Crockpots are one of the best kitchen inventions. They are extremely easy to use and perfect for people who don’t want to spend all their time in the kitchen while their meal is cooking.
With crockpots, you can take care of your other tasks around the house or even go out while the food is cooking.
But how hot does a crockpot get? Crockpots generally have two settings: High and Low. When you set it on Low, the temperature reaches 190°F. On High, the temperature within the cooking pot reaches around 300°F.
This article is a complete guide to crockpot temperatures, how cooking in a crockpot compares to cooking in the oven, how to convert oven cooking time to crockpot and vice versa, and a lot more.
What Is A Crockpot?
Crockpots, also known as slow cookers, are countertop kitchen appliances meant for slow-cooking food at low temperatures.
While the word crockpot is now used interchangeably with the word slow cooker, a Crock-Pot is actually a brand that makes slow cookers. So, crockpots can be regarded as a type of slow cooker.
The temperature crockpots use isn’t high enough to boil or fry the food. The food in a crockpot gently simmers for hours until it is fully cooked.
This is why crockpots are widely used for cooking tough meats and vegetables. You can also use crockpots for soups, stews, and a few other dishes too.
There are many benefits to using this handy countertop appliance:
- Crockpots provide a minimal effort cooking experience. You can take care of your other tasks while your dish is cooking in a crockpot.
- They make very tender meat. Even the cheapest and toughest cuts can be cooked to perfection in a slow cooker.
- Crockpots are easy to use. They typically don’t have a complicated control panel. There are only a few settings on these kitchen appliances. All you have to do is to put all ingredients inside the pot, choose a setting, and turn it on.
- They are easy to clean. When using a crockpot, you only have one pot to clean. In the majority of the cases, no food sticks to the pot which makes cleaning it even easier.
- Crockpots promote healthy cooking. They preserve the nutrients in ingredients due to using low temperatures to cook them.
What Are the Differences Between A Crockpot And A Slow Cooker?
As mentioned above, the word crockpot may be used interchangeably with the word slow cooker. Or, it may be used to refer to the brand Crock-Pot which makes slow cookers.
To not get confused, let’s discuss what makes a crockpot and a slow cooker different despite the general similarities they have.
First off, the pots of the slow cookers by the brand Crock-Pot have a ceramic or porcelain interior. Secondly, crockpots, as opposed to other slow cookers that you can now find on the market, have two heat settings.
You can set them either at Low or at High. Some crockpots may also have a Warm setting.
Lastly, it is common for crockpots to have heating elements located not only at the bottom of the casing but in the walls too.
So, a crockpot is a type of slow cooker. The word crockpot has become synonymous with the word slow cooker as a result of the popular Crock-Pot brand that makes slow cookers with a few unique characteristics.
How Does A Crockpot Work?
Crockpots have three main constituent parts. A crockpot has a lid, a pot, and a heating element. The lid of crockpots should fit tightly to lock in the moisture and ensure a proper cooking process.
The heating elements are located in the outer casing into which the pot goes. The control panel is also on the outer casing of the crockpot.
There is constant heat in a crockpot from the moment you turn it on. The heat generates steam inside the pot which is trapped by the lid.
As crockpots don’t use a high temperature to cook the food, the liquid doesn’t evaporate. Instead, it thickens up and becomes concentrated and flavorful.
How Do You Use A Crockpot?
The instructions for using a crockpot are quite straightforward. You simply need to put the raw ingredients into a pot. You may or may not add liquid into the pot. Add wine, stock, or plain water to the ingredients.
When adding the liquid, keep in mind that it won’t cook-off, and add as much liquid as you need the final dish to have.
If you are cooking meat, you can brown it before cooking it in a crockpot. This will provide a richer flavor and a more appetizing appearance.
As there is also a Warm setting on the crockpot, you can also use it to keep your food warm during parties and large family gatherings.
Once all the ingredients are inside, you choose your preferred setting – High or Low, set the cooking time, and wait for your delicious meal to be ready.
A Guide To Crockpot Temperatures
Cooking in a crockpot can be tricky as crockpots come with Low and High settings and some people don’t know how hot the device gets on each setting.
This is key information if you want to succeed in cooking with a crockpot without having to follow other people’s recipes.
What Temperature Is A Crockpot On High?
When you choose the High setting on your crockpot, expect it to heat up to 300°F. You can choose between cooking 4-6 hours on the High setting, or longer if the recipe requires.
What Temperature Is The Low Setting On A Crockpot?
The Low setting of a crockpot suggests that the temperature inside the pot is around 190°F. You can cook on Low setting for 8-10 hours.
