Are Crock Pots Safe to Leave on All Day?

Crock Pots are brand-name slow cookers designed to cook all day without posing a fire hazard. This means it is safe to leave them unattended while you go to work, run errands or fall asleep. The convenience and quality of dishes cooked in Crock Pots make them popular among busy people who still want to find time to eat a healthy and tasty meal.

What is a Crock Pot?

The Crock Pot is a brand of slow cooker that gets its name from its crockery liner and pot-like shape. A staple of American kitchens, it is sold by Jarden Consumer Solutions and was introduced in 1971. Its extended cooking times enhance the flavor of many dishes and frees up the oven if you are trying to make a large meal.

How does it work?

Crock-Pots do not pose a fire hazard, according to Jarden Consumer Solutions, nor will it damage the kitchen counter. According to the company website, the outer heating base will be hot, but the heating element runs at a low wattage, preventing any serious danger. The heating elements of most models are housed in the side of the Crock Pot, and most come with two temperature settings. They are low (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit) and high (about 300 degrees Fahrenheit). Many recipes take as long as eight hours to cook. Popular sizes include 3.5-, 4- and 5-quart models.

Cooking times

A Crock Pot's simmering point is 209 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Jarden's website. Each setting will eventually reach that point, but it takes longer to get there on the "low" setting than it does with "high." "Low" will reach the simmering point between seven and eight hours, while "high" will get there between three and four hours.

Refrigerating the Crock Pot

A Crock Pot can be filled with ingredients the night before and left in a refrigerator, but Jarden recommends adding cooking time if doing so. The cold stoneware and cold food means it will take longer for the Crock Pot to warm up. Its best to use a thermometer to ensure food temperatures reach above 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Safety Tips

To be sure that a Crock Pot will be safe to leave unattended, Lisa Rogak's "The Everything One-Pot Cookbook" offers a simple test: Fill the cooker with two quarts of water, then heat it on the "low" setting for eight hours. Then check the temperature of the water with an accurate thermometer. It should be 185 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature of the water is higher than that, there is a danger that the cooker will overcook the food if left unattended. A lower temperature suggests the food wouldn't be warm enough to avoid safety problems.