Slow cookers — we love them on game day and for lazy weekend meals, but what about the weekdays? Is it safe to leave a slow cooker on and unattended for a full workday? The answer is mostly yes. While there is always a risk that something could go wrong, chances are nothing will as long as you follow these instructions.
Set it up properly
- Do not set the slow cooker on a finished wood table. Instead, place it on something more heat safe, like a tiled kitchen counter. To protect the counter or table surface, place a hot pad, trivet, or protective padding underneath the slow cooker.
- Keep six inches clear from the wall and six inches clear on all sides.
- Don't let the cord hang over the edge of the table or counter or touch any heated parts of the slow cooker.
Choose and follow the right recipe
- Fill the slow cooker with enough liquid (between half and two-thirds full) and keep the lid on as it cooks. These tips prevent the liquid from completely evaporating.
- Choose a recipe with a longer cook time and a lower heat setting.
- Soup, chili, pasta sauce, or stews are usually safe options.
Remember food safety
- Never put frozen food inside the slow cooker, which may not cook through or get hot enough to kill the bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses.
- To heat the food to a food-safe temperature (above 165°F), cook the food on high for the first hour (easy to do as you get ready in the morning), then turn the slow cooker to low before taking off for the day.
- If power goes out, throw it out! Should the slow cooker shut off during the day, chances are harmful bacterias are stewing inside the pot, so throw out the contents.