Crock Pot Bread Baking (Fast Bread in a Slow Cooker)

crock pot bread

When I moved to the midwest I was introduced to Crock Pot cooking. I had never even seen a slow cooker before and had no idea the range of foods that could be created in a plug-in cooking pot. Since then I have had everything from No-Peek-Chicken, Swedish Meatballs and Peach cobbler, done in one of these magic devices. When my husband was an art director Aveda they had “crock pot parties,” which meant everyone plugged in their slow cookers at their desks and made a dish to share.  Brilliant! Maybe kids should bring crock pots to school and have healthy food cooking at their desks.

But, bread in a crock pot? Over the years we have gotten requests from readers to develop a method of baking our dough in a crock pot. I had my doubts, lots of them. I didn’t think the slow cooker could get hot enough, I thought it would take too long, I didn’t think it would bake through or have a nice crust and I resisted trying it. I was so convinced it would be a fail. Oh, how wrong I was. The crock pot does indeed get hot enough, and it takes less time than using  your oven, because the rising time is included in the baking. The only thing I got right was the crust, it is very soft and quite pale when it comes out of the slow cooker, but just a few minutes under a broiler and I got a gorgeous loaf. I am a convert and it is just perfect for summer baking when you don’t want to heat up your oven. You could even amaze your friends at work by baking a loaf under your desk!  *

1 pound dough (Click here for our No-Knead 5-Minute Bread Recipe. I used the Peasant Bread from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but the recipes from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day would also work.)

Form the dough into a ball and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. Lower the dough into the Crock-Pot (Slow Cooker), mine is a 4-quart, but I think it will work in any size.

Update: I just mixed up a fresh batch of ABin5 Peasant Bread Dough, let it rise for the two hours in the bucket, then formed a 1-pound loaf and stuck it in the crock pot.  So, you can use fresh or refrigerated dough.

Turn the temperature to high and put on the cover. (Not all crock pots behave the same, so you should keep an eye on the loaf after about 45 minutes to make sure it is not over browning on the bottom or not browning at all. You may need to adjust the time according to your machine.)

Bake for 1 hour (this will depend on your crock pot, you may need to increase or decrease the time. If you are using a 100% whole grain dough, you may want to go for a bit longer as well). You will have a fully baked loaf of bread, but the crust is very soft, almost like a steamed bun. To check for doneness I poked the top of the loaf and it felt firm. Before it is fully baked it felt soft and almost mushy when I gently pressed the top.

The bottom crust should be nice and crisp, but the top of the loaf will be quite soft. Some folks desire a softer crust, so you will love this loaf. If you want a darker or crisper crust…

crock pot bread

Stick the bread under the broiler for 5 minutes or until it is the color you like, with the rack positioned in the middle of the oven.

Let the loaf cool completely before slicing. Cutting into a hot loaf is tempting, but it may seem gummy and under-baked.

It is fantastic with butter or as a sandwich. I love this method!

Related Post:

Gluten-Free Crock-Pot Bread – another surprise from my slow cooker

Herb Crock-Pot Dinner Rolls - Making room in your oven at the holidays

Sweet Brioche in a Crock-Pot – in the mood for something sweet

*Check with your crock-pot’s manufacturer before trying this, since some model’s instructions specify that the pot has to be at least partially filled with liquid to avoid safety or durability problems.  And never bake  in a crock-pot unattended.

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734 thoughts on “Crock Pot Bread Baking (Fast Bread in a Slow Cooker)

  1. Here I was thinking that I was going to be able to bread from scratch in my crock pot only to find that I need a packet product. Guess I will stick to my bread maker

    • Hi Suzanne,

      Sorry if we gave you that impression, nothing is farther from the truth. Our recipe is just flour, water, yeast and salt. It is super easy and fast.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • The recipe above specifies a one-pound ball of dough, is that what you meant?

      • You mentioned the simple ingredients, but other than having to buy one of both of the books you recommended, what are the quantities? I read and reread and cannot find any mention.

      • You have to click on the active link that reads “Click here for our No-Knead 5-Minute Bread Recipe.” That will take you to a sample dough recipe. A limited number of our recipes are available free here on the site.

