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Jun 25, 2012 03:33 PM

Slow cookers: why aren't they adjustable?

I have an old Crock Pot slow cooker that has one setting: on. Modern ones have two or three temps, a timer and maybe a probe. I have not seen any with (continuously) adjustable temperatures (e.g. a knob). True, adding a thermostat makes the under $40 price point harder to make. But it would seem that there is a market for slow cookers with a temperature range and a probe. Tefal has a tagine with an adjustable temp.

Is it just price or is there another reason these things don't exist or are hard to find? (Oh, and yes I know I can add a temp control as part of a "make your slow cooker a sous vide cooker" -- but I don't want to :).

(Edited for clarity.)

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    1. re: kengk

      And I googled and searched Amazon and... So embarrassing -- I usually find stuff quickly. Thanks for finding this.

      Sigh. After reading the manual it only has three settings for cooking and two for warming.

      1. re: travelerjjm

        Consumer products like this are very frustrating. Our new favorite saying is "you can't buy anything worth a damn anymore". Everything is made to a price point. How many people would buy an infinitely adjustable, good for 50 years, slow cooker when it cost a hundred dollars and the one next to it was $19.95?

        I would,but sure as I paid the extra price, it would also not be worth a crap. I feel your pain.

    2. Probably the best way to have true and accurate adjust-ability is to use a digital temperature controller with your old style crockpot. The crockpot would plug into the temperature controller that would provide AC to the crockpot. You would have to drill a hole into the glass lid for the thermocouple. You could, then, control the temperature. You could do it for about $45 plus $10 for a garage sale crockpot.

      1. I'm not sure I understand your question travelerjim?

        My two most recently purchased crockpots both have more than one temp range. The big unit I own has 4 temp settings plus a warm, and the smaller a low and high.

        The temperature of each setting needs to be confirmed prior to use so you know what temp range the mfgr is working within correlating to a real temp number per setting, but once determined, you work and cook from there.

        If you are asking, why do crock pots and slow cookers not come with an infinitely variable dial up your own temp gauge like an electric skillet, I;m going to guess cost.

        Crock pots use elec. heating elements for heat (based upon current resistance). a simple rheostat in the knob knock down the elec current to the element for each click or push button setting. Full range temp control means electronics, safety devices, and all in all just make more complex the use of a very simple cooking device. especially for the cooking novice.

        More buttons, bells and whistles means more can go wrong.

        Ease and simplicity of use along with no demand and cost is probably the answer.

        Heck, I just wish mfgrs would get their temp settings consistant or at least useable. It's a full days lab experiment to get a handle on every crock pot made.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jjjrfoodie

          I agree and understand about the "calibration" -- yes it takes time! You are correct in that I want something continuously adjustable. Hank's idea would work pretty well.

          Clearly there is a big market for simple slow cookers, I just wanted something more flexible.

          1. I believe what you want is called a "roaster oven" They are typically larger than a crockpot, although I have seen them in the 5-6qt. range. The temperature range seems to vary. This one goes from 150-450F.
            Nesco is another brand.

            My resident engineer made me a controller as Hank has suggested. Best. Thing. Ever. if you have the time or ability to screw around with circuit boards or know someone who does. About $40 worth of bits.

            2 Replies
            1. re: splatgirl

              I had not thought of a roaster! My mom had one and used it maybe twice while I was growing up. Maybe I can find a small one.

              I do like the idea of the controller. I have no problem with the electronics (I are an engineer), and maybe I can drill or groove the lid.


              1. re: travelerjjm

                Arduino controller inspiration:
                If you're anything like my engineer, you take the above as a challenge to do it better and more elegantly. I always forget to be careful what I wish for, lest I become a widow to incessant gadget-puttering.

                Whatever you do, don't ever get rid of a vintage crock pot. IME they work much better than current era ones which all seem to be junk.