Crockpot/Slow Cooker Cooking

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2010 - 2013 Recommendations

Slow cooker for vegetarian family?

March 2013

I'm wondering if those of you in vegetarian families have found good uses for their slow cookers? (We eat fish, but I can't imagine it's great for that.) Is it worth taking up the counter space? Have you found it helpful in cooking beans and other legumes? I'm looking for something to make evenings easier, as I tend to have a bit (not a whole lot, but a bit) of spare time in the mornings. We're not big on soups (husband doesn't find them filling enough), but I could see us being ok with a hearty stew maybe once a week, and I would be happy to bring stew leftovers for weekday lunches. Any advice on good recipes or cookbooks? We're into lots of different kinds of food, but cook a lot of Mexican, Thai, and Indian. Thanks! Slow Cooker Curious

I find my slow cooker awesome for cooking beans and stews. I am not vegetarian, so I can't say anything about that aspect, but when it comes to long-cooking beans, nothing beats a slow-cooker, since you don't have to be home while the cooking happens. It's pretty great to come home to a ready, hot meal. They do take up a lot of counter space. I store mine in a cupboard when it's not in use. anon

I have found several recipes that my family loves in The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. There is one small section on meat dishes, but the majority of the book is vegetarian. The slow cooker is great for cooking dried beans and lentils. Pseudo-Veg Family

I am very curious myself to see what the other BPN members will respond to this! I have received the latest issue of Good Housekeeping magazine and they have three recipes with lentils in the slow cooker. Emilie

I am vegetarian and I have a slow cooker I use occasionally. There are cookbooks out there, the one I have is called ''fresh from the vegetarian slow cooker,'' by Robin Robertson. I have to say, though, that I never really love the meals that result, maybe that is why I don't use it much. Veg stews end up too mushy if you try to start them in the morning. Maybe use a timer so it starts mid-day. But you can also make veg sides like mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and desserts or apple butter - that was my favorite thing I have made. Marnie

The slow cooker is GREAT for vegetarian meals, especially beans and lentils. My two favorite slow-cooker cookbooks are ''Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook'' and ''Cooking Light Slow Cooker.'' Even though neither book is completely vegetarian, both have very good vegetarian sections. ''Not You Mother's'' Has a great primer on cooking beans and the cooking time for different types of beans. It also has a ton of great advice on slow cookers in general and how to adapt regular recipes to the slow cooker. Another book I have but haven't dug into much yet is called ''The Indian Slow Cooker.'' Martha Stewart's website has lots of good recipes. Just search on vegetarian crockpot and a lot will come up. Mary

I use my slow cooker all the time to cook beans, veggie stocks, and more. Two things that I was amazed to discover come out great are polenta (creamy and delicious with no stirring) and risotto. But the biggest gamechanger for me was the book The Indian Slow Cooker. It's about 80% vegetarian and has seriously changed my life: all kinds of dal, aloo gobi, saag paneer, etc., all made in the slow cooker. Fantastic! It's also great for making your own yogurt because of the slow, steady low heat. I'd say we use the slow cooker at least once a week. It lives on top of the refrigerator so it doesn't take up counter space except when it's running. Enjoy! Slow cooker fan

I LOVE my slow cooker. I am not strictly vegetarian, however tend towards it. My favorite cookbooks are the Make it Fast, Cook it Slow series, especially the first one with the yellow cover. She cooks gluten free and has kids, making notes at the end of most recipes about her family and how they liked it. I've learned to tailor the recipes to more veggies or all vegetarian, and the bean recipes are out of this world. With simple substitutions I am completely happy. Plus the wonder of coming home to a fully cooked meal is not to be dismissed. I recommend you try it. You'll learn what to have in your pantry so you can throw something together in less than 10 minutes. And you can more easily use top end ingredients. Julie

We eat mostly veg, and I've never coveted a slow cooker, but I looooove my pressure cooker. It cuts the cooking time for beans and legumes from several hours to a matter of minutes, and turns out the kinds of hearty soups and stews I think you're looking for in the same time-frame as pasta or a stir fry. We have a Hawkins Futura (check it out on Amazon) and our favorite recipe book is the one that came with the pressure cooker - we use it several times a week. Just a thought.

