Why You Should Never Open Your Slow Cooker Lid When Cooking

Whether you're cooking chicken and dumplings or baked beans, you've probably heard that for best results while slow cooking, you should never open the lid. Traditionally, a slow cooker cooks the food by trapping the heat and steam to cook the contents in the pot. So, if you open the lid, the heat escapes. But there is an exception to this rule. If you're cooking a dish that needs to thicken up any excess liquid, you can achieve this by removing the lid on your slow cooker for up to 45 minutes on the high setting.

What this does is allow the extra moisture to cook out of the slow cooker, leaving behind a thicker, richer meal that's perfect for serving over top of noodles, potatoes, or rice. This tip works great if you accidentally add too much liquid to your cooker or if you're someone who loves heftier sauces or soups. Perhaps one of the best uses for this tip is for a slow cooker pot roast.

Best times to remove the lid from your slow cooker

If you are planning to remove the lid to thicken your dish, it's recommended you do so after allowing your slow cooker to cook for at least two hours. This gives your slow cooker ample time to heat up and start cooking. But for the best result, you should hold off on removing the lid until your dish has cooked for a more significant amount of time, which will give you the most developed flavor in the sauce. 

Waiting until the last 30 to 40 minutes of cooking to remove your lid will allow the liquid to thicken and be ready to serve. If you thicken your liquid too early, you could risk it returning to its more watery state.

Not every dish will require you to remove your lid. If you're cooking brothy soups, such as French onion soup, or juicy meat, such as carnitas, you don't want to risk drying them out.