British clotted cream is a light, creamy, buttery spread that is the classic topping for scones. You can make it at home in your oven, but you can also make it in your slow cooker!
Can I make clotted cream in a slow cooker?
You all love our recipe for clotted cream in the oven (and if you’re looking for information about what clotted cream is, that is where you want to start), but many of you have asked us if it is possible to make clotted cream in a slow cooker.
Well, we did some testing in response to your questions, and we are happy to be able to share with you that, yes, you can make clotted cream in a slow cooker or crock pot!
But first we need to learn a bit about our slow cooker.
What temperature does a slow cooker cook at?
This gadget can seem like a bit of a mystery cooking tool, so as a part of our experiment we ran our two slow cookers through a series of tests to see exactly what they do.
Keep in mind that each slow cooker will have a slight variance in the way they reach temperature and what their target temperature is. But, they all are required to get above 160F (71C) which is the widely recognized safe cooking temperature.
Our larger slow cooker (a 6 quart Hamilton Beach) had a max temperature range of 180-200F (82-93C). Our smaller slow cooker (a 2.5 quart Crock Pot) had a max temperature range of 165-180F (74-82C).
We used a ThermoWorks Chef Alarm digital probe thermometer to keep track of these temperatures. One of the many nice things about this thermometer is that it keeps track of the lowest and highest temperatures that it picks up when it is on.
What is the difference between high and low on a slow cooker?
Our larger slow cooker took 5 hours to reach a max temperature, while our smaller slow cooker took only 3 hours on low to reach its max temperature.
On high, both slow cookers took around 1 ½ hours to reach the max temperature.
So how does a slow cooker work?
The bottom line is that a slow cooker slowly heats the contents of the crock to a temperature between 165 and 200F (74-93C) over a slow period.
On HIGH, the slow cooker will typically take 1 ½ – 2 hours to reach temperature.
On LOW, the slow cooker can take 3-5+ hours to reach max temperature.
What does this mean for making clotted cream in the slow cooker?
To make clotted cream, you have to heat cream over a low heat for a prolonged period of time (roughly 12 hours) to get the fat to separate out.
The target temperature for clotting cream is 170-180F (77-82C), which is the lower end of the slow cooker’s cooking temperature.
Once we figured this out, we had a good hunch that we were on the right track and clotted cream could in fact be made in the slow cooker.
Then it was all about creating a method that would keep the temperature where we wanted it.
So here we go.
How to make clotted cream in the slow cooker
To make clotted cream in the slow cooker, you will first want to fill your slow cooker with 1 inch of water, then place your cream in a glass bowl in the water. Add extra water so that the bowl with the cream floats slightly in the crock. (You will be keeping an eye on the water level throughout the process.)
A note on how much cream to put in the bowl. When doing the oven method, your cream needs to be 1-2 inches deep, because the open, dry nature of the oven leads to a greater evaporation. In the slow cooker environment, evaporation is less, so you can get away with less cream. And, less is often better because it can maintain an even temperature easier. We recommend ¾-1 inch of cream in your bowl for the slow cooker method.
Once your bowl of cream is in its water bath in your slow cooker, you can put the lid on so that it is slightly cocked to allow for steam to escape and help keep the temperature from getting too hot.
Then, you want to turn your cooker to HIGH. This may seem counter intuitive, but if you recall as we discussed how a slow cooker works, HIGH vs LOW is not about a difference in max temperature, but rather in how long it takes to get to that temperature. We want our cream to clot close to 170-180 for the whole time, so the faster our vessel gets to that target temperature the better.
And, while we’re on the topic of temperature, the BEST way to be sure you’re clotting your cream at the right temperature is to actually take the temperature of the slow cooker environment. A probe thermometer is the best way to do this (and is, in our mind an essential kitchen tool for doing large roasts in the oven as well). By keeping a probe thermometer in your cooker while clotting the cream you can be sure you are clotting at the right temperature.
If you don’t have a probe thermometer, you will be taking some precautions to keep the temperature of your slow cooker at the lower end of its range, such as lifting the lid for a couple seconds every hour and watching the color of the cream and the water (to be sure it’s not boiling).
After you set your environment, you can leave it for the first 4 hours pretty much alone. After 4 hours you will want to check the water level and add HOT water so that your cream bowl continues to float. (DO NOT add cool or cold water as you could cause your crock to crack with the shock of the temperature change.)
If you are watching the temperature, lift the lid if you see it starting to reach 190F (88C), if not, go ahead and lift the lid every 2 hours.
If your water starts to boil, you’ve hit 212F (100C) and your environment is TOO HOT. Take off the lid for a bit and when you return it, give it a bigger crack than you had before.
After about 3 hours you should start to see a skin developing on the cream. If your skin starts to change in color (darken) quickly, that is an indicator that your environment is too hot, so lift the lid or increase the crack in the lid to decrease the temperature slightly.
This will continue for 12 hours, so we recommend starting your clotted cream early enough in the morning that you can let it cool for 2 hours on the counter to come to room temperature.
When the clotted cream is done it should be lightly golden in color.