We were vegetarian when we got married and received a Crockpot as a wedding gift. After perusing the little recipe book that comes with the Crockpot we returned the entire thing. So, no, as vegetarians, we didn't think it would be all that helpful. Then we started eating meat recently and went out and bought a Crockpot! But I haven't been too impressed with the quality of the meals, or the time saved (it's more like time re-allocation--instead of doing all the work at dinner time you have to find the time in the morning or the night before). So, we are not so thrilled with our Crockpot. It sits on our counter and is used as storage for our coffee beans. Not a fan

What a great question! I'm a vegan and I use my slow cooker ALL the time. A great book to start with is The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester. Some really great, easy, and delicious recipes! I have a blog ( ) and I've posted about some of the recipes - just search on my blog for ''slow cooker'' or ''crock pot'' I'd highly recommend buying the book - definitely well worth every cent. $12.38 on Amazon today! Christine

Healthy slow-cooker cookbook

Oct 2010

I am looking for recs on a healthy slow-cooker cookbook...the ones I've looked at use ingrediants like condensced cream of mushroom soup, ketchup and onion soap mix. I'd like some recipes with just simple, healthy ingredients. Thanks

I won't say there ISN'T a 'healthy' slow cooker cook book, but I've looked at many and they all seem to be like you described. I have 2, and I just substitute ingredients and kind of make up my own stuff. I've also gotten some good ones on line. Good luck. anon

I'm usually very happy with 'art of the slow cooker' by andrew schloss. We also slow cook a number of the stews from 'the best recipe' Many of our favorite meals are from these two books some of the recipes don't really need slow cooking, but no harm done either. I just cook using a Le crueset pot in the oven (not w a slow cooker. still figuring out slow cooking

try: anon

I have been enjoying 'Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook' by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. A lot recipes and many many tips that will help you convert regular recipes to the slow cooker and teach you to modify recipes to suit your needs/tastes. I also have the Cooking Light slow cooker cookbook. It has healthy recipes and good instruction, too. It isn't as extensive as 'Not Your Mother's' and some of the recipes are a little too sophisticated for a 'throw something together for the kids' weeknight meal. So if you want one book, I'd get 'Not Your Mother's.'

I love my slow cooker, have several slow cooker cookbooks, and try to get everyone addicted to it. The two cookbooks I have that I use most - and that have lots of options other than the cream soup base - are: (1) Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are by Robin Robertson (2) Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann Enjoy! Slow Cooking Family

Cooking Light Slow Cooker is great. Tasty all natural recipes. Minor draw back - because you're not using cans of stuff & fat to add flavor, many of the recipes require a lot of different herbs/spices. As I'm not a real cook, I had to sometimes leave out items or make sure I bought ahead of time. Crockpot Queen

I hate cooking, but I love using my slow cooker! Two books I like: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook and Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever (my personal favorite!) Here's the link to the second one: Happy slow cooking to you! Pam

Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Slow Cooker Willaims-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking The Gourmet Slow Cooker (Lynn Alley) Secrets of Slow Cooking (Liana Krissoff) Not a can of soup in sight... I would check or Ebay for these cook books as none are very new. two vices - coffee and cookbooks

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Good cookbook for a crock pot?

Nov 2009

Hi Busy Parents, I would like to cook more efficiently. It's hard getting home from work with hungry people and no dinner, yet impossible to cook dinner with little kids around. I would love recommendations for a good recipe book for a crock pot. Thanks in advance! - busy mom

I would like to chime in with a recommendation for a good cookbook. I love ''Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook''. I've made lots of recipes from it and have been very pleased with how they've turned out. Monica

Crock Pot Cooking Ideas?

Jan 2008

I just got a Crock Pot and I'm learning what do to with it. In the last Advice Given email there was an idea about how a parent might use it to cook easy, delicious meals. The idea of being able to slap in the ingredients before I go to work (10:30am) and have dinner magically ready when I walk in the door at 6:30pm is very enticing! I have found recipes on the internet, but any tried-and-true and EASY ones out there? Crock-Pot-Mom Ready to Go

You know who has given me the best tips? The butcher at our local Safeway. I was also struggling with recipes for my crockpot, 'cause the cookbooks seemed to be just as elaborate as regular cooking. He gave me one idea that I use at least once a week. You can buy a large piece of meat, like a roast (and they're often relatively cheap), and you first brown it in a frying pan. No need to be very careful. Just quickly brown all sides and add seasonings if you'd like. Put about an inch of water in your crockpot and add some garlic, salt, bay leaf, onion and maybe other vegetables. Then add the meat and close the top. If I do this early in the AM I leave my crockpot on a low setting. I sometimes do this around noon and then I leave the crockpot on high. Either way, by dinner time I have this incredible piece of soft meat that falls apart and that is just delicious. With parts of the remaining juices I make gravy and there is usually not a piece of meat left. Even the kids, who are very picky, eat all their meat. JOJ

