How to Speed Up Slow Cooking

by Shawanda Greene

There’s only one thing I like hard and slow. Here’s a hint: It ain’t cooking. ;)

However, I’m a longtime advocate of slow cooking–as long as it’s easy.

A crock pot will transform a cheap, tough cut of meat into tender, succulent deliciousness like no other.

But when the actual heating time of a meal ranges from 4 to 8 hours, you should skip steps that keep you trapped in the kitchen longer than necessary.

Otherwise, you’ll skip the entire process and opt for more expensive fare.

So how does one quickly slow cook?

Lemme tell you.

Reduce meal prep time.

Don’t brown.

Don’t sear.

Don’t sauté.

In other words, don’t do anything that involves the frivolous creation of dirty dishes. I almost always ignore a recipe’s call to precook food before throwing it in the slow cooker. You can, generally, eliminate such procedures with little consequence.

Use marinade seasoning mixes.

Marinades make flavoring meat super easy.  

  1. Add oil, water, and/or vinegar into a measuring cup.
  2. Toss in seasoning mix.
  3. Stir briskly with a fork.
  4. Pour concoction over beef, poultry, or pork.
  5. Let marinate for about 15 minutes.

After that, simply lay your meat in the slow cooker and press ‘Start’.

Keep it simple.

I used to feel challenged, excited, and a tad bit overwhelmed by 15 ingredient recipes. Now, they make me chuckle. Recently, I discovered that salt, pepper, and a 1/4 cup of beef broth produces a delightful chuck roast.

If I want to liven up my taste buds a smidge more, I sprinkle seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and red pepper over whatever meat I cook. Leave the cutting board in your cabinet, and season your meat while it’s lying in the slow cooker.

With a little planning, you can experience the joys of slow cooking.

And if you’re having a hard time overcoming the mental hurdle that your meal won’t be ready for hours and hours, just remember, as surely as you live and breathe, you will get hungry again. So, hurry up and start slow cooking.

What tricks do you have to speed up slow cooking?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Franklyspeaking September 27, 2012 at 9:12 AM

You know, the one thing I didn’t think about is the frivolous dirty dishes. That probably turns a lot of people off from cooking. A slow cooker only makes one messy dish.


Shawanda Greene October 2, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Yesterday, I marinated my chicken in the slow cooker for 20 minutes before cooking it. I only created three dirty dishes: a measuring cup, a fork, and the slow cooker. I could’ve used a slow cooker liner and cut the number of dirty dishes to two.
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Kelly@FinancialFixers September 27, 2012 at 4:27 PM

SO true! Slow-cooked meals are some of the most delicious, but I agree with most of these tips. I have prepared a few slow cooked meals for family and friends before so I abided by all the steps in the recipe, but searing the meat before throwing it into the pot makes absolutely no difference. You can really build whatever kind of meal you want; one cut of meat seasoned with whatever you want, a few cups of your favorite veggies and a can or two of broth. Simple, easy and cheap!
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Shawanda Greene October 2, 2012 at 10:09 PM

I’m always looking for ways to reduce steps or eliminate ingredients from a recipe. For some reason, a lot of recipes call for paprika. I honestly have no idea what purpose it serves. I can’t even taste it!
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Gen Y Finance Journey October 2, 2012 at 4:04 PM

I recently got a slow cooker, and it’s my new best friend! I made barbecue pulled pork sandwiches yesterday and they were absolutely divine.
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Shawanda Greene October 2, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Mmm. Pullled pork. *drool* I’ve been wanting to try slow cooked pulled pork. The next time I see a pork shoulder roast on sale, I’m buying it.
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Holly Thrifty October 2, 2012 at 9:06 PM

My fast tricks for slow cooking include: Add hot water/hot broth/hot liquid to get things moving faster. Microwave potatoes and carrots for a few minutes so they cook as fast as the meat. Cut the roast in half or thirds to decrease cooking time. Prep everything the night before and store in the fridge, in the morning you are ready to roll. Cook larger quantities and freeze–that will save time in the future.

My #1 time saver–use the plastic crock pot liners. When dinner is over, toss in the trash and wipe the inside clean. That’s a HUGE time saver.


Shawanda Greene October 2, 2012 at 10:01 PM

Yes! I LOVE slow cooker liners. The slow cooker leaves behind a disgusting mess, so not having to clean it after you’re done removes another mental barrier to using it.

By the way, your other tips are awesome. Thanks a bunch for sharing!
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Tracey H October 14, 2012 at 9:26 AM

For cleanup, instead of those liners (bad for the environment), spray the crock with PAM or similar product. Cleanup is super-easy.

Almost all of my recipes have 2 ingredients–some kind of meat or poultry and a liquid. Vary the liquid for a varied taste. If I do add vegetables, I cut them the same size & put them on the bottom (mostly because I always include potatoes and they take awhile to cook).


Laura@ Financial Freedom Newsletter November 5, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Slow cooking is such a great dinner option, my family does it all the time! The meal can be hardy and delicious without taking time out of your day to slave over it! I liked your tips about marinades as well.


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