Every kitchen needs a slow cooker. They help to prepare the most delicious, wholesome meals throughout the day, with very little effort needed from you.
You can pop the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning, and come back to check on them when it is dinner time!
The problem with slow cookers, especially older ones, is that you might need to use a liner. These liners help make clean-up much easier, but they can be difficult to find and accumulate to quite a cost over time.
What can be used as a slow cooker liner substitute? There are a few substitutes that can be used in place of a slow cooker liner. These include parchment paper, aluminum foil, silicon inserts, or some oil. You cannot use any material to line a slow cooker, as there are some safety concerns with this, so the above are the best options.
Nobody likes to spend ages scrubbing away in the kitchen after a good meal, so here is everything you need to know about slow cooker liners, to take away that effort after dinner!
Slow Cooker Liner Substitutes
Below are the best slow cooker liner substitutes. The two most popular are aluminum foil and parchment paper, as these are two items that are commonly found in the kitchen.
These both have their pros and cons, but we have listed a few other liner substitutes for you to consider.
1. Parchment Paper
Parchment paper, or baking paper, is a great substitute for a slow cooker liner. You can easily tear parchment paper off the roll and use it to line the bottom, and even the sides, of the slow cooker.
It also works out considerably cheaper to use parchment paper in place of slow cooker liners.
What It’s Good For
Parchment paper is particularly good to use as a slow cooker liner when you are making a roast, a cake, or even bread in the slow cooker. It offers good protection from the bottom and the walls of the liner and is perfect to help pop out a bread once it has cooked.
Why It Works
Parchment paper, or baking paper, works well to line a slow cooker because it has been made to be used for lining. While parchment paper is mainly used in baking, it works much the same when used in a slow cooker.
Parchment paper is not ideal to use in a slow cooker when you are cooking something that has high water content. This means that it does not necessarily work well for soups, stews, and casseroles.
It is made of paper, so it will lose its structure in too much water.
Parchment paper is a good substitute for slow cooker liners, you just need to make sure you are using it with the right recipes to avoid a mushy paper mess.
2. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is a popular liner to use for many cooking purposes, from baking sweet treats to tray bakes and more.
Using aluminum foil is a great choice as a substitute for slow cooker liners, but there are some things to keep in mind when using it.
Aluminum can be highly reactive with acidic foods, and the metallic flavor of the foil may seep into the flavor of the food, or even change the appearance of your food.
However, with most, non-acidic foods this is not a problem. Overall aluminum foil is a good liner and works well in place of slow cooker liners.
What It’s Good For
Aluminum foil is good for many different meals in the slow cooker. It does not dissolve like parchment paper does when used for high water content meals, and is suitable for bread, stews, casseroles, chili, and more.
Not only does aluminum foil help to line a slow cooker, but the aluminum helps food to cook more evenly, which is always a win.
You can also use aluminum foil to patch up your slow cooker if you need a makeshift lid if your lid is broken, or to line around the lid to prevent any heat and moisture from escaping.
Why It Works
Aluminum foil has been used to line different dishes, pots, and cookers for ages.
It does not stick to the bottom of the dish, and slow cooker, and prevents the food from leaking through and sticking. It is resistant to heat and will not become damaged when exposed to high heat.
The one con to using aluminum foil is that there might be a potential health risk involved with using it at high heat, especially with acidic foods.
It is unclear how serious of a health impact this might be, and people have been using aluminum foil as a lining for ages, so it is up to you.
Aluminum foil is good to use as a substitute for slow cooker liners. It provides an easy clean-up and even cooking, but there are concerns about the aluminum foil being exposed to high heat and acidity.
If this is a concern of yours, you can still use the foil to line the lid to ensure no heat escapes!
3. Silicone Insert
One lesser-known slow cooker liner substitute is a silicone insert. These are reusable and reduce waste in the kitchen, while still allowing it to be easier to clean and non-stick.
Made from thick silicone, these inserts fit into the slow cooker, help cook the food, and then can be removed, washed, and used again.
What It’s Good For
A silicone insert is a good idea if you use your slow cooker often, and really do not enjoy scrubbing the bottom of the slow cooker for ages, and you do not want to use parchment paper or aluminum foil.
The silicone insert can be used for almost any food in the slow cooker, from stews, casseroles, soups, and chili to bread and roast. It’s quite versatile.
Why It Works
The silicone is non-stick, reusable, and easy to wash. This makes it ideal for a slow cooker liner. The material holds up well against heat, and if you buy a proper silicone insert, it would be safe to use at high heat.
There aren’t many cons to using a silicon liner, other than the fact that you would still have to wash the silicon insert after using it, just as you would the actual slow cooker.
However, if your slow cooker is harder or more cumbersome to clean, a silicone insert could be a great improvement during clean-up.
They are generally easier to clean than the actual slow cooker, but this will depend on how non-stick your slow cooker is, and it might be the same chore washing the slow cooker as the liner.
A silicon insert is a cool invention to try out, but it would only be worth it if you use your slow cooker a lot, and are looking for a liner that you can use with almost any food in the slow cooker.
Alternative: Oiling The Slow Cooker
If you are wanting to avoid using a liner, whether it be for the cost, waste, or having another material come into contact with your food, you could simply try oiling the pot.
This seems obvious, but it does make a huge difference in helping the food not stick to the pot.
There are different oils you could use, whether it be a normal vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil, whatever complements your food best. All work well to prevent food from sticking to the pot, which in turn makes cleaning up much easier at the end of cooking.
Oiling the pot does work better for certain recipes, especially for recipes that have low water content. It will not work as well for stews and chili, but it does definitely help.
You will still have to clean the slow cooker when the meal is done, but it will definitely help ease that process.
Can I Use Pre-Bagged Slow Cooker Meals in Place of a Liner?
Yes, you can use pre-bagged slow cooker meals instead of using a liner. Many people don’t actually know that these exist, and once you find out, there is no going back.
Pre-bagged slow cooker meals come with all the ingredients needed for the meal in a slow cooker-safe bag. You pop this bag into the slow cooker and let it cook.
Once it has cooked for the right amount of time, you open the bag and the meal is ready. No cleaning needed!
What Are Slow Cooker Liners Made From?
Liners designed to be used for slow cookers are made from heat-resistant nylon, which is BPA-free. These are safe to cook with for temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which your slow cooker should not reach anyway.
Can You Use a Ziploc Bag in a Slow Cooker?
It is not a good idea to use a Ziploc or similar resealable bag in a slow cooker, as there is a good chance that the plastic might melt when exposed to the heat inside the slow cooker.
These plastic bags are not made to withstand very high temperatures.
You can buy pre-bagged slow cooker meals that come in plastic bags, but these are certified safe to use at high temperatures and made for the purpose of being used in a slow cooker.
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