6 Common Slow Cooker Problems and How to Fix Them | StupidEasyPaleo.com

6 Common Slow Cooker Problems and How To Fix Them

Slow cooker problems can turn one of the most useful kitchen tools into a headache.

6 Common Slow Cooker Problems—And How To Fix Them | stephgaudreau.com

These appliances are utterly indispensable for busy people who want to cook healthy food, so dialing it in can really help your time in the kitchen. From stews to bone broth to roasts and even veggies, with a little know-how, you’ll be well on your way to making satisfying meals.

Here are 6 common slow cookers problems and what to do if and when you encounter them!

Slow Cooker Problems #1: Meat comes out dry / tough.

When you’re cooking meat in the slow cooker, the leaner the cut, the drier it tends to get. That means fattier cuts of meat—think pork shoulder roasts and beef pot roasts—do better than leaner ones, like pork sirloin or chops. If the meat comes with skin or a fat cap, leave that intact to keep the meat from drying out.

It’s also possible that the meat simply cooked too long. Generally, start out with about 1 to 1.25 hours per pound for cooking on high and 1.25 to 1.5 hours per pound for cooking on low.

A third possibility is that the cut of meat was too tender to begin with. Tender meats, like beef tenderloin, are best done outside the slow cooker

Slow Cooker Problems #2: The food’s too watery.

For slow cookers, you need about half the amount of liquid that a traditional recipe (for the oven or stovetop) calls for. The lid will trap the moisture in and keep it from evaporating during the cooking time. This can make the final result too watery if the recipe is not adapted to a crock pot.

If the recipe isn’t optimized for a slow cooker, cut the amount of liquid by about 50%. In fact, when I cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker, I put the meat in without any liquid at all.

If your final dish comes out too watery, remove the lid and turn the slow cooker to high for about an hour. This will allow some of the moisture to evaporate, thickening the sauce / broth.

Slow Cooker Problems #3: There’s no automatic shut off / timer.

This one’s a valid concern with a simple solution. If you can’t be around to switch off the slow cooker and yours has no automatic shut off, purchase a lamp timer! Then, plug your machine into that, set it, and it’ll turn off even if you aren’t home.

Slow Cooker Problems #4: It makes too much food.

Many slow cooker recipes make large portions, especially for small households. Luckily, many meats / roasts, soups and stews freeze well so you can store them for days you’re too busy to cook.

There are also slow cookers like this 3-quart model that are helpful for smaller batches.

Plan a month of slow cooker meals in FIVE minutes! Click here to start now!

Slow Cooker Problems #5: The food isn’t cooking evenly.

Food cooking unevenly is a common problem with slow cookers.

If you’re making a beef stew with carrots, for example, some carrots may be mushy while some are too hard. Food that’s cut into pieces that are the same size will cook more evenly than food that’s chopped haphazardly.

Very soft veggies or fast cooking vegetables can usually be added toward the end of the total cooking time so they don’t break down into mush.

Slow Cooker Problems #6: You aren’t sure whether to use the low or high setting.

Believe it or not, the low versus high settings aren’t different final temperatures. Rather, the high setting gets the slow cooker to boiling point faster than the low setting. Then, the contents will remain at a simmer for the rest of the cooking process. I personally prefer the low setting because I think meat comes out a bit more tender with the longer cooking time.

If you have an issue I didn’t cover, check the comments section below…lots of people have written in about their slow cooker problems, and you might have the same issue.

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163 Responses

    1. If I put sauerkraut and pork on and I thought it was on high and it was on warm for six hours would that be unhealthy to eat

    1. I just put ribs into my slow cooker on high. The light isn’t coming on but the cooker is getting hot? Is that normal?

    1. Great post as I am looking to do a lot more slow cooking but still learning. I have tried to do Mississippi pot roast a few times and I can’t get it to be shreddable with two forks like it’s supposed to. I use a 4# chuck roast as directed and cook on low setting for about six hours. The meat has excellent taste just doesn’t fall apart. Am I cooking too long or not long enough? Or should I be using a different cut of meat?

  1. This is very helpful! I love my slow cooker. The one I bought in 1998 lasted 10 years and then went caput. I don’t ever buy appliances w/out lots of online research- you could say I tend to go overboard. I dug up some interesting info online about slow cookers that might help someone who is looking for one to buy. The government passed a law in 1998 that made manufacturers make all slow cookers heat to a hotter temperature for safety reasons. I can’t remember the temps exactly, but Low setting is supposed to be around 180-190, and High is supposed to be 190-200- a slight difference. I got a CrockPot, and it just kept heating my food too hot, and the food was always cooked way too fast, ending up tough or burned, which never in my life happened before! Slow cookers really weren’t capable of that pre-1998. So now you’ll find recipes with really short (like 5-6 hrs) cook time on low, which just seems weird to me. Many people rigg up a Crock-O-Stat to lower the temps back down to the old-fashioned level. If anyone’s interested, you could just Google it. However, you can just go to garage sales, and also ask your friends (what I did) to keep an eye out for old ones. That’s how I got my “new” old-style slow cooker.

