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Apr 12, 2009 12:31 PM

Cookbook recs slow cooker

I just got a slow cooker. Am really excited. Does anyone have a cookbook to recommend with recipes featuring the slow cooker?


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  1. Hey, Sarah! I don't have a cookbook rec (though there are some very good ones out there.."Not Your Mother's ...something something" is one I've seen mentioned)...but I will offer you this website by a woman who cooked ONLY with crockpot for the entire year of 2008...she gives reviews of how each recipe turned out, now of course, we don't all have the same tastes..but it's quite good! Also, there is a very good recipe on this board for Thai Thighs in the slow cooker that I really love...but here's the website for the funny lady who only cooked with crockpot all year long:


    2 Replies
    1. re: Val

      She IS a funny lady--what a concept! I bookmarked it to peruse more at a later date. Could you imagine cooking only out of your crock for a whole year? Wow!

      1. re: kattyeyes

        LOL...and I saw her interviewed on YouTube or something...she's pretty funny and her posts are funny...I don't think that her tastes and mine are the same but I'm slowly checking out some of her "good ones." Quirky is probably how I'd describe her!

    2. Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of the "ham cooked in pepsi" and "canned mushroom soup" variety of slow cooker recipes. My 3 favorite cookbooks tend to include classic recipes as well as "different" kinds of things you can make, such as breakfast items, vegetarian, and healthier meals:

      -"Not you mother's slow cooker" by Beth Hensperger.
      - "Slow cooker ready & waiting" by Rick Rodgers.
      - "The healthy slow cooker" by Finlayson.

      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: poptart

        I agree with those three especially the Rick Rogers one and would add "The Gourmet Slow Cooker" by Lynn Alley

        1. re: billieboy

          Yes on the Lynn Alley one - now two. I have both volumes and love them.

      2. Any cookbook or site that tells you you can throw everything in and get a good dinner isn't worth using. I've found that 95% of what you see goes along those lines. If you can get past the name, I finally found a decent cookbook, The Sensational SlowCooker Gourmet but Judith Finlayson, at the library. She covers hints like the importance of searing meat, sauteeing vegetables, using less liquids, when to use a towel to absorb steam, when slowcookers don't work, what cuts of meat work best, etc. This is the first cookbook that I've seen that does that. I find using a slow cooker more time consuming than using the stove or oven but it comes in handy for people who want to come home to a hot dinner.

        7 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Okay, this is the comment I find to be such a bummer: "I find using a slow cooker more time consuming than using the stove or oven..." I really want to believe it it less time consuming. :)

          I guess I can continue to pretend and get mushy results, or I can invest the time and get food that tastes good.

          I'm going to look into that cookbook.

          Chowser, have you found any online sources for slowcooker recipes that have been consistently reliable?


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Well, it is less time consuming in that you don't have to stay home to babysit your food while it's cooking... If I had the fancy All Clad slow cooker where I could sear on the stove in the crock, it would make a big difference. But, I use a pan to sear and sautee and then have to clean it (which can be a mess because of all the fond, even if I deglaze). Then, if I want a thicker sauce, which comes naturally with oven/stove braising, I have to either transfer it to another pan and thicken; cheat and add cornstarch and water; or move the meat and use an immersion blender to thicken it. However, the sauce is still good w/out doing all that, just not as that thick, and I often don't if we're starving. It's just not quite as good as a braise in the oven. But, after trying too many recipes where you put everything in and get mush and none that tasted great, I've decided it's worth the time to do the presteps. The other limitation is that fatty cuts of meat work well but nothing lean. I have yet to have a decent chicken breast out of the slow cooker.

            I liked a few of the things from that cookbook but last week tried the arroz con pollo and it was terrible. I haven't found anything online that I like, as slow cooker recipes go. I find it better to modify my favorite recipes for things. Oh, I thought of one more thing that's good in the crockpot--all day simmering pasta sauce w/ meatballs. Someone here at CH said her/his grandmother threw raw meatballs into the sauce and simmered for hours. It works great. The meatballs are nice and soft and pick up the flavor of the sauce. But I do start the sauce on the stove.

            1. re: chowser

              One trick to get a thicker sauce or stew in the slow cooker is to add a tablespoon or two of instant tapioca granules.

              Searing meat first always add flavor, but I sometimes don't, and it usually works out fine. For example, throw a nice chuck pot roast in the cooker with a jar of salsa for 6 or 7 hours until it falls apart, no searing needed, and you get all-purpose mexi-meat you can use for tacos, burritos, or just serve over rice.

