Food & Nutrition

13 Foods You Should Never Put in a Slow Cooker

Low, slow heat can make for some truly droolworthy meals, but it’s important to remember that not every food is crockpot friendly.

Slow your roll

Close up of a slow cooker working on kitchen shelfDevrim PINAR/Shutterstock

It sounds like a miracle meal machine: You dump in your ingredients, plug the thing in, and get a hot, hearty, perfectly cooked meal ready to eat—with next-to-no prep or cleanup time. With recipes for everything from breakfast to drinks (and dessert!), it’s easy to go a little crockpot crazy. But alas, not every food is suited for slow cooking. Even Stephanie O’Dea, author of the New York Times best-selling author of the Make it Fast, Cook it Slow cookbooks, who once used her slow cooker every day for an entire year, admits to having her share of flops. Here are 13 foods to avoid when using your slow cooker.

Rice

Background of long rice close-upPavlo Lys/Shutterstock

It seems like a no-brainer to toss rice and water in a slow cooker and let it do its thing. But the timing matters, says O’Dea. Rice can get overly starchy when it cooks too long, so it tastes gummy. One solution is to add instant rice—which has already been parboiled so it cooks quickly—to the pot when you have about 20 minutes of cooking time left. “This keeps the rice from disintegrating,” says O’Dea. Or use wild rice, which holds up nicely.

Pasta

Image in close-up of raw penne pasta.Ongala/Shutterstock

“If you don’t follow a recipe for pasta that is written specifically for a slow cooker and take note of the timing, it loses shape and becomes wallpaper paste,” says O’Dea. Like rice, pasta is best stirred in at the very end or baked in something like a lasagna. “My best suggestion when slow cooking is to begin with a few tried and true recipes from a trusted source,” she says, “and then after you have your own machine figured out, you can experiment.”

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