    I have to (friendly :)) disagree with #1 above. Even on the new cookers, if you haven’t gotten AT LEAST past 6 hours on Low setting, your meat will be TOUGH. I kept trying to explain this to my mom, who was new at slow cooking. She’d have a roast and veggies on for 5-6 hours, and it was tough and dry. She kept complaining that her slow cooker was getting too hot and over-cooking her food. I told her to keep it on Low setting, but go way beyond that time on the recipe. For the most amazing, tender cheap cuts in the world, you’ve gotta go 8-10 hrs, and then it will just melt in your mouth. I actually have never cooked anything on Low in either of my pots (the new one and the old one) for less than 8, but usually anywhere from 10-12 hrs. There’s a phenomenon that happens in a slow cooker: the meat gets cooked, then, because it is such a slow, low heat, it starts breaking down the fibers for a few hours even though it doesn’t get more done- it just gets juicier and tenderizes the whole thing. But you have to fill it up- use the correct size for your family- that’s key, too.

    1. I agree on going longer with the tougher cuts. When I suggest folks do pork shoulder for at least 16 hours, they get pretty worried!

      1. Hello! ?

        I realize I’m commenting on an old thread, so I hope I can still get an answer to my question! ?

        Let me start by saying that I’m an experienced cook, make a wide variety of meals, and have been crock pot cooking for years. That said, this grass fed meat thing is really throwing me. In my fairly new experience with grass fed rather than grain fed beef, I’m completely turned off. I tried several brands of grass fed ground beef, and pretty much decided I couldn’t deal….. Strong, gamey, and even super finely chopped its like eating little bits of rubber.

        So, I moved along to roasts. The first one I cooked in the crock pot was way to small, so I wasn’t completely discouraged when it turned out too tough and almost gritty. So I special ordered a larger one through my local health food store.

        I cooked it according to a recipe that I’ve used many times, and it ALWAYS produces a tender, juicy, fall-apart roast. I usually cook regular 3-4 lb, boneless rump roasts for 10-12 hours on low. Delicious! I have an ancient crock pot, btw….. Probably one of those pre-1998 ones.

        This grass fed roast was 2.5 lbs, had a bone (which was about 1/4-1/3 the volume of the roast), and I believe was also a rump roast.

        I cooked it like always, searing before putting in the crock pot, and using my favorite recipe (which calls for a TBS of tomato paste, BTW). It smelled delicious cooking! I pulled it out after 10 1/2 hours on low. It was dark brown and dry on top, which I suppose wasn’t completely unusual….. I’d cooked it the usual length of time, which given its smaller size and bone, may have been a little too long. But the shocking thing is that it was TOUGH AS HELL. In my experience, the longer you crock pot beef roast, the more it falls apart. Not this one! I had trouble cutting it up for dinner, and it was so tough that even after chewing and chewing it wouldn’t break down. I’d finally just wash it down with a gulp of water.

        After that, I cut it up into small chunks, and I threw it on the stove with some beef broth and simmered it an hour or two, trying to break it down and make it edible. Didn’t improve it at all. I finally gave it to the dog. ?

        Any words of wisdom here?? I eat totally organic everything…. produce, dairy, nuts, etc…. and would love to get on the grass fed beef train. But is this the unfortunate reality of the wonderful world of grass fed?? Gamey, gritty, tough, and rubbery?? ???

        Any help is most appreciated!! ?

        1. Where are you sourcing the meat from? It’s not the reality for all grass-fed meats, in my experience, but the producer matters.

          1. Hmm, that’s a good question. All my experiences with grass fed ground beef have been with prepacked ground beef, not what’s ground in the store. I’ve used Strauss, Dakota, and one other, I think Maverick Ranch. Strauss was gamey, and all were tough and rubbery. Doesn’t seem to matter if its finely chopped, or made into burgers, the texture is the same. One brand, can’t remember which, even had little white sinewy bits chopped up with the meat.

            As for roasts, my first attempt was to crock pot 2 Dakota brand steaks (the largest I could find) in lieu of a roast, because the grocery store never seems to carry grass fed roasts. That one was kind of dry (maybe not it’s fault, as it wasn’t a proper roast), but was rather tough, and had a weird gritty texture. Flavor wasn’t too bad.

