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Question About Slow Cooker Sizes
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I have a 4.5 quart slow cooker and have noticed that most everything I cook in there comes out dry or burnt around the edges. Well, most of the recipes I have used call for a 2.5 quart slow cooker, so I'm wondering if it is possible to make adjustments to the recipe, cooking time, or level of heat in order to avoid these mistakes again. Thanks!

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My 4 qt is my small cooker.  I have a 6 that I use regularly.  I think they work best at about 3/4 full.  Maybe make another half a recipe.  I also find that mine cook faster than the recipes say they will.  What are you trying to cook?  maybe I can help.

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The size of slow cooker you use makes a HUGE difference but nearly all recipes can be easily adjusted (unless you have a specific cut of meat or whatever).  Recipes using a 2.5 quart slow cooker?  Interesting because that is very small.  Most recipes seem to call for at least a 4 quart or larger.  Anyway, as Karen recommended, please let us know specifically what you are making and we'll help.  :)

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Yesterday I made turkey meatballs with an apricot dressing on top. The meatballs were fine, but the sugar in the apricot dressing burned and stuck to the sides of the pot. I've had similar experiences with sugar burning to the sides of the pot as well as with meat drying out

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Today's slow cookers cook hotter than older ones. Anything with sugar will burn in a new one. It needs to be at least half full, closer to 3/4 to function optimally. I use my 5-qt most often, but I also have a 4-qt and a 1.5-qt, which I sadly need to replace because I made spaghetti and meatballs in it too many times and it has a gluteny film that won't come out. The 1.5 is perfect for two people, you can cut most recipes in half for it.

 

I haven't seen many recipes call for a 3-qt or smaller though.

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Thank you all for your help:)

 

Karichelle, you said not to use a slowcooker to cook anything with sugar, right? Well I have a slowcooker cookbook for people who need to be gluten-free and a lot of the recipes call for sugar in them, but the recipes were also made especially to be cooked in slowcookers, so is that still okay?

 

Also, would adjusting the heat and cook time prevent me from having add enough to make the pot 3/4 full?

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Sometimes the slow cookers themselves are at fault.  I returned the first one  I bought because it burned things  even on low.  My new one doesn't burn things even on  high, though I suppose with enough sugar and not a lot of liquid it could :rolleyes:

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With sugary things, it can really be dependent on a lot of things. For instance, I do a pulled pork and cover the pork in non-diet root beer made with cane sugar. Never had a problem. But, once I shred it and cover it in BBQ sauce, there is a limit to how long I can let it cook before it will crisp the sugar around the edges. The time also depends on which one of my pots I use (size) and which heat setting. There are just so many variables and I think sometimes that recipes just need tweaking. For me, skip thick sugary sauces for long cooks in the pots and only use them long enough to add flavor and make them warm.

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With sugary things, it can really be dependent on a lot of things. For instance, I do a pulled pork and cover the pork in non-diet root beer made with cane sugar. Never had a problem. But, once I shred it and cover it in BBQ sauce, there is a limit to how long I can let it cook before it will crisp the sugar around the edges. The time also depends on which one of my pots I use (size) and which heat setting. There are just so many variables and I think sometimes that recipes just need tweaking. For me, skip thick sugary sauces for long cooks in the pots and only use them long enough to add flavor and make them warm.

 

So when do you think I should add the sauce?

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I add sugary sauces when the meat is either fully or mostly cooked. I just kind of feel it out with each recipe. I cook the meats with a liquid sauce first and add the thick sauces later. It is more complicated, but I don't burn them either. Maybe other people have other solutions.

 

Totally unrelated, but I used to have a problem with everyone in the house picking up the lid on my crockpot all day. Nothing will cook right and everything burns, in my experience, when people do this. If people are doing that, whack them with your spoon and tell them to back off. The lid should only come off when you add sauces, spices, or serve.

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Thank you all for your help:)

 

Karichelle, you said not to use a slowcooker to cook anything with sugar, right? Well I have a slowcooker cookbook for people who need to be gluten-free and a lot of the recipes call for sugar in them, but the recipes were also made especially to be cooked in slowcookers, so is that still okay?

 

Also, would adjusting the heat and cook time prevent me from having add enough to make the pot 3/4 full?

I didn't really say not to use it to cook anything with sugar, just advised that it would burn...I guess I should have said, "If overcooked." Just watch it for the last couple of hours, and if you're trying out a new recipe do it on the weekend when you can watch it and see if you need to shave an hour or two off the time. I bought a digital timer programmable one for this reason.

 

You can shorten the time if it's not quite half or 3/4 full, but you still run the risk of it overcooking.

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I have had slow cookers since they first came out many years ago and they do cook things at such a higher temp than they used to. I have become  disgusted with trying to use them for many things. To me they seem to need much less time than the recipe recommends and they often boil over spilling out. Usually I will put them on high for about an hour than decrease the temp to low. I will not even attempt to cook any beef except for recipes calling for browned ground beef in them. I have had most brands available these days and even one with a vent on the lid but still am not happy about using them anymore like I used to. As for chicken I will only cook thighs or legs in it and never white meat anymore as it will dry out too much.

 

The original slow cookers were intended for people who will go out to work all day and come home to dinner ready in the slow cooker. I thought they were great but I certainly don't feel that way anymore about todays slow cookers. And it is true that sugary things will easily burn. If I make applesauce with sugar in it in the slow cooker it will always stick to the sides and burn and I will have to soak the slow cooker for a while to clean it.

 

I now have a 4 quart Cuisanart slow cooker which also has a simmer function on it in addition to low, high, and warm. It is programable but you have to be there watching it to change the settings. So I am happy with it but I do have to be home and there to watch it and to change the settings of the temp as needed.

 

They say the slow cookers should never be more or less than 2/3 full but I have done that and still have had problems with things boiling over or burning or drying out. I tried using slow cooker bags also but was not that impressed with them.

 

I think slow cookers these days have limited uses. Good for things like soups, sloppy joes, chili, and recipes using only chicken thighs or legs. I would also suggest you use a food thermometer to check for the doneness of things rather than going by the recommeded time in the recipes. I really do like using slow cookers though especially in the summers here when you don't want to have to turn the oven on. I have two cookbooks I especially like for slow cookers as they have several variations of the same food in them and the recipes are from people in different parts of the country but still the recommended times for recipes are too long. Anyway the two books are both by compiled by Phyllis Pellman Good and Dawn J. Ranck and one is called Fix-It and Forget It (Feasting with your Slow cooker) and the other is Fix-It and Forget-It (For Entertaining) and no recipes are duplicated in the books so they are especially useful to me.

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