Slow Cookers 101: How Slow Cooking Works

Slow Cookers 101: How Slow Cooking Works Mobile - Slow Cookers 101: How Slow Cooking Works
How Does a Slow Cooker Work?

Cooking in a slow cooker is very similar to how one cooks in a Dutch oven. With a Dutch oven, you place it on a stovetop and the pot is heated from the bottom. As the heat rises up the sides of the pot, the food within is heated. A slow cooker works similarly in that the base of the slow cooker transfers heat up to the bottom of the crock. This heat then spreads to the sides of the crock and cooks the food inside. 

Slow Cooker Settings & Temperatures

How you set the temperature on a slow cooker is very similar a Dutch oven as well— when you cook on a stovetop, you set the temperature to low or high, and a slow cooker features the same low/high settings.

For most cookers, you would choose the low setting for meats such as a roast or pork shoulder. This setting puts out less heat, but the heat is sufficient to safely cook the food at the right temperature, and cooking tough cuts of meat at low heat over a longer period of time makes for a tender end result.

High setting is usually recommended for dips and sauces that would cook for only an hour or two.

Slow cookers with programmable settings deliver a step up in convenience. You select the heat setting (low or high) and the number of hours you would like it to cook. Once the cooking time is over, the slow cooker automatically stops cooking and switches to warm, which keeps your food the right temperature until you are ready to eat.

Because a slow cooker's temperature settings work like stovetop cooking, it is difficult to give a definitive temperature for each heat level, At any given time, the temperature inside a slow cooker is a function of how full it is and how much water is in the recipe. A meat thermometer works best to get an exact temperature reading in your slow cooker. Some slow cooker models come with an internal temperature probe already built in for convenience.

Juicy Results

As the food cooks, a vacuum seal is created between the lid and the vessel, trapping all the steam. This liquid slowly drips back into the vessel, constantly basting the contents inside. It’s no wonder why foods come out so moist and juicy.




Additional Slow Cooker Tips & Techniques

Guide to the Basics >
Guide to Converting Recipes >
Savings & Safety >


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