12 lean slow cooker recipes
While some may think the fall season is ushered in by the arrival of pumpkin spice everything, we firmly believe the season hasn’t officially begun until the slow cooker is on the counter and a roast is simmering away.
Why? Because nothing beats a warm, home-cooked meal with minimal effort when the weather finally cools down. Even better, that familiar taste of slow-cooked perfection still be enjoyed by people looking to follow a leaner, protein-rich diet full of fruits and vegetables. Opting for lean meals doesn’t mean you have to give up the flavors you love, because many lean roasts are a perfect match for the slow cooker.
What is Lean Beef?
A cut of cooked fresh meat is considered lean when it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3.5 ounces). With these requirements, what beef choices do we have?
Quite a few, actually.
shoulder roast recipes
chuck eye roast and chuck tender roast recipes
bottom round roast recipes
Any lean roast can be cut into 1" cubes and turned into stew meat. This reduces the overall cooking time and also may save you some money at the grocery store by doing the work yourself.
tips for cooking lean cuts of beef in the slow cooker
While cuts like the chuck roast typically are used in the slow cooker because the higher fat content creates a juicy final product, leaner roasts still can give an amazing dish with these simple cooking tips.
Choose the Low-Heat, High-Time Setting
We know it's tempting to choose that higher heat, 4-hour cook setting. Good things are hard to wait for, but oh so worth it. The extra time on the 8-hour cook setting will be worth it on these leaner cuts of beef. Time is on your side.
Since there isn't much fat in leaner cuts of beef, adding some extra liquid will help with moisture and tenderness in the end. Some of our favorite items to add are beef stock, red wine, or even whiskey in this whiskey molasses shredded beef recipe.
Soups and Stews are Perfect for Lean Cuts
Fall and winter are perfect for soups and stews, and lean roast cuts are perfect for these dishes! You'll get tender bites of flavorful beef while not having much fat to skim off the top after a long day of slow cooking. Plus, stews are an incredibly easy way to add veggies to increase the nutritional value of your meal.
Brown and Deglaze Before You Slow Cook
You're missing out on a lot of flavor if you just set a roast in the slow cooker and close the lid. Browning your roast in a pan is a vital part of cooking because it adds a tremendous amount of flavor. After you move the roast to the slow cooker after browning it in a pan, you will notice some brown residue on the pan. That, our friends, is extra flavor. Deglaze that pan with beef stock or wine and add it to the roast. If you're choosing to add onions or garlic to your recipe, this is also a great time to sear those for extra flavor.
Shred or Cut Against the Grain
It's important to either shred your roast or cut against the grain. Cutting against the grain can greatly influence the tenderness of your roast.
common lean roasts found in the grocery store
While these may vary by name from store to store, you can find plenty of lean cuts for slow cooking. Remember, if it contains the word "loin" or "round", chances are it will be lean.
chuck tender roast
A lean roast that requires slow cooking to tenderize.
An inexpensive chuck cut with good flavor and good for roasting or slow cooking.
A boneless and lean cut ideal for slow cooking.
eye of round roast
A lean, flavorful cut often used for roast beef at the deli. It can be roasted or slow-cooked at home for a great meal.
bottom round roast
Great value and very lean. Best for roasting or slow cooking and cutting thin.
top round roast
A lean roast that should be slow-cooked to improve its tenderness and then sliced thinly across the grain.
sirloin tip roast
This boneless, lean cut is a great value. Best when roasted and carved into thin slices, but it can also be slow-cooked.
Take any of these lean roasts and cube them into 1" pieces to make your own stew meat.