Please don’t use delay timers in slow cooking!



A lot of people think it’s a good way to get longer cooking times from their slow cooker by using a delay timer in the power point to make the slow cooker come on at a later time than when they leave the house.

Several electricians have advised us they are NOT safe for slow cookers (they are intended more for lights, electrical equipment/machines etc NOT a slow cooker with a heating element) or the load that would put on them

Also using a timer means your food sits out on the bench for hours before it starts cooking breeding nasties
Or even worse after its cooked and it switches off completely ?

Some I’ve seen advise others to start the recipe with frozen food to lengthen the time – Don’t do this.
Check out our blog on this topic on our website blog page as to why… NEVER slow cook frozen meat

NOT safe :/
NOT worth the risk to your home or your family :/

You’ll often even find it mentioned in your slow cooker manual just like this >>



Use a slow cooker with a built in timer. It will switch to KEEP WARM mode after cooking time, rather than turn it off, to keep your food at safe temps.  These keep warm modes are often limited to 2hrs in most cookers, 4hrs in others.

Use one of the recipes from our 8hr+ recipe category in the drop down category menu of our recipe page.
Some of those will go even longer 🙂

Use a FULL slow cooker to get longer cooking times without burning

Go for recipes like roasts, shanks, soups & silversides etc that cook longer on work days

Slow cook on days off rather then long work days

Choose larger cuts of meat/veg that take longer to cook

Add additional fluid to minimise drying out during cooking

If a recipe is on high you could convert it to one that cooks on low (assuming it doesn’t need high to rise/bake etc)

Have your recipe ready and ask a family member to add it to the slow cooker and turn on for you at a later set time.

Check out our blog on 8HR+ slow cooking >>


And please … cook smart – cook safe ?

We have a lot of new members and beginner slow cookers and we do not want anyone to follow dangerous advice that could put them or their family at risk ?

We hope instead that we have given you all the safety information you need and the tips to overcome your problem in a safe method instead ?

Happy Slow Cooking!

15 thoughts on “Please don’t use delay timers in slow cooking!”

  1. Very safe and timely (pardon the puns) advice. Most especially the tip about not leaving uncooked food in the slow cooker for ANY length of time. Thank you Pulene

  2. Can I use a rice cooker as a slow cooker it has a max (boil) and a keep warm setting. Presumably one could use max to thoroughly heat the food then warm to slow cook it (the cooker uses the weight of the cooked rice to set it in to warm mode however this would not happen with the weight of the food in their so it would be done manually). Please advise. Regards Dave

  3. What would help me is if someone would produce a small size cooker with delayed timer. I have one of the big ones but I don’t need that much food. Companies rarely consider the needs of the single working people. And there are many of us. I was considering using a timer on my small cooker. So glad I looked this up and found your advice. I’ll have to keep cooking a small amount in a big pot! Thanks for the info.

  4. I find it ridiculous that they don’t make slow cookers with delayed timer. Not everyone uses them for meat. I use it for my steel cooked oats. I usually sleep longer than the cook time and want it to start a couple hours after I go to sleep.

      1. Slow cookers are now made with WiFi that can be turned on with your phone. Are you saying these are not safe with food sitting in them until it’s turned on?

        1. Delay start timers are safe for non perishable items only
          They won’t recommend raw meat and other items that can spoil sit out on a bench multiplying harmful bacteria no.
          However many timers are about switching to warm AFTER cooking. Not the same thing as that’s ok 🙂

  5. Well, my slow cooker is basically a useless waste of space then. I work in a factory, and sorry, in this day and age, if you want to eat then there’s no such thing as an 8 hr work day. 10 is our average, and leaving food on the “warm” setting for two hours just basically overcooks everything to the point of being mush. I’d rather take my chances with a delayed start.

    1. Gosh Sharon not sure why you would think that 8hrs is the maximum recipe we have?? .. that’s not true however 🙂
      Happy I can help direct you in the right direction now 🙂

      We have an 8hr + recipe category just for days like this … you simply choose it in the drop down category options on the recipe page 🙂
      AND a 8hr + Slow Cooking blog with lots of great tips to extend the time of your cooking WITHOUT taking such unnecessary and avoidable risks with yourself and those who have to eat your cooking.

      Easy as 🙂
      Happy Slow Cooking!!!

  6. The thought of leaving something like mince, chicken or in fact any raw meat in a slow cooker on any sort of delay system, fills me with dread. Especially since SCers don’t get really, really hot enough to kill any bacteria which may have developed whilst on delay.
    And even more so for people like me who live in the tropics or sub tropics.
    Having said that, although maybe not tropical, would you trust your meal in summer heat, on the bench top, with a delayed start, anywhere in an Australian summer? I certainly wouldn’t.

    Don’t take the chance. Listen to Paulene’s very sage advice. And don’t risk food poisoning…at any time of year???

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