If you’re going to cook with a crock pot, it can be helpful to know a few things about slow cooker temperatures. This can be important for accurate cooking and food safety, especially if you plan to cook meat. So, let’s start with the basics.
What temperature does a slow cooker cook at?
Slow cookers will generally heat at about 190-210 degrees Fahrenheit (~87-99 degrees Celsius) on the Low setting and up to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (~149 degrees Celsius) on the High setting. However, slow cooker temperatures will vary based on cook time, brand, model, etc.
That’s the 10,000-foot view, but now let’s dig into the nuances, including differences between the Low, High, and Warm settings.
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Table of Contents
Slow Cooker Temperature
We covered the overview above, but in this section, I have some more details about temperatures of the Low, High, and Warm settings.
In addition, I’ve referenced some resources in this section that I think you’ll find useful/interesting. Let’s get to it!
1. Slow Cooker Temperature on High
Slow cookers can reach temperatures of ~300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 Celsius) when they’re on the High setting. However, if you’re cooking food that contains a lot of water or liquid, then you can expect the temperature of the food to stop rising at or just below the boiling point (e.g. ~212 Fahrenheit).
That’s why time is the metric most slow cooker users focus on, rather than temperature. Whether you use the Low or High setting on a slow cooker, the food within the crock pot will eventually reach a maximum temperature at or just below the boiling point (~212 degrees Fahrenheit).
The main difference between low and high setting is how long it takes to reach this maximum temperature. According to Crock Pot, their slow cookers take 7-8 hours on Low, or 3-4 hours on High, for food to reach its simmer point.
If you’re not familiar with the science on maximum water temperature, here’s an overview. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), under standard pressure. When water reaches it’s boiling point, it has reached it’s maximum possible temperature.
No matter how high the heat gets, the water itself cannot exceed a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (e.g. it’s boiling point). Sure, you can make bigger bubbles with a rolling boil, but that’ll just turn the water into vapor more quickly, and it will not increase the water temp.
2. Slow Cooker Temperature on Low
Slow cookers cook at low temperatures of ~200 degrees Fahrenheit (87 degrees Celsius) when they’re on the Low setting. As I mentioned earlier, slow cookers usually take about 7-8 hours to reach this temperature on the low setting.
Unlike a stovetop, where there is an open flame and high temperatures can be reached quickly, a slow cooker warms very gradually. As a result, the precise temperature of a slow cooker will vary significantly depending on how long it’s been cooking. More on this in the next section…
3. Slow Cooker Temperature on Warm
The “Warm” or “Keep Warm” setting on a slow cooker should keep food that is already cooked above 140 degrees Fahrenheit (~74 degrees Celsius), at a minimum. You should not use the “Warm” setting to cook food, as a higher temperature may be required to make your food safe for eating.
The FDA recommends that the internal temperature of food should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) or higher when served. So, your slow cooker should keep your food well above this mark in order to keep your meals safe and healthy. Not to mention, it’ll be more tasty when it’s hot.
Slow Cooker Temperature Cooking Time Conversion
The time required to slow cook a meal at a crock pot’s Low temperature, is roughly 2X the amount of time it takes at a High temperature. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.
For the best results, check your recipe first, because slow cooker recipes will often include cook-time recommendations for using the Low or High setting.
For example, if a recipe calls for 12 hours of cook time on Low, it will likely take 8 (not 6) hours of cook time on High for the meal to be ready.
Below is a simple table you can use, that shows typical cook-time conversions between the Low and High slow cooker settings.
Note: I used data from Crock Pot to create this table
Time on Low
Divide by X
Time on High
This will give you a pretty good idea of the conversion between the Low and High settings on your crock pot. As you can see, it’s not a perfect 2-to-1 conversion.
It’s also important to note that these are all estimates and that the appropriate cook time for your meal can vary based on other factors, such as the amount of food being cooked, and the size/model of your slow cooker.
But, the good news is that slow cookers tend to be pretty forgiving, so if you don’t get exactly the right cooking time for a recipe, it’ll probably still turn out delicious. Just make sure any potentially dangerous foods (like raw meat) are cooked thoroughly, and you should be fine.
Guidelines for Cooking Meat in a Slow Cooker
Safe Food Preparation
When you’re preparing your food for cooking, there are a few things you need to make sure you do in order to have safe food preparation.
These rules apply to all foods but are especially important if you’re cooking any kind of raw meat.
Here are the main rules of safe food prep according to the US Department of Agriculture.