    • Suzanne – the “packet” you saw in the recipe page is the YEAST. Please check it out again, the recipe is there. :)

    • what are you talking about ? put your dough in the crockpot and bake.
      can make cakes etc no need for a “box” mix.
      we also cover the top of the crocKpot with a sheet of foil then put the lid onwhen using iy for baking.
      –but being you already have a bread maker–why bother with the crockpot for this ?

  2. Can you use home made bread dough or do you have to get the pre-made dough? I have a recipe that was handed down from my Grandmother for bread..This would be a really cool way to cook it.

    • Hi April,

      The dough we use is homemade, it isn’t one that is pre-made. Our recipe is just water, flour, salt and yeast, very simple, but delicious. You can try your Grandmother’s recipe, but I’ve only baked our dough in it, so I’m not sure how long it might take?

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Hi Karen,

      We’ve posted many, many of the doughs in the books, but our publisher has begged us not to publish all of them. If you don’t want to buy the books, you can find them at the library.

      Cheers, Zoë

  3. I am going to share this with all the teachers I know! When I worked in an elementary school library, I’d bring in different foods to match the books I read to kindergarteners. Imagine how heavenly the library (or classroom) would smell with bread baking!

  4. HI!

    I’ve used this method several times with varied recipes and my whole family loves it! But I have found that I don’t care for the overly cooked bottom crust, so I experimented. I placed my stainless steel vegetable steamer in the bottom of my crock pot, (the kind that expands to fit various pots, and has small post on the base.. as a kid I always thought they reminded me of a ufo ;) ) Then I placed my oiled parchment paper on top of that. This elevated my dough enough that it did not get as hard, but still turned out nicely golden. It did leave my bread with a slightly rounded bottom due to the shape of the steamer basket, but this will still be my favorite way to prepare it. -Thank you!

  5. Thank You to both of you for your kind and generous spirit. I love your site/blog (?). Would you please recommend which one(es) of the recipes will be the correct texture to add cranberries and walnuts?

  6. There is a bread ‘pan’ made for use in the crock pot. You can find them on E-bay. Bread from the crock pot goes back to the ’70s.

    • This is true – just be aware that these inserts were made for the older crocks, which were round. I kept mine when I gave my older pot away, only to find that it wouldn’t fit in the newer oblong crocks.

  7. Thank you for sharing! I do banana bread, and apple cinn. bread all the time in crock pot. Can’t wait to try this!

    • Hi Cat,

      Most zucchini breads are “quick” breads, so they will behave very differently than a yeast bread. It may work well, but the timing will likely be very different.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. I tried this recipe tonight, but it was not exceptional. Very, very flat, no dome whatsoever. I made the no-knead dough and let it sit 90 minutes to rise, then shaped it in a ball and put it in the crockpot and set it to high.

    Left it an hour, it didn’t rise. :( What did I do wrong? Does the dough have to sit in the refrigerator for a day?

    The flavor is fine, but it’s just… Not at all fluffy. Halp?

    • Hi Chelsea,

      Did the dough rise over the initial resting time? You may need to let it go the full 2 hours before shaping. This will give the yeast all the time it needs to create the gas.

      Was your dough fully baked through?

      Have you baked our bread in a traditional oven or is this your first experience with it?

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. So, after you mix the dough you don’t have to refrigerate it.. you can just put it into the Crock-Pot, right? Thanks!!! I can’t wait to make this bread!!

    • Hi Sharla,

      I have tried mixing it and putting it right in the crock pot, but I like the results better if you give it the initial 2 hour rise and then shape and bake it. If you are in a huge rush then give it a try without the 2 hour rise for the first loaf and then let the rest of the batch rest and refrigerate!

      Cheers, Zoë

      • In a hurry to rise? Try the microwave, with a small narrow container of 8oz water in the corner. Put in Lg nuf bowl, cover w/ wrap & nuke 10% (power 1) 3 minutes, rest 3min. Nuke again 3min, rest 6 min. Tada!

      • I use something similar for the traditional recipes. I heat a bowl of water, stick it in the corner of the microwave then put my dough in. It rises much better than if I leave it on the counter. (Maybe because our house is pretty cool). I just have to remember not to use the microwave for a couple of hours :-) )

  10. Someone had a question about procedure, and I have to admit to some confusion as well. Once you mix the dough, do you put it in the bucket and let it rise before shaping and putting in the crock? You do mention doing that at one point. Or do you shape and crock immediately after mixing? If you’ve done both, which way did you prefer? Thank you.

