The Best Cuts of Meat for Slow Cooker Meals

by Leanne Ely,

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A slow cooker can save you both time and money as long as you don’t end up overcooking or ruining the meat. Use these tips to choose cuts of meat that do well in the slow cooker.

It’s supper time. The smells coming from the kitchen have been making your mouth water all day. Your family is seated around the table, bellies grumbling.

You remove the lid from your slow cooker and your heart sinks. The moist and tender meal you’d been planning on serving has turned into a stringy mess. The slow cooker has ruined your meal! Or has it?

Don’t blame the appliance! Chances are that you just didn’t choose the right cut of meat. Some cuts of meat simply can’t stand up to the long, steady heat of a slow cooker.

How To Choose the Best Cuts of Meat for the Slow Cooker

Use the following guidelines to ensure you don’t waste money on a cut of meat that won’t do so well in the slow cooker.

1. Look for the less expensive, fattier cuts because lean cuts of meat can’t be cooked for long periods of time without getting stringy and tough.

2. The least expensive cuts at the market have enough fat in them to keep the meat moist while the slow cooking breaks down the tissues for tender results.

3. When you’re cooking beef, look for shanks, shoulders, rounds and rumps.

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4. If it’s pork you’re cooking, you’re also looking for shanks and shoulders.

5. Few cuts of lamb will hold up to slow cooking, except for the shanks.

6. Bone-in chicken thighs and breasts are better for the slow cooker than boneless cuts are.

7. Remove the skin before you put the chicken in the slow cooker because otherwise, you will end up with rubbery skin, and nobody wants that.

A Final Flavorful Tip

As a final tip, remember to brown your meat first when you add it to the slow cooker for greatly improved flavor as a result with the exception of chicken.

Chicken doesn’t need to be browned first. Doing so may actually cause you to overcook it

Reviewed June 2023

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