Do Crock Pots Need Water for Cooking?

I wish I could cook everything in my crockpot. It is the easiest cooking appliance I have come across. 

My crockpot allows me to work for hours nonstop while it takes care of the cooking. 

I decided to change my daily routine and cook dry pot roast. I wonder if we can cook food without adding water inside the crockpot. Let us find out.

Do Crock Pots Need Water for Cooking? 

You should add water to your crockpot only if your recipe needs it.

If what you are making doesn’t require additional water, do not add water to your crockpot.

Certain meal preparations like pot turkey don’t need water. Some need liquid sauces but not water. And some foods cannot be made without water. 

In the end, adding water depends on the dish you wish to prepare. 

Let us briefly look at what the Crockpot brand has to say about adding water. 

What Does the Crock-Pot Brand Say About Adding Water? 

According to the Crock-Pot instructions manual

” For best results and to prevent food from drying or burning, always ensure an adequate amount of liquids is used in the recipe”. 

The brand further says

“Ensure that the stoneware is filled a minimum of ½ full always and a maximum of 3/4th full” 

Now if you notice, the brand uses the word ‘adequate’. It leaves for us to manage the amount depending on the recipe we need to cook. 

In the second point, it says the stoneware should be a minimum of ½ to a maximum of ¾ full. 

It does not mention water or food. It only specifies the volume that needs to be filled. 

Allow me to elaborate on how exactly a crockpot works without water for you to get clarity.

I will also tell you about a few recipes that do not need water to cook, those that need a little sauce, and those that need water to cook in a crockpot. 

How a Crock-Pot Works With No Additional Water 

A crockpot works by slow cooking food on low heat for long hours.

By slow cooking, the food inside releases its juices and fats. As the heat remains fixed, no steam gets released and no water gets lost during cooking. 

This is why you would have noticed that the amount of liquid does not decrease after cooking in the crockpot. 

For certain recipes, the water released by the ingredients is enough for it to cook and so there is no need to add additional water.

As I have said before, follow the rules the recipe requires.

Helpful Tips While Keeping in Mind the Water Content

Here are some tips from the Brand manual that will help you in making the perfect recipe with or without water : 

  • For recipes that do not need additional water, stack your food right. Place the vegetables first and then your meat.
  • It is a good idea to grease the pot insert with a cooking spray if you are not using any additional water. The oil film will protect the food until its own fat/ liquid starts to ooze out.
  • Some recipes require you to cook in a broth. Certain dishes just need a cup of water. For all the recipes that require water, I would suggest you add less compared to the quantity you would use while cooking on a stovetop. 

This is because the quantity will not lesson inside the crockpot.

Unless it’s soup, keep a lighter hand while adding water for such recipes. 

  • If you have added a lot of water inside the crockpot, do not worry. Just open the lid and slow cook for the last 15-20 minutes. You could alternatively, switch the broth to the stovetop and add a thickener on low heat. 
  • The Crockpot brand states to not place frozen meat as such in the insert pot. Thaw it out first or add one cup of warm water. This will act as a cushion and prevent sudden temperature changes. Frozen meat will also take a long time to defrost and tenderize. Cook an additional four hours on low and two hours on high. 
  • If you do want a little gravy but do not want your chicken or fish to get immersed in it, use an oven-safe grill rack or plain aluminum foil to raise your meat away from liquid. Just crumple up the foil into a few balls and line the bottom of the pan with them. Make sure the balls are above the water level. Place your meat on top
  • Always fill in according to the manual instructions. Keep it between half and ¾ full. Overfilling can cause spills while underfilling can overcook your meal. 
  • For adding pasta, boil the pasta on a stovetop until tender. Add the pasta into the crockpot when only 30 minutes are remaining.
  • Soak beans and boil dried beans on the stovetop before adding them to your crockpot.
  • Vegetables take longer to cook. Always place them on the bottom of the crockpot 
  • Always add fresh herbs at the end of the cooking cycle. Slow-cooking for a long duration removes the original flavors of herbs.  Dried herbs may be added at the beginning of slow cooking.
  • Add milk or cream during the last half an hour of cooking.
  • If you wish all the ingredients to cook at the same rate, cut your meat into smaller pieces when cooking with onions and mushrooms.
  • As fish cooks faster, add it in the last hour or half an hour of cooking. 
  • Cook lean meat pieces and fatty meat pieces separately in the crockpot. Lean meat pieces tend to cook faster while fatty meats with more connective tissue take longer. For example, do not cook chicken and beef together.
  • Resist the urge to open the lid and check. Opening the lid will only prolong your cooking time 

Examples of Recipes With Or Without Adding Water 

Let us now get into a few recipes that may or may not need water to cook in the crockpot.

I have taken them from the crockpot brand owners manual. You are, of course, free to experiment and make your versions. 

Crockpot Recipes That Do Not Require Any Water 

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken 

Take half a cup of chopped onions and put them in the cavity of the chicken.

Rub the chicken with butter and lemon all over and sprinkle your favorite toppings. Cover and cook low for eight hours or on High for four hours. 

Beef Pot Roast 

You can make this recipe by directly putting raw beef into your crockpot or sear roasting your beef on the stovetop beforehand. 

Place onions, carrots, and potatoes on the bottom of the pot. Put beef on top of them. Next, spread mushrooms on top.

Slow cook for eight to ten hours on low or six to eight hours on high. 

Sausage And Meatballs 

Add tomatoes, garlic, and veggies to the bottom.

Place uncooked sausage and meatballs on top. Slow cook on low for eight hours or on high for four to five hours. 

Crockpot Recipes That Require Sauce and Not Water 

Baby Back Ribs 

This is a fairly simple recipe. Place ribs in the pot. Top it up with barbeque sauce and 2-3 chopped onions.

Cover and cook for eight hours on low or four to five hours on high until meat is tender.

Pork Loins 

Put onions, sauce, and pork loins in the crockpot. Cover and slow cook on low for eight hours or on high for five hours.

Once done, shred the pieces with the fork and coat the pieces with barbeque sauce. 


Add onions, cloves, pepper, tomatoes, jalapenos, ground beef, soaked beans, and half a cup of beef broth.

Cover and slow cook on low for eight to nine hours and on high for five hours. 

Crockpot Recipes That Require Adding Water 

Beef Stew 

Add vegetables,  beef, and water up to ½ or ⅔ of the pot depending on the quantity you wish to make.

Cover and slow cook on low for ten hours or on high for six hours. Stir after it is done and serve.

Chicken Noodle Soup 

Take eight cups of water ( or until ⅔ of the pot is filled). Add vegetables. Place chicken on top of vegetables.

Add salt and pepper. Slow cook for four to five hours on high or eight to ten hours on low.

Boil noodles on the stovetop and add them to the crockpot. Shred the chicken into pieces before serving. 


I hope you have got clarity regarding whether or not you should add water to your crockpot. 

It all depends on the recipe you wish to prepare. The crockpot works on slow heat in a tight chamber that does not allow liquid to escape.

The food can pretty easily cook in the juices and fat that comes out of it. Any additional water would be only if the recipe demands you to add water. 

For example, if you are cooking lean meat cuts without any vegetables or sauces, there are high chances of burning as there is very less fat or water content that comes out from lean meat cuts.

In all such cases, drizzle the meat with butter and sauce or add a bit of water. 

If you do not want to submerge the piece in liquid, crumple some foil tins and place the meat pieces on it away from the liquid underneath.

Another tip for cooking dry meat would be to place lemon wedges, potatoes, or tomatoes underneath.

The water from the veggies will free you from adding any additional water to your crockpot. Let me know what you made and how it turned out. All the best!

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!