      • Denise – Thank you! I will look fwd to it! Have one but have not yet used it.

      • Did you try the solar oven yet? Just curious for my cousin who maybe buying one.

      • I haven’t had the chance to try the bread yet, but have used a solar oven quite a bit. I highly recommend it, if it’s a good brand. We even took ours to the park with the kids and baked a u-bake pizza! Talk about attention-getting!

  11. I am a Canadian living near DC, so I am more familiar with your climate than this one. It will almost reach 90 already this Memorial Day weekend, so with sadness, I was thinking of putting away my book (The New …) for the summer, when I decided to drag the slow cooker (a huge oval one) upstairs. I have 2 favourites that are not normally free-form and am wondering if you have suggestions for adaptation.

    The first is the oatmeal (-maple) bread. (I actually do something closer to the original oatmeal recipe.) Can I do this without a loaf pan, say as the batard shape, or is there something about this dough that will not hold up? I also do this one as a cinnamon raisin swirl and am afraid this would be a really weird shape without some help.

    The other is the pecan sticky buns (usually made with Challah). Could I do enough to cover the whole bottom? How would I get them out of there without making a horrible mess?

    I’m really enjoying the breads and altering or inventing a bit too! I tried the raspberry ring as a heart for Valentines! Thanks for the help and inspiration,

    Kara

    • Thanks Kara.

      The oatmeal-maple will work as a free-form, but the long duration of crock-pot baking may give that less-structured dough lots of time to spread sideways, as you’ve suspected. Worth the experiment.

      I think the pecan sticky buns may make a mess though, and be difficult to get out of the bottom of the crock. But again, may be worth the experiment.

      • Thanks for the comments Jeff,

        I have a small standard sized silicone loaf pan that will fit, without much distortion, inside the liner. Do you think the slight insulation of the pan would be worse than the spread of the oatmeal without it, or might it just take a bit longer? For the buns, I have some leftover large paper Panettone molds that might fit.

        By the way, the mini-Panettones were a huge hit last holiday season and they baked more evenly than the big ones. Stollen next year!

        Thanks again for keeping me occupied,

        Kara

      • I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t be able to put those pans into the crockpot, worth a try. As always, slow-cooker manufacturers won’t approve this sort of use of their product so we’re all on our own. Shouldn’t leave this baking unattended.

      • Hi Zoe,

        I thought you might be interested in how my oatmeal maple loaves turned out from the slow cooker.
        I did a cinnamon raisin loaf in my silicone pan in my slow cooker and it cooked well, but is a really funny saddle sort of shape because I removed the frame in order to get it to sit flat on the bottom. So, fine for family, probably not to give away. I think without the pan, that dough would have spread even more, so overall a success.
        I also used a small amount to make some caramel pecan buns using the same dough in a paper panettone mold. These turned out great, but if anyone else is going to try it, the tiny little holes in the bottom of these paper molds will leak the caramel topping, so I put a piece of parchment underneath. Next time, I’ll do them in the silicone loaf pan and it will be even easier to clean up, but funny-shaped for presentation.
        Today I’m doing some oval peasant loaves for a brunch tomorrow.
        Thanks for the inspiration,
        Kara

      • Hi Kara,

        This is so exciting, thanks for letting us know! I am thrilled that the sticky buns worked in the slow cooker, I have got to try it! :)

        Cheers, Zoë

      • Hi Jeff and Linda,

        I have used parchment for loaf breads. I recently bought a pair of 9.5 x 3.5 serving platters that I can fit in the sides of my oval slow cooker and gives a really nice loaf shape, without distortion, with parchment lining (sort of semi free form). I would expect that getting the pecan buns in, cooking them and getting them out again with only parchment would lead to spillage, at least with my large cooker, so I sure wouldn’t skimp!

