Can You Use a Slow Cooker as a Bain Marie? Slow cookers are a versatile kitchen appliance that can do amazing things. Among those, Bain Marie cooking, which is a hot water bath. Using an oven-safe dish inside the slow cooker will give you the results you’re looking for.
Yes, you can use slow cookers for Bain Marie cooking. Using an oven-safe dish and water, the slow cooker creates steam and can make the Bain Marie recipe. Slow cookers can achieve this by slowly warming the water inside the cooker and making it steam to cook the food inside the oven-safe dish.
Let’s look into what Bain Marie cooking is and how to do it in the slow cooker, a few hacks for using a slow cooker, and other uses the slow cooker has.
Using a Slow Cooker as a Bain Marie
Slow cookers work by slowly heating whatever is inside them. By adding an oven-safe container inside the ceramic insert you can add puddings or custards and steam cook them. Add water to the pot to surround the oven-safe container. The heat of the slow cooker will slowly heat and create the steam needed to cook.
Defining Bain Marie Cooking
Bain Marie (ban mah-REE) is a different way of saying hot water bath. This type of cooking is normally used for delicate food such as custards and terrines. No matter how you choose to Bain Marie you will need a dish like a ramekin to place the custard inside.
By using a slow cooker, you can put everything in the slow cooker in one step and walk away.
Slow Cooker Hacks
Whether you’re just starting with a slow cooker or you are a pro, it is really easy make mistakes.
Here are a few hacks to slow cooking so you can have an amazing experience with these versatile appliances.
You can either use tin foil or slow cooker liners to line your slow cooker and cook two separate things at once. This allows you to have a full meal cooked and ready when you are. This is also a great technique if you enjoy meal prepping for the week or month.
You can use it as a double boiler. Simply use a glass jar or a ramekin and place it inside your slow cooker. Add a few inches of water and turn it on.
Preventing Condensation Dripping
Slow cookers create steam while cooking, which can cause condensation to build upon the lid. This condensation can drip back down into whatever food you’re making and can ruin it.
To avoid dripping, use a small towel or a thick paper towel and cover the top of the cooker. Place the lid on top of your towel and it will catch the condensation.
Not ideal, but you can also use them as an alternative to buying a humidifier. Simply fill your slow cooker with water and turn it on high.
After an hour, moisture will escape from the slow cooker and start to humidify the room. These are great in dryer seasons when it’s easier to get sick.
When you have a meal that has some sort of cream, cheese, or pasta then you can ruin the meal by placing them in the slow cooker too soon. Dairy products can curdle when cooked for too long.
Things like pasta that cook quickly can become mushy and should be added near the end of the cooking time.
If you use your slow cooker often, then you may notice a white residue build-up on the ceramic pot. This residue can stick around no matter how many times you clean the pot.
You can remove it with a little white vinegar and wiped away. If the residue is still sticking then place about ½ cup of white vinegar in the pot and turn the slow cooker on low.
Let the slow cooker cook for about an hour and try whipping away the residue.
Sear the Meat
Before adding meats to your slow cooker, sear them in a hot pan first. This caramelizes the surface and adds more flavor to the end product.
Searing the meat gives it a nice crunch at the end of cooking.
Leave the Lid On
Unless the recipe you’re using has you stirring the meal at intervals, leave the slow cooker lid on. Removing the heat releases a good amount of heat. It takes thirty minutes for the slow cooker to return to the correct temperature which can extend your cook time.
If you have soupy or runny foods that need to be thickened, you should remove the lid. This is one of the times when removing the lid can save the meal.
Avoid Dried Meats
Slow cookers are ideal for more fatty meats. The fat creates more moisture that locks into the meats and makes them tender. Dry meats tend to cook faster and can dry out even further in the slow cooker.
Clean the Interior of the Slow Cooker
Slow cooker pots are easily removable and dishwasher safe, but the inner portion of the slow cooker can also need a good clean sometimes. It’s a little harder to clean the interior of the slow cooker as it is not dishwasher safe.
Remove the ceramic pot. Use a ramekin or similar dish and place it in the center of the interior. Place ammonia inside the dish and put the lid on. Let this sit for about an hour then wipe down the inside.
You can alternatively place white vinegar in the ramekin and cook on high for an hour.
Slow Cooker Conversion Times
|Conventional Recipe Time
|Slow Cooker on Low
|Slow Cooker on High
|15 to 30 minutes
|4 to 6 hours
|2 to 3 hours
|35 to 45 minutes
|6 to 8 hours
|3 to 4 hours
|50 minutes to 3 hours
|8 to 10 hours
|4 to 6 hours
Other Things a Slow Cooker Can be Used For
Slow cookers are very versatile in what they can do around the house. There are many other things they are useful for when it comes to helping in the kitchen. Here are a few other things that a slow cooker can be used for.