I love my crock pot. It gets us through the cold winter months. All of my favorite recipes come from the Eating Well magazine. Their recipes can all be found online on their website. Do a search for crock pot and you'll get a list of the recipes. ENJOY! Shoshana

I have found great recipes in ''Not Your Mother's Slowcooker Cookbook''

What I have learned is that there actually is some need to cook some of the ingredients in order for things to be really tasty. It is not quite enough to just pour ingredients in the pot. Nikki

Even as a SAHM, I have found that the easiest time to get dinner started is usually while my older son is at school and the little one is napping in the morning. My husband just gave me a Crock Pot for Christmas (which I asked for), along with a copy of Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.

Flipping through and reading all of the recipes, I am very excited to start trying them. It has everything from breakfast to soups, rice, beans, meats, jams and desserts covered.

My first attempt was disappointing - bland pot roast with underdone vegetables (it improved with a little doctoring). Then I went back and read the first chapter (which I had skipped) and figured out what I had done wrong. I also found useful tips on this page: Today I am attempting a Mexican lime and cilantro chicken, and tonight I will put on oatmeal before bed so that we can all (hopefully) enjoy a nice, hot breakfast. Crock Pot novice

I am definitely a fan of the crock pot. The key is not to try to use it for more than really makes sense. You'll see all sorts of crazy recipies for things like spaghetti or brownies or other things that you really don't need to cook in a crock pot. Stick to the basics of large cuts of meat that get nice and soft after cooking for eight hours.

The best cookbook I've found is called The New Creative Crock Pot Cookbook. It's from Rival, the company who makes Crock Pots and the author is Robin Taylor Swatt. I don't think you can buy it in bookstores, but it is sold at places that sell Crock Pots. I got my copy at Raley's supermarket, for example. HMJ

Chile Verde in Crock Pot - Large hunk of cheap pork, new or leftover, browned or not browned. Two bottles (green) Chile Verde from Trader Joe's (which tenderizes the meat). That's it. Cook until it falls off the bone. I serve it with tortillas, Spanish Rice (Uncle Ben's Microwave) and a can of refried beans. My kid loves it. Keeps well in fridge. anon

Lead in ceramics - are crockpots safe?

Oct 2007

In reading about Plastics, and the suggestions about ceramics, I had a question about lead in ceramics. Without causing an uproar, I called Rival, the maker of Crockpots, they told me that the crockpots have lead in them. Of course, they repeatedly told me that Jardiniere Products (the manufacturer) follows the highest USDA standard for having lead in ceramics, but now I am worried about slow cooking pasta sauce or soup in a ceramic crockpot for 8-10 hours. Does anyone have an expertise on this issue? Is a crockpot safe? anonymous

I don't know the answer to your concerns about lead in crockpots, however, I wonder, what about using those special crock pot liners or parchment paper? Of course, everything seems a health risk nowadays so not sure about the safety in those either, but it may be a possibility. Also makes clean up a breeze. HTH Lisa

Hi -- in the land before children, I was a potter. Odds are the crockpot with lead in it is perfectly safe to use. BUT I still wouldn't use it. I just wouldn't take the risk -- not worth it to me. When it comes to lead in glazes, keep in mind that the more acidic the liquid, the more lead could potentially be leached out. For example, if you have a mug with a lead-based glaze on it, you would consume more lead (hypothetically) drinking orange juice, and less lead drinking water. And tomatoes are pretty acidic. So -- yes, it's probably safe, but I wouldn't do it. a

I meant to post this reply earlier. I asked a colleague who has done extensive work in the area of lead in ceramics. Sorry if her response is too complicated, but here it is:

In general, the important question is not whether there is lead in a ceramic product, but rather whether the lead can leach into food at sufficient levels to be dangerous. California's Prop 65 established levels that were considered ''safe'', and any ceramic or glassware that leaches lead above these levels requires a Prop 65 warning. One would hope that the determination of whether a Prop 65 warning is required on a crock pot would be based on its actual use, which includes slow cooking for a long time (I don't know this for a fact though). In any case, that would be a good place to start in terms of lead in crock pots-- to contact the retailer or manufacturer and ask whether the product requires a Prop 65 warning in California. My guess is that they are an item of low concern, given the materials they are made of, firing temperatures etc.

The FDA (not USDA), that regulates tableware on a national level. The FDA has less protective standards for lead in tableware; any tableware that leaches lead above the FDA standards cannot legally be imported into or sold in the United States for food use. This is spelled out in more detail in the regulation page listed below.

