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