              And definitely get yourself some of those Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner bags, so you don't have to scrub the stoneware.

              1. re: Vladimir Estragon

                I am not a big fan, but do like it for somethings.

                I make an awesome pork loin with beer, apple cider, fresh herbs, red potatoes, parsnips, crimini mushrooms, cabbage and fresh apple slices. I it is easy, no searing, no mushy veggies, great flavor, it falls off the bone and you couldn't ask for anything more flavorful. Rosemary, thyme and bay, garlic and great flavor. A little corn starch lightly thickens, but tapioca is great, potato flakes, flour, any thickener is great. It makes a great roast. A nice hearty roll to soak up the juices and dinner. I put it all in the pot in the am and then turn on.

                Yes searing would help, but when I use the crock pot ... I don't have enough time for anything so it is throw it in and go. I never had mushy or not good. But I only do things that I think will come out good. Whole chickens to me are not good, the skin is soggy, but some things do work.

                Cook books, actually I look for those mini ones at the grocery store 10-12 recipes. I have found them much better than an actual book that was given to me as a present. One which was named above. I tried a few of their recipes and didn't like either so now I search online or just use those little books. I may not follow exactly but I do get the main idea and then I tailor it to my liking.

                Meatballs are good as listed below, some roasts, soups, chilis, and many other dishes.

                Tomorrow I am making spicy Italian sausage, chicken thighs cut up, Italian seasoning, 3 sliced peppers, jalapenos, garlic, canned tomatoes with basil and oregano, a little chili paste, mushrooms sliced, onion and then served over rice. It is simple, but I'm teaching my Dad. Easy 5 hours on high and very good. Not gourmet by any means but my Dad will love it and it is something he can make for a few good meals. I even add the rice right in the crock the last 30 minutes.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  I'd think a whole stewing hen would be good indeed, no? Of course you don't eat the skin; it goes back into the pot with bones and seasoning vegetables. But the skin protects the hen while it slowly simmers.

              2. re: chowser

                Meatballs are great in the slow cooker, but what we like even better is Italian sausage. In a good pasta sauce or truthfully, just in a can of stewed tomatoes. I've done them by browning first and also when in a hurry, just put them in the pot and add the tomatoes. You don't need to add one other thing and the sausage comes out really wonderful. Cook for 6-8 hours and you have sausage for a great sandwich or pasta.

                1. re: jackie de

                  I dis a simialr sausage and pepper dish last night in slow cooker, got the recipe for emeril's green site.

                  4 sausage casing removed-throw in bottom of cooker
                  1 large onion sliced
                  2 peppers I did orange and red sliced
                  1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
                  2 cups of chix broth
                  cook on high for 2 hrs and served over egg noodles

                  was really good and makes alot.

          2. I do quite a bit of slow cooker cooking and I find the Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook: Come Home to Home-Cooked Comfort, to be a great cookbook. It is not your usual slow cooker recipes. It even has some great recipes that are company worthy.

            20 Replies
            1. re: swamp

              Thank you so much for the suggestions. I think I will take some of these out of the library. I'm curious chowser, if you've found any recipes of the throw-in-the-pot kind that you did like?

              1. re: SarahKC

                Stock works great in a crockpot. I put in chicken carcass (or other bones), onions, carrots, celery, seasoning and let it go all day. It's perfect. You can make great caramelized onions in it, just butter, onions and salt--no stirring like on the stove. Even vegetarian meals, like eggplant chickpea stew, works better when you sautee the vegetables first but they're not as bad as meat dishes, if you put everything in. Meat ends up mushy and tasting all the same. The only meat dish I do w/out browning is crockpot pulled pork. These are two of my favorites (I do the second one more often--so easy that my kids make it):



                Keep in mind that the crockpot is slow moist roasting and liquids don't evaporate so reduce it by 1/2-1 cup. I've also used a kitchen towel, doubled, below the lid and that helps absorb some moisture. I've made no boil noodles lasagne that way. It's not as good as oven baked because you don't get the crusty top but it's still pretty good and the benefit is you come home to a hot dinner. The one thing you want to be careful with is not to overcook it, so plan your time carefully. The ricotta can taste rubbery. Bechamel sauce doesn't work well in it. Custards like bread pudding also work well in it. I've made good pumpkin bread pudding in it, on low. Again, be sure not to overcook.

