Slow cookers are underutilized countertop appliances that yield delicious, low-effort meals. Slow cookers know no boundaries: They're capable of turning out full-scale dinners, soups, desserts and even hot beverages. Some recipes require a little prep work, such as browning the meat beforehand to produce maximum flavor. Many recipes, however, simply require the chef to dump the ingredients in, flip the switch and come home to a fully cooked meal.
Using a slow cooker is relatively easy, but heed the experts' advice for best results. For example, don't fill the cooker until it's bursting; instead, a pot about one-half to two-thirds full is ideal. Always use fully thawed meats to ensure they get cooked thoroughly. Also, resist the urge to take the lid off for a quick taste test -- each sneak peek will cost an extra 15 minutes of cooking time.