Last year, we bought a crock pot out of curiosity, and let me just say — it has done wonders on our everyday meals! It made dinner definitely something to look forward to every night!
What truly shocked me was the wide range of dishes one can prepare with a crock pot. Its long and slow cooking is perfect for preparing savory, meaty stews and delicious soups. It softened the meat without toughening the muscles and really brought out the meat’s flavor to create a rich broth.
While thinking about what meat to cook next in my crock pot, I came up with the idea of using bacon. Is it possible to cook bacon in a crock pot or is it a wild idea?
Can you cook bacon in a crock pot?
The short answer is yes; it is technically possible to cook bacon fresh out of the packaging with a crock pot. But expect that slow-cooked bacon, in the end, will be soggy and chewy with a generally awful mouthfeel because it’s basically cooking in its own fat. However, it should be noted that others prefer slow-cooked bacon to make it very tender.
Of course, there is a way around the undesirable consistency of bacon when cooked in a crock pot. By frying the bacon separately from the dish with a skillet or the oven and adding it when everything else is cooked, you can make sure that the bacon can bring the perfect crisp it was meant to add to the dish.
If you’re determined to cook bacon in a crock pot, there are still recipes you can try out. You can try out the bacon bits, where you simply cook minced bacon with a slow cooker. Cutting it into tiny pieces will allow the bacon to get a bit of crisp on the outside. You can also cook soups and stews with bacon as long as you’re okay with bacon not being crispy.
Can you put raw bacon in a crock pot?
If you’ve been using a crock pot for a while now, you’ll most likely know that most meats cook perfectly with slow cooking. Even big, tough, inexpensive meat cuts like pork shoulder and beef chuck will turn juicy and fork-tender under the relentless, low heat that slow cookers give off. Unfortunately, the case is not the same for bacon.
Yes, you are technically able to put raw bacon inside a crock pot, and it will cook. However, you would ultimately end up with bacon that’s soggy, chewy, and just awful texture overall. Some do prefer bacon that was cooked in a crock pot because much of the tenderness is preserved that way.
If you really want to give it a try, you could add some bacon, garlic, onion, and around 8 cups of water to the crockpot. Finally, put on the cover and cook it for about 5 hours if you’re using high heat and 9 hours if you want to use low heat instead.
There’s also a recipe from the Internet that involved using bacon bits. First, you need to mince up your raw bacon and put it inside the crock pot. Next, cover it with the lid and set the heat to low. Let it cook for a few hours and come back later to stir it with a perforated spoon.
This time, leave it to cook for a few more hours but leave the lid slightly cocked so moisture can escape. This will allow the bacon to crisp up. Finally, take the bacon out and drain it well.
Can you use bacon for a crock pot recipe?
If you want to use bacon for a dish you’re going to cook with a crock pot, then that’s a whole different story. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside; bacon certainly boosts many recipes’ deliciousness and overall texture.
If the recipe for a dish needs bacon, you can always cook and crisp the bacon separately in a skillet or the oven and add it last minute to the crock pot. This is practically the best way to use bacon in a slow cooker. Frying the bacon separately will take a few minutes, but it’s certainly worth the time if you don’t want soggy and brittle bacon to ruin the entire course.
Moreover, if the recipe already involves browning the meat or sautéing your vegetables, then frying your bacon to a crisp isn’t that far off and you might as well do it for the texture and flavor.
When talking about bacon in crock pots, a particular recipe that comes to mind is the bacon with beans dish. The recipe was a hit because it was easy to make, used simple and familiar ingredients, and because it involved bacon.
To prepare bacon with beans using a slow cooker, you’ll need beans, bacon, white onion, garlic, and of course, salt and pepper to season. First, rinse the beans and pick out the undesired pieces and debris. Next, you’ll need to dice the white onion and mince a few cloves of garlic.
After that, fry the bacon according to your own desired crispness and juiciness. You can also opt to sauté the onions and garlic along with the frying bacon because you get a better flavor when they brown within the bacon fat. You’ll even get a richer, thicker sauce if you do it this way.
After frying the bacon, let it cool down for a minute and then cut it up into pieces. You can decide what size to cut it into, but most online recipes use a fourth of an inch cut. Finally, add everything — the onions and garlic, the bacon, the beans — into the crock pot, add a few cups of water, and cook it in high heat for 4 to 5 hours or on low heat for 8 to 9 hours.
Can I cook bacon in a crock pot without frying it beforehand?
If frying the bacon independently sounds like too much work for you and you’d rather not do it, then you can try switching out the bacon with a ham hock. A random user on Reddit was the first to share their experience of using ham hock instead of bacon, and now, it has been agreed upon by food blogging sites that it’s a good substitute if you still want that smoked, salty, pork flavor.
Furthermore, crock pots are also suitable for ham hock cuts because they tenderize and bring out the fat and collagen from the meat to create a savory, flavorful broth.
The other way you can use bacon in a slow cooker is to wrap something with it, such as chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper. Remember that if you’re going to use bacon as a wrap, you shouldn’t look forward to a crispy wrap, but hopefully, the texture and flavor of what the bacon is wrapping can compensate for its texture.
Crock pots revolutionized the culinary scene with their ability to cook food slowly with low and steady heat without blowing up your electricity bill. What’s more, you can cook almost anything with a crock pot — except for fish, shellfish, oysters, and clams which have delicate proteins that get degraded with slow cooking.
As for bacon, one can cook it in a crock pot. It is edible, but it isn’t that palatable because slow cooking ruins the texture of bacon, making it rubbery and soggy. Of course, there are workarounds to this “rule”, such as cooking the bacon separately and adding it to the crock pot at the last minute.
However, if you’re one of those people that like to slow cook bacon for tenderness, then there are still recipes you can follow. But for others, we just need to accept that certain things don’t do well in the crock pot.