Slow Cooker 101: 5 Things Every Latina Needs to Know

As the weather turns from kind of cold to really chilly, there’s nothing we love more than turning to our trusty slow cooker for tonight’s heart-warming meal. Whether you call it by its brand name (Crock-Pot) or haven’t actually heard of this really handy device, we’re here to tell you that it is THE must-buy kitchen tool. There’s just something magical about putting all of your ingredients in the pot, setting it to cook for hours, and coming home after work to a house smelling wonderfully like dinner. Oh, and we bet your family will appreciate the easy home-cooked meal, too!

If you're curious (and we know you are), here's what you need to know on how to pick the right one for your family, how to make sure you're using it safely (and it doesn't burn down the house!) and how to convert all of mami's recipes into slow cooker suppers. Plus we've got our 6 favorite slow cooker recipes ever. Now dig in!

1. Slow Cooker: Pick the Right One

How to pick the right one for you

Choosing the right slow cooker for your family is a big deal. If you’re cooking for a small brood (think 2-3 people), then it’s best to opt for a 3.5 quart pot versus a 6 quart pot that may be best suited for large families. If you’re single, you can also try the 1.5 quart kind—but we prefer the 3.5 to make big batches and save them for lunch later on.

2. Slow Cooker: Safety Tips

Slow Cooker safety tips & tricks

Buying a programmable slow cooker, meaning the kind you can set for 6 hours on low and it will automatically switch to the “keep warm” option, is the key to making things easy and safe. If you’re concerned about leaving the device on its own, try making your first few meals on a Saturday or Sunday when you are home so that you can test the safety and temperature. In general though, if you buy a good-quality slow cooker from brands such as Cuisinart, Crock-Pot, Hamilton Beach and KitchenAid, your slow cooker is safe. If you’re still worried, make sure that the slow cooker is placed on a dry, stable surface and that its’ not touching the walls of any other item on your counter.

3. Slow Cooker: Convert Your Traditional Recipes

Converting your traditional recipes

Making your mami’s secret recipe for carnitas in the slow cooker is, in fact, possible. It will mean less time for you since putting everything in the slow cooker, setting it and waiting will free up some time for you to clean (or, let’s face it, catch up on last week’s telenovelas). Try these 5 conversion tips from The Kitchn and the food’ll be ready in no time.

4. Slow Cooker: Love the Versatility

Learn to love the versatility

One of the reasons why we’re so obsessed with the slow cooker is that it’s not just a machine to make soups and stews for your family (though it certainly can do that). Instead, try experimenting with different types of recipes—whether they’re for dinner, breakfast (coconut-banana oatmeal, anyone?) or even dessert.

5. Slow Cooker: Our Favorite Latin Slow Cooker Recipes

Our favorite Latin slow cooker suppers

While we love converting some of our traditional meals into slow cooker dinners, we’re also big fans of The Latin Kitchen’s 6 scrumptious slow cooker recipes. From beef brisket tacos to pork and black beans to roasted pernil with moros, these are the slow cooker suppers we guarantee your family is bound to love.