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Can I Leave Slow Cooker On For 24 Hours (What’s The Longest Time)

Slow cookers are perhaps the biggest culinary godsend for those amongst us with hectic, busy, and frustrating lives. Who wants to come home from a long and tiring day at work and then slave away at the stove, cooking a fresh meal?

No one! Slow cookers make it easy to dump all of your favorite ingredients into one pot and leave them to cook over the course of the day, while you get on with your life.

Slow cookers can be used to make filling dishes like chilis and stews that are ready for consumption as soon as you get home. But many people often worry about leaving their slow cooker on while out of the house, worrying that the intense temperatures, left unchecked, could prove a fire hazard.

Slow Cooker

Many people, as an extension of the usual anxieties surrounding slow cookers, wonder how long they can actually be left in operation before they may become dangerous. Can you leave a slow cooker on for 24 hours?

What’s the longest time you can do? It can be tough to find a clear answer, so we’ve done the hard part for you. Read on!

Can I Leave My Slow Cooker On for 24 Hours?

Yes. You can leave a slow cooker on for more than 24 hours at a time. This is definitely possible with the general settings of most slow cooker devices. However, you should be wary that you try to avoid it where possible.

Leaving a slow cooker operating for days at a time can lead to long-term damage for your slow cooker.

Some slow cooker devices, especially newer models, or models that aren’t any older than five years, are better suited to handling long-term tasks, while older slow cookers are not. Thus, you should make sure to take note of the age of a slow cooker.

Newer models of slow cookers also offer a greater sense of control. You can more easily control the temperature of a newer model, thanks to built-in LED displays and buttons which allow you to choose a precise temperature.

It is through the use of these efficient controls that you could set your slow cooker to operate for over 24 hours. Many recommend that if you are planning on using a slow cooker for periods over 24 hours, that you set it to operate at a slightly lower temperature.

This is so that the cooker does not become overloaded, doesn’t consume too much electricity, and so that the food does not become burnt.

What’s the Longest Time I Can Leave My Slow Cooker On?

Most common slow cookers do not allow you to exceed over 20 hours of cooking time.

There are very few recipes that require more than 20 hours of continuous cooking to create, so most slow cookers are built to automatically shut off at the 20-hour mark. This is in the interest of your safety, and the efficiency of your slow cooker.

Of course, you can overrule the automatic shut-off of a slow cooker, if you wish, and simply reactivate it at the 20-hour mark. However, we strongly recommend against this.

This automatic shut-off is there for a reason, as the average slow cooker simply cannot handle operating past that point, and you run the risk of permanently damaging your slow cooker which could be expensive to repair. 

Slow cookers can operate for however long you want them to, but they are not built to operate that long, and will likely become damaged or break down outright from improper or excessive usage.

What is the Maximum Amount of Food I Can Place in a Slow Cooker?

This will definitely depend on the model of slow cooker that you have. Do you have a modern model?

Many modern slow cooker models are built to be more efficient and to more effectively carry the temperature around the entirety of whatever dish you cook within it. This means that you can put a larger amount of food into such slow cookers.

Older slow cookers may require that you cook slightly fewer ingredients at one time. so that they can more effectively keep the heat circulating around efficiently so that your food comes out tasting more satisfying.

You should aim to fill your slow cooker to around two-thirds full, to achieve the absolute best result and to ensure that your slow cooker can work efficiently. 

Cooking in a Slow Cooker


So now we know. You technically can set your slow cooker to operate for longer than 20 hours on a single cycle, but this is strongly recommended against. It can cause damage to the slow cooker itself, can significantly waste electricity, risks burning otherwise good food, and may even create a fire hazard.

Most slow cooker recipes only require around 8 hours of continuous cooking, so you should never, realistically, need to set it to operate for over 24 hours at a time. 

Most slow cookers will also actively seek to keep themselves, and you, safe. Most slow cookers will automatically shut off once they have exceeded a certain amount of time. Usually, this is set at around 20 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Raw Meat In A Slow Cooker?

Absolutely. Any ingredients that you place into a slow cooker will be facing intense but slow temperatures for a long period, and thus will be cooked thoroughly throughout by the time you set about dishing the meal out.

Quite a few recipes ask that you brown meats before placing them into your slow cooker so that you can achieve an even more rich and complex taste, but this is an entirely optional step.

Can A Slow Cooker Catch Fire?

Slow cookers are built to operate for long periods without risking lighting dangerous fires, so the likelihood of your combusting while you are out of the house is incredibly low. However, it could still happen with improper care.

To prevent your slow cooker from catching fire, ensure that it has a good amount of space on your counter, that it is in a room with a stable temperature, and that none of the openings for the slow cooker are blocked off.

Does A Slow Cooker Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Despite operating for long and extended periods, slow cookers actually do not consume too much electricity at all.

At the absolute highest, most slow cookers will only ever use up to 210 watts! This makes them not only a great time-saving solution but also a great way to help the environment.

Jess Smith


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