            My last attempt was a real roast, not streaks, and purchased from my local health food store…. No specific “brand”, I’m assuming just a local source the health food store uses. That was the shoe leather roast I described in detail in my previous question. The one I gave to my dog.

            All in all, my experiences with grass feed beef have been mediocre at best, lousy at worst. No mouthwatering, juicy burgers, no tender “fall-apart” crock pot roasts….. Nothing like I usually cook…. Nothing that actually makes me want to eat whatever’s for dinner! ? I really want this to work….. But not badly enough to eat my dinner like taking medicine, washing it down to make it go away! Lol

            I keep seeing commercials online for Butcher Box (a monthly, mail order, all organic/grass fed meat service). It looks great, but after all my experiences with grass fed beef, I’m leery. Have you heard of, or had any experience, with Butcher Box??

            1. I don’t really know what to say. The grass-fed meat I’ve had has generally been good, so I can’t say I’ve had the same experience. Remember that grass-fed meat tends to be LEANER than grain-fed beef, and leaner beef needs to be cooked carefully. It’s not as forgiving. Very lean roasts would lead to a tough texture, yes. Steaks cannot be cooked too well-done. As far as ground meat, the mix might be a lot leaner than you’re used to, especially if you’ve typically bought 80-85% lean meat.

              Yes, I have had Butcher Box and I found the meat to be delicious.

          2. Thank you so much for your input. ? I really appreciate your time. From what you have said, at least it seems my experience isn’t generally the norm, and perhaps there is hope! Lol

            Also, I’m pleased to hear that Butcher Box meat is tasty, so that’s probably where I’ll start next in my quest to make friends with grass fed beef.

            Again, thanks so much for your help. ?

            1. You want something with fat. If the meat is too lean, it’ll come out tough. What kind of roast and how long did you cook it?

      2. Hi, I’ve just joined the slow cooker club but the timings are confusing for me. One recipe in the booklet that came with the slow cooker says to cook on medium for 4 to 8 hours. That’s a 4 hour diffetence on just one temperature. So is it 4 hours or is it 5,6,7 or 8?! Thanks in anticipation

        1. Hi Catherine…It kind of depends what exactly you’re cooking. Veggies, for example, take less time. Meats generally take longer. What is the recipe? Another idea would be to google the name of the recipe + “crock pot” and see what recipes come up. Look at the time suggested on those recipes and take the average.

    2. Thanks so much for posting about the hotter new cookers, explains so much! Adele Davis Let’s Cook It Right explains that if you cook meat above 100F then the fibres toughen and shrink and push the juices out of the meat. If you cook it below 100F they melt and the meat is soft juicy and tender and retains more vitamins. So the new temperature will still make tougher meat, and you are totally right to demand the lower heat, slower cooking time. I am now going to toss my new cooker and search the thrift shops and garage sales for an old one.

    3. Thank you for this explanation! I would follow the recipes for slow cook pot roast and my roast was always tough! I always thought it was the crock pot (it’s new, Pioneer Woman 2018). But I guess it’s because I slow cooked it for 5-6 hours. Didn’t know it needed to be longer than that. Plus I think this crock pot cooks very slow that’s why I took out my roast prematurely.

  2. Oh, almost forgot. My solution to my new CrockPot burning my food, is that I was using it on High, with only a chicken breast or two at the bottom. Now I can do that, but I only use it on Low. It makes great chicken for all kinds of dishes, especially tender for babies and toddlers. And when I can’t decide what to make for dinner, I just throw in 2-3 chicken breasts while I take all day to figure out what to make with them.

  3. I was just saying that I wanted to get another slow cooker that had a timer on it (even though I have 3 already!). Such a simple fix…Can’t believe I haven’t thought of a lamp timer before!

    1. it’s great to read all the good advice re meat cooking.
      BUT I have a problem occasionally with over-doing the seasoning.
      How do I correct over salting AND over seasoning, too peppery a taste? Sometimes both at the same time?
      I’ve got a vague idea that putting bread in the pot will soak up the salt and or pepper?
      GinaK

      1. It’s pretty hard to correct over-salting. You could try adding an acid which will cut the salt (up to a certain point). I would err on the side of caution and maybe add half the salt and seasoning before cooking, then taste and adjust the seasonings again after cooking. Bread won’t do anything.

        1. If you’ve added too much salt, cut a potato in half and throw it in And cook a little longer. Potatoes absorb the salt, leaving your dish delicious!

