• Fill the cook pot at least half but no more than two-thirds full for efficient cooking.
• Do not lift lid during the cooking time unless it is stated to do so in the recipe. Each time the lid is lifted, heat escapes from the slow cooker and 20 minutes will need to be added to the cooking time to make up for the heat loss.
• When checking for doneness, the best manner in which to ensure that the food has been cooked properly is to check it with a thermometer. To be considered thoroughly cooked, the food should reach 160°F.
• Do not cook frozen meat in the slow cooker because it will take too long for its internal temperature to reach 160°F. The meat could be in the danger zone between 40°F and 160°F for too long and this would allow bacteria more of a chance to grow, possibly causing the meat to be unsafe to eat.
• Brown ground meats before putting them in the cook pot. This ensures that the meats are properly cooked. Browning ahead of time also allows you to drain the grease, resulting in a healthier meal.