Slow Cooker Temperature: The Complete Guide

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The slow cooker is a staple in many homes. It’s an easy way to cook delicious meals without having to worry about it all day long.

What most people don’t know, however, is that the temperature on your slow cooker can affect how well your food cooks and tastes.

This article will give you guidelines that will help you to understand what the “low” and “high” button on slow cookers mean so that you can make the best out of your crock pot.

slow cokker and vegetables

When Should I Use the Low Setting on My Crock Pot?

The low setting on slow cookers is generally used for dishes that need to cook slowly and evenly, such as stews or soups.

The low temperature will help the food to cook gradually and avoid burning or sticking to the pot.

cooked stew in crockpot


Lower temperatures, when paired with long cooking times, can deeply infuse flavors into your food and make it more tender. For these reasons, the low setting is perfect to slow cook dishes like pot roast or pulled pork.

Another benefit of using the low setting on a slow cooker is that it helps to prevent your food from burning or drying out.

This is because the low setting cooks food at a slower pace and creates less evaporation, which means that your food is less likely to dry out.

A drawback of using the low setting on your slow cooker is that it can take a long time for your food to cook.

So, if you’re looking for a quick meal, the low setting might not be the best option to cook food with.

When Should I Use the High Setting on My Crock Pot?

If you’re cooking tougher meats, like pork shoulder or beef brisket, then the high setting on your slow cooker can be a lifesaver.

cooked pork shoulder in crockpot


The high temperature will help the food to cook more quickly, which is ideal for tougher cuts of meat.

The high setting can also be used for dishes that need a shorter cooking time, like chicken breasts or fish fillets. This will help to prevent overcooking and ensure that your meat is tender and juicy.

The downside to cooking with high heat is that it can lead to overcooking some foods. If you don’t take your food out of the slow cooker in a timely manner, it can end up burning or becoming dry.

Can I Use the High and Low Setting At the Same Time?

A great way to combine these two functions on your slow cooker is by starting your dish on high. This will help the internal temperature to build up quickly and then you can switch the slow cooker to low until your food is done.

This method works well for dishes that need a shorter cooking time but still benefit from extra heat, like pulled pork or chicken breasts.

chicken breasts cooked in crockpot

It’s also perfect to slow cook tough cuts of meat, since starting on high will help them cook more quickly and then finish with long, even cooking on low.

What About Adjustable Temperature Slow Cookers?

If you are looking to cook on a specific temperature outside of the “low” and “high” settings, then your best bet is to look for slow cooker models that have adjustable heat controls.

These will let you choose exactly what setting works best with each dish so that no flavors are lost in the cooking process.

Having a specific temperature setting on your slow cooker can also help you to achieve more accurate results when using slow cooker recipes.

This is because the recipes will have been specifically designed for that temperature, giving you a better outcome than if you just used the “low” and “high” options.

With all of these tips in mind, now is the perfect time to experiment with your slow cooker and create some delicious new dishes!

Tips for Perfectly Cooking Food in a Slow Cooker

  • Slow cook dishes that need a shorter cooking time at high and then switch to low.
  • High setting for tougher meats, like pork shoulder or beef brisket
  • Look for slow cooker models with adjustable heat controls so you can select the best temperature for each dish.
  • Make sure there is enough liquid in the slow cooker to prevent food from burning or drying out.
  • You can also try using a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier and reduce messes in your slow cooker.

FAQ : Slow Cooker Temperatures

Here are many of the most commonly asked questions about slow cooker temperatures.

What Is the Equivalent Oven Temperature for a Slow Cooker?

This can vary depending on the type of slow cooker you have. It’s important to remember that every model is different, so be sure to check your specific one for guidelines.

In general, though, you can expect a temperature of between 190 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit if your slow cooker has a low setting. If it’s on high, the heat will be closer to 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re wanting to convert a recipe meant for slow cookers to the oven, you can simply divide the cook time by 4 to know how long it will take in the oven.

For example, if you had a recipe that said to cook for six hours on low, cooking it in the oven would only require approximately one hour and 15 minutes.

What is “Keep Warm” Temperature?

Image of a slow cooker with text overlay which reads The Keep Warm setting is to be used after your food is cooked. This setting keeps your food at between 140 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some slow cookers come with an automatic setting called “keep warm”, which will keep your food at a consistent temperature once it’s done cooking.

This is perfect for when you have guests over or if you’re not quite ready to eat yet. It also prevents the food from getting cold and overcooked.

Keep warm typically maintains a temperature between 140 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

It helps to prevent food poisoning when serving leftovers that have been sitting out for several hours.