          1. Exactly. It’s a very old fashioned way of dealing with an over salted dish. Put a peeled potato in the pot and continue cooking for 30+ minutes. It works!

  4. One more tip that I’ve learned along the way: If you only have a large slow cooker and you don’t have a big enough meal to fill it up so that it cooks properly, you can put the food into a smaller pyrex or ceramic dish and set that dish into the slow cooker!

  5. Don’t understand the purpose of a shut off timer – built in or add on lamp timer…. How are you not worried that the food will be spoiled after it sits out after it’s been turned off? You can’t just leave cooked food sitting out on the counter. Perhaps someone can explain this one to me. If it’s only for say an hour or so, then why not leave it go on low? One more hour on low isn’t going to hurt anything… I must be missing something here.

    1. Some people want to set up the food in the morning to be ready for dinner at night. If the crock pot shuts off during the day, it would sit for hours unheated which is unsafe from a food safety perspective.

      1. Right. My point exactly. So why advocate for a timer when using one is dangerous? This is the part I don’t understand.

        1. If it’s within a short time of it shutting off and you returning home, it’ll be fine. Obviously you wouldn’t want to let it sit for hours.

          1. I think you missed my point. I don’t need a lesson in food safety, I am just wondering what kind of “good advice” it is to tell people to get a light timer for their crockpot so they can have it turn off (and hence leave food sitting unheated to spoil). If it’s only going to be for a short time, then leaving it on for that same short time won’t hurt anything either. It’s hard to overcook food in a crockpot. I just think it’s strange advice, and I don’t understand what GOOD a timer is. I was hoping someone could explain (thinking there might be a reason/circumstance that I hadn’t thought of), but apparently there is no real good reason for a timer (which is probably why most models don’t have one).

            1. Many models actually DO have timers. And when it switches off low or high, it goes to “keep warm” mode.

        2. I am with you Bella. It is unsafe to leave food to sit between temps of 40 and 140 (bacteria grows exponentially at those temps) and surely leaving a crockpot turned off for any length of time would allow your food to reach those dangerous temps. Bad idea! Buying a crockpot with a timer that switches to warm is really the best idea. Don’t use a lamp timer!

        3. Buying a timer is not dangerous. If I start dinner @3 am, and i won’t be home until 6pm,i don’t want it on for that long! I might set the shut off timer to 4p,so that when i get home it’s not over done. I think that’s what the author is saying. And with the lid on my food, if I don’t get home until 7 or 8? Ehh, not that worried about it. I think we’ve all eaten pizza that’s Sat out over night before right? Maybe it’s just me, but I think it would be more of a safety issue to leave a hot oven on the counter top plugged into the wall for 14—16 hours while no one was home, then to eat some food that was kept warm for two hours. When I come home, I don’t want to find my home burnt to the ground! Lol

    2. if you went out for the day and left your slow cooker on and were involved in an accident or held up in traffic or anything like that, that is where a timer comes in handy

  6. #1 – food that is washed out tasting and stringy might also be due to too much liquid. A roast needs no more than 1 cup of liquid because it will also lose juices along with the onions, etc…
    I used to cook whole chickens in the crockpot on low for about 5 hours using a lamp timer (also known as xmas light timer). If it is frozen, add an hour.

    Lesson that took me a LONG time to learn – less is more where spices and herbs are concerned. Perhaps I used tons of flavor enhancers in the early days because I was cooking with factory food. Pastured meats are naturally flavorful.

  7. I have a hard time cleaning my crock pot. It is black. We don’t have a dish washer. It always looks clean, then when it dries, there is a white film on it. I started using Reynolds crock pot liners. They save me so much time!! Like an oven bag, but for the crock pot. When I am done coking, I can just throw the liner away. Works wonders with cheesy things! I even put the bag 8 a bow with a lid for storage.

    1. I never heard of Renold’s liners but if you run out of them parchment paper works great too. Clean up takes a quick minute. Before my son told me about it I used to dread cooking with my slow cooker due to the clean up. Now I use it at least three times a week. One pot meals are everyone’s favourite…now they are mine too.

  8. Too much food is a problem?! Wow, not in my house, and there’s only the two of us. I haven’t met a slow-cooker dish yet that didn’t freeze well. Oh, and I totally agree on the long hours for cooking — pork shoulder is delicious after 12 hours. I always put it on AFTER dinner and it’s ready for breakfast, yummy.

    1. I used to just cook for one so I used to have a lot of leftover food, especially if I was testing recipes 😉 That’s the perfect plan…we do that too!

