Is Browning Meat Necessary

rather than a specific recipe, i’m wondering if browning meat before placing in a crock pot is really necessary. i never brown ground beef or chuck roast, but i wonder if the taste is different? we’re MOSTLY vegetarians so i’m not really experienced with cooking meat. but, my family does like certain things in the crockpot. browning is typically called for in recipes. is it really necessary for taste/appearance/quality??

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  1. Mara says

    Yes, it is required. If you don’t, you get a weird texture throughout your pot. The few times I tried just putting raw meat in chili, it essentially ruined it.

    When you’re doing a roast it is also essential to brown all sides of meat before putting into crock pot/roaster. Makes a huge difference in the final product.

  2. says

    Necessary? No…I have never browned meat before cooking it in the oven or in the crock pot. Neither has my mother or her mother. That would take too much time in our minds if we are crock pot cooking. We have ALWAYS had delicious meat. Now, could it taste even better? I don’t know…I have never tried browning meat to see if it would taste better. Why would I? If it already tastes great, and I don’t want the additional prepping time, I justify never knowing. You could always experiment with browning and not browning to see for yourself. I really think it is about your personal preference and no one can decide that for you.

  3. LisaE says

    Some people will say browning is neccesary on meats for better quality flavor, however, I say it isn’t. I have tried browning roasts a couple of times before cooking it in a crock but I saw no difference in appearance and it tasted the same to me as not browning it first.

  4. doug says

    technically, no. The meat will cook just fine without searing. What it does do is give meat dishes an incredible depth of flavor.

    Searing over high heat caramelizes the surface of the meat, which enhances the savory ‘meat’ flavor and fills the finished dish with complex layers of nutty caramel and coffee-like bitterness. In technical terms, this is called a Maillard reaction

    Without searing, meat dishes taste flat and bland.
    the the depth and complexity of flavor we gain in this step is well-worth any extra effort

  5. AuricTech says

    Like you, jd wolfe, I don’t bother browning meat before I cook it in a slow cooker (then again, I’m cooking for one, so I don’t have to worry about how my cooking tastes to someone else). That being said, you should have no worries about food safety (the part of quality I can address with confidence). However, especially with ground beef, browning the meat will help melt the fat, which you can then drain off before putting the meat in the slow cooker. If you don’t brown the meat first, any fat in the meat will end up in the end product. For my tastes, that’s a feature; others might see it as a bug. Your mileage may vary….

  6. Chuck says

    Browning is not necessary but does so much to enhance the flavor. Browning carmelizes the meat and releases the natural flavors and sugars. Just ten extra minutes to brown your meat in a bit of olive oil will result in a richer tasting and more visually appealing end product.

  7. Teresa says

    Yes, absolutely, cooking for us is all about flavor, and when using meats in a slow cooker, always brown it first, to enhance flavor through the caramelization,and of course add your favourite seasonings to the meat while browning.Also,if using a slow cooker, never use water, if you can avoid it, always use a broth,be it beef or chicken.
    I save all the juices from baked roasts and chickens and freeze it for use later, or you can buy the cheap no name broths at the supermarket.

    • laura says

      hi teresa…i agree with you totally except i use beef stock rather than broth. (i used an entire large carton of swanson beef stock) gives a much deeper flavor….if you have not tried it, i hope you will…i think you will be very pleased…

  8. Glenda says

    My understanding from reading numerous blogs about crock pot cooking is that you do not have to brown roasts but YOU SHOULD BROWN GROUND BEEF. Ground beef, because of it’s nature of being well, ground, is more likely to harbor nasties or ‘turn’ quicker. Because crock pots heat slowly, the ground can sit at room temperature for longer than safe.

  9. Peggy says

    I like the flavor and texture of the browned meat so this is what I do. When I get home from the grocery store I toss all the ground beef into a frying pan, add my onion and brown it all. I let it cool, divide it up into zip lock bags and toss it all in the freezer. When the recipe says “brown 1 pound of ground beef” it is already done. I grab a bag from the freezer and toss it into the crock pot and then add the rest of the ingredients. SO much easier than browning meat every time you want to use your crock pot!

  10. Becky B. says

    For slow cookers, I always brown ground beef, if nothing more than to get the fat out.

    Honestly, for slow cookers, I never brown roasts of any sort (pork, beef, turkey) or chicken. Just throw them in there. Saves cleaning another pan.

  11. Kim J says

    I do brown meats like raw sausage and ground meat. I do not brown smoked sausage, roast, pork chops/steaks or boneless chicken breasts. I have still yet to get accustomed to crockpot chicken… either in a rotisserie style or otherwise… to me the skin is slimy…yuck… and I’d rather have a plain old piece of baked chicken

  12. Chris says

    I have done a lot of cooking and have done this both ways. My reccomendation would be if you have the time it is always better to brown the meat on all sides prior to putting it in the crock pot. Preferably a cast iron pan. Believe me when I tell you there is a huge difference in flavor and texture. Here is what I do provided you have the time. Take the meat out of the package and let it sit for about 30 mins. Take a paper towel and completely dry all the water off the meat. I pat it dry. Then use a pepper grinder and sea salt on both sides. Oregono on both sides. Then I heat a cast iron skillet to med/high. I prefer olive oil. A higher smoke point. Then I brown the meat on all sides. Only take 2-4 mins each side but it is worth it. I already have all my liquids like beef broth, sometimes cream of mushroom, cooking wine in the slow cooker. I add potato with the skin cut in cubes, onion, fresh garlic, carrots, celery and then I cook for 8 hours slow. Sometimes 10 depending on how big the meat is.

    Ideally this provides the best results for me. Now, if you don’t brown your meat and do everything else you will still get a good product. Just not as good if you ask me.

  13. carrie spence says

    It isn’t necessary but it takes a recipe from ok to wonderful. Browning just adds depth and more flavor to a meal. Meat not browned is like mashed taters with no salt. Ok but lacking

  14. mom cook says

    I have found that browning any type of roast before putting in the crock pot makes a tremendous difference in the taste. I always season my roasts then spray with Pam and put under the broiler until browned and then putting in the crock pot……makes a WORLD of difference. Try it….you will be glad you did!

  15. mom cook says

    I never add liquid to my roasts when cooking in the crock pot (I do add onion, boullion cubes, veggies, etc)……meat always has more than enough liquid in it already.

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