There is ample information on the tableware section of the Childhood Lead (CLPPB) website. Here are those links:

Tableware Information homepage --

Questions and answers --

Regulation of lead in tableware -- also a crockpot (user)

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Crockpot recipes without a lot of canned, processed ingredients

Nov 2006

I finally bought my first crockpot and realized what a great way to have dinner basically cook itself. The problem is, I can't seem to find many recipes that don't use onion soup mix or cream of whatever so I'm limited to just a few dishes and my family is getting tired of chili (although they love it)! Can anyone recommend a good slow cooker cookbook or recipe source, one that doesn't require a lot of prepackaged, canned, branded ingredients? I love the convenience of the slow cooker, but want the focus on healthy, low-sodium ingredients. All ideas are appreciated. Thanks.. Crockpot challenged

i like ''Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker'' by Robin Robertson kat

I have never found a good slow cooker cookbook - besides the one that came with mine (and that's actually pretty good, but only has about 5-6 recipes.) Anyway, I've liked using to find recipes. They're all compiled from Gourmet, Bon Apetit, etc. (Conde Nast, maybe?) Anyway, just go there, sign up ( for free) and then start a recipe box by searching for ''blank meat/veggie'' and the words crock pot or slow cooker. One thing I love is the rating system where others have made notes about things they liked and didn't like, ingredients to eliminate, etc. If you hate something, you can just remove it from your recipe box. If you like it, leave it there for next time - or print it out and keep a file. -Slow cooker addict.

Here are some crockpot ideas: Split pea soup. I don't follow a recipe, but the one on the 16 oz bag of split peas would probably work. Be sure that some of the time early on the crockpot is on high to really cook the split peas, then hours on low is fine. for a vegan soup w/ a smokey flavor I add liquid smoke at the end. lentil soup--ditto, adding spinach (organic, local) and parmesan at the end. any bean based soup like minestrone would work, but add veggies like green breans late. Beef stew--i use wine and/or canned tomatoes as the liquid, but not canned soup. chicken in a pot. brown a chicken and place the desired root veggies on the bottom of the pot. place whole or cut up chicken on top. add white wine, chicken broth, water, some herbs. make noodles or not when you get home. chicken pot pie. leftover cooked chicken, sliced potatoes, celery, carrots, mushrooms,water or chicken broth. come home, thicken liquid if desired, place frozen peas, pie crust on top, remove lid (important!)and finish in oven.spaghetti sauce. brown ground meat turkey pork etc. brown onions,garlic, add tomatoes and wine,herbs, onions and meat to crock pot. cook all day and serve over noodles. basically focus on soups and stews, use water, broth, wine, beer, tomatoes in lieu of canned soups. you can always thicken the resulting broth to get that 'cream of mushroom soup' effect. I tried but did not have good luck w/ coconut milk, so if I want a curry, I add that when I get home. I have used the occasional can of pineapple and its unsweetened juice for a hawaiian style pork roast. thanksgiving tip: you can cook potatoes (sweet or white) in water in the crockpot ahead of time,(one the day before, the other overnight) whip them and make your casserole,chill, and only heat the casserole prior to meal. then you can make homemade cranberry sauce in the crockpot on thanksgiving and scoop it out warm at serving time Jessica

I've posted a similar question to the food forum on Craigslist, and the cookbook that seemed to get the most recommendation was: ''Slow Cooker Cooking'' by Lora Brody. Amazon has it for a little over $17, and you can read reviews there. Of course, if you search on Amazon, you'll get many more recommendations and reviews for slow cooker recipe books. I haven't bought the Lora Brody book yet, so can't give a personal opinion Gonna get cookin'

I had one slow cooker cookbook I finally gave away, but am happy to recommend the one I use semi-regularly now: _Complete Slow Cooker Cookbook_ by Carol Heding Munson I found it on sale at Barnes and Noble for $7.98. Hope that helps! coleen

This is an excellent cookbook. The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World by Lynn Alley. slow cooker

The receipes that came with my Crockpot are actually pretty good for the most part. Instead of the cream of mushroom soup and packaged soup mixes (yuck and double yuck), I use regular packaged low-sodium chicken or beef broth and herbs. You can remove whatever you cooked, take off the lid, and cook on high for 15-30 minutes (while you're making salad and yelling at the children to set the table;) to concentrate the juices and you'll have a nice sauce. Happy Cooking

