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Slower cookers are great for making large amounts of food with minimal effort. We have a Crock Pot at home, and we tend to use it for every birthday party or large gathering that we have (which happens a lot due to the size of my wife’s side of the family).
As I mentioned in another article, we use aluminum foil in the oven from time to time and have always had good results with it. It didn’t occur to me until recently that there might be yet another use for aluminum foil by placing it in our Crock Pot.
While somewhat expensive, foil provides some benefits when used for cooking (more on this later). In this article, I’m going to let you know whether or not it’s safe to use aluminum foil in your Crock Pot (or whatever brand of slow cooker you happen to have), the benefits to doing so, and some of the drawbacks as well.
Let’s jump in.
Can You Use Aluminium Foil in a Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can use aluminum foil in a slow cooker, and as I’ll cover below, there are several advantages to doing so. However, there are some potential issues to consider as well. Before going into these, let’s take a look at a couple of reasons why you might want to use foil in your Crock Pot.
What Are the Benefits?
We wouldn’t be having this conversation if there weren’t some known benefits to using aluminum foil in a slow cooker. Let’s take a look at these next.
1 – Easier Cleanup
By lining the pot of your slow cooker with foil, you’re creating a barrier to keep the food from reaching the surface of the pot, leading to a much easier cleanup. Lining the pot with foil is also thought help create a more even cooking environment.
There are concerns with using foil in this way, which I cover in the next section. To accomplish the same thing without foil, we use liners specifically made for slow cookers. They’re relatively cheap, easy to use, and don’t have the same problems as foil.
2 – Retain Moisture
Another common use for foil in a crock pot is to wrap foods. This is also a common practice on grills and in ovens. The purpose of wrapping foods with aluminum foil is to keep the moisture from seeping out.
This method is fine to use, but you should be aware of a couple of potential problems (more on this in the next section).
3 – Separate Flavors
A creative way to use aluminum foil in your slow cooker is to use it to separate foods. For example, you could create a foil wall down the middle of the pot to keep one type of food on one side and another type of food on the other. You could also wrap several different foods, then throw them all in the slow cooker at the same time.
4 – Create a DIY Lid
It’s not uncommon for the glass lid to crack or shatter on slow cookers. While glass can handle both high and low temperatures, it doesn’t handle sudden temperature fluctuations very well. If you take a hot lid and put it on a cold surface, you might find yourself in the market for a new lid.
A simple DIY solution in this case is to use a layer or two of heavy-duty aluminum foil to cover your Crock Pot. The foil does a good job of keeping the moisture in and is easier to remove than other materials without burning yourself. A foil lid can also be useful when your food simply doesn’t fit into the pot well enough to cover with the stock lid.
5 – Reduce Hot Spots
Many slow cookers have hot spots, which may cause some of your food to burn. This is often found on the back side of your slow cooker. One way to create an environment that’s more evenly heated is to line the walls of your pot with foil. This will deflect some of the heat away from the areas that you cover.
6 – Prevent Too Much Moisture
One last way to use foil in your Crock Pot is to create an elevated surface for foods that you don’t want sitting in liquids. For example, if you’re cooking an entire chicken in your slow cooker, you can simply crumple up a few balls of foil and place them in the bottom of the pot to create an elevated surface for your chicken (the water content will drop down below the top surface of the foil balls).
Reasons Not to Use Aluminum Foil in a Slow Cooker
Although it’s generally safe to use aluminum foil in your slow cooker, there are a few things to consider before doing so.
1 – It Can Leach Into Your Food
The most common reason that people stay away from foil for cooking, whether in the oven, a slow cooker, or something else, is that it has the potential to leach aluminum into your food. While our bodies are equipped to process small amounts of aluminum (which are naturally found in many foods), you don’t want to be exposed to high doses.
Certain types of foods, such as acidic foods and spices, are known to cause leaching more than other foods. The amount of time the foil is heated can also be a factor, and since a slow cooker is typically used for long cooking times, it’s something to keep in mind.
2 – Small Pieces Can End Up in Your Food
Aside from aluminum potentially leaching into your food while cooking, small pieces can stick to your food and break off when you try to pull your food away form the foil as well.
This often happens when wrapping foods in foil, as you are crumpling up the foil and pressing it onto the surface of the food, which creates a lot of potential breaking and sticking points.
3 – It Tears Easily
Last, but not least, aluminum foil tears relatively easily. If your reason for using foil in your Crock Pot is to line the surface to keep it clean, you might not get the results you’re looking for.
As you and your guests scoop food out of your slow cooker, you’re going to inevitably scrape the sides and bottom a bit. As you do so, there’s a good chance that you’ll put slight rips in the foil.
Since many foods that are cooked in a slow cooker are bathed in liquid, a small tear can let those liquids seep through to the surface of the pot.
If you’ve ever considered using aluminum foil in your slow cooker, whether for wrapping foods or for simply covering the surface of the pot, you now know that it’s possible. However, just because something is possible doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it.
While it’s relatively safe to use foil in your Crock Pot, you should keep the points I mentioned above in mind, then decide whether or not it makes sense in your specific situation.