                1. re: chowser

                  Amen on the stock! It's great for this. Also,l for cooking dried beans (I then divide and freeze for future use in quick meals). I have made throw-in the pot split pea soup, a chili-esque stew (diced stew beef, black beans, red beans, black olives, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, chili spices) as well as lentil soup (carrots, onion, tomatoes, smoked sausage, lentils), strawberry-rhubarb compote, other fruit compotes.
                  Stone-ground grits (soak overnight, then cook all day), steel-cut oatmeal or other whole grains cooked overnight for breakfast are other "dump in and cook" things I make on a regular basis.

                  Good luck!

                  1. re: poptart

                    How do you do dried beans in the crockpot? I just read that in the cookbook I mentioned above and thought it would be a perfect way to do it. I also would love to try compotes. I haven't done much as slow cooker desserts go (only have one and it's used for dinner). Idid try a cake that was terrible.

                    Thanks to PAO for the Rick Bayless suggestion. I can't wait to give it a try.

                    1. re: chowser

                      What I do is soak the beans overnight in cool water. You can add a little lemon juice or whey if you like while soaking (said to improve digestibility of beans).

                      Then, the day I want to use the beans I change the water and simply turn on the slow cooker to go 7 hours. Beans seem to be very forgiving time-wise so that number isn't set in stone.

                      Compotes are so nice and uncomplicated. "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker" has the strawberry rhubarb compote....very easy. I've made other compotes combining fresh and dried fruits adding juices (apple, orange) and spices (cinnamon, star anise, etc) or just keep them simple and they are always good. Prunes and apricots are particularly nice this way as they seem to mingle well with the flavors in the slow cooking.

                      Sounds like cakes are better left to regular ovens, although I have made the biscotti from the "Gourmet Slow Cooker 1" book and they were quite nice!

                      1. re: poptart

                        Thanks--I'lll have to try that. I'll bet baked beans would work great in it, too. Biscotti? How does that work?

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Yeah, when I think of biscotti, I think of dry high heat.

                            Now that I think of it, there is a dessert I used to make in the crock pot that was good--fudgey brownies. Super decadent, gooey fudge on it. I haven't done this in a long time.


                            1. re: chowser

                              Yes, the biscotti thing sounded so unlikely that I had to try it. Found the recipe online here:

                              Basically, you bake the "loaf" in the slow cooker, resulting in cakey biscotti, which can be sliced and baked a second time for a more traditional biscotti.
                              I liked the flavor of these, and because I tend to like cakey cookies they were a thumbs-up for me. Those who don't like the "cakey" type may not consider these as good. But...very easy to make while you are doing something else, and you don't need the oven for them unless you are baking a second time, which is pretty quick.

                              The brownie recipe looks interesting, I may have to try it sometime!

                              1. re: poptart

                                The brownie recipe is low brow decadence. It's not something I serve to company but the kids love it, especially on cold days, served w/ ice cream.

                                I'm going to have to try that recipe ust because I'm curious about the once baking for long (though I guess technically it's not biscotti since it's only once "baked"). I wonder if you could cook it w/ a kitchen towel under the lid, instead of letting it cook for an hour w/out the lid, to absorb the moisture. I think I'll give this a try today. My kids like once baked biscotti better anyway.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I wonder if you could do the second bake in a toaster oven so you don't have to heat up the whole house?

                                  How does that cookbook preview work? Can you do it for any cookbook?


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I have no idea. I've found that preview when I've done google searches but don't know anything more about it. It's a great idea, though.

                                2. re: poptart

                                  BTW, that cookbook preview looks really good. I'm going to have to try some of those recipes. Risotto in the slow cooker? If that would work, I'd make it much more often. Thanks for the link.

                      2. re: poptart

                        I've tried a few others from this particular cookbook...one that I like a lot is the moussaka which I noticed is also in that preview.
                        It's funny, I don't remember those previews typically having that many pages available! My guess is that the publishers make them available to help sell the book.

                        Chowser, let us know if you try the biscotti, and that risotto recipe. :-)

                        1. re: poptart

                          My kids loved the biscotti. I think it's biscotti-like but not quite a biscotti. The dough was more like regular cookie dough than biscotti dough, wetter than I would have thought so I did put a kitchen towel doubled over, under the lid. It was damp and the lid wet when it was done so I'm glad I did it. After an hour w/out the lid, the center was still slightly moist but the end pieces were more like biscotti. My kids preferrred the moist pieces. I should probably face that they don't like biscotti. I buttered the crockpot well but it was still hard for me to remove.

                          I'll give the moussake recipe a try. Thanks for the heads up.

                      3. re: chowser

                        Confess I can't imagine making lasagne that way: I'll gladly make them ahead of time in an oven or toaster oven (for me or one guest and me) and reheat them. Interested in all kinds of braises.

