You found a great recipe, and you already know exactly what device to use to cook the food: your handy crock pot!
But the recipe does not have crock pot cooking instructions, but it has the temperature at which to cook the food. What temperature does a crock pot reach?
The average crock pot reaches a temperature of 190° on the low setting, and 300° on the high setting, unless otherwise stated in your crock pot’s user manual.
Depending on the crock pot, there could be an off, low, and high setting or several other heat settings. When you use a crock pot, remove anything in the area touching the slow cooker.
If your crock pot has a timer, you can use the timer to switch to a low setting once the cooking time is up.
On the low setting, your food will only simmer, it will not cook.
The Temperatures of a Crock Pot
The crock pot is an incredibly handy cooking device that many households have. The primary appeal of a crock pot is being able to cook food for hours on end safely.
There is no flame or gas to fret over. If the pot boils over, it will not land on the electric stove or the gas flame.
Many crock pots have safety settings as well, so it will turn on when it detects that something is wrong.
So all you need to do is adapt your grandma’s, Nona’s, or abuela’s recipes to the crock pot and you can make her famous pozole every Sunday.
But how can you know what temperature the food inside the crock pot cooks at? Most crock pots only have an off, low, or high settings.
What is the Temperature of a Crock Pot on High?
When the crock pot user sets their pot on the high setting, the temperature of their food will cook at ranges between 290F to 310F. In Celsius, the high temperature would range from 143C to 154C.
Thousands of recipes will cook to perfection on the high setting. Most soup and stews will require cooking the food on high for an hour or two, and then switching the setting to low.
On the high setting, you can cook meats like chicken and steak without liquid. Searing meat on the high setting is possible, especially if the cut of the meat is thin.
If the food inside the crockpot reduces too much, just add a bit of water or another liquid and switch the setting back to high.
What is the Temperature of a Crock Pot on Low?
The average temperature of a crock pot on the low setting is around 190F to 210F.
In Celsius, this would be 87C to 99C. This temperature range is close to boiling, and it is perfect for simmering.
Some recipes suggest cooking the food at low temperature for 6 to 8 hours or more.
Recipes that contain tough cuts of meat will suggest cooking the food for an hour on high and then switching to low for the next 6 hours.
Cooking foods on low is ideal for egg dishes, sous vide adapted recipes, purees, and oatmeal, to name a few.
Do not cook whole frozen meat in the crock pot. The crock pot can cook frozen meals or roasts, but it’s generally not recommended for larger portions of food.
What is the “Keep Warm” Setting?
The low setting and the “keep warm” setting are not the same. If the crock pot is on the keep warm setting, the temperature of the food will remain around 140F or 60C.
This is the temperature which inhibits food-borne illnesses.
Most food will not cook when set at the “keep warm” setting, but will simmer at the low setting. Simmering will cook the food in the pot.
If you are done cooking, switch the setting to “keep warm,” not low.
Crock Pot Cooking Tips
Here are some of the best crock pot cooking tips that I have used to make my life easier and my food more delicious.
Do not fill the crock pot with food and liquid past the halfway point
As the food cooks, excess liquid from inside the food will seep out and fill the crock pot chamber. If the crock pot is filled too high, the food will boil over.
Filling the crock pot an inch or two over the halfway line is fine, but no more than that.
Learn when to sear meat on the crock pot
If you plan to sear meat in the crock pot before cooking it, allow the crock pot to heat for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
The crock pot requires a longer warm up time than an oven or stove top pan.
When you think it is time to sear the meat, cut off a small piece and place it in the crock pot.
If the meat does not begin cooking right away, it is not ready.
Use a crock pot cooking bag to reduce cleanup.
If you’re tired from a long day or you have little energy, lining your crock pot with a cooking bag can help reduce your final cleanup.
With a crock pot, just store the food in a storage container when it is finished cooking, clean the lid, and throw the bag away.
Embrace overnight cooking
When using a crock pot to cook food for 6 to 8 hours, you don’t have to worry about leaving an open flame unattended.
Just make a space for the crock pot on the countertop, turn the settings to low, and you’re done. In the morning, you’ll have a delicious meal ready for you.
Add vegetables and leafy greens last.
When’s the last time you ate sad mushy broccoli or wilting floppy spinach? It was not a pleasant experience for you and your taste buds.
If you leave certain vegetables in the crock pot too long, they will over-boil and metamorphose into sad mushiness.
Conclusion to the High and Low Settings on a Crock Pot
The “keep warm” setting and the low setting are not the same setting. The “keep warm” setting will sustain the food’s temperature at 140°F. 140F will prevent bacteria from growing and poisoning the food.
The low setting will simmer and cook the food gently at 190° to 210°F. The high setting will cook food at 290 to 310° f.
Always wait to add vegetables and leafy greens towards the end of the cooking process.
Cooking food in a crock pot overnight is safer than using the oven or a pot on an open flame.