I recently started using a crockpot and like Judith Finlayson's ''Delicious & Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes.'' (I do not have her earlier ''150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes'' mentioned in the archives.) I do find many of the recipes require a bit of prep time, but also think it's usually worth it. I also own Mable Hoffman's ''Crockery Cookery,'' which is just okay -- it's a revised edition of a cookbook originally published in 1975. Anon

I love the crockpot concept. I got a great cookbook w/ a wide array of recipe types. It is called: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger & Julie Kaufman. Happy cooking! Julie

I quite like _Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker_. The recipes often require some prep time and minor pre-cooking (browning onions, etc.) before slow cooking, but they're generally pretty tasty...and much more inventive than traditional crockpot cuisine. You can always do prep the night before and refrigerate the crockpot insert until ready for cooking. Tiffany

What's the best crock-pot / slow-cooker?

Nov 2005

I'm a huge fan of cooking with a crock pot, and when my old one broke I replaced it with a Rival 6.5-qt. SmartPot Programmable Crock-Pot, but it BURNS everything! Even set on LOW, stews and soups come to a rolling boil in a few hours, and the exterior of the pot is soooo hot I won't leave it on unattended (which defeats the purpose of having a crock pot!) Has someone recently bought a crock pot / slow cooker that work like the old crock pots?? I recently looked at the $100 All-Clad slow cooker at Williams Sonoma, but would like to hear from other crock pot fans before spending anymore money. Thanks! A Slow Burn

I have put a lot of research into this question. The answer is that *Bravetti* brand slow cookers don't cook too hot and are much more solidly constructed than Rival or other typical store brands. I bought a Bravetti slowcooker on Ebay and I'm thrilled with it. They are a bit difficult to find, but I put in a ''saved search'' on Ebay until one came up for auction. crockpot mama

We bought a Farberware FSC600 6-quart Oval Slow Cooker a few months ago and are very happy with it. A friend of ours uses the same model and likes it a lot. See also these recommendations:

Do you use a crockpot? Does it really make life easier?

Sept 2005

Hello, a couple of people I know are raving about their new slow cookers (formerly known as crock pots). With two careers and two kids, my husband and I are at our wits end trying to get a healthy dinner on the table, and I was thinking this might be an alternative to constant take out food. Does anyone use one? If so, does it really make life easier? Can you recommend a good slow cooker cookbook? What brand of slow cooker do you have? I am dreaming about throwing some ingredients in at breakfast time and coming home to a hot meal (or better yet, having the nanny throw the ingredients in!). Also, any favorite recipes? Any other advice would also be welcome. slow cooker wannabe

I've been a happy crockpot user for 7 years. Like you, I dreamed of a simpler life with a crockpot -- and my dream came true(!), if only for a day or two a week. It was especially handy when my husband (who doesn't cook) and I juggled full- time jobs and two toddlers. For example, in the morning, as the coffee was brewing, I'd put in a frozen beef roast, pour in some warm water, add an envelope of Lipton onion soup mix and turn the crock pot on. When we got home at 6 or 7 at night, dinner was ready. You can also roast a whole chicken, and bake potatoes. If you have a few minutes, cut up some vegetables to throw in. I've also thrown in frozen vegetables a few minutes before serving -- the heat will defrost and cook them.

Every person who's ever seen or heard me rave about my crockpot has bought one -- including my very traditional mother, who sometimes will cook 3 meals a day. Your slow cooker will come with a book of recipes and a lot of good tips. That's how I learned I could put in frozen meat. You can easily get additional recipes from the internet or crockpot cookbooks. And there are complete frozen crockpot entrees that you can buy at the grocery store, although I haven't tried any of them.

My slow cooker is standard sized -- I'm not sure how many quarts, but the crock is as big as my largest stock pot. Be sure to get one with a removable ceramic crock that you can serve from and later put in the dishwasher.

Good luck! loves her crockpot

Be forewarned that food cooked in crockpots/slow cookers does not reach a high enough internal temperature to kill off bacteria. It's probably fine to use this for vegetables and beans but I wouldn't recommend it for meat unless you pre-cook it right before adding (even then I'd be careful, since the warm cookpot will only encourage the growth of anything that didn't get killed off). --thought this idea would save us too but returned ours in a hurry!

I really love my slow cooker. I have a Crockpot brand cooker. My only problem is that I have no counter space and only a single outlet for the entire kitchen. And when our built-in microwave died and the replacement wound up on the counter, the slow cooker went back in the cupboard.

