Timing Your Slow Cooker Food for Perfection

Getting your slow cooker times correct is not hugely important when it comes to slow cooking. In this guide, we explore some of the best ways you can achieve great slow cooker food.

Slow Cooker Times

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about timing and the available options to ensure your dish comes out to be as good as it can be.

If you have your food cooking on low and it is not dairy heavy, then you can likely go over the desired time by a few hours and still have the dish be fine. With that said, you might still want to get your times correct to ensure the best possible outcome.

Below I will go through everything you need to know about setting slow cooker times and any conversions that you might need to do. These tips should help perfect your slow cooker recipes.

High to Low Slow Cooker Conversions

You can easily convert between high and low temperatures for the slow cooker. Turning to high will obviously shorten the cooking time but may also affect the dish’s overall texture and taste.

Personally, I always recommend going low and slow unless you need the food fast or the recipe asks for it to be set on high.

It is important to remember that removing the lid will add to your overall cooking time. Every time you remove the lid, you need to add fifteen minutes onto the cooking time as that is roughly the amount of time it will take to heat back to the temperature it was.

Below you can find an extremely handy slow cooker conversion chart for when you need to convert between high and low temperatures.

Slow Cooker High to Low Conversions

Oven to Slow Cooker Conversions

Besides converting between high and low, you can also convert the times for the oven to a slow cooker and vice versa. This is extremely handy if you have a favorite oven dish that you wish to convert to the slow cooker.

The conversions are straightforward, and the image below is a perfect example of it. You would simply prepare your food just like you would do for the oven but instead place it in the slow cooker.

Keep in mind an oven is a very dry heat and will dry your dish out, but a slow cooker is sealed and will produce excess moisture. You may need to adjust fluids to make sure you get the best result.

Slow Cooker to Oven Conversions

Slow Cooker Timer Options

When it comes to timing your food in the slow cooker, there are several options that are available to you.

I will briefly touch on the most common ways you can time your food so that you can have the slow cooker switch off or switch to keep warm when time is up.

Inbuilt Timer & Programmable Slow Cookers

Most modern slow cookers will have an inbuilt timer that you are able to set so it will switch off or switch to keep warm once the timer has expired.

The way you set the slow cooker timer is different from model to model, so because of this, I will not go into detail on how you can set yours. It is usually really basic and covered in the instruction manual for your appliance.

Slow Cooker Programmable Timer

You will also find that most slow cookers will switch to a keep warm setting once the time is up, so if your running late, your food won’t go cold by the time you get home.

You can check out some cool modern programmable slow cookers over at Amazon.

Shop Programmable Slow Cookers

PowerPoint & Outlet Timers

Using a PowerPoint timer is a cost-effective way of having your slow cooker turn off once a certain amount of time has elapsed. This is a much better option if you already have a slow cooker, and you do not want to fork out money for a brand new one with a timer inbuilt.

There are some risks when using these timers with heating appliances, such as a slow cooker. For example, depending on the timer’s quality, the timer may short and trip a circuit breaker causing a power outage. I highly recommend testing your timer with the slow cooker before leaving it unattended.

PowerPoint or Outlet Timer

There are quite a few different types of PowerPoint timers. Personally, I would recommend getting a digital version as the analog types can be a bit fiddly to set. There are smart device options available as well.

Things to look out for

As I mentioned a few times throughout this guide, there are a few things to look out for, which I will briefly summarize below.

  • Chicken can become really dry after hours and hours of cooking, eight hours or longer.
  • Beef is best cooked on low and slow.
  • Cooking on high may result in a dish that is not as good in flavor and texture.
  • Try not to remove the lid too much as this will add to the cooking time. Approximately fifteen minutes every time someone opens it.
  • Make sure the food does not sit at room temperature too long as this can cause food poisoning.
  • When converting between an oven and a slow cooker, it is important to remember that an oven uses dry heat whilst a slow cooker is sealed so moisture can’t escape.

There are plenty more slow cooker tips that will help you get the most out of your cooking.

I hope this guide has been able to help you learn everything there is to know about slow cooker times. If you have some feedback, then please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.


  1. Avatar for Suzanne
    Suzanne on

    This is very useful information. Thank you so much. I love those type for hint that help me improve my cooking skill. Thanks a million

  2. Avatar for Debbie
    Debbie on

    Thank you so much. Im loving your slow cooker tips.

    1. Avatar for Roland White
      Roland White on

      Got free slow cooker, my first try. All useful hints, love the charts. Can already smell it cooking

  3. Avatar for William Ruger
    William Ruger on

    When to add the potatoes with the meat?

    1. Avatar for Gus
      Gus on

      I would add them at the same time as the meat. However, it does depend on how large the pieces of potato are. For large cubed-sized pieces, I recommend the same time as the meat. Anything smaller might benefit from less cooking.

  4. Avatar for Tony Streeter
    Tony Streeter on

    I am not sure how long to cook a 2 kilo joint of topside of beef on the low setting.
    Can you please advise.
    Thank you

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