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Dec 10, 2013 04:52 PM

Crock-Pot slow cookers too hot on "Low"

I have the white round version, approx. 5.5 qts IIRC. I've had this one for 3 years now and I use it mostly between Sept-Mar when the colder weather calls for comfort foods like soups, stews, etc.

I find even when on Low, the heat is still rather high and brings liquids to a steady if very gentle BOIL after about 3 hrs. Now since all dishes I make in this take at least 4-5 hours, they aren't all that affected since I need to cook them down anyway (meats).

But my perusal of online reviews of many Crock-Pot models seem to tell me CP products seem to generally go too hot on Low.

Is this the case with your Crock-Pot branded slow cookers ? If I were to buy another, what brand(s) are good alternatives ? Thanks in advance.

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  1. All slow cookers reach a gentle boil eventually. The "low" setting just takes longer to get there, as the power is lower. Ultimately, it is the boiling of water that limits the temperature, as the less expensive ones are not controlled by thermostats.

    4 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      Thank you for that insight.

      But should a SC set at Low while cooking to be able to produce enough heat and steam to make the glass lid hop every 10-15 seconds ?

      Alas I'm not the only one who feels their SC is running too hot on Low. But how does one measure and calibrate a reference point ?

      1. re: LotusRapper

        The water must turn to steam to limit the temperature, and when there is steam the lid will lift when the pressure builds up sufficiently. Ten to 15 seconds does not seem unreasonable.

        Early slow cookers seem to have been lower power, so took longer to reach a boil. Power was increased as a safety measure, so the temperature would be in the danger zone for less time.

        I don't know what you mean by "reference point." To limit the temperature below boiling, a thermostat would be required. The most accurate type would use a temperature probe inserted into the contents of the pot. There are some like this (Hamilton Beach).

      2. re: GH1618

        >> All slow cookers reach a gentle boil eventually.

        Actually, that is not accurate.

        Cooks Illustrated did a test of several different slow cookers by filling them with water and measuring how long it took for them to reach the maximum temp.

        They found that some cookers heated water to full boiling (212 F) and some reached only 190 F.

        Cookers that reached 212 resulted in dried-out sauces and blown-out meat. In contrast, machines that never topped 190 degrees yielded watery sauces and tough meat. The best results came from models that cooked between these temperatures.

        Their top model was the Crock Pot Touchscreen, Model # SCVT650-PS which reached 199 on low and 204.5 on high.

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          Ok, not "all," strictly speaking. But it isn't unusual for a low-end slow cooker to reach a boil. Mine does and I don't see it as a problem. A cheap slow cooker is not a precision cooking appliance — it is crude, but useable time-saving device.

      3. Electric Slow-Cooking and Food Safety Precautions

        "...The average slow-cooker/crock pot cooks at approximately 200° F. on low and 300° F. on high. Bacteria thrive at temperatures below 140° F.; therefore, you want to be very careful not to do anything that might affect the cooking temperature and cause it to drop. In addition, most bacteria are killed at 165° F. So, as long as the lid is left on and the food is cooked for the proper time, and if the power does not go out, food will be safe to eat." - University of Florida IFAS Extension

        1. Is the slow cooker pretty full? I often have issues because there are only 2 of us and my slow cooker is ginormous so if there's not enough liquid or mass in the crock pot it boils quite quickly.

          1. Techinically (I am told) there are slow cookers, and then there are Crock Pots, new and old, made by Rival. Sounds like you have a newer model. My Crock Pot is from the mid 70s, and it has a great low setting, you can leave the food in there for hours and hours without a burp. The new ones are mandated by the government to have a higher temp, above boiling, and I only hear bad things.

            If I bought another, I would be haunting thrift shops and garage sales.

            2 Replies
            1. re: coll

              That's what I did - purchased a vintage slow cooker. It works great, and since it has an old-fashioned manual knob, I can attach it to a timer to delay the start of cooking. See my earlier post on this.

              1. re: coll

                I would do the same thing.... garage sales and thrift shops. My newer 8 quart Rival Crock Pot gets things boiling even on the "keep warm" setting.

              2. This is the exact model I have (bought from Walmart in 2010 ?):


                @ fldhkybnva: generally I'd either be doing a pork butt/shoulder, beef chuck, or a whole chicken, so ranging from 2.5 lbs (chicken) to the chuck or butt (4-5 lbs). Liquid-wise, I try not to exceed 1/3 depth when measured from the pot bottom. Even for braises I keep the amount of liquid to a bare minimum (as to not have the liquid absorb the flavors that should be going back into the meat itself). So maybe that's why my liquid is boiling.

                @Coll: I guess it is due to the federally mandated regulations that modern SC's exceed the minimum temp for food safety reasons, that there seems to be much complaints out there about the cooking temp being higher than desired, even at the Low setting. Of course there's always the option of slow cooking on the stove top in my enameled cast iron dutch oven. But it's just so convenient and safer to dump everything into the SC and set it and forget it (sorry, Ron Popeil).

                4 Replies
                1. re: LotusRapper

                  I have a Popeil rotisserie too, I'm an old fashioned kind of gal in the kitchen. I rarely use the crock pot except for big holidays, I prefer a cast iron pot in the oven at 250 or 300 degrees for anything that requires long simmering. Or alternatively, a pressure cooker. The crock pot is great for holding and serving mostly.

                  I'll try to remember to take a picture of mine, it's so ugly that it's almost cool.

                  1. re: coll

                    My mother has one from the early '70s, kinda looks like this:


                    I wonder if she still has it stashed away somewhere, ha ! :-)

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      If so grab it! Mine is even older, I have to run now but I will definitely post a photo, it may have been the first one for all I know. I almost threw it out and was just going to keep the crock part, until I realized I had something unique. So great for keeping potatoes or stuffing hot at Thanksgiving.