Until then, however, one of my favorite recipes was a roast. I'd take a round or chuck roast and add a can of beef broth or consomme and a can of cream of mushroom soup, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, fresh mushrooms and assorted veggies and put it on slow for the day. The rule of thumb is to put potatoes and carrots in at the last two hours. I've put them in at the beginning, without a lot of problems.

The roast turns up extremely tender. Before serving, I'd reduce the juices (and leftover broth-soup mixture) over the stove, add it to a roux and then add some wine for a tasty gravy.

Another easy dish is to line the bottom of the slow cooker with wadded up pieces of aluminum foil, put a whole chicken (cut in parts) on top and then add salt and pepper and any of a variety of soups (cream of mushroom, cream of celery, etc.).

Several companies are now making frozen slow cooker meals.

The problem you'll find is that, after a while, the rest of the family starts rebelling at all the slow cooker meals. I think they start to taste the same to the kids. My niece and nephews said their mom made them so many slow-cooker meals, they wouldn't touch a stew again in their life.

Bon appetit. :-) Gwynne Y

Hi! I, too, dream of having a warm, delicious cooked meal waiting for me when I get home, but I haven't found the perfect recipes - yet. I will try again this winter, but here are some lessons that I have learned. 1) Buy a small cooker because the cooker needs to be half full to cook properly. I originally bought a large one and it was too big for my family of four. 2) Don't use white meat because it dries out too fast. Dark meat or stew meat is best for long cook times. 3) Use as little fat as possible (i.e., take of the skin and trim off fat). I forget the exact reason, but it is something about fat that makes cooking temps too high; 4) Buy a cooker with a delay or set it up to a timer. Most recipes call for about a 6-hour cook time. But if you leave the house at 7 a.m. and get home at 6 p.m. - that is 11-hour cook time! I look forward to other reponses. Helena

Run, don't walk, to the nearest store and buy yourself a Rival Slow Cooker. I have the 6 quart one, but I like lots of leftovers, so it's really your call (although I will say that it's good to freeze the leftovers and then you have a meal for another night). I LOVE my slow cooker, and use it a lot. You can basically throw anything in it in the morning and when you come home the whole house smells of home cooking and the food is delicious. You need to always brown meat before it goes in, but apart from that, it's a piece of cake. Recipe books for slow cookers often have all kinds of fancy recipes, for bread, cakes etc, but I pretty much use mine for stews, caseroles, etc, and then make rice or couscous or noodles to throw it over when I get home. It really makes life easier for me.

For example: Get stewing beef, or chicken thighs, whichever you prefer. Saute an onion and some celery in olive oil, and add some garlic if you like it. Brown the meat in the oil, all sides, and then tip the whole thing into the slow cooker (drain off some of the fat if you're being super healthy). Add carrots and any other root veggies you like, and then tip in half a bottle of wine, a large can of chopped tomatoes, and some stock (either a can of premade stock, or a bouillion cube, did I spell that right). Throw in a bay leaf, oregano, whatever, put the lid on, set it to 8 hours, and walk away. When you get home you'll have a delicious meal and all you have to do is make a starch to go under it. Or you can throw potatoes in at the outset and you're done. I could rattle on at length about slow cookers, I think they're genius. They're also cheap (like 50 bucks cheap) and who can say fairer than that. I use mine at least once a week, and always if I'm entertaining, because then I can make dinner in the morning and have a clean kitchen and nothing to do when the guests are there. Not that I entertain all that much with two little kids, but you know what I mean. A slow cooker takes the pressure off that hellish period of time where you're trying to feed everyone and get them off to bed etc. Good luck! Abbi

I have and use - occasionally - a slow cooker. The Slow Cooker cookbook has good recipes. I too hoped to put the ingredients in the cooker in the morning and come home to dinner. but most recipes call for a shorter time period then the 11 hours between when I leave and when I get home. So I've used it on weekends with good results - slow braised short ribs, pot roast, etc. So if there is someone else - a nanny - to put the ingredients in at the correct time, then it could definitely work for you. the other thing is that you need to prep the ingredients - often just chopping but sometimes there is some initial sauteing involved that you would have to do the night before. Hope this helps. occasional slow cooker

I bought one too, but haven't found it to be that convenient. Although you can make some great meals in the slow cooker, they usually require a lot of prep time in the morning, which sort of defeats the purpose. Some of the best recipes require you to brown meat and veggies before putting them in the slow cooker. I tend to use mine on the weekends when I have more time. Anon

We got a slow cooker as a wedding gift a few years ago and LOVE it! I haven't used it as much in the summer months, but it is very easy to make wonderful meals that freeze well and/or make good leftovers (depending on how many people in your family). Some of the recipes take a little longer than you would expect, given all the chopping and prepping. But some are very easy and only require 10-15 minutes.