        Kara

  12. I accidentally placed my dough in the frig before I let it rise. I am letting it rise now but I am concerned I ruined my double batch… :-( Have you ever experienced that? I lobe the bread and the recipes. This is my second time making it and I hope it turns out okay, despite my error. :-)

  13. Why not use a small metal cooling rack in the bottom of your pot. When I do a roast I use 1/2 potatoes to make a rack for the meat to sit on.

  14. Made 2 loaves yesterday in crockpot 1 plain & 1 with rosemary & garlic both turned out great! It did take longer in my crock (about 2 hrs) but maybe because I used a larger slowcooker. Just a few mins under the broiler before serving created a nice crispy brown crust! Whole family loved it so much I’m making another 2 loaves today to go with chicken Parmesan dinner tonight. I’m thinking garlic/basil and a cheddar/herb tonight. Thanks so much! It was great having fresh “baked” bread for dinner without heating the whole house on a warm summer day!!!

  15. I made a batch of the olive oil dough & have 4 small ham & cheese rolls in the slow cooker as I type! Love the book, love this site, love bread!

  16. We have a sailboat with very limited refrigerator space and a small unstable propane stove and oven. Oven space measures 13″x10″x6″. This past winter we spent our time at an anchor in the Bahamas . I refused to pay anywhere from $6.00 up for a loaf of bread so I made no-knead bread (different recipe)about every 3rd day. There is also no room for a pan of water in the oven but I keep a pizza stone(unglazed ceramic tile)in the oven for even heat distribution. I tend to bake the bread in a loaf pan. I do have your first bread book and have made it at home often. So I am wondering, since I have no storage for a bucket of dough on the boat, is the original recipe easily divided so that I can just make one loaf at a time? There is nothing like the smell of bread baking in an anchorage. I know the idea is to only spend 5 minutes a day, but there is a lot of extra time when you are swinging at an anchor with little else to do. I look forward to your response.

    • Hi Leslie,

      Sure, you can divide the recipes in half or even quarter it to fit your needs.

      Enjoy, it sounds like a lovely place to bake!

      Cheers, Zoë

  17. I have a recipe from Gold Medal Flour bag that says to use 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 TEASPOONS) All your other recipes on line or on YouTube say to use 1 TABLESPOON yeast. Which is correct?

    • A tablespoon is equal to 3 teaspoons, and the difference isn’t enough to change the performance meaningfully. The smaller amount corresponds to the amount in one packet, for people who are using those rather than the jars.

  18. I was wondering if I bought a pre-made dough, like the kind you would purchase at Winco for making pizza, would that work also? Or should I stick to the recipe of a home made batch?

    • Hi Angie,

      Our method of bread baking is so fast and easy that we never buy dough at the store anymore. I haven’t tried it with store bought dough, so I’m not sure. I hope you’ll give our method a try!

      Cheers, Zoë

  19. So I don’t have parchment paper but I have the rest….could I oil the crockpot instead or will it be bad times? I broke my foot a few months ago and things that don’t fit in a backpack are tricky to get up the stairs still since I am still using crutches and the hand rail.

    • Hi Katie,

      Sorry to hear about the foot. You can try using foil, just sprinkle it with a bit of flour first. I tried baking the dough in the crock pot without foil or parchment and it stuck to the bottom.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Cool. I did manage to get the parchment paper last night, just got fewer things and left the backpack partially open. Very excited to try this! :) Thank you for the response!

    • Hi Lindsey,

      I’ve found that some brands stick more than others, but sprinkling it with cornmeal before you place the ball of dough on it helps a lot.

      Thanks, Zoë

  20. I would think that you could get around the issue the manufacturers have of dry baking in a crock pot by placing a cup of water in it and then using a crock pot liner to put the dough on for baking. You could probably reuse the liner though you might want to put the bread on parchment paper so it won’t stick to the liner.

  21. Loved the flavor – made it twice. First time didn’t refrigerate it. Used bread flour (same amount). My dough was not as gooey as what was in the photo. Had to bake it 3 hours!

    Second baking from refrigerator took 2 hours. The parchment stuck to the loaf – I can’t pull it off. What happened?

    • What kind of parchment? Any chance it’s pastry parchment, which always sticks to bread dough? If that’s not it– probably due to the prolonged baking time. Next time– dust it more liberally with flour and you should be able to beat this problem. Or grease the paper itself before dropping the dough on there.

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