- Wash your hands often and wash them after handling raw meat and eggs
- Do not allow your raw meat to touch any other ingredients
- Cook your food/meat to the correct internal temperature (see section below)
- Never leave leftovers out of the fridge for more than two hours
- Specifically for a slow cooker, thaw your meat before you place it in the crock pot
Just following these simple rules will help ensure that you don’t give food poisoning to yourself or anyone you’re serving.
Now, let’s go over the safe internal temperatures for food.
Safe Internal Temperatures
This is a table from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the safe internal temperature that meat needs to reach in order for it to be safe to eat. You can check the meats you’re cooking with a food thermometer.
|Product||Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time|
|Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb Steaks, chops, roasts||145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Ground Meats||160 °F (71.1 °C)|
|Ground Poultry||165 °F|
|Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked)||145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat)||Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).|
|All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffings||165 °F (73.9 °C)|
|Eggs||160 °F (71.1 °C)|
|Fish & Shellfish||145 °F (62.8 °C)|
|Leftovers and Casseroles||165 °F (73.9 °C)|
You can heat these foods to higher temperatures depending on personal preference and the doneness you want in your meat.
However, in order for your food to be safe, it has to reach this safe temperature before you remove it from the heat.
If you’re concerned about your slow cooker getting your food to the right temperature, or to ensure you don’t overcook it, you should invest in an instant-read thermometer like this one from Amazon. (psst that’s an affiliate link).
The Food Danger Zone
A huge consideration when cooking or doing food prep is the food danger zone.
The danger zone is the temperature at which bacteria grows the most rapidly. This dangerous temperature range is between 40 °F-140 °F.
You don’t want any food to remain at this temperature for a long period of time.
This is why you don’t want to leave food out at room temperature for more than two hours or for more than one hour if the ambient temperature is 90°F or higher.
Crock Pot Recipes
All these food safety guidelines might leave you worried about even trying to cook with your slow cooker. But, here are a few of my favorite recipes for slow cookers.
And, if you follow the safe food guidelines listed above, you’ll have safe, delicious meals in no time.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Because slow cookers are great at cooking tough cuts of meat, the pot roast is the quintessential slow cooker dish.
Here’s a great recipe from Allrecipes for a slow cooker pot roast.
The most common veggies in a pot roast are onion, carrots, potatoes, and celery. But you could also add different root vegetables, such as butternut squash, or even chickpeas (or any kind of bean), or corn.
Easy Butter Chicken Slow Cooker Recipe
Butter chicken is my favorite type of curry. When I found this recipe for cutter chicken in a slow cooker it was like a match made in heaven.
Here’s the recipe from the NY Times. If you want to add even more flavor to your dish a trick I learned is to marinate your chicken before you put it in the slow cooker.
For the marinade, add Greek yogurt, garlic, fresh ginger, curry powder, and salt to a ziploc bag. Add your chicken pieces and then let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour and no more than 12 hours.
Use the marinated chicken in the recipe instead of just plain chicken and you’ll have an amazing butter chicken curry.
Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
Slow cookers are great at cooking stews and coups, so, this is my favorite kind of soup to make in the slow cooker.
This soup combines the spiciness of Thai curries with the creaminess of coconut milk.
Here’s a great slow cooker recipe from Foodie Crush for this recipe.
Can I Use My Oven as a Slow Cooker?
You can use an oven as a slow cooker, by using a very low oven temperature (e.g. ~200 degrees Fahrenheit) and by putting the food in a dutch oven or roasting pan to help the food heat slowly and cook evenly.
What’s the Best Temperature for Slow Cooking?
The best temperature for slow cooking depends on the type of food you are cooking. Slow cookers are often used for foods with high liquid content (like stew). These types of foods should reach their simmer point, which occurs at around 209 degrees Fahrenheit (98 Celsius).
Can You Boil Water in a Slow Cooker?
You can boil water in a slow cooker. However, crock pots heat up very slowly, and it will take 2 hours or more for the water to reach its boiling point. The time it takes for a slow cooker to boil water will also depend on the amount of water, the model of slow cooker, and the heat setting used.
Can You Cook Rice in a Slow Cooker?
Yes! And it’s very easy. You may want to grease the inside of your slow cooker first, although this is not always necessary. Generally it’s best to use roughly twice the amount of water in liquid cups as rice in dry cups. It’s better to set the heat high as this will still be lower than a regular rice cooker. Cook for about 2.5-3 hours. Give it a good stir.