We have a book called Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody which was also a gift - I believe it came from Williams-Sonoma. It has some very good recipes. I've also searched on the web for slow cooker recipes and have found a few good ones that way too.

One other suggestion for you is to try something like Dream Dinners (in Pleasanton) or the Dinner Divas at Andronico's. Both programs are similar - you select your menus in advance (via the web - go to or and then on the date you choose, you go in and assemble all the meals in freezer-ready containers, then take them home and use them as you like. Both places do all the chopping and prep work, so all you have to do is follow a recipe and gather the ingredients together, then cook them at home whenever you need a meal. It's very easy, fun, convenient and the food is actually pretty darn good - and healthy too.

Good luck! Nancy

We love our slow-cooker. the only things I wish were different about it is its size. its 2 and half quart and I'd like soemthing bigger since I like to cook large batches and then have lots of leftovers. and I'd like one with a time that would turn itself off so that when some 9 hour thing is done at 5 am it could just turn itself off and I wouldn't have to worry about dealing with it at odd hours. sloww cooking mama

I have found that crock pots cook food until it is tasteless. Try a pressure cooker. You can order a Multirapid Plus Pressure Cooker from It comes with a steamer basket, instruction manual and full color cookbook, ''Tastefully Under Pressure'' with more than 90 recipes. My mother has used her pressure cooker to cook a stew for unexpected guests in twenty-five minutes starting with meat straight out of the freezer. take the pressure off

Slow cookers are great - especially during the cold months. They usually come with small cookbooks for the basics. You can also peruse for recipes. I'd pass along a couple of my favorites to you directly. Feel free to email me.

My REAL recommendation, however, is for you to check out Dinner Source is a prep-kitchen in Emeryville where you go to put together several meals at one time. Check out their website. They do all the hard work, you go and throw it all together for the freezer. They have absolutely saved my life at dinnertime - yummy meals, happy kids and dad, EASY to make. Alison

Get any brand that has a timer on it and one that has a removeable oven-safe liner (like a ''Rival''), so you can bake with it and put it in the dishwasher. That way, you can set it and not worry about it burning your food, put a crust on top and bake it, etc. I do not subscribe to the philosophy that leaving your crock pot while you go off to work isn't safe. I've been using mine for 10-plus years with no problems (just make sure you have one with a timer). Baked chicken, short ribs, soups and stews all come out beautifully and with no effort. Oh, and for parties you can put your hot cider in it and it will stay warm. --opinionated cook and former professional chef.

I just got an inexpensive Rival Stoneware Crock Pot at Longs myself as I've had a difficult time making healthy meals lately. I am soooo glad I did because it is soooo easy. Put the ingredients in in the morning and by dinner time, its ready! I have just been using my imagination, (last night was a simple potatoes, carrots, and chicken in a broth with some herbs). But I did find a seller on ebay offering a crock pot recipe book online for under $2. (the only catch is the file is not Mac friendly). I would recommend going through for used books as they are usually in great condition for half as much. I have yet to get a book though. Happy slow cooking! Nicole L

Hi there. I am a working mom who uses a slow cooker some of the time. I would not call it a miracle time saver, but is nice to come home to a hot meal. I find that it's still easier to heat up a bag of Trader Joe's meatballs and boil pasta for dinner. Another drawback is that most of the recipes out there involve using some kind of meat, but maybe there is a vegetarian crock pot recipe book that I am unaware of. If you do buy one, they really aren't that expensive, so if you find you don't use it, you could pass it on to a friend. I have the large RIVAL crock pot. I would say don't bother getting one that has recipes programmed in unless you are a serious fan of ''white trash cooking'' and I say that with infinite humility since I have never met a jello salad or cream of mushroom soup casserole that I have not loved. It is just that it is not the healthiest or freshest way to cook and that pretty much describes the programmed-in recipes. On the other hand, there are some nice cookbooks with great slow cooker recipes out there. Here is one that I really like, not many ingredients but really great flavor.
Chicken and Carrots in Wine sauce (from ''Cooking Light'' Slow Cooker Cookbook 11/04) 1 small bag of carrots (about 16 oz,) peeled and diagonally sliced about 1'' wide (or use a bag of baby carrots) 3 lbs of chicken pieces, or just thighs, or just breasts, skinned 12 garlic cloves, peeled 1 cup dry white wine (like a sauvignon blanc) 1 tsp dried thyme or a Tbsp of fresh thyme 3/4 tsp salt 1/4 ground black pepper 2-4 Tbsp cornstarch 1/2Cup-1 Cup of chicken broth hot cooked rice, or egg noodles Combine the chicken pieces, carrots, thyme and garlic in the slow cooker. Pour the wine over. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Stir gently. Cover with lid and cook on high-heat setting for 1 hr. Reduce to low heat setting, and cook 6 hours. Remove chicken, carrots and garlic with a slotted spoon to another bowl and keep warm. Stir the 2 Tbsp cornstarch into 1/2 cup of broth, and put this into the crockpot with the juices, turn heat to high and stir until simmering and thick, about 20 minutes. (I sometimes cheat to quicken this up and reduce the juices in a saucepan for about 5 minutes.) Adjust the consistency of the sauce with more cornstarch and broth if needed. Return chicken and carrots to sauce, stir, adjust salt and pepper and serve over the rice or noodles. 6 servings. About 450 calories (including the starches) per serving.
Good Luck with your crock pot

