A crockpot is truly an amazing appliance to have at home. Not only is it a very hassle-free cooking method, but it also creates extremely tender and succulent pieces of meat and vegetables without much work!
However, one big problem people often run into is undercooked or overcooked food. It seems impossible to get the cooking times just right.
Luckily, we have spent hours researching everything you need to know and take into consideration when calculating the cooking times.
So, how long do you need to cook a roast in a crockpot? You can work out an average time using the following calculation. If you are using a low-temperature setting, you can cook every pound for 2 hours. So, 4 pounds of meat will cook for 8 hours. And, if you are using the high setting, you can cook 1 pound of meat for 1 hour.
Now, as we have mentioned, there are some other factors to consider. However, that is what we will be discussing in today’s article.
We will look at exactly how crockpots work, how to calculate the cooking times, and how to factor in variables that will affect the times. We have also included a helpful chart and incredible tips and tricks to make your life easier!
Cooking In A Crockpot
A crockpot, also commonly referred to as a slow-cooker, is a type of electric cooking appliance that uses very low temperatures to slowly cook ingredients like meats, vegetables, grains, and pulses.
The use of lower temperatures naturally also means that the items cook for much longer.
One of the things people love about crockpots is that they can be used relatively unattended. You simply set the correct cooking temperature and put a timer on.
You can check it every hour or so to make sure everything is still working fine. But, there is no need to constantly stir or fuss over it.
Another benefit of using this cooking method is that it produces incredibly tender and moist dishes. But, more of that later.
How Crockpots Work
Now, some of these appliances are quite advanced.
You can simply put the ingredient you are cooking inside the pot, choose what it is (for example, pork roast) and the appliance automatically weighs it and calculated the time. Incredible!
Unfortunately, you pay a pretty penny for those appliances. Basic appliances work just as well and won’t cost you a small fortune. The most basic crockpot will likely have 4 temperature settings: low, medium, high, and warming.
These temperatures will naturally affect the cooking time, especially with meats. Once you set the temperature, heating elements start heating the crockpot. The heat is transferred to the cooking liquid and finally, to the ingredients it contains.
The appliance maintains a steady temperature until you change it, or for the fancier machines, it changes automatically after a certain period of time.
Characteristics Of Dishes Made With A Crockpot
Any recipe that will be used in a slow cooker will have to be adapted to this cooking technique, i.e., low and slow.
Even the higher temperatures work between a relatively low-temperature range, between 174-199°F. So, if you have to add chickpeas, only add them at the end. Otherwise, after 6 hours, they will be completely turned into mush.
The long and very moist cooking allows tough ingredients to become very soft, tender, and juicy. Those are the best type of ingredients to cook in a crockpot.
In effect, what this means is that you can use cheaper cuts with loads of chewy connective tissue and lean protein. They will become extremely tender by using this method and producing top-quality juicy meats.
One big disadvantage of this cooking method is that some nutrients are lost during the cooking process, especially in vegetables.
How Long To Cook Roast In A Crockpot
Now we get to the good part! When it comes to determining the amount of time a roast needs to cook in a crockpot, there are a few factors to take into consideration.
This includes the weight of the meat, the temperature setting you will be using, and sometimes, the type of meat you are using.
As an example, fish will cook quicker per pound as compared to chuck. This is because fish is much more delicate than a tough piece of chuck meat.
So, let’s break down each of these factors so that you can better understand how to calculate the cooking times.
There is a rule of thumb that people often use when it comes to cooking roasts in crockpots. For every pound of meat, your item will cook for 2 hours on the low setting and 1 hour on the high setting.
This makes it very easy to calculate the average times. However, as we have mentioned, there are other factors to consider that will affect the time too.
So, basic crockpots have about 3-4 settings. Usually, with these, you will only cook at a low or high setting, very rarely the medium. And, the warm setting is used to, well, keep the food warm.
