Slow cookers are reliable kitchen tools. They make it simple to prepare a hot dinner during the day, making them popular with many busy families. However, many people wonder when it’s time to replace their appliances.
Slow cookers can last between six to 10 years, on average before it needs replacing. You should replace your slow cooker when it’s no longer heating up to food-safe temperatures, which should reach 185℉ (85℃). When you notice signs of damage, you will need to upgrade as well.
There are several different ways to determine if your slow cooker is still safe to use. If it can’t reach food-safe temperatures, then you may be accidentally undercooking your food, so keep reading to find out more.
How Long Do Slow Cookers Last?
Slow cookers can last decades before needing replacing. Older models don’t get as hot as the new ones since they tend to wear out. However, many people still appreciate the vintage cookers since they don’t overheat food and dry it out.
If you use your slow cooker often, it’s not going to last as long.
The heating elements inside the appliance wear out with use and time, making the cooker not get to the correct temperature. Overall, you can expect your slow cooker to last until it loses heating efficiency.
Slow Cooker Lifespans
While vintage slow cookers can last decades, modern models don’t have as long of a lifespan. Modern slow cookers usually have a life expectancy between six and ten years, depending on how often you use them.
Vintage slow cookers are built from better, longer-lasting materials than the models you find today, which is why the older ones have a much longer lifespan. Some people inherit their slow cookers from their parents or grandparents, and they still run just fine.
When To Replace a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers last until they no longer reach a safe cooking temperature. You will want to use a food thermometer to check that your slow cooker is getting hot enough. If it doesn’t get hot, it is time to get a newer model.
You may also want to replace it if the cooker’s insert isn’t large enough anymore.
The insert should only hold a small portion of its size, meaning you need to get a larger one if you consistently fill it to the brim with food. You should still hold onto the smaller one if you have space for it, as the small size works great in a pinch for making side dishes for your dinners.
In short, slow cookers last a very long time.
Many old appliances are still in use today and are fine to use unless they have outdated safety features or the heating elements no longer work properly. As long as you make sure the appliance is safe, you can continue using it for as long as you want to.
You Want More Features
Older slow cookers didn’t come with timers like the ones on modern models. If your model is missing some of the features you want, there is no harm in upgrading to a newer one.
Having a timer can give you more peace of mind. Many people like to leave their slow cooker on while they sleep or are at work. If you can’t be there to shut off the cooker when it’s ready, having a timer feature can significantly benefit you.
Overall, you will want to consider whether your old slow cooker does everything you need it to while still being a safe option.
Is Your Slow Cooker Still Safe?
If your slow cooker isn’t safe anymore, it’s time to upgrade.
Over the years, the standards for safe cooking appliances changed. Unfortunately, that means that many beautiful vintage cookers are no longer helpful for cooking. You will need to know whether to shelve your device or continue using it.
It Has Old Design Features
Vintage slow cookers are not safe to use by today’s standards. So, if you inherited your cooker, you will want to check for these old features:
- The insert is non-removable and connected to the heating element.
- The cord has an outer layer of fabric, which is a fire hazard.
- The vent hole is very large.
- There’s an open space for a spoon that lets the steam out.
- It doesn’t have a timer, and you leave it on while not at home.
Overall, you want to make sure your slow cooker is safe to use.
While the odds of your cooker catching fire is very slim, it still would benefit you to ensure your model meets all of today’s safety features. If you stay home with the slow cooker running, you might not necessarily need a timer.
The Cooker Doesn’t Get Hot Enough
The biggest reason to buy a new slow cooker is that it doesn’t get as hot as it should anymore. You don’t want to eat undercooked food, so it is essential that your cooker reaches the proper internal temperatures.
If you are looking to replace your cooker with a new model, I recommend the Oval 7-Quart Crock-Pot from Amazon. The model comes with a large insert, which is perfect for cooking for large families. Plus, it is made well and sure to last you several years.
Older slow cookers might have worn-out heating elements. That means they aren’t working at their best, which can cause the temperature of the insert to be a little low.
You want to make sure your current model is cooking your food correctly. If you want to test your current slow cooker model for the correct temperature, let’s take a look at a couple of factors.
What Temperature Your Food Should Be
Different foods need to reach certain temperatures to be safe to eat. For instance, chicken needs to reach 165℉ (about 74℃) to cook correctly. Anything less than that, and the chicken still contains bacteria.
Other foods require slightly lower and higher temperatures, making 185℉ (85℃) ideal for your slow cooker to reach.
These appliances take longer to heat and kill bacteria, so you want them to run a little high.
How to Test a Slow Cooker’s Temperature
Testing a slow cooker’s internal temperature is easy, even though most people have never done it before. Start by filling the inset halfway with water, then set the cooker to “Low” and don’t touch it for eight hours.
You will want to be sure the lid is tight and secure before leaving.
Once the time passes, take the lid off and stick a food thermometer into the water. It should read 185℉ (85℃). If it’s higher than that temperature, your slow cooker runs hot. You may need to adjust the setting for specific recipes. If it’s lower, you need to replace it.
There is no way to repair a cooker that isn’t reaching the proper temperature anymore. When it doesn’t get hot enough, bacteria in the food aren’t dying off, which can be dangerous.
The Lid Is Warped
Next, you will need to check on the lid’s fit.
If there is ample space between the cover and the ceramic section, you may want to replace it. The top can warp over time, which allows steam to escape- leading to longer cooking times. If you don’t want to dry out your meals, then replacing the cooker is a good option.
Slow cookers work by holding steam and using that hot air for cooking the food.
When you let it escape, the cooker might not be reaching a food-safe temperature. It’s always better to be safe than sorry if the lid no longer fits properly.
Can You Replace a Slow Cooker Part?
If just the lid or the stoneware insert broke, you could easily replace it.
Many name-brand slow cookers, such as Crock-Pot, have replacement parts online. So, if just the insert cracked, you can easily swap it without buying a whole new slow cooker.
Or, you can even replace the power cord if you need to. This information is good to know because most people will throw away the appliance when the cable snaps.
Replacing single parts can save you a lot of money too.
You can even find some universal parts on Amazon.com. For instance, this Universal Pot Lid Replacement is cheap and likely to fit on your slow cooker. However, you may need to check the brand’s website directly for more specific parts.
Once you install the new parts, make sure you rerun the temperature test. You need to know that the slow cooker is still reaching food-safe heat levels before you eat out of it.