Why Do Slow Cookers Crack? (Plus Some Safety Tips!)


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I love my slow cookers. I’ve used them hundreds of times and sometimes left them on overnight or while I was at work. But lately, I’ve heard concerns about them cracking. So I decided to investigate why do slow cookers crack.

Here’s what I found out:

Crock-Pots and other brands of slow cookers will only crack under 3 circumstances (unless they were defective to begin with). They will crack due to quick drastic temperature changes, if you try and use it on a stovetop or if you set it down too hard on the counter.

But there’s a lot more to dig into, so let’s keep looking at some of the top related questions.

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

What are the top causes of slow cookers cracking?

Cracking is most likely to occur when you place a hot slow cooker into cold water.

For instance sometimes after we’ve plated the food from the Crock-Pot, it’s tempting to stick the insert right into the sink and fill it with water to soak.

Doing that while the ceramic insert is still hot, could definitely cause your slow cooker to crack if the water was cold enough.

Setting the ceramic insert down on a hard surface with too much force could also cause cracks. In some cases, those cracks might be microscopic but the next time the slow cooker is heated, it could cause the cracks to break apart.

Lastly, Crock-Pot themselves recommend to always fill your slow cooker at least 1/3 of the way full.

Also, without at least some liquid in your slow cooker, you not only risk scorching (ie: burning) your food or drying it out, but if left on for too long, there’s also a slight possibility of cracking.

Lastly, if the ceramic insert from your slow cooker is in the refrigerator with leftovers you want to warm up, make sure it comes to room temperature before any reheating.

Do this by setting it on a kitchen counter until it no longer feels cold.

Can you fix a cracked Crock-Pot or slow cooker?

The short answer is no.

While you could super glue the crack, it’s food safety would certainly be questionable and the fix might not hold up to the heat over time.

Plus as inexpensive as slow cookers are these days, why bother with trying to fix a cracked Crock-Pot?

Is it safe to leave the slow cooker on overnight?

Most Crock Pot owners aren’t entirely certain how to use them or if it’s safe to leave your slow cooker cooking all night.

Fear not! Slow cookers are actually designed to be left on for long periods of time (hence the name).

Thus, it’s perfectly safe to leave your slow cooker turned on overnight.

That doesn’t mean the wrong combination of ingredients might not scorch on the bottom or that a liquid filled too high might not splatter on your counter.

But as a general rule, it’s totally fine to leave your slow cooker going all night while you sleep. Just keep it at least 6″ away from the walls and make sure the cord is not near the sink or any liquids.

Is it safe to leave a slow cooker on while at work?

Just like with using it at night, it’s totally fine to leave your slow cooker on all day while you are at work.

But when you’re planning to be out of the house for hours, ideally set it to low which is most typically the setting you would use for 8 or more hours.

Ideally, also make sure your Crock-Pot is on a heat-proof surface like granite countertops.

Also, make sure the slow cooker is on a totally flat surface. Tile countertops can sometimes be bumpy and you don’t want to risk it tipping over and cracking or spilling. This is especially true if you have cats that like to jump on countertops.

Some slow cookers allow you to seal the lid closed which helps prevent a mess.

Want further confirmation?

On Crock-Pot’s FAQ page they state “Crock-Pot® Slow Cookers are safe for countertop cooking for extended periods of time. If holding food on the warm setting for a long time, cut back on the cook time accordingly to reduce overcooking.”

Can I leave a slow cooker on warm all day?

The warm setting on most Crock-Pots and other brands of slow cookers is designed to hold your temperature.

Thus, right out of the gate you should know it’s not meant to heat food. So make sure your food is thoroughly cooked (especially important for meats and poultry).

Thus, for instance, if you cooked a brisket all night and want to have it for dinner, you can set it to warm before you leave for work.

Just make sure to add plenty of sauce to it, and it should hold temp just fine all day.

Can you put a Pyrex dish in a slow cooker?

The short answer, which surprised me, is yes.

Stephanie O’Dea, New York Times best-selling slow-cooker cookbook author confirms it.

Simply put your ingredients into a small oven-safe glass baking or Pyrex-style container and set that inside the slow cooker.

Can you put a slow cooker dish in the oven?

The short answer here is also yes.

Virtually all brands of slow cookers are microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe. Do not, however, use them on a stove top or over an open flame of any kind.

Heating a slow cooker on a stovetop could definitely be another reason slow cookers crack.

As always though, since there are so many different brands of slow cookers, it doesn’t hurt to verify with your manufacturer.

Are slow cookers toxic?

The concern with slow cookers comes from a 2004 investigation by Bill Gebhardt of Salt Lake City’s KUTV.

He was investigating possible lead exposure by lead leaching into the food as the Crock-Pots got hot.

He found that about 20% of slow cookers were leaching small amounts of lead into the food cooked in them.

In general, when ceramic containers are heated to 80°, they release 10 times the amount of lead than they do unheated. Since slow cookers heat over 250° he felt it was worth investigating. Acidic foods tend to release more lead when heated as well.

Of course now, over 15 years later, virtually all brands of slow cookers state that their products do not contain leaded glaze. They also state that their slow cooker is in accordance with the FDA Compliance Policy (which states that leach levels of 1 mcg/mL are acceptable).

Luckily the FDA maintains a list of products which have tested positive for lead and there are NO slow cookers on that list.

Can slow cookers catch fire?

In a word, not if it’s in good working condition.

Almost anything that plugs into a wall could catch fire. After all, we are pulling electricity through a wire and into an item. The plug could be faulty, the wire could be faulty, or the appliance could be faulty.

That being said, if your slow cooker is in perfect working order, with no broken switches or frayed cords, you should be just fine.

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about do slow cookers crack?

In this article, we took a look at the concern lots of Crock-Pot lovers have over safety.

We examined the truths, lies, and myths that float around the internet about slow cookers catching on fire, rumors about toxicity and if there is lead in Crock-Pots. But we also answered some basic safety questions like whether you can leave a slow cooker on while you sleep or go to work.

Ultimately, though, we answered the question do slow cookers crack, and we explored exactly what might make them do that so you and your family can be safe and still take advantage of these awesome small kitchen appliances!

What’s your favorite slow cooker recipe?

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.


Photo credits:

Beef stew in the slow cooker by Ruth Hartnup is licensed by CC2.0


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Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, blogging on his main blog over at newmiddleclassdad.com or, of course, in the kitchen.

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