How to Convert Recipes to a Slow Cooker
Successfully converting your recipe to be cooked in a slow cooker might seem really complicated at first, but it’s actually fairly simple if you follow a few key general rules.
As every slow cooker is different, you might find that there’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to converting recipes.
Don’t get frustrated if something doesn’t quite work out the first time around – practice is key!
For the best chance of success, make sure that you keep an eye on your food, especially towards the end of the cooking time to avoid overcooking it.
Remember, undercooked food can be cooked further, but overcooked food can’t be cooked less.
To help make things a little clearer, we’ve included a handy conversion guide so that you can see how to convert between an oven, Instant Pot® and slow cooking timings at a glance.
Pick the right recipe and ingredients
Any recipe that has a longer cooking time or needs to be slow roasted is a good choice for popping in the slow cooker – that’s things like soups, stews or our Pulled Pork.
Bear in mind that there are certain types and cuts of meat that are better suited to being slow cooked than others.
In general, cheaper and tough cuts of meat work best as they break down more slowly which results in a tender end result after being cooked for a long time.
This is the reason that we use ox cheeks in our Mexican Chilli Beef as they have such a delicious flavour and are really well suited to being cooked slowly.
Things like boneless, skinless chicken breasts or expensive steaks are ones to avoid in the slow cooker as you’ll just end up ruining the meat and turning it to mush!
To take your flavour to the next level, remember to brown your meat before you pop it into the slow cooker to seal in moisture and flavour, and make sure that your meat is all cut to roughly the same size.
Your slow cooker may have a saute setting that will allow you to do this, but if it doesn’t then you can simply brown your meat in a pan on the hob before putting it into your slow cooker.
Any vegetables should also be cut to roughly the same size so that they cook evenly throughout and make sure that you use fresh veg instead of frozen, as frozen vegetables can release extra liquid which will turn them soggy.
Add your ingredients at the right time
Some ingredients cook quicker than others so although it might be tempting, you can’t just throw everything in your slow cooker and expect it all to cook perfectly.
Things like herbs, more delicate vegetables like peppers or beans or things like rice and pasta should be added towards the end of the cooking time, as should any dairy so that it doesn’t split.
To add cooked pasta to your dish, cook it for a few minutes less than the time stated on the packaging and then pop it in your slow cooker near the end of the cook time.
We use this technique of adding cooked pasta in our Baked Spaghetti with Chicken recipe, but if you find it easier then remember you can always just fully cook your pasta and combine it with your dish before serving.
For rice, you can either add in an extra ¼ cup (60 ml) of liquid per ¼ cup of rice, or use parboiled rice and add it in around 20 minutes before the end of the cooking.
Of course, if you’d prefer you can also just add some fully cooked rice in just before you serve!
How much liquid should I use?
Cooking liquid can’t really go anywhere inside a slow cooker, so you’ll need to adjust the amount of liquid that you add in order to avoid making your recipe too watery.
A good starting point is to halve all of the liquids that you would normally use when cooking the recipe in the oven or on the hob.
If you find that this still leaves you with too much liquid, then you can simply place it in a pot and simmer it on the hob at the end of the cooking time or leave the lid off for the last couple of hours (depending on cook time) or until it thickens up.
General conversion times
Our at a glance conversion guide is the quickest and easiest way to figure out different timings when you’re converting recipes.
You can find more detailed information around converting recipes to be cooked in the slow cooker below, but remember that these are just some really rough guidelines, so please keep an eye on your dish as it’s cooking.
If you have a recipe that cooks in the oven for around 15 to 30 minutes, then you’ll need to allow between 4 to 6 hours on low, or 1 ½ to 2 hours on high in your slow cooker.
35 to 45 minutes in the oven would work out at around 6 to 8 hours on low and 3 to 4 hours on high, while longer cooking times of 1 to 3 hours will need to cook for 8 to 12 hours on low, or 4 to 6 hours on high.
If you’re not totally sure about the timing of your dish then we’d suggest cooking it for the lower amount of time and then checking it to see whether it needs to be cooked for longer or not.
Looking for more info around converting recipes? An Instant Pot® is like having a pressure cooker and slow cooker all in one, and our Instant Pot® conversion article is full of really useful tips and tricks to help you achieve Instant Pot® success.
Or, if you’re after more slow cooker recipes, then head over to our slow cooker category page to browse all of the slow cooker friendly recipes on our website.
Are you a member of our Facebook Group? If you have any questions about slow cooking, then our Facebook Group is the place to ask them – we’re more than happy to help!
We love seeing all of your creations, so make sure that you share pictures of your slow cooking successes in the group as well.