The crockpot is a slow cooker that can be used to cook soups and stews.
It’s always advertised that using a crockpot will make your meat juicy and tender. But, when you use it to cook a weeknight dinner the meat always comes out tough as rubber. So you might ask the question, why didn’t my crockpot recipe work? What’s the reason?
Why Is My Meat Tough In Crock Pot?
Well, there are quite a few. Some of them are detailed below.
- Too much heat, too little time
This is a beginner’s mistake. Cooking, especially slow cooking takes patience. To have tender, juicy meat as the final product you have to cook it on low heat for a long period. If you have a nice steak and you want it pan-seared, then go ahead and blast it on high heat for a few minutes on each side. But, for a slow-cooked meat dish inside a crockpot, you need to cook it according to the recipes instructions which will always be, low heat and long periods.
- The amount of liquid
You can’t have tender juicy meat with a pot full of water, nor can you make it with only half a cup. You have to add the right amount, and it’s something you’ll find written on a recipe or learn it through experience. The liquid inside the pot should at least be a single cup of water for braising and around 3 to 4 cups of beef/chicken/vegetable stock if you want a pot of meat soup. But make sure to adjust according to your needs and don’t follow the recipe to the tee.
- Don’t lift the lid, resist the urge
Although your crockpot is not a pressure cooker, your food still needs to be kept untouched when inside a crockpot for slow cooking. Because to have juicy tender meat, you need to cook it on stable temperatures for a long time. Lifting the lid and checking it multiple times will interfere with that, and maintaining stable temperatures will become difficult to achieve. Thus we advise you to avoid lifting the lid as much as possible. And If you want to add anything, make sure to add it before the pot is placed on a burning fire.
Overcooking your meat is a no-no in every single situation, and doing so while cooking in a crockpot will leave you with tough meat. The optimal temperature for slow cooking is around 160 degrees Fahrenheit, internal temperature. Meaning your meat should have to reach that internal temperature when cooked for at least 8 hours on low heat. When your meat reaches that internal temperature remove it immediately, or it will get overcooked.
- Don’t cut the meat to small
Cutting it too small will also cause overcooking. So, make sure your meat is moderately sized for a slow-cooked stew in a crockpot.
- Lean meat
If you are thinking of making a pot roast or something similar, the ideal meat choice will be chuck, brisket, top round, bottom round, or rump. These are leaner meats, meaning they have less fat marbling, so they require slow cooking.
Braising this type of lean meat in small amounts of liquid will give you a good juicy result.