If you’re not following slow cooker recipes, that’s a-okay. You’ll just have to guesstimate cooking times and temperatures, all while getting used to a brand-new appliance. Does that sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be. Today, we’re answering home cooks’ most pressing questions: “How hot does a crock pot get?” “How long will my stew need to cook for?” and much more.
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Different Crock Pot Settings
Every slow cooker model is different, but there are similarities between them, especially in the three settings they come with. While some slow cookers let you manually choose a temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit), most don’t. So at what temperature do each of these settings cook?
Probably the most common question when it comes to these appliances is what temperature is low on a crock pot. For most models, that’s 200 degrees Fahrenheit. While every model is different, you can expect your appliance to cook at around this temperature.
Use the low setting for simmering foods for many, many hours. It brings out the most subtle flavors in your ingredients and ensures they get a buttery-soft consistency.
Your crock pot will likely cook your meal at 300 degrees Fahrenheit when you select the “high heat” option.
This setting can be used to speed up the slow-cooking process. If that sounds counterintuitive, that’s because it is. After all, it’s called “slow cooking” for a reason. If you're in a hurry but still want tender foods, we suggest getting a pressure cooker.
It’s not recommended that you crank up the heat to speed up a recipe that calls for a gentle simmer for six hours or less. You probably won’t get the best results.
Warm is not a cooking temperature setting. Instead, it’s been designed to keep your meal at a serving temperature after it’s done cooking. Because it’s not designed to warm up your food, it could lead to bacteria growing on your food, thus ruining your meal.
Can You Convert Crock Pot Cooking Times?
When you’re just getting started using a slow cooker, it can be handy to have conversion charts at hand. These will help you better determine what temperature and cooking time (for high or low cooking) your meal needs. It’s especially handy if you’re not following a recipe!
From Low to High Heat
If you want to speed things up, you can sometimes convert your cooking temperature from low to high setting.
For instance, if a recipe says to cook a stew for 7 hours on low, you can instead cook on the high setting for 3 hours—and so on:
- Cooking for 8 hours on low = cooking for 4 hours on high
- Cooking for 9 hours on low = cooking for 5 hours on high
- Cooking for 10 hours on low = cooking for 6 hours on high
- Cooking for 11 hours on low = cooking for 7 hours on high
- Cooking for 12 hours on low = cooking for 8 hours on high
Keep in mind that these are all approximations of cooking times, however, they are quite reliable, regardless of what type of food you’re cooking.
From Oven to Low Heat
If you’re used to making your favorite meal in the oven, you can start making it in the slow cooker instead. Simply follow these easy cooking time conversion instructions.
- Cooking for 15 to 30 minutes in the oven = cooking for 4 to 8 hours on low
- Cooking for 35 to 45 minutes in the oven = cooking for 6 to 10 hours on low
- Cooking for 50 minutes to 3 hours in the oven = cooking for 8 to 18 hours on low
While these seem like odd conversion times, they’ve been tried and tested. If you’re still in doubt, try finding a copy-cat slow cooker recipe; there are tons out there.
From Oven to High Heat
You can still get the best results if you convert these long cooking times to your slow cooker’s high setting.
- Cooking for 15 to 30 minutes in the oven = cooking for 1.5 to 2.5 hours on high
- Cooking for 35 to 45 minutes in the oven = cooking for 3 to 4 hours on high
- Cooking for 50 minutes to 3 hours in the oven = cooking for 4 to 6 hours on high
What Is the Best Temperature for Cooking with a Crock Pot?
Recipes take all the guess-work out of cooking with a crock pot. But if you’re making it up as you go, you’ll have to decide at what temperature to cook. This will depend on what you’re making, but you can follow these general instructions to get started.
If you’re stewing root vegetables and around three pounds of meat, cook for 10 to 12 hours on low or for 4 to 5 hours on high.
Chili and Soups
Expect your chili and soup to take between 6 and 8 hours to cook on low heat. These meals come out best if you let them simmer on the low setting. Avoid using the high heat setting.
A four-pound brisket takes between 10 and 12 hours on low to cook. Avoid using the high setting to achieve the best consistency.
Six pounds of poultry will take your crock pot 7.5 hours on low and 6 hours on high to cook.
If you’re making a large pot roast (of around six to seven pounds), set aside 9.5 hours on low or 7 hours on high for the cooking time.
Is My Crock Pot Heating Well Enough?
If you’re using an older slow cooker, it’s best to test it before cooking with it. This is the best way of making sure your food will be cooked through and safe to eat.
- Fill your slow cooker with two quarts of water
- Turn on the low-heat setting for eight hours
- Check the temperature with a reliable thermometer
If the water temperature is between 185ºF and 200ºF, your slow cooker is in great condition. If it’s above that threshold, it could overcook your food if you don’t stir it every now and then during the cooking process. If, on the other hand, it’s below 185ºF, your crock pot slow cooker isn’t safe to cook with, as it could compromise food safety.