  9. If a recipe calls for a 4 lb roast to cook on low 8-10 hours and my roast is only 2 lbs, do I need to adjust my time?

  10. My problem is the flavor! The vegatables taste werid and the broth is, I dont know, bitter or burnt or metallic. Im so discouraged. Ive cooked at least six different chicken and/or beef dishes and the results are similar. Any solutions?

  11. I cooked a pork shoulder 6-8 hours..kept in for another 2 hours because it was still not easy to pull apart with the fork.
    I unplugged it, let it cook down, put in fridge and decided to cook it again on low the next day…is that a good idea?

  12. I messed up and cut the fat cap off. Can I use olive oil (or another oil) to fix the mistake? I did one without the fat cap & it came out edible, but dry.

  13. Last night I made chicken pozole in the slow cooker. After 3 hours, I noticed that I had put it on the warm setting instead of low for 8 hours. Once I realized what I did, I quickly switched it to the low setting for 8 hours. Then….my brother turned the slow cooker off after 5 1/2 hours. When I checked the chicken (which was covered by the liquids) this morning, the chicken appeared to be cooked, as it was falling off the bone and was not pink. My question is whether or not it’s safe to eat considering that it started on the warm setting and was turned off early? It should be noted that my slow cooker does get EXTREMELY hot when it does cook the food.

    1. Hi Sesi,

      The safe zone for food holding is above 140F. You’d need to determine if your slow cooker holds temp accurately, which the “stay warm” feature should do if it’s functioning correctly.

      My motto is always, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

  14. Wrong blog..I thought it said problems and hiw to fix them. #1 Dried out roast beef, use fatty next time, but what about now??

    1. I’m sorry Debbie but I don’t understand your question. Would you rephrase and let me know how I can try to help you?

    1. All slow cookers heat to the same temperature. When you put it on low it gets there slower than if you put it on high. There’s not much you can do.

  15. I’ve already cooked my meat on high for 4 hours and it turned out pretty dry. If i put it back in for low on 1-2 hours, would that make it more tender or overcook it?

    1. Hi Karen,

      What kind of meat? Would be be more specific? Unfortunately if the meat is dry there’s usually not much that can save it.

  16. So I assume that my meat that is coming out tough is either because 1) my meat is too lean and/or 2) I am using the warm setting instead of low. My cooker has warm, low and high. I always worried because my low really seems to be a medium. Guess I shouldn’t worry about it so much.

  17. I have a new Cuisinart slow cooker. I believe it’s 6 Qt. I made a 4# pot roast twice. the first time I did the recipe with whatever it called for it on high. It was not “break-apart” tender. I finished it in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes (thank God). The next time I cooked it like it said for low setting for 9 hours. STILL not break-apart tender, so finished it off in the pressure cooker. This is ridiculous. If I do the time exactly as the slow cooker directions say, it should come out the way they say it will (break-apart tender)!!! I might as well just buy a big pressure cooker and do the meat in there for 35 min. when I get home. It’s delicious there as well. The only think I’m happy with my slow cooker for so far, is making bone stock. 🙁

    1. A 4 pound roast probably needs more than 8-9 hours but it sometimes also depends on the exact cut of roast to get the description of “break-apart tender.”

  18. I made a 4 pound roast (I cut it into 4 1lb cubes so it fits in the slow cooker better) and I had it on low for 8.5 hours and it came out super tough, it was not dry, just really tough. I was wondering if maybe it’s because before I started cooking it, it wasn’t quite thawed all the way. I made the same roast a month ago, in the same way (4 1lb cubes), size, cut, etc. but it wasn’t frozen, and it was soooo tender. I’m not a good cook so I don’t know if that is actually the issue or if maybe I did something else. I believe I used chuck roast. Input is greatly appreciated.

    1. In the future I might try cutting the pieces smaller than a pound…that’s the only thing I can think of.

  19. He there! Happy Sunday and Spring! I have a Large all clad slow cooker, put 5#porkshoulder butt in for 12hrs low& warm 3hrs! Was very tasty a little dry , could I put parchment paper on top to ” fill ” the pots empty top space and make it more tender? Thanks

    1. 7 quart is pretty big, and the general rule is to fill a slow cooker at least half way. The meat could have been leaner than usual or for some reason, tougher than normal. Sometimes those things happen. It’s hard to say.

  20. I broke our crock pot lid, can we use a tad-bit smaller lid. My wife said no I’m guessing we will be fine?

    1. Hi Mike…you definitely want a lid that fits so that it makes a seal. It needs to contact the crock all the way around. As long as it does that you should be fine.

