The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Make when Using Your Slow Cooker

Don't make these mistakes with your crockpot.Now that fall's officially here, we're craving warm roasts and comforting stews-but not the flavorless or overcooked kind. By avoiding the following mistakes while using your slow cooker, you can say goodbye to sub-par dinners and hello to the best-tasting stews around, just in time for the chillier weather.

1. Neglecting to brown meats
Browning meats in a skillet (or in the slow cooker's insert if it's stovetop safe) before programming the cook time will give your braise or stew heartier flavor.

Related: Enjoy Delicious Dinners on a Dime

2. Removing the lid during use

When slow cookers lose heat it takes them a long time to gain it back. Don't remove the lid until you have to.

3. Always using the same temperature and time settings
Your kitchen might not be a chemistry lab but a little experimentation may be necessary to get the best results. Try out a few combinations of temperature setting and cooking time to get it just right.

Related: Mac-n-Cheese Recipes for Grown Ups

4. Not submerging meat
Cooking times for meat and poultry that's under liquid will be shorter than for pieces that aren't. Make sure that everything's submerged so that the entire dish cooks evenly.

Related: Irresistible Slow-Cooker Recipes

5. Using the wrong setting
If your meat is consistently overcooked, chances are that your slow cooker is operating at a high temperature while on the warm setting. To remedy the problem, reduce the time your recipe cooks before going into keep warm mode.

-Emily Weinberger

More from Good Housekeeping:
14 Quick Salads That Will Keep You Full Until Your Next Meal
39 Household Items That Do Double Duty
11 Great Budget Buys for Your Home