Sear Function slow cooker

Slow cookers are an excellent way to have a meal waiting when you need it, and searing your meats beforehand can bring out more flavors. Searing meats before slow cooking them also helps prevent the meat from drying out. But are the Best Slow Cookers with sear function?

Hamilton Beach brand is the best if you’re planning to sear your meat. The best slow cookers that have a sear function are the ones that have a removable insert and can be used on the stovetop. Slow cookers don’t have the ability to sear meats themselves, but the removable pot can be placed on the stovetop for searing meats. 

Seared chicken

Hamilton Beach brand is one the best and most well-known for slow cooking. Searing meats before slow-cooking them brings out the flavor of the meat and makes the meal even better. Slow cookers that have a removable pot can be used to sear meats before slow cooking them. 

Top 3 Best Slow Cookers with a Searing Function 

Slow cookers unfortunately don’t have a sear function built into the appliance. However, the removable pot can be placed on the stovetop and you can sear your meats that way.

Hamilton Brand

The Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker is the best for this function. It specifically states on this model that you can place the inner pot on the stove. 

The removable pot can also be used to caramelize your vegetables before slow cooking them. Caramelizing your vegetables and searing your meats before slow cooking them can bring out a burst of flavor that you wouldn’t get otherwise. 

Crock Pot Brand

The Crock Pot brand is a well-known household brand, and they boast that their slow cookers are one of the best. Crock Pot Slow Cooker|8 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Countdown Timer, Black Stainless Steel is a perfect option for searing your meats.

Crock Pot inserts can be removed and used on the stovetop to sear meats to give them that caramelization. This particular model is programmable and easy to use. 

Instant Pot

The one that has the most functionality is the Instant Pot, 6-Quart 1500W Electric Round Dutch Oven, 5-in-1. Not only does it sear but does several other cooking types like sous vide cooking. If you want an appliance that has multiple functions then this is the one. 

Slow Cooker Safety and Choosing the Right Slow Cooker

Slow cookers have been around for over 100 years working away in the kitchen. However, since the 1970s there has been a rise in concern about lead exposure through ceramic glazes in cookware.

Luckily, the more the public became aware of the dangers of lead poisoning the more companies turned away from it. If you still have concerns about your slow cooker, then here are a few ways to avoid outdated and possibly toxic products.   

Warning labels

1. FDA and California Warning Labels 

With the rise of concern when it came to lead, the FDA stepped in and began implementing a plan to lower lead levels. This made companies either turn away from using lead or brining the lead levels down to what the FDA considered safe. California took this even further with its Proposition 65 labels, letting people know that there may be lead in the product. 

2. For Display Only

Stores tend to display the products on a shelf, so people can see them and get a feel for how they look and work. However, some of these display products are just that, display only. These are not meant to cook foods in and can be unsafe to use as the actual product. 

3. Older or Unknown Slow Cookers

If you have never heard of a certain brand, look into them before taking a slow cooker from that brand. Many big-name brands like Crock Pot and Hamilton Beach have not used lead in their products for over 50 years, and they pledge never to do so on their websites.

Keep in mind that if you don’t know the brand, or if you received an older slow cooker you may need to test them before using them. 

If you know someone who makes their own slow cooker insert make sure you know for sure they don’t use a lead-based glaze. Homemade inserts can be lovely to receive as a gift, but not if they contain dangerous toxins.   

Customer reviews for products

4. See What Other People are Saying

If you’re on Amazon and looking into a slow cooker take a moment to look at what people are saying in the reviews. The question and answer section is a great place to see if the slow cooker has anything dangerous like lead or any other heavy metals.   

5. Use Lead Testing Strips  

The best method of making sure your slow cooker is safe is to test it for yourself. Lead testing kits can be found in most stores, and are usually only a few dollars. These strips turn pink when they detect lead, and testing for yourself is the best way to know for sure.  

Causes of Lead Leaching

Slow cookers cook at lower temperatures for longer periods and because of the strain from heat over longer periods, lead begins to leach. Higher temperature options such as oven cooking have less of a chance of this because of the shorter cook times. The heat chips away at the glaze and weakens it. Age is also a contributing factor to lead leaching.

Helpful Tips for Slow Cooking

Searing your meat can give you a much more flavorful meal, but there are other things that you can do to make the meal better. There are also some things you shouldn’t do when slow cooking as they can be unsafe or ruin your meal.  

Meat chunks

Cut Up Your Meat

Cutting up larger chunks of meat will ensure they cook through evenly. Not cutting your bigger pieces of meat can make them cook unevenly and may take even longer for them to finish cooking. This could lead to overcooked meat on the outside and undercooked meat on the inside. 

Sear Your Meats

Searing your meats before you slow cook them brings out even more flavors. The caramelization on the outside of the meat will help bring the meat to a tender and juicy finish.  

Submerge Your Meat so it Falls Apart 

If you’re making something like pulled pork, then you want your meat to fall apart. To achieve this in a slow cooker, submerge the meats you want to fall apart.  

