Does Meat Need To Be Submerged In Slow Cooker

In this brief article, we will answer the question “does meat need to be submerged in a slow cooker?”, along with some important information and tips on how to cook meat in a slow cooker. 

Does Meat Need To Be Submerged In A Slow Cooker?

Yes, meat generally needs to be submerged in a slow cooker.

This is because a slow cooker best cooks cheaper and somewhat fatty cuts of meat. When it is adequately submerged, the liquid dissolves the meat’s tough fibers and sufficiently for easy eating. Moreover, the meat needs to be covered completely in liquid for it to cook evenly.

How Much Liquid is Needed to Submerge Meat In Slow Cooker?

The amount of liquid depends on what result you are aiming for, its eventual taste, and how dry the meat is.

But as a rule of thumb, never overfill the slow cooker to prevent it from leaking out the top and to ensure that the food cooks well. Ideally, the amount of liquid should be half to two-thirds, and definitely no more than three-quarters.

What Meats Should Be Submerged For Cooking In A Slow Cooker?

If you are cooking these lean pieces of meat, make sure they are submerged in the cooking liquid to prevent them from drying as it cooks. 

Prefered choices are:

  • flank steak
  • chuck roast
  • short ribs
  • beef stewing meat
  • lamb shanks
  • chicken thighs
  • pork shoulders

What If Meat Isn’t Submerged In A Slow Cooker?

In certain cases, even if the meat isn’t completely covered, half-way up also works fine. This is because the inside of the slow cooker is warm enough to adequately cook the meat. 

Generally, there are two methods to cook meat: braising and simmering. By definition, braising means that you only partially submerge the meat and cook it slowly on low heat. When you fully submerge and simmer it, you prepare a stew.

As we’ve said, the best results are obtained when meat  is submerged in the liquid. But it eventually depends on the recipe.


Can You Use a Slow Cooker Without Liquid?

Using a slow cooker without water is not much different than cooking something on the stove.

However, if you use no liquid at all, your food will probably get too hot, stick to the surface of the cooker, and might also burn. 

So, it’s better to add at least some quantity of liquid when cooking in a slow cooker. 


Should You Fry Raw Meat Before Putting It In A Slow Cooker?

A cooker’s mild heat doesn’t let the meat turn brown; however, frying gives it the golden-brown color that enhances its flavor and the overall depth of the dish. 

So if you want to avoid a bland-tasting stew, slightly brown the meat to a golden brown before putting it in the slow cooker.


Does Meat Become More Tender If You Cook It Longer In A Slow Cooker?

Not really. Meat doesn’t become more tender the longer it is cooked in a slow cooker, especially if you are cooking leaner cuts such as chicken breast or pork chops. 

To help retain the moisture of these cuts, reduce the cook time to two to three hours.

Tips For Cooking Meat in Slow Cooker

Here are some tips to cook meat perfectly in a slow cooker:

  • If you are cooking vegetables with meat, place them on top of the meat instead of placing them under it. The vegetables will help the meat stay submerged in the liquid and will steam efficiently.
  • Make sure the entire meat is submerged in the liquid to ensure even cooking.
  • You don’t need to fill the cooker with a lot of liquid. This will dilute the flavors and make your final dish taste bland.
  • NEVER fill the cooker all the way to the top. Even though there is a mark indicating the level of water to be added, do not add too much water – the cooker can burst (literally) when it develops pressure.
  • Always open the cooker keeping the lid away from your face so that the steam doesn’t burn your hands or face.
  • You can also use chicken or beef stock instead of water. This enhances the flavor of the dish.


Can You Leave a Slow Cooker On Overnight?

It is absolutely okay to leave slow cookers on overnight, since they are designed to function for long periods of time.

However, if you’re planning on leaving the slow cooker on for an extended period, you must:

  • Follow all the manufacturer’s directions
  • Ensure that their is sufficient liquid in the cooker to prevent your material from burning
  • Leave it on slow heat so that the liquid doesn’t evaporate overnight



In this brief article, we answered the question “does meat need to be submerged in a slow cooker?”, along with some important information and tips on how to cook meat in a slow cooker. 

If you have any more questions or comments please let us know.