How long can Slow Cooker stay on warm?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, ‘How long can Slow Cooker stay on warm?’. We will study how a slow cooker works and why it might be unsafe to leave food in a slow cooker on the warm setting for a long time.

How long can Slow Cooker stay on warm?

The slow cooker can stay on warm for about 2-4 hours, depending on the ambient temperature and how long it was exposed to the Danger Zone.

When you leave the slow cooker on warm, the appliance cuts off power and turns itself off within 24 hours and no more heat is allowed to reach the pan or the food in.

Do not leave the food in the slow cooker for more than 2 to 4 hours on warm.

How do Slow Cookers work?

A slow cooker could take up to 24 hours to cook your food. Slow cookers make your life easy and, you can forget about the food getting burnt for at least a few hours. The automatic option lets you keep the food warm, so you can forget about reheating or worrying about spoiling. However, if your food is in the slow cooker, this does not mean; it is resistant to spoilage. If it is on, you risk the food getting over-cooked, or spoiling in the warm setting.

While older slow cookers demanded that you manually switch the setting to warm, the newer ones do so automatically. The temperature sensors turn the cooker off, maintain a temperature or switch to warm mode.

However, if your slow cooker could maintain a designated temperature, it may not be safe to do.

Why is storing food in the slow cooker on warm for long a breach of food safety?

According to the USDA, food will become unsafe if kept at a temperature greater than 140 Fahrenheit for over 2 hours.

A slow cooker will not get the food warm enough to prevent bacterial contamination.

Transfer the food from the slow cooker to the refrigerator; if the food in the slow cooker drops near to room temperature.

Refrigeration is significant when it comes to slowing down food spoilage. However, food still spoils in a refrigerator at a slower and safer pace. The temperature of the fridge should be at least 40 degrees.  

The USDA also suggests that the temperature of 40 F to 140 F labels as The Danger Zone. This range of temperature encourages bacterial growth. Spoilage is usually a quality issue in its initial stage and does not cause illness. However, gradually the food becomes a complete hazard.

If food stays at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you might need to throw it away. The food in the slow cooker must not make it to such a vulnerable temperature; otherwise, the food will unfit for consumption.  Room temperature or higher encourages bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning and make a person sick.

Other FAQs about Slow Cooker which you may be interested in.

How long can you leave food in a Slow Cooker?

How long can you leave food in a slow cooker? (warm setting versus turned off)

If the slow cooker completely turns off, the food may stay safe for a shorter while. As the temperature changes more sharply from the cooking temperature to room temperature, you put your food at risk.

In such a case, you can leave your food at room temperature for 2 hours only, starting from the time the food inside the slow cooker has cooled down.

Even though you must not leave the slow cooker in the warm setting for long, it will stay safer for a while longer, as the temperature does not deviate much drastically from the cooking temperature.

However, the food in the warm setting will spoil within 2-4 hours of being in the cooker. 

The slow cooker is a popular cooking appliance. The slow cooker has made it easier to prepare meals. However, you can learn to make the best of a slow cooker efficiently and safely. 

Some food such as vegetables and chicken could become mushy if you leave them in the slow cooker for long. Even if the food in the slow cooker does not spoil, it could be detrimental to the texture and the quality.  

To avoid trouble after you start cooking, use the appropriate temperature setting and the right-sized ingredients. Also, avoid adding too much water to the cooker.

Unfortunately, if you are in the middle of cooking or warming in the slow cooker and an interruption occurs, your food might spoil.

In this brief guide, we answered the question, ‘How long can Slow Cooker stay on warm?’. We studied how a slow cooker works and why it might be unsafe to leave food in a slow cooker on the warm setting for a long time.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.