We have a really good slow cooker recipe book called ''The 150 Best slow cooker recipes'' by Judith Finlayson. There are lots of vegetarian recipes such as gingery chickpeas in spicy tomato gravy and dal and minestrone, soups, meats, appetizers, even desserts. I highly recommend the book, if you don't have a good recipe and/or you overcook the food you are going to end up with mush, which nobody likes! lazy cook

Try ''Fix It and Forget About It''. This cook book has more crock pot recipes than you can shake a stick at. Carol

Crockpot cookbook with good, healthy recipes

Sept 2004

Hi all. I'm looking for a crockpot cookbook that has good, healthy recipes (i.e., recipes that don't call for ingredients like powdered onion soup and bac-o-bits). Vegetarian emphasis would be preferred, but I know that may be asking a lot... I really like the crockpot cooking style, but truly need new recipes at this point. susan

I hear you about the crockpot recipes...We received one as a wedding gift, but never used it because all of the recipes we could find called for instant soup and other highly processed ingredients (if you're using all these convenience foods, then why do you even need to use a crockpot in the first place??). Plus, most recipes were meat-based, and we don't eat a whole lot of meat. Anyway, my mother-in-law gave us this book last year called ''The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes'' by Judith Finlayson (ISBN 0-7788-0038-5). The majority of recipes are still meat- based, but you could probably make some substitutions. But there are some vegetarian recipes and a chapter on vegetables. Good luck! Tonya

I have yet to find a great crockpot cookbook, but I have found one that's pretty good. It's called ''Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes'' published by Better Homes and Gardens. Most of the recipes call for fresh, real ingredients instead of canned mushroom soup, etc. Even better, it has a chapter (25 recipes) called Meatless Main Dishes. Anon

I don't know about a cookbook, but I recently discovered a website called where they have lots of recipes that use real ingredients. I haven't tried them yet, but I sure intend to! Erin

2003 & Earlier

Slow Cooker Cookbook

Feb 2003

I received a slow cooker for Christmas. I think it will come in handy and I am looking for recommendations for a tried and true slow cooker cookbook. I have looked online and at bookstores - and there are so many to choose from. I do like to cook. I am looking to use the slow cooker for those days that I do not have time to spend in the kitchen; but would still like a tasty, not- bland home cooked meal. Thanks.

I've been having great luck with the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes. I asked for it for Christmas (primarily because it was the only one I'd seen that had a bunch of vegetarian recipes) so I could finally start to make use of the Crock Pot I'd received a year before and never used, and now I'm using my Crock Pot at least four times a week. Some recipes are definitely better than others, but no real duds so far, and lots of yummy stews and soups. Plus all recipes include nutritional info like calories, fat, fiber, etc, per serving. I love assembling dinner while my 1-year-old naps in the morning, then not having to think about it again until it's time to eat. Happy Cook

Before the birth of my 2nd son, my Mom sent me a slow cooker with a few cookbooks and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I tried it, and now use it at least 2x a week!! I have made mac and cheese one night, then the next night osso bucco for a dinner party. Slow cooking is now even recognized by the Dining In/Out section of the New York Times (Cover Story, January 29, 2003; see

The two cookbooks I use are: Fix it and Forget it Cookbook; Feasting with your slow cooker and Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes. Also, has literally 1,000's of recipes.

Have fun, it is so convienent and I guarantee you will get hooked! Courtney