Strictly speaking, meat doesn’t need to be browned before it’s added to the slow cooker, but it’s a step we find worth the effort. The caramelized surface of the meat will lend rich flavor to the finished dish. And meat dredged in flour before browning will add body to the sauce (as in this Provençal Beef Stew). Ground meat should always be browned and drained before going into the slow cooker. Otherwise, it may clump and add grease to the dish.