slow cooker pot. It can cause further damage to the pot but also your meal can leak into the heating elements and ruin the entire slow cooker. In rare cases, it can also spark an electrical fire.
Don’t Leave Slow Cookers Close to Electrical Outlets
Slow cookers let off steam while they are cooking. If you have a cabinet or an overhang above your slow cooker it can collect condensation and get into the electrical sockets. While using the slow cooker make sure it is in an open space where condensation won’t build up around the outlet.
Ingredients that Should Wait or Shouldn’t Go in a Slow Cooker
We’ve discussed a few things that you should and shouldn’t do with your slow cooker. Now we’re going to look at the ingredients that should wait or shouldn’t go into a slow cooker at all.
As stated above dairy products can curdle if slow cooked for too long. If the recipe you’re using calls for a dairy product then add it near the end of the cooking process so the meal doesn’t get ruined.
Couscous can become overly mushy when cooked too long, so it shouldn’t be added to the slow cooker at all. To have perfect couscous with your meal, cook it separately and add it while serving.
Rice also doesn’t do well when overcooked. This should be cooked separately as well, and the best method is with a rice cooker. Also, remember to wash the rice before cooking.
Adding pasta too early can make them mushy. These are another ingredient that you should add at the last minute and serve when the pasta is done.
Meats that have quite a bit of extra fat should be trimmed. The fat can cause the meat to cook inconsistently and that will ruin the meal. Having a small amount of fat will add extra liquid to the meal, but too much can raise the temperature of the slow cooker.
Softer vegetables like leafy greens and vegetables that cook quickly like zucchini and tomatoes should be added to the meal later. They can become complete mush if cooked too long; unless that’s what you’re going for, in a soup or something like that.
Seafood tends to cook quickly and isn’t suited for the slow cooker. They can easily become burnt and dried out, which is the opposite of what you want in a seafood dish.
Slow cookers create condensation, and because of that, the cooking wine in your meal can’t cook off. This could lead to a potential overpowering wine taste in the meal.
Fresh herbs tend to have a strong flavor when added to meals. This can cause an overpowering flavor in your meal if you add those herbs and spices too early. Add them near the end so they don’t overpower everything inside.
Foods and Their Cook Times
If you’re curious about different foods and their cooking times, here is a quick chart that goes through a variety of foods and their cooking times on the low and the high setting.
|FOOD TYPE||LOW SETTING||HIGH SETTING|
|Roast||8 to 12 hours||4 to 8 hours|
|Ribs||6 to 10 hours||4 to 6 hours|
|Brisket||8 to 10 hours||4 to 5 hours|
|Swiss Steak||6 to 10 hours||–|
|Meat Loaf||5 to 10 hours||4 to 6 hours|
|Chicken-breast||6 to 8 hours||3 to 4 hours|
|Baked Potato||6 to 8 hours||4 to 5 hours|
|Baked Sweet Potato||6 to 8 hours||3 to 4 hours|
|Hard Vegetables||2 to 6 hours||2 to 3 hours|
|Dry Bean (pre-soak and|
cooked for 10 to 15 min)
|8 to 9 hours||–|
|Soup||6 to 10 hours||3 to 5 hours|
|Stew||6 to 10 hours||4 to 6 hours|
|Casseroles||6 to 10 hours||3 to 5 hours|
Some Common Mistakes When Cooking in a Slow Cooker
Here is a quick list of mistakes that can be made with the slow cooker, and how to avoid them.
Adding Herbs and Spices Too Early
This was included in the don’t section, but it is a common mistake that is easily made. When adding herbs and spices to your meal it helps to add them later in the cooking process so they don’t overpower the meal.
Along with browning ground meats when you sear your larger chunks of meat then you add more flavor and texture to your meal. By not searing your meat before slow cooking you can get dry meat.
Removing the Lid
If you remove the lid too soon you run the risk of drying out your meal and having the temperature drop to bacteria growing levels. Keep the lid on until the last moment.
Overfilling the Slow Cooker
Adding too much to the slow cooker can cause spillage and uneven cooking. This can also happen when you add too much liquid. Some meats have more moisture because of their fat content and add more liquid to the pot during cooking.
To avoid this only fill the pot ⅔ of the way full. Keep in mind how much liquid you add, and keep enough space for the extra liquid that may come from ingredients.
Cooking Meat on High Too Long
When you cook on the high setting of your slow cooker it is meant to cook for less time than on the lower setting. When you cook meats on the high setting for too long they can become tough and dry. If you’re cooking for longer periods, cook on the low setting, and for shorter cooking times use the high setting.
Defrosting Meat Beforehand
All meats that go in a slow cooker should be thawed out beforehand. They can make the slow cooker colder and the lower temperatures can allow bacteria to grow. To be safe, defrost your meats before cooking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Slow Cook Chicken Without Liquid?
You can cook a whole chicken without any liquid. Whole chickens let off quite a bit of moisture during cooking, so you can dry-slow cook them. Chicken breasts on the other hand should always be cooked with liquid. Chicken breasts don’t have enough liquid content to cook themselves like a whole chicken.
How Long Does Diced Chicken Take to Slow Cook?
Typically, diced chicken can cook with a tablespoon or two of liquid for 6 to 8 hours on low. If you want to speed up the cooking time add a little more liquid to prevent the chicken from drying out or burning, and it can cook for 3 to 4 hours.
Can Raw Chicken and Vegetables be Cooked Together?
As long as both the chicken and the vegetables are cooked when the meal is finished, then yes, they can be cooked together. When using a slow cooker make sure to add your liquid, then the hard vegetables like carrots. Place the chicken on the vegetables and you’re good to go.
Slow cookers are a great solution for people who want their meals ready by the end of the day. If you’re in the mood for chicken that day you can place that chicken in your slow cooker and make a delicious meal.
Throughout this article, we’ve learned that chicken can safely be placed in a slow cooker to make something wonderful, and with this knowledge, you can make your own slow cooker chicken.