The Easiest Way to Clean a Slow Cooker

The Easiest Way to Clean a Slow Cooker

I got a slow cooker a few weeks ago and it was a rollercoaster of emotions. The high was eating some of the best chicken I’ve ever had after having to wait hours to consume it. The low was realizing after I was done that, all the sauce I cooked it in had hardened and become stuck to the interior of the device. It did not want to come off. Here’s what I’ve learned about cleaning these things since (because obviously I’ve used it every day). 

How to clean a slow cooker

First, there are things you should not do to clean a slow cooker: Never use anything that is abrasive, like a scouring pad or an abrasive cleaner, and never use cold water on your stoneware when it’s still hot. Of course, never immerse the bottom, electrical part in liquid at any point, either. 

To really clean the device, fill it with water until the water goes over the line of leftover food around the walls. If your slow cooker holds three quarts, add a half-cup of distilled white vinegar. If it holds six quarters, add one cup. Next comes some baking soda, in the same amount you used for the vinegar.

Cover the cooker and turn your knob to the low heat setting, then let it heat up the mixture for an hour or so. After that, remove the lid and use a soft sponge to scrub at the residue around the inside. Once it’s all been cleared from the walls and bottom of the cooker, let it cool a bit before washing it in the sink with warm water and soap. Air dry it on the counter and you’re good to go. 

Avoiding mess in the slow cooker

There are two steps you can take to avoid the mess of caked-on leftovers, or at least mitigate it. First, you can use specially designed slow cooker liners when you’re cooking. These disposable liners go inside the cooker and stop the food from ever actually touching the stoneware. You just throw them out when you’re done. They can be a little pricey, though: In my research, I’ve found you usually end up paying around a dollar per liner.

If you don’t want to do that or don’t have a liner handy, don’t turn your heat off when you’re done cooking. When you’re serving the food, keep the cooker on a low heat setting so the remnants in there don’t have a chance to cool down and stick to the stoneware as much. You can even transfer what you made to a different pot, add some water to the leftover mess, and keep it going on a low setting for a few hours, basically cleaning itself. 

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