Many people are familiar with slow cooker liners and prefer to use them often. If you’re not sure what they are, slow cooker liners are made from food safe materials and line your crockpot between the appliance and the food. Rather than having to clean the removable stoneware each time the Crockpot is used, liners are often disposable and reduce clean up time. They save the time and effort it takes to clean those hefty slow cooker inserts. Which makes it just that much easier to meal prep with freezer meals! But like most products, there are pros and cons to using the liners.
What are Slow Cooker Liners?
Some people swear by their slow cooker liners, also known as inserts, for ease of use and clean up. But others tend to use the slow cooker the traditional way with the removable stoneware — That’s the big removable pot part of the slow cooker. They’re certainly convenient. But some people may wonder if slow cooker liners are safe to use. Next to the heat from the crockpot, there is often concern about using plastic. Many people avoid using plastic with their food in general because some plastics may have BPA. But slow cooker liners are most often advertised as being free of BPA and safe to use in the crockpot.
An Honest Review of Crockpot Liners: The Pros and Cons
There are a few things to consider before deciding to use slow cooker liners. While they’re helpful for cleaning up and prepping crockpot meals, they’re also costly and disposable. Consider these pros to using a crockpot liner:
- Saves time by eliminating the need to wash the removable stoneware
- Reducing the amount of water that would be used to wash the removable stoneware
- Helpful for people with disabilities who have a hard time lifting the heavy stoneware to clean up
- Ability to make two meals at once! This is a huge pro of using slow cooker liners: Separate the crockpot with two different liners and fill them with two different meals.
And also consider a couple cons to using slow cooker liners:
- Costly: Crockpot liners can cost about 50 cents per, which quickly adds up if you use your crockpot multiple times a week.
- Wasteful and nonbiodegradable: Environmental concerns over slow cooker liners keep a lot of people from using them. They are made of plastic and are meant to be thrown away after one use.
- Cooking with plastic can be concerning for some people. Although most slow cooker liners are typically BPA-free and advertised as safe, many people avoid ever cooking with plastic.
- Some people report slow cooker liners sticking to their pot, which takes more time and effort to clean up than not using one in the first place.
- It’s an added step: One extra item on your list and step to make dinner can make meal prep and dinner that much more overwhelming as it’s one more thing to remember.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to what makes the most sense for you and your family! If you think the slow cooker liners are worth it, you can purchase the one we recommend here: Reynolds Metals Slow Cooker Liners 13″X21″ – 3 Pack (12 Liners Total).
So Here’s How to Use a Slow Cooker Liner
If you’re not sure how to use slow cooker liners, it’s pretty simple. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the slow cooker is hot! Be careful not to burn yourself or others with the hot plastic, food, steam, or the appliance itself. And always follow the instructions included with the slow cooker and liners. In general, you can learn how to use slow cooker liners and make cleanup easy with these simple steps:
- Open the slow cooker liner and place it horizontally into your crockpot, tucking over the edges slightly.
- Fill the insert with your ingredients, right on top of the lining.
- Cover the slow cooker with its lid and let it cook as usual.
- After cooking, remove the food and serve or otherwise store it.
- Let the crockpot cool, then remove the liner and toss it!
Another convenient way to use slow cooker liners comes along with freezer cooking. Prepare your freezer meal like usual, but place the ingredients inside a slow cooker liner. Place the freezer bag inside one of the freezer bags you usually use and seal it. Freeze the meal like normal, thawing before putting it inside the crockpot. This keeps the freezer bag clean too!
Make Two Meals at Once
Another helpful tip to using slow cooker inserts or liners is to use more than one at once! These inserts make it possible to make two meals at one time in one slow cooker by separating the slow cooker in half. Then, fill one half (one liner) with one meal, and the other half (the other liner) with another meal. These meals will have to cook at the same temperature and preferably will take the same amount of time to cook. This is great for picky eaters and families with different dietary needs. Crockpot meals in general are super easy to make for families and large quantities of food. You don’t have to deal with multiple dishes and cooking steps!
When it comes to using your crockpot, it’s important to always keep crockpot safety in mind. The appliance can get very hot and easily cause burns. It’s also notably heavy and can bruise you if you happen to drop it on your foot or hand! That’s another reason why Crockpot liners can be helpful for those who aren’t able to lift the stoneware insert. Always read the instructions and warning labels before using any kitchen appliance like a slow cooker. Never leave it on when nothing is in it, including the stoneware insert — Double check that it’s off before turning in for the night or heading out for the day! Some models may have a warning light on the front to let you know it’s on, but some may not. In general, try to follow some of these crockpot safety tips when using yours:
- Always let the freezer meal thaw fully before cooking in a slow cooker: Since it cooks so slowly, there’s a wide window of opportunity for bacterial growth.
- Don’t touch the removable stoneware or the base of the crockpot with your bare hands: Make it easy to do this by keeping a set of oven mitts right next to your crockpot while it’s cooking.
- Unplug the slow cooker when you’re not using it: This way, there’s no chance it was left on!
- Keep the lid on: To retain heat. When you do lift the lid, avoid standing directly above it where the steam is released and can burn.
- Place the crockpot on a flat surface when cooking: To avoid hot liquid spilling or uneven cooking.
- Always let the crockpot cool fully before cleaning or removing your slow cooker liner.
Are Slow Cooker Liners Safe?
While it’s important to be aware of the equipment we are using to cook our food, slow cooker liners shouldn’t be a concern. Made to stand up to heat and touch food, slow cooker liners are manufactured and advertised as safe to use. And as mentioned, many slow cooker liners are labeled as BPA-free. They’re also made to stand up to the heat of a crockpot.
How to be safe when using a your liner
Slow cooker liners are convenient, but it’s important to remember that the liner is right next to a very hot surface. While it may be tempting to get the clean-up started, avoid lifting your slow cooker liner from the slow cooker while it’s still hot. This could cause burns, from the hot food and the slow cooker. And let the slow cooker cool before discarding the liner (or, use oven mitts).
Cooking with a slow cooker is easy, simple, and saves time and money. And it’s so easy to use a slow cooker or instant pot with prepared food like freezer meals! Learn how to get started with the freezer cooking method in one of FreezerFit’s free cooking classes: Along with step-by-step instructions for meal-prepping recipes, you can download a free cookbook and grocery list to get you started on freezer meal recipes. This simple method of preparing and freezing food to cook later is helpful for many people and families with busy schedules.
That’s it for the slow cooker liner review!