Slow cookers are the best for preparing a good meal on a busy day. But there are times that you encounter problems in a while, such as suddenly your slow cooker burning your food.
This will make you wonder why your slow cooker is burning your favorite recipe. You have done everything, and you still don’t know why.
There are such reasons why a slow cooker burns food often, and this requires a thorough understanding not only from the slow cooker but also of the ingredients you prepare and the cooking process as well.
Read below and understand the concepts if you want to have a perfect dish from your slow cooker. This guide will help you prevent your slow cooker from burning foods again and again.
Why does my slow cooker burn food: Common Reasons
There are a few basic reasons why food burns in a slow cooker and a supplemental explanation that applies to all of them. Consider the following reasons why your slow cooker burns food:
A slow cooker is named like that for a good reason: to slow cook. But time flies when you do slow cooking, and there are instances that you won’t even notice that you have overcooked your precious meal.
Slow cookers heat up for a longer duration, and they will not hold back from cooking your dishes, which is what makes them a slow cooker, to begin with. Heat applied to food over a long period causes the food’s molecules to alter due to a reaction. If you let this scenario for too long, you will have burned ingredients.
Indeed, leaving your slow cooker behind without knowing how much time is left will lead to overcooked foods. That is why in most cases, a slow cooker can burn food because it functions the way it is used to be.
There are also recipes such as soups and roast that will take more than eight hours or longer to finish cooking, and others like casseroles have thicker recipes that don’t have liquid in them, which can burn in just a matter of few hours.
To avoid overcooking, see to it that you have a timer to alert you that it is almost time to turn off your slow cooker. You’ll end up with nicely cooked food if you time it correctly. But if you have new model types of slow cooker that can automatically switch to warm after cooking, the better.
Another factor to consider when using a slow cooker is the amount of time you spend cooking your recipe. It goes without saying that new models cook faster than the old ones. This implies that meals will take longer to cook over time using an old, slow cooker. When you are using a new model, it will burn food much faster.
2. Smaller Chunk Veggies
Suppose you are a vegetarian and you will cook vegetables in your slow cooker. You may sometimes notice that you have burned them in the cooking process.
In normal cooking, you tend to cut the vegetables into smaller chunks, but it is different if you use a slow cooker. Smaller chunk veggies will heat much faster in a slow cooker, causing them to burn. That will surely ruin your homemade veggie recipe.
To avoid this, cut the vegetables that you will cook into bigger chunks and add them towards the end of the cooking time so that they won’t be overcooked.
Leave them inside the slow cooker enough to be heated and cooked thoroughly. Just make sure not to prolong it because there are some vegetables that may burn faster than the others. And also, remember, the smaller the veggie chunks, the faster they may burn.
3. Reheating Foods
There are times when you open the fridge and see leftover foods. You want to eat that, but it is freezing cold. In order to have a hot meal and you don’t want to waste the food, you decide to reheat it using your slow cooker.
But all of a sudden, it burned in the process. Never ever reheat food in the slow cooker. This is one common mistake that some people experience.
It’s not recommended to reheat the food in a slow cooker. It will take a long time to reach safe temperature levels; thus, it is considered a food safety hazard.
Not only that you will burn the food when you reheat it, but it can also cause health problems for you and your family. Instead of using a slow cooker for reheating, you may use your oven or microwave for it.
4. Not Using Food Thermometer
When cooking meat in a slow cooker, you sometimes worry if it has been thoroughly cooked or not. If you are not using a food thermometer, that would be a problem.
Recipes that involve meat may incur a food safety issue because it will take longer to cook meat chunks and how much more if you sliced it bigger than the usual.
Also, the suggested time for cooking may not be long enough to cook the meat inside your slow cooker.
This is particularly true for slow cookers since they provide equal heat to whatever ingredients you put inside them. Some other types monitor the temperature inside, but they don’t check whether the food has burnt already.
If you are eager to know and make sure that the meat has been cooked already, get a food thermometer. Getting information from the meat itself is better than just by watching it from outside.
Holding the components inside at a consistent temperature using a food thermometer will help you monitor the meat inside if it has been thoroughly cooked.
5. Faulty Slow Cooker
As you cherish every memory with your first slow cooker, it can sometimes be a problem if it ages. Its efficiency will be reduced as time goes by and how much more if it shows signs that it almost wants to retire.
Aged slow cookers won’t function the way it has used to be, and using them will cause your food to burn since it may be faulty. A faulty slow cooker will bring problems to your daily cooking, for it can’t cook the food in the usual setting.
For example, if it is intended to cook a certain recipe for four hours in a low setting, and because it is faulty already, using the low setting will heat things more than the high setting.
That will make the food inside burn to crisps. If your slow cooker shows signs of being faulty, it is more susceptible to buy a new one and let your old, slow cooker retire.
6. Not Reading the Instruction Manual
Some new models of slow cookers in the market have a learning curve. Before using your brand new slow cooker, be sure to read the instruction manual first because there are some settings to keep in mind in order to have a perfect output.
If you ignore it and decide to cook immediately, there is a big possibility that you will burn your food like you don’t know how to turn off the slow cooker or how you can switch it to a warm setting.
Knowing more about your slow cooker will give you versatile cooking methods and means. Having a slow cooker indeed has many benefits, and make sure to use them wisely.
7. Improper Handling
Most of the problems you will encounter on burnt food on a slow cooker are improper handling which means you are not taking enough care in the cooking process.
