How to Test Your Slow Cooker Temperature

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How to test your slow cooker temperature.

If you’ve noticed that your slow cooker recipes aren’t turning out quite right or if it has been around longer than your grandmother’s recipes it might be time to test it.  A slow cooker needs to run at an optimal temperature to ensure food safety and proper cooking.

slow cooker with food in it


How to Test Your Slow Cooker Temperature

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While a poorly functioning slow cooker can cause your meal to spoil or not to cook properly, it can also be a real danger in regard to food safety.

slow cooker should have a low enough temperature that you don’t need to tend to it however the temperature also needs to be high enough to keep food at a safe temperature. This delicate balance is what makes a crock pot everyone’s favorite appliance for everything from dips to roasts.

Knowing that your slow cooker works is super-important. If your crock pot has been around a long time, it may cook too slowly, allowing bacteria to form in or on your meal. Your slow cooker should heat the food to at least 140 degrees within a four time frame. You’ll want to test yours to ensure it meets the current safety standards to keep your food safe (and ensure your meals cooke properly).

How to Test Your Slow Cooker

  1. Fill your slow cooker with water halfway to the top.
  2. Turn it on to the lowest setting and cover for 8 hours.
  3. Remove the lid and immediately take the water temperature.

The water temperature should be 185 degrees F.

If the water temperature is higher, it’s not a huge deal. You may have to reduce the cooking time for some of your dishes. You can also buy one of the small attachments that will automatically shut your machine off once your food hits the ideal temp. But, either way, there’s no need to toss your crock pot.

If the temperature is less than 185, however, you should sincerely think about getting rid of your appliance. A slow cooker on low should be about 200 degrees; while the high setting should be 300 degrees.

Between 40-140 degrees F is the “danger zone” in your slow cooker. Bacteria will grow quickly and easily in your food if it stays in that range too long. Your food will obviously spend time at that temperature no matter what but if your cooker is heating the meal too slowly, you are creating a breeding ground for yucky stuff.

So, keep your family safe and healthy by checking your slow cooker and paying attention. It could save you from illness, or just a lousy dinner.

Find slow cooker recipes here.

My favorite slow cookers:

  1.  Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, 6-Quart.  I used this slow cooker for about 10 years for countless family meals. While I loved the slow cooker itself, I didn’t often use the probe.
  2. This Black & Decker slow cooker is great for a large family (7QT) while having an amazing price point and great reviews.
  3. If you’re looking for a smaller 4QT slow cooker, the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 4QT Slow Cooker has great reviews and is fairly inexpensive and Crock Pot has a great 4-Quart Smart-Pot Digital Slow Cooker.
  4. And of course if you’re in the market for a multi-use appliance, you might like to consider an Instant Pot which is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, steamer and more all in one.
Image ©Amy Muschik 
Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture
Iowa State University Cooperative Extension
University of Wyoming Nutrition and Food Safety.

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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