A slow cooker makes putting a meal on the table a lot easier on a long and busy day. Conversely, it can also be used to put a meal on the table in a shorter amount of time if you use a recipe that is suitable for quick cooking. Chili has options for both long and short cooking times, making it one of the most simple slow-cooker meals to throw together for later.
When You Want It Fast
Several elements go into making a quick chili in the slow cooker. The fastest way to make chili in a slow cooker is to use a vegetarian recipe or precook the meat. Use canned or precooked beans for your chili to eliminate the long cooking times needed for dry beans. Following these criteria, three hours on high will get your chili cooked and allow the flavors to mix well.
For less time spent in the slow cooker, you are required to do a little more work up front. Saute onions and spices in a frying pan, and cook ground beef or turkey until cooked through. Add all of the additional ingredients to the slow cooker and set it to high. For a vegetarian chili, cook the onions, oil and spices in the microwave until they are soft and add them to the slow cooker with the other ingredients.
Speed Up or Slow Down
The nice thing about a slow cooker is that you are able to shape the cooking time to your schedule. While it is possible to quickly cook a chili in three to five hours on high, you are also able to set the same chili for up to eight hours on low. For slower-cooking chili that starts with raw meat in the cooker, plan on five to seven hours on high or as long as 11 hours on low.
For Guaranteed Success
While a slow cooker is convenient for long cooking, it produces a quality product in a short time as well -- when you follow a few key steps. Brown the meat in advance to lock in flavor. Follow cooking times and specific instructions on the recipe to ensure that the correct temperature is achieved and the chili is thoroughly cooked. Refrain from removing the lid of the slow cooker until the chili is complete to avoid a sudden drop in temperature.
- Slow Cooker Revolution; America's Test Kitchen
Based in Portland, Ore., Maxine Wallace is a writer with more than 12 years of experience. With a bachelor's degree in journalism and experience working on marketing campaigns for large media agencies, she is well-versed in multiple industries including the Internet, cooking, gardening, health, fitness, travel and holistic living.
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