How To Thicken Foods In A Slow Cooker

Say goodbye to watery dishes

Slow cooker season is upon us. From brisket to butter chicken, this kitchen appliance is a godsend for busy bees and lazy Larrys alike, with its "set it and forget it" cooking method.

However, when it comes to soups, stews, and other liquid-heavy recipes, most slow cooker dishes come with a disadvantage: It never really cooks down and you end up with a dish a little on the watery side. Traditional thickening methods, such as a beurre manié or cornstarch slurry, won't really work in this instance because the slow cooker doesn't quite reach high enough temperatures to activate the starch's full thickening power. Here's one easy solution: Prop the lid open with a wooden or chopstick to let steam escape as it's cooking. This will allow the liquid to reduce and result in a thicker, more velvety texture.

However, this tip comes with a caveat: Since you're letting the steam—and heat—escape, this will also increase your cooking time. (That's why most slow cooker recipes tell you not to open the lid.) This trick is great for making fruit butters and tomato sauce. Your slow cooker game will never be the same.