How Do I Test the Temperature of My Crock Pot?

If you’re not sure what the temperature is in your slow cooker, you can use a meat thermometer to check.

First, fill the crock pot with 2 inches of water. Set the slow cooker to the setting you want to test (low, high, or a specific temperature if your unit has that option).

Insert the meat thermometer into your slow cooker (this can be done before or after cooking) and make sure it does not touch the sides, as this will give you an inaccurate temperature reading. You should also take care that no steam is hitting the tip of your probe while checking for accuracy.

What Is the Best Way to Thicken Liquid in My Slow Cooker?

The easiest solution here is adding some sort of thickener to your dish before you start cooking it. This can be anything from cornstarch to flour, depending on the recipe.

If you want to add thickener during cooking, there are a few things you can do. One is to mix one tablespoon of flour with a little bit of cold water until it’s smooth. You can then add this mixture to your slow cooker, stirring constantly.

Another option is to use a roux. This is made by cooking equal parts of flour and butter together until it’s a light brown color. Once you have your roux, add it to your slow cooker and stir frequently.

What Temperature Is Best for Slow Cooker?

Usually, the lowest setting on your crock pot is going to yield the best results. Slow cooking is meant to replicate the low and slow cooking methods, so using a higher temperature can lead to overcooked or dried-out food.

Of course, this will vary depending on your slow cooker recipe and what type of food you’re cooking. For example, if you want to make pulled pork or beef ribs, the high setting on your slow cooker is perfect for breaking down tough connective tissue.

What Is the Lowest Safe Temperature to Cook Meat?

It’s important to remember that slow cookers do not reach the same high temperatures as an oven or stovetop. This means that meat cooked in a crock pot can potentially carry bacteria if it’s not cooked all the way through.

The USDA recommends cooking all ground beef, pork, lamb, and poultry to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For whole cuts of meats, the USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have a meat thermometer, this is a great way to test if your food has been cooked thoroughly without overcooking it.

Or you can also use the “tenderness” method: check for tenderness in thick or whole pieces of meat by gently pressing on them with your finger. If the meat feels mushy or breaks easily, it’s safe to eat as long as you cook it thoroughly.

Is 4 Hours on High the Same as 8 Hours on Low?

It’s best to check with your specific crock pot for these guidelines. However, in general, you could cook a dish for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

While the numbers are interchangeable, you may still notice a difference in the texture, flavor, and moisture content of your dish. Here is a quick rundown of the slow cooking times for different weights of food:

2 pounds of food: Cook for 3.5 hours on low and 1.5 hours on high.

3 pounds of food: Cook for 6 hours on low and 4.75 hours on high

4 pounds of food: Cook for 8 hours on low and 5.75 hours on high

5 pounds of food: Cook for 9 hours on low and 7 hours on high

6 pounds of food: Cook for 9.5 hours on low and 7.33 hours on high

What Cannot Be Cooked in a Slow Cooker?

Most foods can be cooked in a crock pot, but certain ones won’t turn out as well without constant attention.

For example, delicate items like eggs or fish are not ideal for the slow cooker. They can overcook very quickly and become rubbery or dry.

Additionally, you should avoid recipes that call for a lot of dairy products like cream or cheese. These can also separate or curdle when cooked in the crock pot.

Rice, pasta, and other grains can be cooked in a slow cooker, but you might want to shorten your normal cooking time. Otherwise, they will become mushy and overcooked when left for longer than necessary.

When putting vegetables in the crock pot, make sure to add delicate greens at the end of the cooking time or right before serving. If they stew too long, they can become slimy and overcooked.

Does a Slow Cooker Need to Be Preheated?

Typically, one doesn’t need to preheat a slow cooker. These machines are designed for ease of use and busy lifestyles, so typically, you would simply add the ingredients to your crock pot and turn it on. Set your machine for the cook time and take your mind off of the meal until dinner time.

You can preheat a slow cooker if you’re browning meat before adding it to the rest of your dish, but keep in mind that this is not necessary for most recipes. It’s mainly used when cooking dishes from scratch or searing meats at high temperatures.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it–the complete slow cooker temperature guide. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to cook delicious, nutritious meals that will please even the pickiest eaters.

This can all be done with an ease that a traditional dutch oven or pressure cooker can’t provide, but your meals will taste as if they were prepared in these traditional ways. Experiment with some of your old favorites, or try out a few new recipes.

As always, feel free to experiment with different ingredients and cooking times to find what works best for you. Have fun with your crock pot and enjoy the convenience of a home-cooked meal!


About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.

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