Hot Crockpots & Slow Cookers Can Harm Counters

Anyone using a crockpot or slow cooker knows that they get hot to the touch. You’re smart if you’re concerned about damage to the surface of whatever you put it on. This article covers common questions about using slow cookers on kitchen counter surfaces.

Also in this series:

Can you use a crockpot on a granite countertop?

The popularity of granite countertops has risen over the years, resulting in questions about the safety of placing hot items on the granite. My first instinct is that “it’s a rock, there’s no way I could damage it?” Guess what? You can.

It is not recommended to use any heated cooking appliance on a granite countertop. When a very hot object is placed directly on a cold surface, thermal shock can occur. The sudden temperature change, under certain conditions, can cause granite countertops to crack.

The “very hot object” is more a reference to taking a pot directly off the stove, or a casserole from the oven, and placing it directly on a granite surface. Some people have reported no problem using a crockpot or slow cooker on their granite countertops. Many cite the legs of the appliance as offering a buffer of protection from the granite.

Manufacturers of granite, marble, and quartz argue otherwise. 

Countertops susceptible to crockpot/slow cooker heat damage

Marble, granite, and quartz countertop heat resistance

Manufacturer’s of natural stone countertops are very protective of their product. They work hard to educate the public on the proper care of stone for continued years of future use. It is no wonder that they give words of caution when placing hot items on natural stone counters.

Rock Solid Creations recommends a barrier when placing hot objects on stone:

“When it comes to heat, proceeded with reasonable caution… It’s best practice to place a barrier of some kind between a slow cooker or pressure cooker and your quartz counter. While these things may not cause immediate damage to the surface, they could cause fading of that area with continued heat exposure.”

They also go on to say that “Sudden exposure to extreme heat could cause the quartz stone countertops to crack. The resin (non-stone) component of a quartz surface will become damaged at temperatures hotter than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.”  

Onur Marble Granite explains more in detail:

“Placing a very hot object directly on top of a cold surface results in a condition referred to as thermal shock…Under most conditions found in the kitchen, your countertops will be fine if you take a hot pan off the stove or a casserole out of the oven and place it on them. However there have been instances of countertops cracking when the conditions are just right. “

Silestone is an example of engineered stone with a much higher natural quartz content. This makes it a near peer to real natural element countertops. The StoneWorx website issues an equally stern warning regarding the use of  crockpots on engineered stone:

Do NOT use crock pots or electric skillets while in direct contact with your engineered quartz surfaces. Always place them on a trivet or cutting board to protect your countertop. (Review your electric appliance manual as a reference.) Silestone is a stone product. As with any natural stone, certain exposure to heat may cause cracks due to thermal shock.

Solid surface countertop heat resistance

Solid surface countertops are manufactured from a mixture of polymer and natural minerals, meaning there is more resin than natural stone elements. Corian is an example. There are hidden seams in Corian that don’t handle heat well. Why take a chance? Put protection down on the countertop before using.

Formica countertop heat resistance

Full disclosure: I’ve always used slow cookers on Formica countertops. Have I ever had a problem? No. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Issues that can happen from placing a hot item or appliance on Formica:

  • cracking
  • heat stain
  • warping
  • discoloring
  • melted glue causing Formica to pull away from surface

I don’t know about you, but if the manufacturers of stone countertops advise not to use slow cookers or crock pots on their products, I think Formica should be included as well.

Protecting your countertop from heat damage

Thankfully, there are options to protecting your prized countertops. It’s just a matter of getting into the habit of taking extra care, no matter what heat-generating appliance you use. 

Use the stovetop

Right there in front of you is the perfect answer: operate the crocktop or slow cooker on top of the stove. It is designed for heat. I would caution you to use both appliances at the same time. I am concerned about the plastic electric cord of the slow cooker coming into contact of the hot stove surface.

I’m speaking primarily when the oven is in operation. I would NEVER use the slow cooker on a stove top when one of the top heating elements is in use. That is not responsible – and too dangerous.

Other ways to protect your countertop

There are plenty of alternatives to protect your countertop. 

Note: I don’t trust the “heat resistant” tempered glass cutting boards. My mother had an embedded one in her countertop and it completely shattered when she put a hot pot from the stove on it. Maybe it wasn’t really heat resistant, since that was many years ago. The experience has stayed with me, I’m just not a fan of the product.

In Conclusion

As always, common sense rules. Do not take chances with your crockpot /slow cooker. Although you may have a long track record of using your slow cooker on kitchen countertops of various materials, the day will come your good luck ends.

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