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 up to about 190-210 degrees Fahrenheit (~87-99 degrees Celsius) on the Low setting and can go 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.
Here’s what I’ll cover in this post:
What Temperature Does a Slow Cooker Cook At?
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. What Temperature Does a Slow Cooker Cook on Low?
Unlike a stove top, 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…
2. What Temperature Does a Slow Cooker Cook 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 here is how long it takes to reach this maximum temperature. According to the Crock-Pot brand, it takes 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.
3. What Temperature Does a Slow Cooker Cook 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 Low vs. High: Cook Time Conversion
The time required to slow cook a meal on a crock pot’s Low setting, is roughly 2X the amount of time it takes on the High setting. However, there are exceptions to this rule-of-thumb.
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: some of the below data is from Liz Meiman of Iowa State University.
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 cook 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.
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 it’s 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.