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Cookery Crock Pots and Slow Cookers

Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.from Julia Child

What is the Difference Between Crock Pots and Slow Cookers?

There is a difference. Sometimes crock pots are called slow cookers, but a slow cooker is not called a crock pot.

Resources for this information

Crock Pots

photo of a crock pot

  • Heating elements are on both the bottom and sides of the crock pot
  • There are 3 parts: a glass lid, a ceramic or porcelain round or oval pot, and a round or oval heating element that the pot fits snugly into
  • Uses moist heat over long periods of time to cook foods, usually high / low setting only
  • Heat surrounds the food bringing it more quickly up to a safe temperature
  • Cooks food slowly at a low temperature – generally between 170o and 280o F
  • Direct heat from the crock pot, lengthy cooking, and steam created within the tightly-covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make a crock pot cooking a safe process for cooking foods
  • Excels at tenderizing post roasts / less expensive cuts of meat which require longer cooking at lower setting

Slow Cookers

photo of a slow cooker

  • Heating elements are on the bottom; none on the sides
  • There are 3 parts: a glass lid, a pot, and a heating element; however, the setup is generally a pot that sits on a hot plate and has many different temperature settings, usually notated by numbers one through five
  • Heat does not surround the food. Heat rises from the bottom which causes the cooker to heat food more slowly. This is recommended for soups, stews, etc. where the food is small cut (brings it up to temp faster)
  • Uses moist heat over a long period of time to cook food; however, heat runs in cycles, rotating on and off therefore the heating element does not surround the pot and cook from the sides (and is not continuous)
  • USDA recommends this type be used for soups / stews only or where meat is cut into smaller pieces due to potential safety concerns with low level heat coming only from bottom bringing a large piece of meat up to high enough temp before spoiling
  • Most heating elements can be used as a griddle. The pot can be used in the oven or on top of a stove – so this is more dual purpose / versatile

Which Pot is for You?

A crock pot is recommended over a slow cooker because the heat surrounds the food.


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