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Can You Stop And Restart A Slow Cooker

Can You Stop & Restart A Slow Cooker? Answered

Last Updated on March 17, 2024 by Shari Mason

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Utilizing a slow cooker is both easy and efficient for preparing a range of dishes, whether the desired result is a hearty stew, a comforting soup, or a tender roast and casserole.

However, it’s common for busy schedules to get in the way of cooking, and you may wonder if it’s possible to stop and restart a slow cooker. 

So can you stop and restart a slow cooker? Let’s find out.

Is It Safe To Stop & Restart A Slow Cooker?

Cooking Beef Stew on a Slow Cooker

While stopping and restarting a slow cooker can be a safe and practical solution, it is not recommended. The most crucial factor to consider is the food’s temperature, which can affect the dish’s safety and quality. 

It’s essential to ensure that the food remains at a safe temperature and to avoid leaving it in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F for too long.

This is the temperature [1] range where bacteria can grow and multiply rapidly, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

“My favorite comfort food would have to be braised beef. You know, beef, slow-cooked in a Dutch oven or in a slow cooker until it falls apart with simple mushrooms, some onions and lots of fresh thyme and garlic.”

– Tyler Florence, Chef

To maintain the safety and quality of the food, it is recommended to refrigerate the dish within 2 hours of stopping the cooking process. This will help to slow down the growth of bacteria and ensure that the food remains safe to consume. 

When the slow cooker is restarted, it’s essential to reheat the food to a temperature of 165°F or higher to kill any bacteria that may have developed during the storage period. 

Additionally, it’s essential to prevent contamination, such as washing your hands before handling the food and using clean utensils and containers to store and reheat the dish. 

Read:

Pros & Cons Of Stopping & Restarting

Pros:

  1. Convenience: One of the main benefits of stopping and restarting a slow cooker is its convenience. If you have a busy schedule or need to leave the house for an extended period, stopping and restarting the slow cooker allows you to control the cooking process and ensures that your meal will be ready when you return.
  2. Time-saving: Stopping and restarting the slow cooker can also be a time-saving solution. For example, if you need to run errands or attend a meeting, you can pause the cooking process and resume it later without worrying about overcooking or undercooking the food.
  3. Reduced energy consumption: Pausing the slow cooker and refrigerating the food can also reduce energy consumption, as you won’t be using the slow cooker for an extended period. This can be especially useful for those concerned about energy efficiency and who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

Read: How To Keep Hamburgers Warm In A Slow Cooker?

Cons:

  1. Food safety: One of the main concerns with stopping and restarting a slow cooker is the safety of the food. If the food is left in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F for too long, there is a risk of bacterial growth and foodborne illness [2]. This can be especially concerning if the food is perishable or contains raw ingredients, such as raw meat.
  2. Quality: Stopping and restarting the slow cooker can also impact the quality of the food. For example, reheating the food can change texture and flavor and may cause it to become overcooked or dry. Additionally, repeated heating and cooling cycles can also affect the overall quality of the dish.
  3. Preparation time: Stopping and restarting the slow cooker can also require additional preparation time, such as refrigerating and reheating the food, washing and drying the slow cooker, and cleaning any associated utensils and containers. This can add time and effort to the cooking process and may need to be more practical for busy people.

Tips On How To Safely Stop & Restart A Slow Cooker

Kitchenaid Slow Cooker
  1. Refrigerate quickly: As soon as you stop the cooking process, transfer the food to a clean, airtight container and refrigerate it as soon as possible. This will help to slow down the growth of bacteria and ensure that the food remains safe to consume.
  2. Reheat thoroughly: When you’re ready to restart the slow cooker, reheat the food to a temperature of 165°F or higher. This will kill any bacteria that may have developed during the storage period.
  3. Avoid contamination: Be sure to wash your hands before handling the food, and use clean utensils and containers to store and reheat the dish.
  4. Consider the food: Some types of food may not hold up well after being stopped and restarted, so it’s essential to consider the dish’s ingredients and desired outcome. For example, delicate dishes like soups or stews may not hold up, as well as heartier dishes like roasts or casseroles.
  5. Use a food thermometer: To ensure that the food has reached the safe temperature of 165°F or higher, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the dish. But can you slow cook without a slow cooker?

FAQs

u003cstrongu003eHow long can the food remain in the slow cooker without refrigeration?u003c/strongu003e

Food should be kept in a slow cooker for at most 2 hours without refrigeration. The u0022danger zoneu0022 between 40°F and 140°F is the temperature range in which bacteria can grow rapidly, and food that remains in this range for too long can become unsafe to eat. 

u003cstrongu003eCan you reheat food that has been cooked in a slow cooker?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, you can reheat food cooked in a slow cooker. It is essential to ensure the food is reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F or higher to kill any bacteria that may have developed during storage.

u003cstrongu003eIs it OK to leave the slow cooker on low overnight?u003c/strongu003e

It is generally safe to leave a slow cooker on low overnight. However, it is recommended to keep an eye on the dish during the cooking process and ensure the slow cooker is in good working condition, has a tight-fitting lid, and is on a stable surface.

Final Thoughts

Stopping and restarting a slow cooker is technically possible, but it is not recommended. 

Pausing the cooking process can affect the texture and taste of the food and may pose food safety risks.

Therefore, it is essential to monitor the slow cooker’s temperature and quickly return it to the appropriate heat setting to minimize any adverse effects. 

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s instructions before stopping and restarting a slow cooker.

References:

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/temperature/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html
Shari Mason

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