Crock-Pot’s newest slow cooker is the first model that automatically stirs food while it cooks, but experts tell Consumers Digest that the feature isn’t necessary for most slow-cooker meals.
Crock-Pot’s iStir Stirring System, which was introduced in September 2013, has a motorized lid attachment that powers one of two included stirring attachments, a stirring paddle and a wire attachment that can be used for thicker recipes. Either mixing tool can be attached to the bottom of the lid and will stir food automatically every 30 minutes after the first 2 hours of cooking. The lid stays on while the attachment stirs.
Crock-Pot says the automatic stirring feature is designed to help to cook food more evenly than other slow cookers can. Crock-Pot spokesperson Hanna Thompson says the company also found that consumers prefer to stir food in slow cookers.
Slow-cooker experts tell us that few meals that are made in a slow cooker have to be stirred, because heat and steam are distributed evenly in all slow cookers. Furthermore, if you stir slow-cooker meals that have starchy vegetables, the vegetables can get too mushy, says Beth Hensperger, who is the author of slow-cooker recipe books.
Stirring can help to prevent food from sticking to the bottom of the slow cooker, but that’s most likely to happen only with rice or pasta dishes, says cookbook author Linda Larsen. Of course, on other slow cookers, you can lift the lid and use a spoon to stir, but Larsen says lifting the lid during cooking releases heat and steam and can require you to increase cooking time by as much as 20 minutes.
Crock-Pot tells us that “stirring isn’t always necessary to cook food evenly in a slow cooker.” When we asked Crock-Pot to cite the slow-cooker recipes for which stirring is necessary, it wouldn’t give examples.
– K. Fanuko