Slow cookers are great and there are countless recipes for everything from breakfasts to desserts for them. I utilize my slow cooker often. It’s easy to just toss the ingredients in and forget about them for hours and hours. But sometimes I want to make something meant for the slow cooker in a much shorter time. So how do you convert a slow cooker recipe to an oven or stop top recipe?
It’s really far easier than you’d think to take a slow cooker recipe and convert it to a stove top or oven recipe. First you need to understand how a slow cooker functions. It’s actually pretty straightforward. The slow cooker’s heating element heats the food at a low, steady temperature, between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. For every hour a dish would normally take in the oven, a slow cooker draws that time out times four to eight. That just means that a slow cooker operates at about eight hours for every oven hour on the low setting and about four hours on high.
To use the stove top follow these steps:
Place a cast iron or heavy-bottomed, thick-walled pot on the stove burner. Add the ingredients for your recipe to the pot and cover it with a lid. When converting a stovetop recipe to a slow cooking recipe, reduce the amount of liquid ingredient the recipe calls for by 1/2. Foods often slow cooked include soups, stews and sauces, which call for a liquid ingredient such as water or broth. These foods become watered down when slow cooked because of the additional moisture created by steam.
If you are using a large pot and the pot is more than 2/3 full, set the burner on medium-high heat. If the pot is smaller and about half-filled, set the burner on medium heat. These are approximate heat settings. You want to monitor the food to make sure it doesn’t boil. You only want to simmer the food, so lower the heat setting if food starts boiling.
A slow-cooking recipe that calls for 4 to 6 hours on high setting or 8 to 10 hours on low setting is equivalent to 50 or more minutes of simmering on the stove. The University of Nebraska also recommends the following cooking times for slow cooking recipes adapted for stove top cooking: 1 1/2 to 2 hours high setting or 4 to 6 hours low setting is equivalent to 15 to 30 minutes cooking on the stove and 3 to 4 hours high setting or 6 to 8 hours low setting needs about 35 to 45 minutes on the stove. When slow cooking on a stovetop, follow the liquid requirements of slow-cooking recipes, because these recipes already compensate for the increased moisture. For any stovetop recipe that does not call for liquid, add 1/2 cup of water.
Here’s how to use the oven for slow cooker recipes:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine your ingredients but reduce the amount of liquid called for by half. When cooking in the oven as opposed to a slow cooker, you will need less liquid. Place the ingredients in an oven-safe casserole dish and cover it.
Convert the slow cooker cooking time for low settings. If a dish requires cooking in a slow cooker on the low setting for 4 to 8 hours, it will usually only require 15 to 30 minutes in the regular oven. For items that take 6 to 10 hours in the slow cooker on the low setting, plan on cooking in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Slow-cooker recipes that call for 10 to 12 hours on the low setting should be cooked in the oven between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours; those longer than 12 hours should be cooked in the oven for 3 to 5 hours.
Figure out the oven cooking time for slow cooker recipes on high settings. If the recipe calls for a dish to be cooked in the slow cooker on a high setting for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, you can cook it in the oven for 15 to 30 minutes. For slow cooker recipes that require 3 to 4 hours cooking on a high setting the oven time would be 30 to 40 minutes. If the dish would be cooked 4 to 6 hours on the high setting 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours would be the oven time.
So on those days when you didn’t get your ingredients into the slow cooker you can make the same meal. Just convert it!