Many recipes say you should brown your sausages before adding them to your slow cooker – but, sometimes, for some people, this isn’t possible, so can you put raw sausages in a slow cooker?
The purpose of browning sausages before adding them to your slow cooker performs a few functions:
- It makes the sausages look nice, because they’re browned. It’s true, they do.
- Through the cooking reaction it’s considered that frying the sausages first makes them tastier; this can be a matter of opinion.
- Frying them first helps to ensure that the sausages are cooked thoroughly; this can be relevant in some cases.
But, if you’re standing in your kitchen and you only have a slow cooker available, or want a “dump and leave it” style of recipe, you’ll be pleased to know you can put raw sausages into your slow cooker and that’s fine, yes, it’s OK to put raw sausage in a crock pot!
I wanted to try to recreate a “baked/roasted sausages” effect in my slow cooker, where the end result would be a browned sausage that I could serve hot or cold. I didn’t want a sausage casserole, I wanted to end up with “dry sausages”, not sausages in sauce.
One thing I would note is that if you’re cooking sausages in a slow cooker then you need to use lean sausages as the fat will come out of them, which could mean your end dish is a bit fatty; if you can choose the sausages you cook with that’s OK. If you’re staring at a pack of fatty/cheap sausages and thinking “this won’t work then” – it will – simply think about what you can put under the sausages that will raise them further from the base so all that fat has chance to drain away!
What I did was to layer chopped onions on the bottom of the slow cooker and then just layered the sausages on top, still raw. I wanted to check what would happen, without using any oil in the pot – just to see. I also chose to remove the sausage skins as I’ve never really liked sausage skin and they can go floppy and horrid looking in a slow cooker, so it was off with the skins!
My slow cooker is small, 3.5 litres/quarts, and I had 8 sausages. I found that 6-7 sausages could be fitted along the top, but I had to break up the last one and plonk the bits on top. If your slow cooker is larger, this won’t be an issue. I wanted to ensure the sausages weren’t touching the sides of the pot, to ensure they didn’t stick or burn.
First I turned the slow cooker on high and kept popping back to peer through the lid. After 45 minutes I couldn’t help myself from getting worried the onions might stick, so I then turned it down to low. After 3.5 hours I removed the lid and turned the sausages over. They had browned on the top and the underside showed me they were cooking fine. The onions hadn’t stuck or burnt at all, I was just being paranoid.
After 6 hours the sausages were fully cooked and ready to be taken out. The sausages were browned and the onions underneath them were cooked in the sausage fat. I carefully scooped each one out using a plastic ladle – you have to be careful else they’ll break up.
I then scooped out the onions, using the slotted ladle.
Once I’d done that I decided to see how much fat had come out of the sausages, it wasn’t as much as I’d expected – probably just 3 tablespoons.
Because I only chopped up two onions to line the base of the crock pot, the sausages were half covered in the fat while cooking as the volume of onions didn’t raise them far from the base – you can see this in the photo above. While that was fine, at other times in the future I might choose to add more onions to raise the sausages fully away from the fat.
Verdict: Yes, you can put raw sausages in a slow cooker to cook. Next time I’d spray a little oil in the bottom to allay my fears over the onions sticking to the bottom of the crock pot (my fear alone, it didn’t happen for me even though I used no oil). They don’t look as appetising as some other ways to cook sausages though, but you can put raw sausage in a crock pot.
I decided to turn the onions into a cheats onion gravy and made up some instant gravy granules with boiling water, then added the onions! I served myself three (yes, three!) of the sausages immediately and put the remaining five into a plastic/lidded box in the fridge – they’ll be either microwaved hot again in the next 2-3 days, or I might use them in sandwiches or pitta breads either hot or cold.
The cooked sausages can be reheated in a microwave in 1-2 minutes, or frozen to be used in the future (this won’t happen as they’re just begging to be eaten soonest!).