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Small Appliances

8 foods you shouldn't cook in your slow cooker

A slow cooker plus these foods equals a culinary disaster.

Carlos Garcia

Slow cooking is a great way to prepare a meal while you're busy doing something else. While most foods are fair game, there are some that you just shouldn't put in your slow cooker. Here's what to avoid.

Most seafood

Fish, shellfish, oysters and clams need to be cooked quickly. Obviously, slow cooking isn't quick, and will obliterate these delicate proteins. The only exceptions are squid and octopus because they tend to be tough meats and slow cooking makes them tender. 

Dairy products

I'm not saying that you can't put dairy products in your slow cooker recipes at all, just wait until the last few minutes of the cooking time. Otherwise, your cheese, milk or sour cream will separate and curdle. 

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Chicken with skin

Chicken with the skin still on is a big no-no in slow cooking. The skin will come out white, rubbery and generally unappealing. Take the skin off before popping it in the pot. If you really want to eat the skin, brown it in a skillet to get it nice and crispy and serve it alongside the chicken. 

Chicken breasts

While we're on the topic of chicken, let's talk about chicken breasts. Slow-cooked breasts can tend to be dry or have a rubbery texture. These thin slices of meat cook so quickly, it's a good idea to prepare them outside of a slow cooker crock. Try chicken thighs instead.

Pasta

Pasta is another food that needs to be cooked quickly for the best results. Cooking pasta in your slow cooker can end with a pasty, mealy mess. Stick to cooking sauces in your slow cooker and leave the pasta to a pot on the stove.

Rice

Rice also turns to mush when it's slow cooked. I recommend using a rice cooker, instead. You can also use an Instant Pot to cook rice.

Tender vegetables

Vegetables such as peas, asparagus and peppers can become a flavorless, mushy mess in a slow cooker. Stick to heartier root vegetables like potatoes, onions, leeks and yams, or wait to add the tender vegetables until the last 30 minutes or so of the cooking time.

Wine

When cooked in a pan, the alcohol in wine can burn off. In the enclosed space of a slow cooker pot, however, the alcohol remains. This can leave you with a strong boozy flavor you didn't intend on.