But our favorite thing about the slow cooker is how well it can take a big, tough, inexpensive piece of meat and slowly cook it into something juicy and tender. The pieces of meat that work best in the slow cooker ― think pork shoulder or beef chuck ― are less expensive because they come from well-used muscles, meaning they’re naturally tougher. But the slow cooker takes the collagen, the protein that is responsible for making these meats tough, and melts it away over low, slow heat so that the cuts can become a fork-tender, melt-in-your mouth meal. These cuts are also generally fattier, which ensures that they won’t dry out throughout the long cooking period.
To make sure you’re using your slow cooker to the best of its abilities this season, make sure you cook with these cuts of meat. We’ve listed them for you below ― with recipes to get you started.