Dropping a bunch of fresh ingredients into a slow cooker and allowing them to slowly cook over the course of a day is a great way to gain some control over your time, and to still end up with an amazing meal at the end of the day.
Sometimes we come home from work just too tired to be able to muster up the effort to cook an entire healthy meal.
A slow cooker helps to eliminate that exact problem. However, if you want your slow cooker to really be the culinary hero of your dreams, then you need to make sure you are using it just right.
There are certain things you should and should not be putting into your slow cooker, and there are certain ways you should use a slow cooker to ensure that it works at its best.
Of course, another great modern convenience is the kitchen freezer, which helps you to lengthen the life span of many foods. But can you put meat that has been frozen straight into a slow cooker from the freezer? Let’s take a closer look.
Can You Put Frozen Meat Into a Slow Cooker?
We would really advise against putting frozen meat directly into the freezer. This is because, during the thawing process, the meat becomes vulnerable to bacteria again. Slow cookers, as evidenced by their name, operate by slowly inducing heat over time to cook a dish steadily.
This slow heating would not be quick enough to kill off bacteria or prevent it from reaching the meat.
If frozen meat is placed into the slow cooker with other ingredients, those other ingredients are also likely to develop some bacteria, thanks to their close proximity to the yet uncooked meat.
Thus it could be considered very unhealthy to place frozen meat straight into the slow cooker without cooking it ahead of time.
Can You Put Frozen Cooked Meat Into a Slow Cooker?
No. Even if the meat has been cooked before it has been frozen, it is not recommended to place it directly into your slow cooker.
This is because even in such a state, it will still draw bacteria as it thaws, and the cooking process is not quick enough to prevent the bacteria from thriving or reaching other ingredients.
What Should You Do Before Putting Meat Into a Slow Cooker?
If you want to place some meat into your slow cooker, you should aim to let it thaw out fully, first. This would allow the cooking process of the slow cooker to get a head start in killing off bacteria, and allow the meat to cook. Even better than this, however, is to lightly cook the meat ahead of time.
If you are using your slow cooker to create a chili, then you should cook your mincemeat quickly first, until it takes on a slight brown color. Once this has been done, it will be safe to add to the rest of your ingredients, and the slow cooking time will allow it to cook to absolute perfection. Trust us, it really tastes amazing.
What Should You Not Cook in a Slow Cooker?
As well as frozen meats, there are a few other things you should really avoid putting into a slow cooker. Some of these things do not take well to the slow cooking process, and their textures and tastes will spoil.
Don’t cook dairy products, such as cheeses, milk, or yogurts in a slow cooker, as the process will cause them to curdle, which not only is disgusting but is largely irreparable, and can completely ruin the rest of the dish.
As well as dairy products, you also should avoid placing products like rice, pasta, and couscous into your slow cooker. This is because they lose their structure and become rather like an unappetizing paste. This is a great waste of otherwise great ingredients. Make sure to cook the rice separately from chilis and curries, to avoid this problem.
Can You Put Just Raw Meat into a Slow Cooker?
The answer to this will depend on what you are cooking. If you are cooking meat such as beef, then it is perfectly safe to cook it in the slow cooker, just make sure to cover the cooking pot with plenty of oil, to keep the meat from sticking.
If you are planning on cooking poultry, such as chicken, it is safe to cook it raw, provided it’s cooked alongside other ingredients, or cooked as part of a stew or a curry. Simply placing some raw chicken into a slow cooker can cause bacteria to spread out into the cooking pot, which is difficult to clean off, and could spoil future meals.
Either way, the slow cooking process is a great way to make meat truly flavorsome, so cooking chicken as part of a curry in a slow cooker is better than simply just cooking chicken by itself, as the slow cooking process will ensure that the chicken absorbs the flavor of the curry.
Let’s Finish Up
While it is possible to cook meat in a slow cooker, we really don’t recommend cooking it there from frozen. Frozen meat cooked in a slow cooker can harbor masses of bacteria, and this bacteria will not be killed off quickly enough, thanks to the slow cooking process.
Instead of placing frozen meat into your slow cooker, you should instead aim to either thaw the meat before use or even cook it before putting it into the slow cooker.
You also should avoid placing dairy products and rice into a slow cooker, as they can be spoiled by the long and slow cooking process, rendering them mushy, unappetizing, or completely flavorless!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Defrost Meat Quickly?
You can easily defrost your meat in the microwave. This helps you to achieve the perfect temperature for defrosting, without risking overcooking or burning your food. Many modern microwave ovens also tell you the perfect amount of time for cooking or defrosting certain types of meat, which is very handy.
Can I Cook Frozen Meat?
You can very much cook frozen meat via other means than a slow cooker. It is perfectly safe, it just might take a little longer. However, the texture and taste of the meat may be slightly different, as quickly moving between a frozen state to a cooked state can significantly alter the molecular structure of the meat itself.
How Can I Defrost Meat Quickly Without A Microwave?
If you don’t have a microwave, you can still defrost your meat a lot quicker than it would otherwise take. Simply place your meat in a bowl of cold water. The cold water is slightly warmer than the frozen temperature of the meat, but not hot enough to cause thermal shock, which could damage the meat.