What You Should Do Before Adding Raw Meat To Your Slow Cooker

There's no denying that slow cookers can be incredibly helpful when it comes to plating a delicious home-cooked meal on a busy weekday. Especially with larger cuts of meat, having that slow cooker going all day will result in a tender, protein-packed meal with minimal effort, allowing you to get dinner on the table quickly and easily.

While it's tempting to just toss in your meat and program your slow cooker to the time needed, there is one step you should consider adding to your routine, according to Southern Living, even if it reduces some of that convenience factor. Try searing your raw meat prior to adding it to your slow cooker.

Virtually any meat can benefit from this treatment, from chicken breast to ground beef and larger cuts like pork butts or beef roasts. There are just a few simple steps to ensure you're browning things like a pro, as Bon Appetit outlines. First, if you have the time, allow the meat to come to room temperature and dry the surface a bit by patting it with a paper towel. Then place the meat in a pan that's been pre-heated to a high temperature, and allow it to brown undisturbed for a few minutes. Then toss the meat into the slow cooker.

Why browning the meat first can improve the recipe

That slow cooker recipe that makes your life easier can be done whether you brown the meat or opt to skip that step, but ultimately, it's all about enhancing the flavor. As Cooking Light explains, the browning adds those great bits of caramelization to the meat's surface, which "will lend rich flavor to the finished dish." You really want to seal those juices into your meat so that you'll end up with an incredibly tender protein that's still packed with flavor.

Browning your meat has a few other benefits as well. As AllRecipes reports, for certain cuts of meat like ground beef, browning can help reduce the amount of grease that's in your final dish, and can prevent ground meats from clumping together — basically, it's a win win! In order to ensure your expertly-browned piece of meat isn't just sitting in the slow cooker juices, you can layer in some vegetables to the bottom, resting the meat on top of them.

If browning meat in the morning sounds like too much work, there are a few tips that may prove helpful. As My Blessed Life suggests, you could place the seasoned meat on high in your slow cooker for a few hours to brown before adding in the other components of your dish. Or, as per The Frugal Girls, you could try browning your meat before freezing, so it'll be ready to use right away.