                    2. re: swamp

                      I second the Southern Living one, love it. And The Gourmet Slow Cooker - a great one.

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        I picked up the SL one from my Moms house (Dad and I are cleaning out the house and Mom had some 200 cook books). Never used the SL but looking at it just now it is pretty good. Seems a bit better than some of the others I have looked at. I haven't been happy with too many of the books, but I did find 3-4 already that look yummy.

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          Glad you like it, K. I've made probably a dozen recipes out of there. But the Slow Cooker Gourmet is really wonderful, as is Lydie Marshall's Slow-Cooked Comfort.
                          Are you planning to keep your mom's cookbook collection? I know you're not a big cookbook person.

                          1. re: bayoucook

                            I'm not a big fan I admit, but the ones I have are unique ones from various towns or cities I have visited. I love the local recipes which I find interesting. Some from local chefs and others just from every day cooks, but I find the local inspirations a lot of fun to read about. I have a couple of "collections of Italy ... pasta" that friends sent me, and a few german books all from local towns where friends have been. My moms joy of cooking and 1990 to current annual southern living. I actually found some good recipes in those. I kept about another 20-30 books and some are a lot of fun to go through. One is from a small town in MN, called MN Magic. All local recipes with fish, wild rice which is very big up there venision and many other local foods. Haven't read it all but very interesting.

                            There was a wild rice soup recipe in the MN cookbook similar to mine but a few other ingredients which I found interesting so I probably combine mine and theirs to see how it comes out.

                            Now baking ... cookbook all the way. I definitely follow recipes. I do bake but cooking is what I am good at baking, I can hold my own but prefer the cooking side :)

                            I'm making a version of a SL for my Dad tomorrow.

                    3. Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. Not completely a slow cooker cookbook but has a lot of great slow cooker recipes.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: PAO

                        Thanks for mentioning this, definitely going to check it out!! Any favorites you'd recommend trying first from this book?

                        1. re: poptart

                          The tomatillo pork and the lamb birria (lamb jalisco style) were my favorites of the slower cooker recipes. But the the chicken slow cooker recipes were also quite good.

                          On the non-slow cooker side, be sure to try the chipotle meatballs and the seafood soup.

                          1. re: PAO

                            I just scanned this index from Mexican Everyday and it seems, on the surface, that there are only four recipes in the book labeled "slow-cooker" or "slow-cooked": one each for beans, chicken, lamb and pork. Are there more than just the four that just aren't labeled in the index as "slow-cooker" recipes?


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I don't have the book with me, but my recollection is that there is more than one chicken recipe for a slow cooker. Maybe well more than one.

                              1. re: PAO

                                These all sound fantastic. I saw that my local library has the book, I may check it out and if it looks like something I will use a lot will definitely buy!!

                                1. re: poptart

                                  FYI Rick Bayless twitters and his twittering is good, with recipes and links to photos and menus served at his restaurants.

                                  1. re: PAO

                                    Thanks for the tip--I just saved RickBayless.com as a favorite and checked out the twittering, too.

                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                OK, here are the slow cooker recipes in the Bayless book Chicken w/tomatillos, potatoes, jalapenos, and fresh herbs. Chicken ala Veracruzana. Slow braised lamb jalisco-style (the lamb birria). Tomatillo pork braise with pickled chiles. Guajillo spiced pork and potatoes. Slow-cooked achiote pork (cochinita pibil)

                                1. re: PAO

                                  6 recipes is pretty good! Thank you for checking!


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    De nada. The rest of the cookbook is well worth having as well. The premise is to make Mexican cooking--traditionally very labor intensive and time consuming--quicker so that you don't have to reserve a weekend to do it.

                                    1. re: PAO

                                      I have had my eye in this particular cookbook for some time now. Thanks for the nudge/confirmation I really need to pick it up! I can't wait till we get the Create channel back so I can see his show again.

                                  2. re: PAO

                                    There are also the beans, may not sound like much, but I use the recipe every time for perfect beans, also the riff with the browned pork cubes that makes an all-in-one dinner.

                            2. re: PAO

                              I've been eyeing Mexican Everyday for a while and am glad to read your positive feedback about it here. I also just found this blog today--"I'm slowly cooking my way through the recipes listed in Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless and writing little reviews of how each recipe turns out." How fun!


                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                Wow! and as you can see, that blogger liked most of the recipes a lot. I'm a real fan of his.

                                1. re: PAO

                                  For the beans alone (not mentioning the riff with pork cubes to make it a complete dinner if you like) Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday is worth it. And the Guajillo Spiced Pork and Potatoes!
                                  Heaven. Ciel!