Then you will continue with the normal clotted cream process of refrigerating it overnight (for 12 hours or so). Then, finally it is time to separate your clotted cream and enjoy.
What should clotted cream look like?
When it is time to separate your cream, you will notice two layers in your bowl. The top layer is a more firm layer that is kind of like a soft ice cream attached to the top crust. This thicker layer you will scrape off and place in a new bowl, leaving a milky liquid behind.
The thick layer you then can mix up if you desire. That is your clotted cream.
If it is too thick for your liking, you can mix in a little of the thin, milky liquid to achieve the consistency you desire.
That thin liquid can be used like milk in any baking recipe you desire. (Why not make some scones to go with your clotted cream?)
What does clotted cream taste like?
Clotted cream has a unique flavor that is all its own, it is light and buttery and oh so creamy. Like a whipped butter meets a whipped cream cheese (without the cheesy flavor).
How to use clotted cream
It is divine anywhere you would use either butter or cream cheese. On British scones, biscuits, toast, waffles (basically any bread product). It can also be used like you would whipped cream, with berries or on a dessert.
We have even had readers suggest savory uses for it, anywhere you would use cream, like to make a soup creamy, or butter, like on top of sweet potatoes.
How long does clotted cream last?
Homemade clotted cream will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
It is worth noting that the texture of the clotted cream straight from the refrigerator will be like a firm ice cream. So if you want it to soften for spreading, it is best to take it out for 10-20 minutes before using.
What milk to use to make clotted cream
When making clotted cream (or any cultured dairy product like yogurt or cheese you need to be sure that your cream has not been Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized. The UHT process heats the milk above 275F (135C) to sterilize it. (As opposed to a low temperature pasteurization which would be closer to 145-165F (67-74C).
When clotting cream you goal is to heat it low and slow, so if the milk has already been quickly heated to a high temperature, the milk often will not properly clot.
(We have many readers who say they have good luck with UHT milk, so it is possible that some will give you a bit of clotting, but we have not had good luck using UHT milk, so we can not recommend it. If you want to give it a try, go ahead!)
To find cream that is not UHT pasteurized you will need to look on the carton. Their should be a note if the cream is UHT or simply “pasteurized”. Simply pasteurized, is what you are looking for. We have had good luck with Dean’s heavy whipping cream (pictured above) .
While making clotted cream in the slow cooker is not quite as hands off as using the oven method, it does create a more controlled environment and is a great option for those of you whose oven does not go as low as is necessary for clotting cream.
And the results are spectacular.
- ½ pint heavy cream (raw or simply "pasteurized", not UHT pasteurized)
- Add 1 inch of room temperature water to the crock of your slow cooker.
- Pour the heavy cream into a 1 quart glass bowl (your cream should be ¾ - 1 inch deep) and place it in the water in the crock. Add room temperature water to the crock as necessary so that the glass bowl floats slightly.
- Cover the crock with the lid, leaving it tilted so there is about a finger-width crack for steam to escape.
- Turn your slow cooker on HIGH.
- Every hour, check your cream for: temperature (using a digital probe thermometer), water level, and color of the skin on the cream. If the temperature is getting too high, lift the lid. If the water level is getting too low so that the glass bowl isn’t floating, add more HOT water. (DO NOT add cool or cold water, as you could cause your crock to crack.) If you do not have a thermometer to track temperature, lift the lid once an hour, just to be cautious. Also, check the color of the skin. If it is darkining quickly, your environment is likely too hot. And, check that the water is not boiling (an indication that things are way too hot). Always return the lid to the crock pot cocked, so that there is space for steam to escape.
- After 12 hours, carefully remove the glass bowl with the cream from the crock and let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack (this will take roughly 2 hours).
- After the cream has cooled to room temperature, cover it and place it in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours (overnight works well).
- When you take your cream from the refrigerator after chilling, you should notice two distinct layers: a liquidy, milky layer below and a creamy layer attached to the golden skin on top. Spoon the top thicker layer into a bowl, leaving the thin, milky liquid behind.
- Stir the thick layer, if you like. This is your clotted cream! If it is too thick for your liking, you can stir in some of the thinner liquid until you get a consistency that you like. (If you find it to be too stiff to stir, let is stand on the counter for 20 minutes to soften.)
- The thin, milky liquid can be used in baking, like you would milk.
- Store the clotted cream (and the thin liquid) in separate covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (Clotted cream can also be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator.)
This recipe has been tested with this quantity of cream. If you want to try doubling the recipe, we would suggest using a larger slow cooker and a larger glass container, so that the cream can still be around 1 inch deep. (Deeper than this may work, but we have not tested it to confirm.)
Discaimer: We are not responsible for any damage done to your slow cooker during this process. Slow cookers vary in temperature and functionality and we have done our best to give you tested guidelines. The best way to know how your slow cooker functions is to follow our test guidelines outlined in the article above for yourself, so you can be sure of your slow cooker’s nuances and to use a probe thermometer during the clotting process. And, please NEVER add cold or cool water to a hot crock. It WILL crack.
Serving Size:1 tsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 34