  21. After many, many happy years of crockpot cooking, I purchased a Wahl crockpot by James Martin. It’s very good at heating up my kitchen, but after MUCH experimentation on times, temperature settings and recipes, I remain absolutely disgusted with it. The meat takes ages to become even bite able, and when it does, it’s as dry as eating blotting paper. I note your previous comments re EU regs on safe cooking temperatures, but this crock pot is NOT capable of ‘slow cooking’ ……but very good at heating the kitchen and burning me! WHY can manufacturers get away with this……..answer……because we, the customer, shut up and say nothing. I LOVED both of my previous crock pots (Tower and Prestige) I’ve always used one at least once a week for a family casserole and everyone enjoyed my yummy stew I proudly put on the table. I’ve stopped making them now, but we all miss our crock pot dinners.

  22. Ok, so as I read this, I’m cooking a roast in my crock pot. It was tough and I felt I had too much liquid, so I drained some of it and left just enough to cover the beef. Then I made a rue with the juices added to flour, oil and spices until I got it thick enough. The meat is now starting to fall apart. I’m looking forward to a great dinner! ?

  23. my Cuisinart slow cooker is heating up liquid just fine,but not cooking the meat and potatoes. I am cutting both into small pieces. I have only had this slow cooker for about 2 years.

  24. I have a slow cooker without a timer function. It has Low High and Auto functions – how does the Auto function work ? If a recipe is 8 hours Low or 4 hours Hi – then what would selecting the Auto function do ? And what impact on the cooking time ? Thanks

    1. I think the auto function is comparable to “keep warm.” You’ll want to read up on the model you have because they all vary 🙂

  25. i have a beef bone broth question- i have my bones in the slow cooker and it accidentally was switched to warm at the 16 hour point and left overnight like that! is it edible? is it just full of bacteria?

  26. Hi, The issue I have is that I put meat in the crock pot frozen so that within 10 hours when I return home it will be cooked. I usually add potatoes or onions to the bottom of the crock so the meat doesnt burn, when finished I have to skim the fat and stuff off the potatoes, onions whatever before I serve them. How can I prevent that from happening? I am thinking of putting the veggies in the bottom and then cheese cloth and then the meat, hopfully the cheese cloth will catch the drippings that I dont want to eat??? Any ideas?
    thanks Linda

  27. I have had s problem with plugging in my crock pot into some outlets and it will not turn on. It is not broke. Works fine at home. Is the problem the grounding if the outlet?

  28. I have a 5lb roast on low. No idea the age of the slow cooker. It sounds like you recommend at least 10 hours.

    How can I tell when it’s done? I hear “fork tender,” but how tender?

    Thanks for your blog and your insight. Much appreciated.

  29. I always cook frozen chicken breast with other ingredients on high for about 3 to 4 hours, at first it got really liquidy after an hour and I became worried. But by the last hour the juices are always soaked up and it always comes out so good and tender, I love my crockpot.

  30. I just bought a 6 qt Crockpot. First chuck roast (about 3 lbs) with some veggies turned out very good. Didn’t use any liquid, just spread a seeded mustard all over roast. Now, I would like to do a small 1 lb + roast. I know the pot is too large for such a small roast. Does adding a lot of veggies “count” towards the filling of the pot? Also, I plan to add about a cup of red wine 🙂 Too much for small roast in your opinion? Thank you for your input!

  31. Help. I build my crock pot with sauerkraut then a layer of pork chops with sweet potatoes on the top turned it on what I thought was high came back from a party 5 hours later to realize it was the warm setting I had turned it on then turned it on high for the rest next 4 hours and then down to low for 4 hours will any bacteria that grew during the warm period at the beginning be killed during the High cooking time at the end? S

    1. The warm setting should be over 145F. Check your model’s information to find out for sure. Food must be kept at 140F or over to prevent the growth of bacteria. Your food should be just fine.

  32. After removing the lid, is it okay to turn the heat up to high to get the temp back up quicker and then turn it back to low? If so, do you have a suggestion as to how long it should remain on high? Today, I had to add some more water after two hours in an 8-hour recipe. Although the water was hot, it wasn’t boiling, so I’m sure it cooled it down somewhat. Thanks.

    1. Hi Barbara…I really am not sure since I don’t know what you’re cooking. You can turn the temp up to high then lower back to low. Shouldn’t be a problem.

  33. Hi. We are cooking beef stew in a large slow cooker. The recipe is typical with stew meat, veggies, beef broth, etc. It’s been cooking for approximately six hours, and there are now several bubbles above the stew, almost as though like from dish soap. Have you heard or seen anything like this happening? I don’t remember this happening before. Any explanation as to why this might happen? Thank you.