So, a low-temperature setting is around 190°F (88°C). A high setting can be up to 300°F (149°C).
These temperatures do vary from model to model, so always check your manual to make sure where on the temperature scale you are working at.
Now, naturally, the lower the temperature is the longer something will take to cook. And, the higher the temperature, the quicker it will cook.
If your models’ “low setting” works at a higher temperature than mentioned above, obviously the food will cook faster and the overall time will be reduced.
Type Of Meat
This drastically affects the final cooking time. Let’s compare chicken and a beef roast. The chicken won’t take as long to cook as compared to beef roast because of a few reasons.
First, it doesn’t really have a ton of connective tissue. These tissues create tougher pieces and will cause the meat to take a long time to cook.
This is why 4 pounds of the beef roast will take the same amount of time to cook as 6 pounds of chicken.
Furthermore, chicken is extremely lean and doesn’t contain a ton of fat. It is a relatively tender piece of meat even without the use of slow cooking temperatures.
Other factors when it comes to the ingredients are the size of the meat. Larger pieces will take longer to cook. If you cut up a large chuck, the cooking time will reduce slightly.
Cooking Times For Roasts In Crockpot
Below, we have made a comprehensive chart to help you quickly determine the time your meat needs to cook. Now, remember, these are averages and you might have to adjust them slightly depending on your specific conditions.
|Cut Of Meat||Weight||Low Heat||High Heat|
|Beef Roast (Whole chuck, brisket, round)||3-4 pounds||8 hours||6 hours|
|Large Pork Roast (Pork butt, pork shoulder)||6-7 pounds||9 ½ hours||7 ½ hours|
|Beef Stewing Meat (Cut-up chuck, chuck shoulder, chuck roast)||3 pounds||6 hours||5 hours|
|Pork Loin||3-4 pounds||6 hours||5 hours|
|Chicken (Whole chicken, ground chicken)||6 pounds||7 ½ hours||6 ½ hours|
|Fish||3 pounds||3 ½ hours||1 ½ hours|
Tips For Cooking A Roast In A Crockpot
There are quite a few essential steps that have to be applied when using a slow cooker. But, there are also a ton of tricks to make your life easier!
- Always start with unfrozen meat, whether it is thawed or fresh. Frozen meat holds dangerous bacteria that can thrive when exposed to low temperatures inside of the crockpot.
- If possible, use pieces of meat instead of large cuts. For example, use chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks instead of adding a whole chicken. This will allow the meat to cook much more evenly and will slightly reduce the cooking times.
- To layer your ingredients in a crockpot, first, add the hard root vegetables and meats, then the grains, followed by delicate vegetables, and finally, cover the ingredients with the cooking liquid.
- Always check the internal temperature of your food. This step will just make sure that the food has been fully cooked all the way through. Test the temperature at the thickest part of large cuts or the larger piece of meat in the mix.
- Even though these ingredients will cook for a long time, you can still overcook them. We would recommend checking the internal temperature and texture of the meat around the halfway cooking mark. This will help you re-evaluate the times and make adjustments accordingly.
Tips For Using A Crockpot
- Always make sure that the lid of your crockpot is tightly secured. Not to scare you, but crockpots can explode when they don’t work properly. So, always read the manual, and always handle your crockpot with care.
- We prefer cooking out meats on a high setting for the first hour before switching the setting to low. This helps the meat develop that initial flavor. Then, it can slowly tenderize and become juicy during the remaining cooking time.
- To convert your cooking times from a high setting to a low, divide the time by 1.5 or 2.5. And, if you want to convert the times from low to high, multiply it by 1.5 or 2.5.
- At high altitudes, add another 30 minutes to each of the cooking times.
- You should fill the crockpot (after the ingredients have been added) at least ½ or ¾ of the way full. You cannot cook in a crockpot without a liquid!
- Always properly release the steam when using a crockpot. If you don’t, the lid could burst open when you try to open it, potentially causing serious damage.