The temperature of the Warm setting is lower, around 165°F.
What Is The Best Temperature For Slow Cooking?
The temperature range used for slow cooking is generally between 170-280°F.
So, both settings on the crockpot are perfect for slow-cooking food. Choose between the two settings taking into account the dish you are making, the recipe instructions, and what the temperature range of each setting of the crockpot is.
Cooking On High Vs Cooking On Low In A Crockpot – Which One Is Better?
The key difference between the two settings of a crockpot is how much time it takes for the liquid in the pot to reach a simmering point.
As mentioned above, when you set the crockpot on High, the simmering point is achieved after hours. If you choose the Low setting, the dish will start simmering after it hits the 8-hour mark in a crockpot.
You may think that you can easily switch the Low setting into High whenever you don’t want to wait for so long for your meal to be ready. While you can do that, it certainly isn’t something we recommend you do.
Certain dishes benefit from a long cooking time, including dishes with tough meat cuts. The longer you cook them the tenderer the meat gets.
Additionally, a long cooking time makes all flavors in the dish come together and develop in an exceptionally good way.
So, if the recipe tells you to cook the dish on Low, stick to the instructions and don’t make changes if you want to end up with a richly flavored dish and very tender meat.
With this said, you can cook a crockpot dish longer than the recipe tells you in case you have tasks to take care of and won’t be home.
Doing this is certainly more preferable than taking shortcuts although making drastic changes in the cooking time is not recommended in both cases.
Converting Cooking Time From High To Low
Whenever you want your meal to take longer to cook than it would if you set the crockpot on High, you need to change it to the Low setting.
But how to convert the cooking time from High to Low if the recipe instructions only tell you how long you should cook the food on High? Here’s how to do it.
Whenever you set the crockpot at Low, it needs 7-8 hours to reach a simmering point which is between 185-205°F. When on High, the food starts to simmer after 3-4 hours.
Taking into account such differences, here is a simple formula chefs recommend you use to convert from High to Low and vice versa.
To convert from High to Low, change the cooking time on High by 1.5 to 2.5 hours. To convert from Low to High, divide the cooking time by 1.5 to 2 hours.
These are approximate estimations and you may need half an hour more or less for specific dishes.
Keep in mind that the cooking time largely depends on the size of the ingredients, the fat content of the meat, the amount of liquid you have added, etc.
|3 hours||7 hours|
|4 hours||8 hours|
|5 hours||9 hours|
|6 hours||10 hours|
|7 hours||11 hours|
|8 hours||12 hours|
How Long Do Common Dishes Take To Cook In A Crockpot?
Whenever you are cooking a crockpot dish following a recipe, make sure to stick to the instructions and set your crockpot at the same temperature as the recipe suggests, and cook it for as many hours as it suggests.
Or, convert the cooking time using the chart above for the best results.
First off, here is a helpful chart of proteins commonly used in crockpot dishes and how long they take to cook both at Low and High settings.
|Protein||Weight||On Low Setting||On High Setting|
|Chicken||6 pounds||7.5 hours||6 hours|
|Beef brisket, round||3-4 pounds||8 hours||6 hours|
|Beef-stew meat||3 pounds||6 hours||5 hours|
|Pork loin||3 to 4 pounds||6 hours||5 hours|
|Pork butt, shoulder||6-7 pounds||9.5 hours||7.5 hours|
|Fish||3 pounds||3.5 hours||1.5 hours|
There are two other rules to help you figure out the correct cooking temperature for your dish and knowing which will ensure great results every time you cook using a crockpot.
Layering The Ingredients Correctly
You should know how to layer the ingredients correctly in a crockpot. Even you get the cooking time right, not layering your products in the pot properly may result in a badly cooked dish.
As the heat of the crockpot comes mainly from the bottom, you need to start your layers with meat and the toughest vegetables.
Then, move up layering grains, delicate vegetables like broccoli, and finish everything off with the liquid of your choice.
Checking On The Food At The Right Time
No matter what charts and recipes you follow, the cooking time of one and the same dish may vary from crockpot to crockpot. Thus, checking to see if the dish is ready is the safest bet. But you need to do it correctly too.
There is a misconception that you shouldn’t open the lid of the crockpot during the entire cooking process. This is not true. However, there are two things to keep in mind.
First, open the lid of the crockpot to check the doneness of the food toward the end of the cooking process. For example, if the recipe suggests cooking the dish for 5 hours, check it after around 4 hours to see how things are going.
Second, don’t check on food in the crockpot often. Every time you open the lid, the temperature inside the pot decreases by 10-15°F which extends the cooking time.
