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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Slow Cooker & Crock-Pot Cooking / Crockpot overcooks everything
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    Crockpot overcooks everything

    Kirsten Ward
    Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:20 am
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    Hello all, just wondered if anyone else had this same problem.

    I have a small crockpot and a large one and have noticed with both of them that they tend to overcook stuff. I recently did a chicken recipe in the small one (it had lots of liquid in it) and after just six hours on low the chicken was overcooked and dry. I'm finding this happening with a lot of different recipes and I'm wondering if "cook for 8 to 10 hours" is really appropriate for modern slow cookers, which I've heard actually cook hotter than the original ones. Or maybe it has to do with how much food I put in? The chicken recipe didn't make a lot of food and I think the cooker was only about half full.

    I've actually been tempted to try cooking something on the "warm" setting to see what happens. Even my big slow cooker has this problem--I've tried to make breakfast recipes overnight in it and it always comes out burned. Should I just be adjusting cooking times or is there something wrong with both of these cookers?

    Thanks in advance!

    Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:49 am
    Forum Host
    Newer crockpots are hotter than the old ones, although this has now been an issue for a long-ish time. Even with the old crockpots, and I've got one, chicken recipes are almost always too long - I find 4 to 6 hours to be quite enough for chicken. Breasts can be very tricky, as it is a drier cut to begin with. I tend to use thighs or drumsticks in the crockpot.

    I don't want most of my meat falling apart, I want to be able to slice things, unless I'm making pulled pork, so I tend to check things much earlier than recipes suggest.

    This of course is a bit discouraging if you are hoping to leave things in the morning to eat for dinner, as for most of us what with travel you are probably leaving things in for nine or ten hours. Some people are finding success by using a timer with the crockpot. Because you are leaving things in for a couple of hours without them cooking at all, it's important to have everything very cold.

    If you have the three-insert one from is it Hamilton Beach?, you can trick the crockpot by, say, using the large insert but setting the controls for the middle sized one.
    Chubby Cook
    Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:48 am Groupie
    Slow cookers need to be 2/3 full to be effective, otherwise the thermostats do not heat properly. Also make sure you have a good seal on your lid so that liquid is retained and not evaporated off. Some newer cookers are known to have a slight warp in the pot so the lid does not seat fully. And do not remove the lid unless absolutely necessary. It causes a loss of heat and moisture and will add an hour to the cooking time each time you do it.
    Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:02 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    That's kind of the opposite problem I have though. If I could add an hour of cooking time just by lifting the lid, then I could set my chicken up to cook for six hours, lift the lid a few times and not have to worry about it being overcooked at the end of the day!

    At any rate, with my crockpot it seems to cook too hot regardless of how often I lift the lid (and I do actually lift it a few times during the course of any one recipe). I don't have the nicer, more expensive crockpots though with the timers ... maybe I just need to invest in one of those.
    Chubby Cook
    Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:55 pm Groupie
    Unfortunately a 'timer' does not change how a slow cooker cooks the food. Keeping the moisture in is the most important criteria, especially if it runs hot. Lifting the lid flushes out the moisture, allows cold air in that causes the slow cooker to heat more, and will ultimately dry out/burn what you are cooking.

    I finally dumped my Rival since I wasn't getting the benefit of "slow cooking" and got another brand that is a little cooler, but I'm keeping my eye out at the yard sales for an old "Brown" crock slow cooker.
    Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:08 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    That is true, but a "timer" would solve the problem of everything overcooking after only a few hours, which seems to be what all four of the crockpots I've owned in the last 10 years or so do. Finding a brand that would cook cooler would also help, if I knew where to look.

    It makes sense that lifting the lid flushes out the moisture, but it doesn't explain why the chicken I did this week was overcooked and dry despite the fact that it was completely submerged in liquid right up until the point I turned the cooker off so I could serve it. I think maybe when a slow cooker is cooking too hot, there's really nothing you can do to save a recipe short of just not cooking it as long.
    Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:25 pm
    Forum Host
    I really think it's a function of time. If you put chicken in a pot and cook it for a long time, it will be dry and tasteless. Hopefully a timer will work out ok for you - a lot of people find that helpful.
    Red Apple Guy
    Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:40 am
    Forum Host
    Yep, chicken loves being dry reqardless whether or not it's swimming in liquid. Cooking by internal temperature is the key, but that usually is inconsistent with the "set it and go to work" thinking that leads us to crock pots anyway.

    I have a slow cooker with a lid that accepts temperature probes and I use that feature a lot (when I'm around the house).

    Some crock-pots have probes attached and cook to desired internal temps and then switch to warm. See Below for 2.

    Hamilton Beach:

    Rival Crock-pot:

    I always read customer reviews before buying. The link to the Rival is a Consumer Guide review.
    Chef #1565441
    Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:21 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    The problem you have is not just taking lid off for a minute but if you check the instrudtions in the book it specifies your crock pot should be 3/4 full. If you keep lid down and fill to proper amount it should work fine. I happen to have 2 crock pots one with and one without a timer. I have never had a problem with either. One is 2 yrs old the other is about 15 yrs (ceramic). Also maybe you could try putting a little more liquid in than is called for. It can't hurt.

    An easy way to clean the crock pot is use pan before you put anything in it. Works great.
    Rainbow - Chef 536866
    Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:06 pm Groupie
    It won't overcook if you take it out when it's done.
    Chubby Cook
    Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:26 pm Groupie
    What's your secret in knowing when a slow cooker meal is done, without lifting the lid?
    Red Apple Guy
    Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:18 pm
    Forum Host
    My crockpot lid has a hole in it for a temperature probe.
    Rainbow - Chef 536866
    Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:48 am Groupie
    I'm a lid lifter. hehehehe But I only lift it up for a very quick moment. Yes, it lets a bit of hot steam out in that two seconds but that's okay. The pots that run hotter can take it. I'm glad I don't have one of the ones that barely heats enough to cook it, although the low settings are great for simmering tomato sauce and keeping it under a boil.

    The only thing that I was not happy with that I did in the crockpot was the roast eye of round. I'm going to try another roast beef, but it was suggested to me that probably the eye of round is not the best cut to use in the crockpot. I also like it so I can slice it, and not to the falling apart stage. Maybe for another kind of dish it would be good falling apart,, like machaca.
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