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Aug 3, 2010 06:04 PM

What are the cooking temperatures of your slow cooker?

I have a Rival slow cooker. I was rather shocked to find out that the difference between high and low is the time it takes to get to 209 degrees. At low it is 8 hrs and high it is 4 hrs. I know there are some brands that the low setting is 190 degrees and the high setting is around 250 degrees F.

What is the brand of your slow cooker and what are the temperature ranges it is trying to reach at which settings?

I would appreciate your help on this.

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  1. The manuals for my Cuisinart slow cookers say: High = 212 F, Low = 200 F, Simmer = 185 F, Keep Warm = 165 F.

    1. I have two Rivals - a 2qt and a 5qt. They are both newer than the 1980's Rival that they replaced. I don't remember exact temperatures, but both get much hotter than the old one did, and around 200 degrees sounds about right.
      If you're willing to void your warranty (I was), you might want to try the Crock-O-Stat ......

      I made my own version about five years ago, and haven't regretted the "investment" yet.
      I can now set either crock anywhere from zero to "max factory setting" degrees - it comes in very handy when I want to do a "barely simmer overnight chicken stock" or some sous vide cooking.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

        Thought I'd post an update since a couple of newer threads on the subject are pointing back to this one.

        First, the recent popularity of sous vide cooking has produced more interest in controlling crockpots. While the original is still an ok solution for my conventional recipes and my SV, those who like to "tinker", you might want to check out the "modern crock-o-stat"

        For those that don't like to build things, just google "crockpot PID". (It's a cheaper solution than the above)

      2. I have a programmable Crock Pot Smart Pot with High, Low and Keep Warm settings. I'm not at home so don't know the model, but I bought it @ 2004. Because I had recently read that modern slow cookers run really hot, much hotter than slow cookers from the 70's and 80's, I took some temperatures just this past weekend. I filled up the crock about 2/3 with plain water. On Low, the temperature after 8 hours was 214! On Keep Warm after 8 hours, the temp was 209. I also cooked chicken stock for 10 hours, and that temp was 210. In all cases, the water was boiling, not just simmering.

        I read somewhere that the difference between Low and High (and apparently, Keep Warm) is the amount of time it takes to get up to temperature. I don't know if that's true, but it seems to me the temperature is way too high - the food should not be boiling. And that explains why some of my dishes have been overcooked, almost burned. I thought the problem was the recipe or me and hadn't realized it was the slow cooker. (Since I'm away from home all day, I usually cook on Low for 9-10 hours and then have it switch to Keep Warm.)

        So now I'm on a hunt for another slow cooker. Either a brand new one which has received good reviews with regard to temperatures, or an older one.

        2 Replies
        1. re: goodeatsgal

          I have a KitchenAid 7 quart (it works wonderfully, but there are horror stories about the ceramic insert suddenly breaking. I hadn't heard those when I bought it...keeping my fingers crossed!) and it has so many settings (high, low/simmer, buffet, and keep warm) that I can do just about anything. The "high" IS higher than my old Crock Pots, however...I don't use it much except to finish things off, or get them started.

          1. re: goodeatsgal

            Same for my Hamilton Beach - it seems to boil everything. Not a fast boil at low, but still a boil and not a simmer or keep warm. I love the temp range reported for the Cuisinart above. When I have a sec, I'm going to search for current manuals online and see what's up (haha).

            I wonder if fear of lawsuits is making the makers boil everything for food safety - even though 165 should keep most everything dead.

          2. I have a brand name Crock-Pot model SCV700 7 Qt. oval "crock pot" and decided to test the temperatures with a $17 digital food thermometer. So I put a thin sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the stoneware bowl and then a 1/2 oz. olive oil glass jar filled with cooking oil on top of that in towards the center away from the sides. After allowing it to heat for 1 hour at "warm" setting I took a reading and it was 152 degrees F.. After another hour at "low" setting I took a reading and it was 215. Another hour later at "high" setting I read 282. Another 1 1/2 hours later at same "high" setting I read 311 degrees and that concluded my test. Take these figures for whatever they're worth and keep in mind that there are manufacturing variances between different models and even the same model due to their acceptable variances from engineered specifications.

            7 Replies
            1. re: asaens

              regrets, the test is flawed.

              here's the problem: slow cookers are typically filled with water based liquids, not oils.

              and you did not fill the pot with oil, the pot was "dry" - with a small volume of oil in a jar inside the pot.

              it takes a huge amount of energy (watts, in the electric case) to turn liquid water into water vapor. even more watts to vaporize oils. for this reason, a slow cooker pot containing water pretty much cannot ever exceed 212'F/100'C - as the water turns to steam/vapor it absorbs more heat/temperature/BTU per hour than the heating elements can provide - effectively "limiting" the pot temperature.

              again in generalizations, the low/medium/high (whatever terms used) do not directly refer to physical temperatures, but rather the wattage / i.e. heat energy put into the pot.

              generalizations? because in theory two common approached could be used in a slow cooker.
              one, as mentioned, the wattage used to heat
              second, a thermostat - a switch sensing temperature - which could either reduce the wattage used or completely 'turn off / on' the heating elements.

              the two approaches are not mutually exclusive - a high wattage can be used to heat fast(er) but still limit (by thermostat) the maximum temperature reached.

              if you research slow cookers, the manufacturers do not disclose their control theories. if you send them an email, they don't provide a real answer, just gobbly-gook.

              so, if you want to know how your slow cooker actually works, buy two, have one disassembled and examined by an electrical engineer.

              newer slow cookers have higher wattage than the older models. based on good old American eeeee-iiiidioticy - like people putting whole frozen chickens in a slow cooker - the feds decided bacteria prone foods were spending too much time in the temperature 'danger' zone - hence more heat ( = wattage) needed. there's a booming market for the old style slow cookers.

