How To Use A Slow Cooker To Keep Food Warm

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byPenny
How To Use A Slow Cooker To Keep Food Warm

If you aren’t ready to eat your slow cooker meal just yet, then you will want to keep it warm until you are ready. The great news is that most slow cookers have a ‘keep warm’ setting to use after the cooking time has ended.

I love my slow cooker! What’s fantastic about it is that you can have hot food ready to eat whenever you are. What’s also great is that if your family don’t all eat at the same time, there is always a hot dinner ready for them.

What is there not to love about slow cookers?

But what if you don’t want to keep your crock pot cooking endlessly? It’s possible to overcook food, even in a slow cooker. Overcooked food will be mushy and unappetizing. You definitely will want to avoid that.

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Can you use a slow cooker to keep food warm?

Can a slow cooker keep food warm? Yes! Provided your cooker has a warm setting, then you can. I have one of the cheapest slow cookers you can buy, and even that has a warm setting.

Here is:

Crock-Pot Large 8 Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker and Food Warmer, Black (SCV800-B)
Crock-Pot Large 8 Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker and Food Warmer, Black (SCV800-B)

And here is the trusty crock pot nestling comfortably in my kitchen dutifully keeping my dinner warm.

a crockpot in the kitchen
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How to use a slow cooker to keep food warm

Using a slow cooker to keep food warm is super easy provided your slow cooker has a warm setting, as most do. When the food has finished cooking simply turn it to ‘warm’ mode.

warm mode on crock pot

My crock pot is a basic model with a simple switch to do the job. It suits me perfectly because I am usually home. I bought this one on sale for a great price which meant I was still within my budget for the month.

But what if you need your slow cooker to switch to warm automatically? Maybe you are out during the day and not sure what time you will be back?

When you buy your crockpot make sure it has an auto keep-warm feature.

For a little more money you can buy a crock pot with an intelligent timer. Not only can you program in the cooking finish time, but it will also automatically switch to the warm setting at the end. This is a great fall-back if you find yourself running late and don’t want to risk your food spoiling.

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Countdown Programmable Oval Slow Cooker with Dipper, Stainless Steel, SCCPVC605-S
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Countdown Programmable Oval Slow Cooker with Dipper, Stainless Steel, SCCPVC605-S
How long can you keep food warm in a slow cooker?

How long can you keep food warm in a slow cooker?

You should check the instructions for your particular model.

After cooking, you can safely keep your food on the warm setting for one to four hours. The important thing to remember is to keep the temperature of the food above 63c or 145f. Below that, your dinner becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and could be dangerous to consume.

The warm setting on slow cookers should only be used to keep food warm after the food has finished cooking. You should not use the warm setting to cook food or to warm up cold food (use the microwave for that).

Related reading:

Final thoughts – using a crock pot or slow cooker to keep food warm

If you are looking to simplify your life and your eating habits, crockpot cooking is the way to go. Combine it with meal prepping and you can start to put your food preparation time on auto-pilot, and save money in the process.

Need some ideas for slow cooker recipes?

Here are some that my family just love.

Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! SparklingPenny.com was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.


Share your thoughts

On  November 29, 2023   Karen  said:

I want to make egg muffins in the oven, can I keep them warm in a crockpot to take to a church potluck on the warm setting? If yes, do I set them on a paper towel or right in the crock pot? Thank you!

On  November 29, 2023   Penny  said:

This isn't something I've tried! But I would think, yes you could do that. You would definitely need to put something underneath so that the food isn't in direct contact with the base of the crock pot. A paper towel folded a few times should work. Let me know how it goes!

On  December 9, 2023   Patti  said:

I need to take a hot dish to a church potluck and it needs to stay warm over three services! I'm considering setting a corning ware dish with the food inside the crockpot. The corning ware dish doesn't go all the way to the bottom of the crockpot, but rests against the sloped sides. If I heat up my dish separately in the oven and then put it in the crockpot on warm for 3+ hours, do you think that will work? I could put some water in the crockpot so it is protected.

On  December 12, 2023   Penny  said:

I don't see why this shouldn't work. I think it is definitely a good idea to warm the dish before you put it in the crockpot. Adding water to the bottom will keep the food nice and moist. Let me know how you get on!

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How to use a slow cooker to keep food warm until you are ready to eat.How to use a slow cooker to keep food warm until you are ready to eat.