When converting a standard recipe to a Crock-Pot recipe, consider differences in ingredients, length of cooking time and heat setting. The best recipes for conversion require at least one hour of simmering or baking, such as soups, braised meats and many casseroles.
Generally, a recipe specifying one hour or more of range simmering or 350-degree oven baking can be cooked in a slow cooker for six to eight hours on low or three to four hours on high without altering the recipe. Since liquid does not evaporate in a slow cooker, reduce to 5 cups recipes calling for 6 to 8 cups of water, and add at least 1/2 cup of liquid if none is required.
Brown meat before adding it to the slow cooker, especially hamburger and other small pieces, to increase flavor and reduce fat. Place the vegetables along the bottom and sides of cooker and the meat on top. Hard vegetables including onions, potatoes, carrots and winter squash can be put in the cooker at the outset, but add cauliflower or broccoli in the middle when cooking for longer than four hours. Wait until the last half-hour of cooking to add delicate vegetables such as corn, peas, spinach and other greens. Using flour or cornstarch, thicken soups and stews that are too liquid at the end of their cooking time.