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I don't have 8 hours for slow cooking...any conversions?


My husband really really wants a slow cooker dinner tonight. The sauce he picked says I can do it in a dutch oven 3-4 hours but for some reason he prefers the slow cooker (I usually use my Le Creuset but for a meal he's really looking forward to want to use his slow cooker). Can I use the slow cooker at a different temp for 3-4 hours? Will it have the same results, ie super tender and all the fat and whatnot melted away.


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  1. What are you hoping to make? Depending on what you're making, a higher temp might work, if it's something like spaghetti sauce. But if it's a roast, I'm not sure I'd want to chance it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      It's a mexican stew with beef chuck chunks

      1. re: Mojave

        the meat and sauce sound like 2 separate issues, but i doubt 3 hours is enough to cook stew meat anyway. can you make the sauce over a quicker cooking meat?

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Everything is ready to go so the sauce isn't something I still need to make, it's just a matter of if I can cook everything together in 3 or 4 hours with the slow cooker. I know I can with the le creuset at 325.

        2. re: Mojave

          Well, it looks like it might be possible on High heat:


          And from Rival Crockpot's site under the General Cooking Tips tab:


          Q: What’s the difference between "Low" and "High" cooking?
          A: Both "High" and "Low" stabilize at the same temperature; it is just a matter of how long it takes to reach the simmer point. Once food reaches the simmer point, total cook time is dependent on cut and weight of meat to reach the point of maximum flavor and texture potential. Most dishes can be prepared on either "High or "Low."

          Q: What are the typical cook times for Crock-Pot® Slow Cookers?
          A: Typical cook time for Crock-Pot® SlowCookers to reach simmer point is 209°F:
          Low: 7-8 hours to reach the simmer point
          High: 3-4 hours to reach the simmer point

          Q: How do I convert cook times between "High and "Low?
          A: Below is a conversion chart to illustrate the comparative cook times for "High" and "Low"*
          3 hours 7 hours
          4 hours 8 hours
          5 hours 9 hours
          6 hours 10 hours
          7 hours 11 hours
          8 hours 12 hours

          *** It is not recommended to convert recipes with cook times less than 7-8 hours on "Low" or 3-4 hours on "High."

          So it depends on the length of time recommended in the original recipe as to how long to cook it on High.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            If it's 6 hrs on low, do you think it matters if you convert it to 3 hrs on high?

      2. Is it too late to go buy a pressure cooker?

        2 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Yes, they scare me anyway lol (I know, they're generally safe)

          1. re: Mojave

            How about taking a Jaccard to your beef, parboiling it, then saute the beef, before adding them to the sauce/stew mix?

        2. Probably too late for the O.P. but if you make sure everything is thawed and at room temperature then preheat to a simmer, transfer to the crockpot on high. It will be done in a couple of hours. Of course if you did that, you might as well do it all in a cast iron dutch oven in the oven.

          Even faster... do it in a pressure cooker.

          1. Two answers:

            He who specifies how something must be cooked does the cooking.

            You can't always get what you want.

            2 Replies
            1. re: GH1618

              Your answer #1 was my thought exactly.

              Perhaps you can send him out for the afternoon, cook in Le Creuset, dump into the slow cooker just before he gets back.

              1. re: foiegras

                Lol...sounds like something I would do! I would fess up later after asking, and him confirming that he enjoyed his slow cooked meal, while sticking out my tongue. :P

            2. I say, yes! If the meat is cut in bite size chunks, there should be no reason why you couldn't slow cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hrs. Just make sure the meat is covered in liquids.

              1. Curious as to what you ended up doing, Mojave.

                1. Too late to help, but here is a bit of posthumous advice should this situation arise again:

                  Probably the single biggest factor in why a slow cooker takes longer to break down meat than a traditional braise is that the slow cooker generally takes much longer to get up to it's full cooking temperature, especially if you have much in it. A fix (of sorts): plug in the slow cooker while you assemble the ingredients and get it hot. Preheat the stew in a big saucepan on the stove until simmering. Dump stew in slow cooker. You'll cut the cooking time as low as the slow cooker can manage.

                  Normally, I'd say just skip the slow cooker when you don't have time to use it well... and anyway I prefer the effect of a traditional braise. But in situations like this when someone demands using the slow cooker, separate preheats are the best option.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Coyboyardee - that is why I love my particular slow cooker; it is a rectangular shape with rounded corners (so you can stir easily into all areas), but the shape can actually hold a chicken to roast, or a long pork roast.

                    The best part is, the heating element is seperate, like a griddle, and the pot can go on the stove to brown things first, or bring it up to a simmer, then put on the slow-cooker base and go on it's merry way. A gift from my sister, I have never seen one like it anywhere else. I love it so much that now at 8 years in, I searched all over until I found a replacement cord after the original melted through when accidentally got near a stove burner.

                    Love it!

                    1. re: gingershelley

                      what brand is your slow cooker? It sounds like a good one.

                  2. "...in situations like this when someone demands using the slow cooker, separate preheats are the best option."
                    I find this to be good advice. I do it quite often to reduce the total cooking time with the slow cooker.
                    A bit of humor: ",,, any coversions?" Nope. If it's not slow cooked it isn't.

                    1. A slow cooker on high will do the job.

                      1. If they're chunks of meat you'll be fine in 3 hours, though 4 would be better. You need 6 hours if you're tossing in a whole huge hunk of meat. Even then, you can generally get tender in an hour and a half braising on the stove, but that's an absolute minimum.