Slow cookers are a great tool for people who love DIY projects. Slow cookers can help with dying projects, making soap, and even making homemade playdough.
As discussed above, the slow cooker creates steam inside the pot to cook foods. If you want to have steamed vegetables or other foods that are steamed cooked, then you can use your slow cooker to do so.
It takes between 2 to 4 hours to steam foods appropriately, so it’s not a fast way of steaming foods, but if you need something hands-off for a few hours, then this is a perfect choice.
Similar to the idea of using the slow cooker as a humidifier, the slow cooker can be used to freshen the scent in your home. Simply fill the pot halfway and add your favorite scent, like orange peel or peppermint essential oil. Cook on low with the lid off and allow the scent to fill the air.
With practice and the right temperature controller, a slow cooker can be used for Sous-vide cooking. Sous-vide is a controlled temperature water bath with the food in airtight plastic bags with the air sucked out. This version does require you to “hack” your slow cooker by transforming it into a different machine, but it is a cheaper version than buying the legitimate equipment.
By wrapping soaked wood chips in parchment paper and poking holes in the paper, you can make your slow cooker into a smoker. Place your meat on top of the wood chips and add a ½ cup of water. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 to 10 hours and allow the smokey taste of the wood chips to soak into the meat.
If you’re having a party and have no bowl to put drinks like punch then a slow cooker is a great alternative. They have a lid so the drink can stay covered when not in use, and if you want to have warm drinks, it can keep the drinks nice and toasty all throughout the party.
Although you will have to make your fondue in a different pot, the slow cooker can keep the fondue warm and melted. Leaving the slow cooker on warm allows your fondue to stay at the perfect temperature for consumption.
Adapting Slow Cooker Recipes to Fit You
It may seem like with slow cooking, there is only a limited type of food that can be cooked with it. People can have food restrictions for a variety of reasons like allergies and need substitutions in their cooking. Here are a few ways to adapt recipes to work for you.
Learn the Recipes to Adapt and Write Down Your Changes
Thinking about slow-cooking stews and chilis make a good fit for the low slow heat cooking style. When adapting a recipe that’s not necessarily made for the slow cooker, keep in mind what types of foods benefit from long low-heat cooking.
Keep Ingredients in the Family
If you need to switch a certain ingredient because of a food restriction, remember to keep the same type of ingredient. For example, if you’re using a grain like barley, switch it to another grain like brown rice. Switch ingredients that make sense for others in the same family, but work better for you.
Substitute for “Cream of” Soups
Many people don’t keep soups like cream of mushroom in their pantry, but when you need it for a recipe, you need it.
There is a simple substitute that gives that creamy taste.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour, gluten-free will work
- 1/2 cup milk, any fat content
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Make a roux with the butter and flour in a pot over medium heat. Slowly add in and whisk together the other ingredients until smooth.
Use Less Liquid
There may be recipes that call for a liquid that you don’t want you to use, and that’s fine. Usually leaning toward less liquid in your slow cooker is a good thing.
Fatty meats can produce more liquid in your meal, and hard vegetables can do the same. For liquids that you don’t want to use, you can substitute with water.
Make Small Batches
If you have a large slow cooker but want to make a small meal, you can do that by using an oven-safe dish. When slow cooking this way you do not need to add water around the dish unless you are using the Bain Marie cooking method.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Slow Cooker be Filled to the Top?
No, a slow cooker should not be filled to the top. This can cause spillage and the meal won’t cook as well. A slow cooker should only be filled ½ to ⅔ of the way full for best results.
What is the Difference Between Sous-vide and a Slow Cooker?
Sous-vide offers a specific type of cooking with exact temperatures, which can be difficult to replicate in a regular kitchen. Slow cookers offer a well-rounded experience and are versatile in the different ways they can be used.
Does Slow Cooking Destroy Nutrients?
Slow cooking is one of the best cooking methods to retain nutrients. Everything is contained in the slow cooker, and the low slow heat makes the nutrients break down slower. Nutrients are retained in the condensation and not lost.
Bain Marie cooking is meant for delicate foods that require steam like custards. Slow cookers are a great appliance to achieve this. The slow heat creates the right temperature for these foods to cook. Hopefully, this article helped you to understand your slow cooker a little better and use it with confidence!