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10 amazing slow cooker tips for the holidays and beyond

Use your slow cooker to take the hassle out of the holidays.

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Alina Bradford
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1 of 10 CNET

Use your slow cooker to start your turkey

For a super moist turkey, start your bird on high for one hour. Then, switch it to low and cook it for seven more hours. Finish things off by placing it in the oven at 350 degrees F (about 177 C) to let it brown.

Don't be fooled by the Frigidaire Professional
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Mile high? Adjust your cooking time

Those who live at high altitudes will want to adjust their cooking times. A good rule of thumb is to add an 30 minutes for each hour of cooking recommended in the recipe.

Hamilton Beach's feature-rich slow cooker is big on value
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Control the temp

Successful slow cooking is all about temperature and time. Typically, plan on cooking meals at low temp for eight to 10 hours. If you just don't have that kind of time, you can speed things up. Set your slow cooker to high for for four to five hours.

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4 of 10 Alina Bradford/CNET

Make your house smell jolly

When you're not cooking, put your slow cooker to work as an air freshener. Put your slow cooker on low, fill it with water and add two orange slices, a tablespoon of cloves and a couple cinnamon sticks to give your home a fantastic holiday scent. Here are some more ways to make your house smell fantastic.

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5 of 10 Colin West McDonald/CNET

Keep the lid on

Peeking at the food in the slow cooker can make it cook more slowly. Each peek adds 15 to 20 minutes to the cooking time, according to the Food Network

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Defrost or use fresh foods

Don't put frozen veggies or meats in your crockpot. They won't heat up quickly enough, which can allow bacteria to grow. Eww.

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7 of 10 Colin West McDonald/CNET

Avoid a sticky mess

I like to make at least one side dish in my slow cooker during big holidays. It's just one less thing to worry about. Sticky foods like mac and cheese can be hard to wash off, though. To help with cleanup, be sure to line your slow cooker. Liners can be found next to the plastic storage bags in many grocery stores.

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Make dessert in your slow cooker

You can also cook desserts in your slow cooker instead of taking up valuable room in your oven. Chowhound has a great recipe for slow-cooker peach crumble.

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9 of 10 Alina Bradford/CNET

Be careful with milk

Foods that contain milk, like cream cheese, sour cream and milk-based sauces, can curdle in a slow cooker. Be sure to add them during the last hour of cooking for the best results.

Sizzlin' slow cookers to keep you warm this winter
10 of 10 Colin West McDonald/CNET

Brown your meat first

For the best-tasting dishes, be sure to brown your meat first before popping it into a slow cooker. Browning retains the meat's texture, especially if you're using ground beef.

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