Pulled pork sandwich

Use Broth Instead of Water

Using a broth instead of water will give your meal even more flavor. Water tends to dilute your meal, and if you use too much it can ruin the flavor. Using a broth, however, will add more flavor. 

Use Non-Abrasive Cleaner

The ceramic insert in your slow cooker can easily be scratched. A scratch in your slow cooker is the beginning of the end for that insert. Eventually, the insert will break down. To prolong the life of your insert, use a non-abrasive pad to clean your slow cooker insert. If food is stuck, try soaking it first, and remember they are dishwasher safe. 

Thaw Your Meat the Day Before

Similarly to cutting your meat, meats need to be thawed out before you slow cook them. Frozen meats will cook unevenly. They will also drop the temperature of the slow cooker and it will take longer to reach safe cooking temperatures. 

Seafood, eggs and mince

Seafood, Ground Meats, and Raw Eggs

When it comes to seafood, you shouldn’t cook it in your slow cooker. It cooks too quickly and can easily become overcooked. Raw eggs also shouldn’t be cooked in the slow cooker. Eggs need higher temperatures to cook, and slow cookers don’t reach high enough temperatures. Ground meats should be cooked before going in the slow cooker as sometimes they will also have trouble cooking properly.

A TIP if you want to use ground meat is to open the slow cooker half way and using a spatula break it down manually (this works for me).

Use Dairy Meant for Heat 

Dairy cooked in high heats for long periods can curdle. Curdling isn’t a bad thing in this case, but it does change the texture of the meal. If you have a meal that calls for a dairy product consider using something like heavy cream or adding the dairy near the end. 

Avoid Frozen Ingredients 

Just like with your meat all your ingredients should be thawed before going in the slow cooker. Frozen ingredients take longer to reach safe temperatures. Either use fresh ingredients or allow frozen ingredients to thaw before slow cooking them.  

Avoid Removing the Lid

You shouldn’t remove the slow cooker lid unless a recipe calls for it. Removing the lid can drop the temperature of the slow cooker and it can take time to get back up to temperature. Removing the lid can also dry out the meal inside, so leave the lid on as long as possible. 

Reheating Your Leftovers

Slow cookers take quite a bit of time to reach a good temperature, and they are not meant for reheating your leftovers. The best way to reheat your leftovers is in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven. 

Reheating in microwave

Avoid Using Broken or Cracked Insert Pots

Using a cracked or chipped ceramic insert is dangerous in multiple ways. If the crack is large enough you may get ceramic pieces in your meal. Even worse the crack could leak into the heating unit and spark a fire. If your insert is broken then consider replacing it and avoid using the slow cooker until you receive a replacement.  

Place Slow Cookers Away from Electrical Outlets 

When using a slow cooker you need to have it in an open space. Slow cookers let out steam, which if left in a closed space can cause condensation build up. If left too close to the electrical outlet the steam can get in the socket and spark an electrical fire. 

Ingredients to Avoid or Add Later

Some ingredients are not meant to be slow-cooked or need to be added to the meal later. Here are a few ingredients that either need special attention or shouldn’t be put in the slow cooker at all. Keep in mind that ingredients that aren’t on this list will yield similar results.

Ingredients that Become Mushy 

Ingredients that cook quickly can become mushy in the slow cooker. The extended cook times for slow cookers can make these ingredients a mushy mess and ruin the meal.

  • Couscous
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Leafy greens
  • Softer vegetables like zucchini or tomatoes 

Ingredients that Shouldn’t go in the Slow Cooker

Not everything agrees with the slow cooker, and it’s the foods that cook quickly. There are certain ingredients that shouldn’t be placed in the slow cooker at all. 

  • Seafood
  • Cooking wine 
  • Extra fat 

Ingredients like seafood cook quickly and they can be overcooked in a slow cooker quite easily. Cooking wine has no space to evaporate and can’t cook-off, so the desired results of using it won’t come through. Extra fats can add more liquid to the slow cooker and make the meal soggy. 

Using Too Much Spice

Slow cookers bring out the flavors of a meal slowly over time and adding ingredients like too many spices or fresh herbs can oversaturate the meal. Too many flavors can conflict and cause the ingredients to clash.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Does Sear Slow Cooker Mean? 

This means that you can take the inner pot and place it on the stovetop to brown meat and caramelize vegetables. You can then take the inner pot and place it in your slow cooker to finish cooking. 

Do You Need to Sear Meat Before Slow Cooking?

No, you don’t need to sear your meat before slow cooking it. The only thing searing your meat does is make the meal more flavorful. If you don’t have time or energy for the extra step then it’s perfectly fine to skip it.

Final Thoughts

Although searing your meat is not a necessary step to slow cooking your meal it does add extra flavor. Hamilton Beach is the best brand that can sear your meats if you’d like to.

Hopefully, this article gave you all the information you need to make delicious and flavorful meals in your slow cooker.    

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