              1. re: PSRaT

                This is right. Inexpensive slow cookers do not even have thermostats, they have power settings — generally low, high, and warm. The temperature is limited by the boiling point of water. This will be reached faster on the high setting than on the low.

                Although there are more sophisticated models, a slow cooker is a primitive device designed for convenience and low cost. If you want temperature control, get a conventional oven and a Dutch oven.

                1. re: PSRaT


                  newer slow cookers have higher wattage than the older models. based on good old American eeeee-iiiidioticy - like people putting whole frozen chickens in a slow cooker - the feds decided bacteria prone foods were spending too much time in the temperature 'danger' zone - hence more heat ( = wattage) needed. there's a booming market for the old style slow cookers.


                  There is no more "wattage" being pulled by currentt slow cookers, just that the rheostat/ temp controls for the temp settings is no longer a step down resistance heating element temp. setting for all all but the warm mode, but now how fast the inital ramp up to the full heat cycle the element gets and then stays there at max until warm mode or timer kicks in when meal is done. Two different switch and power draw philosophies.

                  And correct, it's all about modern "food safety." Which is really dumb-asses getting themselves or others sick due to not understanding how your tool works.

                  I have several old crockpots with teh oldskool stepdown heating element switch that are awesome.
                  Seems the curernt probe crockpots make things liveable but still can be fussy. But choose wisely.

                  And watch those with a power surge reset mode. They go to warm if your electricty spikes, surges or goes out for a blink/second, meaning you have to reset the cycle in person and get things back up to temp ASAP. If out of the house or goen for the day, your meal is done-zo. Bacteria cesspool. Yum.

                  Thank you Rival.

                  Lesson learned. :(

                  1. re: PSRaT

                    You've identified the real problem here - " takes a huge amount of energy (watts, in the electric case) to turn liquid water into water vapor."

                    Slow cooking, as the great body of recipes assume, cannot be successfully done at temperatures at or higher than the boiling point of water. The ideal temperature range for slow cooking is 170F- 190F.

                    Manufacturers raised the temperature of slow cookers as a response to a number of lawsuits over bacterial food contamination. In doing so, they essentially voided the great body of slow cooker recipes out there.

                    Bacterial food contamination as a result of cooking at temperatures below 212F is a real problem, but the solution should have been to educate people on how to avoid it, not to carry on with modified products that now defeat their original purpose.

                    1. re: rdavis184

                      Watts are units of power, not energy. Watt-hours are units of energy. Slow cookers were changed by increasing the power to reach a safe temperature sooner.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        I didn't identify watts as units of of energy - the quoted sentence is from a post I responded to. I pointed out that the respondent correctly identified "turning liquid water into vapor", i.e boiling, as the problem.

                        Slow cookers were changed to increase the average cooking temperature to be higher than what slow cooking methods prescribe, irrespective of how quickly they might now get there. This came directly from DesJardin customer service. The "Low" temperature setting on a contemporary "Crockpot" maintains an average internal temperature of greater than 240F, which is useless for slow cooking recipes.

                        1. re: rdavis184

                          I see, it was quoted from someone else.

                2. I don't understand what you are trying to say. What is the temp difference between the two settings?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SusanNarayan

                    What is the temp difference between the two settings?
                    In many slow cookers, nothing.

                    Some of the higher end slow cookers, like the Cuisinart I've had for several years, has three distinct temperature settings. That means the slow cooker starts off at full power and a thermostat will control the temperature at each setting (simmer, low, and high).

                    This would be like you putting the pot on your stove with a thermometer in it and turning the burner on high. You then watch the thermometer, and when it reaches the desired temperature (simmer, low, or high) you control the burner to maintain that temperature.

                    Most slow cookers, however, only have one thermostat, set for the maximum temperature, usually just under boiling. The difference is that they use in-line resistors to control the power, and therefore the rate at which that maximum temperature is reached. So while the maximum temperature of "low" is still just below boiling, it will take twice as long to reach that temperature, then if you started out on "high."

                    This would be like putting the pot on the burner as before. However, for "low" you would turn the burner on halfway and full for "high," and when the food starts to boil you turn the burner off and on prevent it from boiling over.

                    So that means in my Cuisinart, High = 212°F, Low = 200°F, Simmer = 185°F, Keep Warm = 165°F. But in a model with only resistors, not individual thermostats, low = 210°F and high = 210°F. (I would think these models would need a second thermostat to control the "keep warm" temperature, if they have one.)

                    The reason most slow cookers are made with only one temperature because in-line resistors are cheaper than thermostats, pure and simple.

                    1. re: al b. darned

                      The resistor is just the heating coil. All slow cookers have resistors because that is the source of the heat.