  34. I have searched everywhere for advice on this, but can’t find an answer. So I thought I’d try here 🙂

    I love doing bone broth in my slow cooker, as it allows me to safely leave it cooking for 24 hours. Wouldn’t want to do that on my gas stove!

    But, I’d love to figure out a way to set it somewhere between LOW and WARM. Low (or High) eventually bring it to boiling, but Warm doesn’t quite get hot enough to even bubble.

    Anyone know a hack to insulate the slow cooker or something to get it to run a little cooler?

    Thanks for any ideas!

    1. Warm is usually 140 degrees F on a crockpot, Goeff. Not enough to boil but hot enough to hold food safely for several hours.

      I have no idea what the answer is. Why not use an Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) and the broth is done is done in 2 hours?

  35. Help… I put pork ribs in croc pot for 5 hours on low and when I came home I realized I forgot to put the cover on!!! The bottom ones began cooking but the top ribs were still raw red. I covered them and are still cooking but are they savable? Or do u think bacteria has been growing?

  36. Hi,
    Can anyone tell me how to stop a beef joint from shredding? Am I cooking it too long or is it that I cover the meat with liquids? I usually cook it on low and leave for around 10 hours.

  37. Just wanted to say thanks for the info. Recent bachelor, never “Crocked” before & wasn’t sure what advice to listen to, but your cook time recos above (at least for pork roast) are spot on & very helpful, as are your other insights.

    Just completed taste-testing my 1st crock-pot creation earlier this evening, a 4.5 lb. pork-shoulder roast. I prepped, seasoned & cooked on high with just under 2 cups broth (chicken, Worcestershire & soy combo) & 2 cups veggies for 4 & 1/2 hours & finally after watching the broth virtually boil the whole time, I found your site, cook-time recos & decided to check it with a knife. Not only was it fully-cooked, it literally split in 2 pieces, Awesome! It’s already ready to go (I was gonna cook for 6-8 hrs. on high). Glad I checked it & glad I found your site! Thanks for the tips & advice.

    Maybe you can direct me to some additional sources of info on the “Paleo” diet / lifestyle?.. Either way, Thanks.

    1. Glad to be of help. The world is your oyster…tons of paleo stuff online. Nom Nom Paleo has really good recipes too.

  38. Hi Steph, I love your blog. It has been so helpful for me as someone who made a complete 180 degree turn away from gluten 3 months ago. I have one of those 80s Rival slow cookers and am wondering if you knew…how long it should take to reach the simmer point on low generally speaking with a slow cooker? It takes about an hr with 3 or 4 pounds of ham or pork to simmer, but I tried the same amount of meat on low in the morning and came home from work at 5p to find there was no simmering action. I am a bit concerned, because I have read a lot about how crockpots don’t have different temps per hi or lo, just takes longer on low to reach the same temp.

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for the kind words 🙂 Way to go on your journey!

      Hmmm I don’t have a great answer for you in terms of the time required because they’re all a little different and as they get older, funky things happen. What I can suggest instead is cooking the food with a meat thermometer inserted in the meat itself. That’ll give you an idea as to when it reaches a safe temperature to consume and if the crock pot itself is holding temp. Hope that helps…a little 🙂

  39. I purchased a Crock Pot brand slow cooker this past winter to replace an older one. This one has settings by the half hour, so you can set it for 5 hrs, 30 min, etc. No “high” or “low”. I made a soup last Sunday, put everything in at noon and set it for 5 hours. I checked it at 4 hrs, and it wasn’t even beginning to simmer! At the end of 5 1/2 hrs it still hadn’t gotten hot enough to cook the veggies. I ended up dumping the whole thing into my big pot and cooking it on the stove! The soup didn’t taste as good as in previous times because it didn’t simmer long enough. So my frustration is: there is no point in having it on less than 6 hours because it’s pointless if it’s not going to even heat up properly. I might as well have just started the soup on the stove in the first place!

  40. Hi!!! I am new with the slow cooker.. so happy to cook my bone broth and… surprise!!! After 40 Hours of cooking i realised there was almost no more liquid!!!!!!! It should not happen, right??? Where did i went wrong? Advices pleaaaase!!! Thanks a lot

  41. I doubled a recipe for chicken stew without thinking of the capacity of my slow cooker. As I layered the ingredients, I ran out of room for 24 oz more of diced tomatoes and 8 oz of broth, although there is plenty of liquid at the top. My plan is to let it cook as directed on high for 5 hours. Then I’ll add whatever liquid I can, and stir and mix all the ingredients. I’ll transfer some of the stew to another pot then add proportionately the remaining liquid if necessary. Any other ideas or advice? Thank you

    1. Hi Gail, you may not even need the extra liquid so maybe keep it on handy if needed. Sounds like a good plan!

  42. Hi Steph.
    Great post. I’ve recently purchased a Crock Pot slow cooker. Cooking a beef stew, the liquid was boiling. I thought that the liquid was supposed simmer, not boil. I’ve measured 101°C (214° F) after 4 hours in low. I wonder if it’s a too high temperature, and if my Crock Pot is faulty. All the meat I’ve cooked until now is always quite dry. Is it beacause of the temperature, in your opinion?
    Thank you for any suggestion and/or advice!

