Slow cookers are convenient, but use them safely!

My Story: Slow Cooker Safety

contributed by Debbie F.

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As a Food Safety Educator, I would be remiss if I didn't remind everyone that cooking frozen foods in the slow cooker is very dangerous. Bacteria like warm moist places to grow and require higher heat to kill them. By cooking frozen foods in a slow cooker, on either low or high, bacteria has a perfect growing medium. The slow cooker will not get hot enough to kill the large number of bacteria that has grown on the food. This puts young children, pregnant women, people over 60, and anyone with a compromised immune system (chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, lupus, HIV, AIDS) at a high risk of contracting a food borne illness. A food borne illness may be as little as an upset stomach for a few hours or as much as death, depending on the bacteria and the health of the person eating it. Used as intended, a slow cooker is very safe to use.

Here are guidelines for slow cooker safety.

  • Never use frozen foods.
  • Fill at least 1/2 full but no more than 3/4 full.
  • Always use a recipe that includes a liquid (at least 1/2 cup).
  • Don't peek. (Every time the lid is removed, it requires an additional 30 minutes cooking time.)
  • Do not use a timer to start the slow cooker more than one hour after filling it. (If you need more than eight to ten hours, invest in a slow cooker with a timer that keeps food warm until you are ready to serve. Mine works great!)

Enjoy those home-cooked meals safely!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

Take the Next Step:

  • Now that you're up on slow cooker safety, you'll need a few good recipes. For some delicious and nutritious slow cooker recipes, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.

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