This is related to cooking longer without noticing or preparing dishes with insufficient liquid. If you want to cook the perfect meal for yourself or your family, you should be aware of the things, especially when preparing the ingredients and setting up your slow cooker.
If you allow food to simmer for an extended period of time, it is a guaranteed way to burn it. Also, if you put a meal with a small quantity of liquid then slow cook it without monitoring, that will cause a catastrophe.
A true example of improper handling is most often unintentional, like forgetting to turn off the slow cooker at a designated time or leaving something cooked for a while without noticing that it is already burning inside.
8. Dry Ingredients
Slow cookers depend on the liquid to transmit heat consistently throughout the slow cooking process. And when you are preparing a meal that consists of dry ingredients, and you don’t pour enough liquid in the slow cooker, the food may not cook entirely, or worst it may be burnt.
Burnt foods in a meal are due to lack of moisture because the dry ingredients may come in contact with the sides of the slow cooker, causing it to burn.
This is somewhat the same as when you want to fry an egg without oil. Another thing is that when dry ingredients begin to overheat, it needs to have a place to put the heat to escape. That will cause the dry ingredients to burn in the process more quickly.
9. Not Enough Liquid
We often realize that we don’t put enough liquid inside the slow cooker when cooking. If there is not enough liquid inside, the only place the heat will go towards the food you are cooking. This will make the food overheat and make it burn slowly.
10. Not The Right Slow Cooker Size
If you only have one slow cooker to use and make a meal for yourself only, you tend to put ingredients just enough, making it lesser than the required full amount of your slow cooker. This will make your slow cooker cook the ingredients fast because there are only a few ingredients inside. And this will cause food burning.
Storage size is indeed a factor, so you won’t burn your food. If you want to cook a small amount, you better get a mini slow cooker instead.
11. Manual Slow Cooker
When you have no choice but to use only a manual slow cooker, and it doesn’t switch to warm, there may be chances that your slow cooker will burn the food that you cook if you let it be.
Often, you forget to switch off the slow cooker, which will cause the slow cooker to cook food over an extended period. This will cause the food to burn, and there are no other ways to revive the ingredients again.
On the other hand, newer models have a set and forget setting that you can utilize, which is extremely helpful if you plan to go out for a walk or work. It has an auto-switch to a warm setting that helps warm up the food inside to have a fresh and hot meal when you return. Invest one and never sweat again.
12. Releases Too Much Moisture
Sometimes, slow cookers on their way to the junkyard tend to lose their ability to regulate heat. This will cause a problem because it releases too much moisture when cooking dishes.
Some slow cookers also have vent holes in the glass lid that create steam and eventually dry the food inside while cooking. This will, in return, burn the food in the process.
13. Recipe Problems
In most cases, you will encounter burnt food with a certain recipe because of its nature. This is noticeable in certain liquid-heavy foods, such as casseroles, since the liquid is fairly thick even though there is enough liquid inside the slow cooker. The thicker the liquid makes it denser, making it rapidly burn the ingredients around the edges.
14. Slow Cooker Not Full Enough
There is a limit on which a slow cooker can handle slow cooking, and sometimes we tend to forget one important aspect: to make sure that everything is full enough.
When you want to use your slow cooker and haven’t put enough ingredients into it; that is a sign that you might have burnt food out in the open.
Next time, when you are cooking something, check out the recipe and procedure to know how many ingredients are enough for a nice homemade meal. Make sure that your slow cooker is full enough to do the rest of the cooking.
15. Temperature Setting is High
When you’ve done the whole setup and prepared everything, but you noticed that the temperature of your slow cooker is too high, then it is time to call customer service.
There might be something wrong with your slow cooker that made it like that.
In some cases, when you have only a manual slow cooker with low and high settings, you mistakenly set the setting to high instead of low.
That will cause an unimaginable burn off the food inside when you use your slow cooker. So, next time ensure that you have properly set your slow cooker to the desired setting to avoid burnt food.
How can a slow cooker burn food?
Slow cookers are designed to cook food through heat. When there is heat involved in cooking, there is always a chance that the food you cook will be burned.
It is always a possibility because when heat is there, burning can occur because of such reasons as prolonged heating, dry ingredients, faulty slow cooker, and more.
This is the way it is when cooking, and in normal cooking, you will experience this more because you don’t have the precise control to utilize the heat.
And when using slow cookers, this will be minimized to the minimum; however, you should keep in mind that there is no such thing as perfect cooking. Thus don’t fret if you experience burning your food quite often.
Try some other time to do the cooking again and do it properly next time. The major reason you shouldn’t be concerned is that all of the burning possibilities can be easily avoidable.
How to prevent food burning in a slow cooker?
When using a slow cooker for cooking food or any recipe that comes into your mind, see that you are paying attention to the time; that is the simplest way to avoid burning food.
You can also check the internal temperature of any cooked meat to ensure it is fully done. If you have bought a new model, try and test it to cook food faster than your old one.
When it comes to cooking dry ingredients, you should add extra liquid as necessary. Similarly, you need to check and monitor the food inside every now and then to ensure that the meal inside has enough moisture to cook the dish.
Conducting a thorough check from your slow cooker to the ingredients until the cooking process will make way for a perfect finished meal.
Leaning towards successful cooking is indeed a fulfillment. Seeing your food to be burned might be annoying at first, but when you understand the whole cooking process, you will realize that there is more to know in doing slow cooking.
Always remember the concepts behind burnt food in a slow cooker and use the knowledge from this guide to cheat the good old burning events and turn it into a well-made home-cooked and safe cooking journey.