Is your slow cooker too hot and burning your food? There might not be enough water in your recipes. Here’s 5 quick fixes!

The whole purpose of having a slow cooker is to prepare meals that taste great and remain juicy and flavorful. When your appliance starts overheating and burning your food, the convenience and satisfaction it provides starts fading away.

Depending on your specific situation, the solution to the problem might be more or less technical.

To help you answer your most burning questions (pun intended), I’ve prepared a list below with 5 possible causes and fixes to your overheating, food-charring issue.

Now, without further ado, let’s get you back to serving juicy meats and soft veggies!

Your Slow Cooker Could Be Running Too Hot Due To…

  • Dry Food
  • Not using enough water
  • A faulty timer/temperature switch
  • A broken thermal fuse
  • A malfunctioning heating element

The first question you should be asking yourself to start solving this issue is, “is there something wrong with my slow cooker, or is there something I might be doing?”

Sometimes, skim-reading through the user manual can create difficulties, so make sure you give it another read through if necessary.

Now, let’s take a look at the possible causes of this issue.

#1 Your Food Is Too Dry

Dried up food can burn much more easily

90% of a slow cooker’s purpose is keeping the food juicy and tasty, right?

These appliances harness the moisture within our food (meat, vegetables, etc.) to cook it and preserve it as best they can. When you put excessively dry ingredients in your slow cooker, these are much more prone to burning than other, better hydrated foods.

This does not mean that there are restrictions as to what you can cook in your slow cooker, you just have to adjust the way you prepare them.

Solution: Give your user manual another read, there’s probably a section in there, indicating how dryer foods should be processed.

Whenever you have burned food, try to identify what ingredients suffered the most damage and take it from there. If you absolutely must cook drier ingredients in your slow cooker, more often than not, reducing your cooking time or temperature will do the trick.

#2 You’re Not Using Enough Water

This problem is mildly related to the previous point.

Remember that, with slow cookers, it’s all about moisture.

Sometimes the issue is not that you’re cooking dry ingredients, but that you’re not using enough water for your recipes to begin with.

Hand filling slow cooker with water
Every slow cooker needs some water to work properly. If you don’t put any water, the ingredients will be burned.

When a slow cooker operates with a suboptimal amount of water, the entire process can be compromised, drying up the food and burning the ingredients.

Solution: Always make sure to follow to a tee the indications for the recipe you’re trying to prepare. Slow cookers are famous for requiring precise amounts of liquid to do their job properly.

Too little, your food will burn, too much, you’ll have spillage.

#3 Your Timer/Temperature Switch Is Faulty

A broken switch could cause higher than normal temperatures

What happens when the switch that regulates your slow cooker’s temperature breaks? Your food burns, that’s what!

When you have a faulty temperature or timer switch, no matter what settings you dial  in on the external knobs of your slow cooker, results will vary.

The problem could range from a loose connection to a fully broken switch. In either case, you’ll have to get in there and fix it.

For this, and all the repairs below, you’ll need:

  • A screwdriver (cross or flat, depending on your model)
  • Pliers (optional)
  • A multimeter to test conductivity

Solution: Unplug your slow cooker and turn it upside down.

You’ll have to remove the screws on the bottom to expose the internal components and wiring. Once that is done, you can identify the switch behind the external timer/temperature knobs and use your multimeter to test for conductivity.

No conductivity means the switch is done for, and you’ll have to replace it.

slow cooker
The temperature knob might be worn out from use and time. In this case, you will need to replace it with a new one.

#4 You Have a Broken Thermal Fuse

Thermal fuses are the guardians of your slow cooker and your home. They’re responsible for detecting and regulating your appliance’s internal temperature to make sure there’s no overheating or fire!

When your food keeps burning or your slow cooker keeps getting too hot, it could mean your thermal fuse is no longer able to detect excessive temperatures.

If you suspect this to be the problem, you should not wait to get this fixed, as it is vital to keep things running smoothly and safely when operating your slow cooker.

Solution: Repeat the steps in the previous point, once you have exposed the internal components, do a quick Google search to find what your thermal fuse looks like. After identifying it, use your trusty multimeter again and test for conductivity,

Same case as with your temperature/timer switch. If there’s no conductivity, it’s time to make a trip to the hardware store.

#5 You Have a Bad Heating Element

A faulty HE can make your slow cooker’s temperatures skyrocket

There are many important parts within a slow cooker, but none are as vital as the heating element.

This nifty little component is responsible for transforming the energy from your electrical outlet into heat through a transformer and complex internal processes.

While your thermal fuse is responsible for detecting the heat in your slow cooker, the heating element is what generates it.

More often than not, if your heating element is faulty, your slow cooker won’t heat up at all. That being said, it’s also possible for the malfunction to make the component generate excessive amounts of heat.

This, combined with a broken thermal fuse, could be the reason behind your charred meals.

Solution: Repeat the same process from the two previous points and test for conductivity. If there is none, it’s time to visit your local hardware store!

Conclusion

Slow cookers are the global go-to for juicy meats, soft, steamy vegetables, and full-bodied stews.

When your appliance does the exact opposite of that, it can be…inconvenient at best.

When using with your slow cooker, make sure to follow all the instructions from your manufacturer, and measure your liquids precisely.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, your food-burning problem might have nothing to do with a faulty component. That being said, even if you do have a bad thermal fuse, heating element or timer/temperature switch, fixing them is almost always quite simple.

Taking your slow cooker apart is very easy and should take no longer than 10 minutes at the most.

Having a multimeter at home can save you a lot of money in repairs you might not need, so don’t be afraid to get one! And while I will always encourage you to try and fix your own appliances whenever possible, remember that some jobs are just too technical, and that’s alright.

If at any point you feel overwhelmed, make sure to call a technician you trust to help you fix the issue or get the part you require. Keep safety in mind at all times and remember to unplug your slow cooker before tampering with it.

Thanks for sticking with me, I hope your issue was resolved. If you found this article useful, why not keep learning from our other great sources below?

Happy cooking!