Additionally, opening the lid of a crockpot dish cooking without any added liquid is not recommended as too much steam may escape leaving the ingredients dry.
Oven Vs Crockpot Cooking Time
If you are wondering how long it will take you to cook an oven dish in a crockpot, here’s a chart that clearly shows the difference between the cooking times of an oven and a slow cooker.
While the oven works faster, a crockpot provides the most tender results. Moreover, you can load it with ingredients and go about your day until it’s dinner time. You certainly can’t do it with an oven.
|Oven||Crockpot On Low Setting||Crockpot On High Setting|
|15 to 30 minutes||4 to 6 hours||1.5 to 2.5 hours|
|35 to 45 minutes||6 to 8 hours||3 to 4 hours|
|50 minutes to 2.5 hours||8 to 10 hours||4 to 6 hours|
|3 hours and more||10 to 12 hours||6 to 8 hours|
Converting A Crockpot Recipe To Oven
Cooking in a crockpot is easy but you don’t always have so much time. Sometimes you need your dinner ready within an hour or two instead of waiting for it to cook for multiple hours in a slow cooker.
Or perhaps you don’t have a slow cooker at all.
Whenever you want to recreate a crockpot recipe but using the oven, use the braising method. Cook the meat and vegetables in a covered pot with liquid to create steam. We recommend having your oven at 325°F.
Here’s how to convert common dishes from a crockpot to an oven.
- Chicken breasts that typically take 2 hours to cook in a slow cooker should be braised in the oven for 90 minutes for similar results.
- Cubed pork and beef may take the same amount of time to cook in the oven as they would in a crockpot. If you need to cook them faster, use another cooking method.
- When it comes to large cuts of meat, there isn’t much difference between the cooking times of a crockpot and the oven if you are using the braising method to achieve similar results. So, if a recipe tells you to cook a pork butt for 4 hours in a crockpot, cook it for 4 hours in the oven.
For crockpot recipes that use vegetables and ingredients other than meat, follow the chart above.
Cook in the oven for around 30 minutes if the recipe suggests cooking 1.5 hours on High in a crockpot, 45 minutes for 8 hours on Low in a crockpot, and so on. Set your oven to 350°F.
How To Test Your Crockpot Temperature
If your food doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, the problem may be the recipe or your execution. However, your slow cooker may be to blame too.
But cooking food poorly is not the only problem with a crockpot that doesn’t function properly.
A crockpot should run at the right temperature to ensure the safety of your food.
In other words, it should be low enough to cook the food slowly for unattended and slow cooking but also be high enough to do it at a safe temperature that will inhibit bacterial growth.
It is especially important to check whether your crockpot functions properly or not if you have had it for a long time.
So, looking to test your crockpot temperature? Here’s what you’ll need to do.
First off, fill your slow cooker with water. Makes sure it fills up half of it. Then, set it at the lowest setting, cover, and let it ‘cook’ for 8 hours.
After it has been 8 hours, take off the lid and measure the temperature of the water. Do it immediately for the most accurate results.
If the temperature of the water is 185°F, then your crockpot is still doing great and you can continue using it. Water temperature slightly higher than 185°F is okay too.
You should be concerned about your crockpot and consider getting a new one if the temperature of the water is lower than 185°F.
Cooking food in a crockpot the temperature of which is between 40-140°F is especially dangerous.
This is the temperature zone ideal for bacterial growth. There is a high risk of bacterial contamination of your food if you cook it for too long at such low temperatures.
General Crockpot Cooking Guidelines And Tips
No matter what crockpot brand you are using, there are a few rules that apply to all slow cookers. Here are the general crockpot guidelines you should stick to for the best results.
- Always thaw the meat before using. Putting frozen meat in the crockpot will result in unwanted excess liquid.
- The pot should be at least half full for the best results.
- Always have the lid on while cooking. This will keep the steam and flavors inside as well as provide a stable cooking temperature. Every time you take the lid off, the temperature in the pot drops.
- Use chunks of meat instead of large cuts when possible.
- Never try to cook your food using the Warm setting. Its temperature is not high enough to safely cook meat and other ingredients.
- Choose recipes that don’t require a lot of prep work. This is when you can fully enjoy the ease of using a crockpot.
- Use cheap cuts. Slow-cooking turns even the toughest cuts into tender and juicy goodness. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on expensive cuts if you will be using them in a crockpot dish.
- If you are adapting a standard stovetop recipe to a crockpot, use less liquid.
- Trim away the fat. The good thing about crockpots is that they can cook without oil. So, there is no need to add fat to your dish. The dish will come out juicy anyway and you will have healthier results without all the fat on the meat cut.