  43. Did I ruin my crockpot. Cooked too long and now sides are burnt and not coming clean???!!!!! I love my crock pot! Help me

  44. Thank you for this very informative article! I think I have made a unique mistake, and I am not sure what to do at this point. I added corn starch at the beginning of the cooking process to the crockpot liquid. I was in a hurry, and in the midst of throwing everything in quickly, I realized the cornstarch should not be added until the end. I’m not sure if this will affect the taste of the meat, or what to expect. If I had time, I would start over again!

  45. My brisket was in my crockpot for 3 hours on low and had some beef broth in with it too. When i checked it, it as black and very very hard and tough. What can I do to salvage it ? Or what did i do wrong?

  46. I have a beef roast w bone thawed it’s super tender …wanting to make bbq beef in slow cooker that calls for 8hr cook time is this ok?

    1. Add a peeled potato to the pot and continue cooking for 30-60 minutes. The potato will absorb the salt.

      1. I had a weird situation happen last night. In more than 40 years of using a Crockpot/slow cooker, this has never happened.

        I put a pork roast in my cooker about 9 p.m., with onions that have been chunked into eighths. Three hours later I added carrots and potatoes. The lid was firmly seated. When I woke up and checked the food the next morning at 7 a.m., the lid had somehow shifted, allowing the heat to escape and to ruin the food. (It was pork; I wasn’t going to take a chance on it as I didn’t know when the lid shifted.) The roast was undercooked and the vegetables basically still raw. (It usually takes about 10 hours on low to cook this meal to perfection.)

        Has anyone had a similar experience or know of any reason why this might have happened? Thanks!

  47. One thing I was hoping to see in your article was about potatoes that don’t seem to cook. I use the same settings, same techniques, same kind of potatoes, and suddenly one day, the potatoes don’t get soft. I used the low setting all day (about 8 hours), small red potatoes, chicken thighs, carrots and green beans. Everything else cooked to perfection, but the potatoes were still hard. I have never had this problem before. What did I do wrong that I don’t usually do, I think to myself? I can’t seem to get a definitive answer anywhere. Can you help?

  48. Why did my diced chuck steak come out stringy after cooking in my slow cooker for nearly 8 hours ?

  49. Slow Cooker Problems #2: The food’s too watery.
    We made meatball with ziti. It was way too dry and clumpy…so based on the Problem #2, should we add extra water?

      1. Pasta. I assume it has something to do with the starch in the pasta thickening the sauce. I know why the meatballs were dry…my daughter left something out.

  50. This is a life-changing post. I use my slow cooker all the time and couldn’t figure out why my chilis kept coming out so watery. Since I freeze most of what I cook, it’s really better for me to have them be less watery. I will use this tip now to cook off the excess liquid at the end.

  51. Hi there
    I making an almost 4 pound lamb leg in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours and i turned it on around 9am. I noticed around 12 that my cooker was OFF!! 😫 I don’t know when it turned off but I know it’s been cooking on low for at least an hour and 1/2 before it turned off. Can I resume with cooking it on high for 5 more hours or should I put it back to low for the remaining hours? First time cooking lamb for my hubby and I want it to turn out good :(. Thanks so much

  52. I am new to crockpot cooking. Stephanie, when you say to cook a pork shoulder roast for 12 hours, how much liquid would you add. I am thinking I have added too much liquid. I can remove some and boil it down and add it back. I have great luck with beef roasts, and now I realize the pork I have been buying is too lean, so i have 3 pork shoulder blade roasts to cook and one in now with a bone, but I did not realize I should not add a lot of water the way you add half way up on a beef roast. How high should you add the water on a pork shoulder blade roast with or without a bone. thank you for helping me, I am so relieved you are here to help!

  53. My new Pioneer Woman 6 quart slow cooker has 4 no-slip feet that fall out when you move the slow cooker sideways instead of lifting it. I love the slow cooker, but the feet falling out. It is driving me crazy. Any ideas to help with this problem?

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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