Why is there so much liquid in my slow cooker after my food gets done cooking?
Reader Terri contacted me this week and had a great question. She writes:
Why is there so much liquid in my slow cooker? This is a question about any recipe, especially chicken. I’ve had slow cooker aka crock pots for 30 years and one thing for me irritates the heck out of just about anything I make. How do you avoid all the liquid that accumulates from the cooking of the chicken and vegetables? (Besides draining off the liquid during cooking, which is a pain because I have a four quart crock pot and it’s so heavy and the inner crock so hot that it’s hard to do—the other reason is we are supposed to set it and leave and let it do it’s thing anyway!)
It’s so obnoxious and to me it waters down the overall flavor. I made chicken breasts, green peppers, onions and potatoes with two cans of diced tomatoes that had garlic and bits of onion in it, Let it cook and in about 4 hours on high it was done but floating in liquid. I even drained the tomatoes first. This is the only thing that discourages me from making more slow cooker recipes. Do you have a secret?
I don’t know if I have a “secret” but I do know what I do to solve the “why is there so much liquid in my slow cooker” problem!
Why is there so much liquid in my slow cooker?
Well, this is because the slow cooker lid sits on top of the pot all day long. The food gets hot and lets off steam. The steam hits the top of the lid and then all that condensation drips back down on top of the food. This is why I recommend placing paper towels over the top of the slow cooker when baking (like in this slow cooker peach cobbler recipe). For slow cookers, you need half the amount of liquid that a traditional recipe asks for. If the recipe isn’t optimized for a slow cooker, cut the amount of liquid by about 50%. When I’m cooking a pork roast or beef roast or whole chicken I usually don’t add any liquid at all. People get freaked out when I tell them not to add liquid to a roast…don’t! It’s ok. I promise.
Slow Cooker Solutions
1. First I would pat the chicken dry before placing it in the slow cooker. I wouldn’t throw the chicken in frozen because that will add more liquid when the ice crystals melt.
2. Dredge the chicken in a bit of flour before placing in the bottom of the slow cooker. There’s no need to brown the chicken. Just dredge the chicken in the flour and stick it in the slow cooker.
3. Add in 1-2 Tbsp of minute tapioca. This is my favorite trick and I use it all the time. Tapioca is a thickener. It’s tasteless and you won’t notice it at all in the final product. This is the kind that I buy and I find it near the Jello section at the grocery store.
4. Always adjust seasonings to taste at the end because there is no reduction so the flavors will be muted if you don’t.
5. Use cornstarch at the end of the cooking time. In a little bowl stir together a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch and a couple tablespoons water. Turn the slow cooker to high and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Keep the lid off and let the sauce get thickened up. It will probably take about 10 minutes.
6. Remove the lid for the last hour of cooking time and turn the slow cooker to high. If you’re home to do this it will really help to evaporate a lot of the liquid.
Have a slow cooker question I can help answer?
Just ask! I’ve got a lot of slow cooker experience and I might just be able to help 🙂 You can email me at [email protected]
Irene Whelan says
Thank you for all your tips and advice Karen,
Have a lovely day. 😊
Thank you Irene!
How do you save the liquid from your ham cooked in slow cooker?
Hi Beverly, do you mean how do you store it? I would store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
Lisa Spencer says
You are very confusing. In the article you mention placing paper towels on top like in the peach cobbler recipe you highlighted. I watched the video and there were no paper towels in sight.
Jimmie Lindsey says
Loved the extra ideas for the beloved crockpot! Some I have used over the years, some I haven’t. I have a special mini crock I use exclusively for candle warming, no worries about unattended flame! Not being a rice fan, I seem to add it to the menu at the last minute which means fixing a rapid rice. Would never be known for serving wonderful rice! LOL I will try this! Liquiifying honey, good idea! Carmel sauce in the can, how did I miss this over the years? Marvelous Idea!
Thank You Karen for these GREAT ideas!
I think you mean condensation not condescension
haha yes that’s what I meant!
I have wondered this very same question. Thanks for the great tips. I did the paper towel trick when I made BBQ Chicken the other night…no more soupy yuck in the crockpot just yummy deliciousness!
Hooray! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
Personally, corn starch and a wee bit of water solve a myriad of problems for me on the rare occasions that I am able to resist peeking/sniffing midway through and end up letting out some of the condensing steam!!! 🙂