soup and cream

Slow cooking is a great way to cook but will cream curdle? Actually yes, using dairy products in the slow cooker may ruin what you’re trying to make. These products are not meant to cook for long periods and can separate while slow cooking. 

Cream will curdle after cooking for long periods. Dairy such as milk, cheese, sour cream, or yogurt will curdle if left to cook for too long. Dairy tends to separate during cooking, separating into oil and water and needs to be stirred frequently. Alternatives like almond milk also have similar issues with separation in heat.   


There are plenty of recipes out there that may call for dairy products in them. The purpose of a slow cooker is hands-off cooking, and when it comes to dairy, it requires more attention.

Let’s see how and when to add dairy to your slow-cooked meal as well as some fixes for problems with the dairy separating. We will also take a look at some dairy alternatives. 

Why Does Cream Curdle in a Slow Cooker

When dairy is cooked at higher temperatures, the fats separate, and without intervention, it begins to curdle. If you’re adding dairy to a meal at the beginning it may require more attention and need to be stirred often to prevent separation. Adding dairy products near the end of the cooking time is ideal to prevent any problems with curdling. 

Will cream curdle in slow cooker

Preventing Cream From Curdling

To avoid oil and water separating in dairy, you should choose to use cooking cream. Another option is Creme fraiche or double cream. These are less likely to split in the slow cooker. However, adding cream to a water-based dish can cause separation and needs to be stirred frequently. Adding a little flour to the dish will also prevent curdling, so roux bases are great for that.  

Fixing Curdled Cream Sauce

If you have a cream sauce that has split and you’re not sure how to fix it, here’s a quick way:

Take ½ cup of heavy cream and reduce on low heat to ⅓ of its original size. Drizzle this over the curdled sauce and stir together. This will bring the sauce back to its original creaminess. 

Dairy Alternatives 

Whatever the reasoning may be, sometimes you need to avoid dairy. There are many plant-based options out in stores now that make choosing an alternative easily. The best part is that these alternatives can be used as a direct substitute, so no guessing on how much to use. 

Milk Alternatives 

There are many different plant-based kinds of milk on the market, and they can easily be used as a substitute for any milk you need in a recipe. They do have the same problem with separation and will need to be stirred.

  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Flax Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Tiger Nut Milk
Alternative milks

Butter Alternatives

Butter can add so much flavor and richness to a dish, but if you’re avoiding dairy, then it’s not helpful. Luckily there are many options to choose from as an alternative to butter.

  • Coconut Oil
  • Ghee
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocados- good for baking 
  • Bananas- they may give a banana taste to whatever you’re making
Different oils

Soft Cheese Alternatives 

If you love dishes with cream cheese, but can’t have cream cheese, then there are options for you to make at home. There are also alternatives at the store made with coconut milk or soy milk.

Option 1:

Soak cashews overnight in a bowl. Then blend them, and combine them with your choice of nut milk and little lemon juice. Keep adding milk until you reach the desired consistency. 

Option 2: 

Blend silken tofu and your choice of spices. This can be used for dips or even as an alternative to nacho cheese.

Hard Cheese Alternatives

Hard cheeses are a bit harder to replicate at home. There are many alternatives in the store to hard cheese. You can also make your own hard cheese at home:

Option 1: 

Take harder tofu and crumble it. Cook the tofu with a pinch of salt and truffle oil. This goes well with pasta dishes that call for cheese. 

Option 2:

Get some nutritional yeast from the store and sprinkle it on the dishes that call for cheese. It has a cheesy taste to it and is packed with nutrients.  

How Different Dairy Products React to Heat

  • Milk

If left alone milk will boil over and eventually curdle. It does not matter what the fat content in the milk is, it all reacts the same. To prevent curdling, stir the milk often. 

  • Heavy Cream

Using heavy cream is one of the best options when it comes to slow-cooking creams. You can heat it, boil it, reduce it how you like and it will be fine. The only thing that may curdle heavy cream is adding an ingredient with acidic properties like tomatoes. 

  • Sour Cream

Sour cream has a low-fat content, which makes it curdle in heat. It’s recommended you add sour cream near the end of the cooking or after your meal is done.

  • Creme Fraiche 

I recommended above to use Creme Fraiche in slow cooker recipes. That’s because it has a high-fat content and is harder to curdle. After experimenting with it you may find that it is fuller and more flavorful than sour cream. 

  • Yogurt 

Even high-fat yogurts are still low in fat. So, like sour cream, they will separate quickly in high heat and should be added near the end.     

Vegan Slow Cooking Tips

Slow cookers are known for their ability to cook meat into a nice and tender dish, but what if you don’t eat meat? Slow cooking is a great way to have a meal ready to go, and there are thousands of vegan options out there.

Here are a few tips for vegan slow cooking. 

  • Know Your Tools

If you have a standard slow cooker with three heat settings then you may already know how it works. Vegan recipes work best on a low setting for longer periods. If you’re using a combination slow cooker like the Instant Pot then you may have to experiment with the heat distribution. Combination style appliances distribute heat differently than traditional slow cookers. 

  • Look for Inspiration 

There are so many recipes online that you can either read or watch a video to learn how to make them. These recipes usually come with tips on how best to make the dish. Learn from these recipes what works best for you. 

  • Know the Ingredients 

Make sure when you’re cooking vegan meals you know how quickly your ingredients cook. Harder vegetables like root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets) will cook longer than leafy vegetables. Harder vegetables should go in first and softer vegetables should be added later.

Similarly, pasta and rice should either be cooked separately or added in later. These tend to become mushy when cooked for long periods. 

  • Experiment and Convert Recipes

If you have a favorite vegan meal then you might be able to convert it to the slow cooker. Slow cookers are great at making soups, stews, and beans. Start slow if you’re unsure and use cheaper ingredients. The important thing is to have fun experimenting to find the perfect dish. 

The Good and Bad of Using a Slow Cooker

Slow cooking is a great way to keep more nutrients in your food, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to using them. Below are a few things to keep in mind when choosing to use a slow cooker. 

What's good and Bad

The Good 

Healthy Options

The nature of a slow cooker has more choices for healthy options. Cooking for yourself means you’re deciding what goes in your food, and which ingredients you’d like to use. There are only a few things like dairy that can’t go in a slow cooker, but the options for a healthy homemade meal are endless. 

Save Money

Slow cookers tend to use less energy than large appliances like an oven. You can also save by buying cheaper cuts of meat. The slow cooker makes those tougher meats nice and tender. 

Easy to Learn

Slow cookers are very easy to learn how to use. There are thousands of recipes out there for your specific taste. All you need is a basic understanding of cooking and you’re ready to learn. 

Convenient to Use

If you want to have a meal at the end of the day but don’t want to cook when you come home, then slow cookers are great for that. You can set up a meal before you go and have it cooked all day. When you return, there will be a meal hot and ready. 

Kills Pathogens

For meat to be safe from bacteria, it needs to be cooked above 140℉. Slow cookers on their lowest setting cook above this at 170℉. When using other appliances that cook food quickly, there is a chance that the internal temperature of your meat doesn’t reach above 140℉, and in some cases can cause food poisoning

Cut Out Extra Fats

With slow cookers, you don’t need to grease up the pot with anything extra like lard or butter. The natural fats in meats already produce quite a bit of moisture, and adding more could cause the pot to spill over from overfilling it. 

Less Burnt Foods

The chances of burning your food in a slow cooker are very low because they have liquid inside. However, there is a chance of overcooking your meal. Follow the directions on the recipe you’re using and follow the cooking time. 

Less Cleaning

When using a slow cooker, you only need the slow cooker pot to cook. This reduces your dish load immensely. You’ll only have plates or bowls from the meal and the pot. If you use a slow cooker liner you have even less to clean out because the pot will simply need to be wiped out. 

The Bad 

Very Slow

The name is slow cooker, and that is exactly what they do, cook slowly. If you’re looking for a quick bite these are not the appliances for that.  


If you’re not familiar with the cook times for certain ingredients then you may overcook them. This can happen if you’re using leaner meats or softer vegetables. Overcooking doesn’t just happen with quicker cooking foods though. Leaving food in the slow cooker too long can dry them out.   

Dilution from the Lid 

Steam tends to build up in a slow cooker, and if you’re making something where that steam can ruin the meal it can be a nuisance. The steam builds up on the lid and turns into condensation dripping back into the slow cooker.  

Extra Steps to Cook Beans

Raw beans should never be placed in a slow cooker as they are toxic. You will need to boil your beans on the stove before slow cooking them to remove the toxic elements in them. This may be an extra step you’re not willing to do.  

Strong Flavors Clash 

Using strong herbs and spices, in the beginning, can cause a bad flavor clash when the meal is done cooking. Slow cookers draw these flavors out and make them more powerful, which may not be what you want.   

Cream in soup

Frequently Asked Questions 

Will Evaporated Milk Curdle in the Slow Cooker?

No, because evaporated milk is created by heating milk and evaporating most of the water from it, it won’t separate in the slow cooker. You can use evaporated milk from the start of the cooking time and it will blend with the ingredients just fine. 

Why Are My Carrots Still Hard in the Slow Cooker?

Hard vegetables like carrots and potatoes need to be placed at the bottom of the slow cooker so they can heat through properly. They need to cook for 4 hours on high and 8 on low. 

Can You Use Jar Sauces in a Slow Cooker?

Yes, using jar sauces makes cooking a meal quicker. You can just add your ingredients and then dump the jar of sauce in. 

Final Thoughts

The fat in dairy products causes them to separate in the slow cooker and curdle. Curdling isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just causes weird textures in the meals. This can be avoided by using heavy creams designed for longer cooking or frequent stirring. Hopefully, this article was helpful in teaching you something new.   

Similar Posts