While your crockpot is undeniably a good friend, it can sometimes be a messy one.
Cooked-in stains can make you think twice about whipping-up certain favorites and really, that’s a shame! You do have a great alternative to applying a heavy application of elbow grease, however, and it comes in the form of a crockpot liner.
So, what are they? How long have they been around? Are they all good or are there brands or even specific caveats to all products of this type that you need to know about?
Today we’ll answer all of those questions and more as we explore the best liners for crockpots!
What are crockpot liners and how long have they been around?
Crockpot liners are essentially small, plastic bags that are customized so that you can push them into your crockpot and pull down the protruding excess bag outside of the top. They look like ‘crockpot trash bags’, but there is quite a lot more to them.
Do you have any nylon clothing? Well, compositionally, they are pretty much the same.
While you know nylon as a synthetic fabric, it’s a name that describes an entire family of synthetic polymers which are made from crude oil. They are made of polyamides, which in the case of the fabric are created, run through a spinneret to produce threads, and then loaded up onto a bobbin.
With crockpot liners, these polyamides are instead formed into a bag that is both safe to cook in and heat-resistant up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/204 degrees Celsius!
The invention of it goes back to an idea dreamed up in 2003 by Kristy Garcia, a full-time mother, and homemaker who was tired of cleaning out her slow-cooker insert. According to the Marshall News Register, she spent a mere $1780 to develop her idea and prototypes, mailing various companies to see if they were interested at the same time that she wisely filed for a patent.
Unfortunately for Ms. Garcia, that would not be enough.
One of those companies that she mailed was Reynolds, who despite their apparent disinterest invested money on their own version – to the tune of a whopping (for us, anyway) 1.4 million dollars.
Reynolds would end up with the revenue and the glory, sadly, and while a lawsuit was filed when their own crockpot liners emerged, they argued that they didn’t know about her patent and had been developing their own version since 1998. They also claimed that Garcia’s liner only covered the metal inserts – which the plaintiff refused.
The judge decided in Reynolds’s favor that the patent was not breached and we are told that Ms. Garcia ended up agreeing with them on this, so we like to think that some sort of ‘behind the scenes’ settlement was involved that left everyone happy.
What we CAN say with certainty is that crockpot liners have stuck around now for almost 20 years because they make just about everyone else quite happy, indeed!
A quick rundown of the pros and cons
Every new technological wonder comes with its own unique perks and, of course, its own caveats, so let’s have a quick look at the pros and cons of crockpot liners.
The good news is that there is a lot of good news where these little liners are concerned. Here are the top 4:
Quick and efficient cleanup – Instead of applying elbow grease and or attempting an admittedly-awkward fit in your dishwasher, cleanup with a liner is simply a matter of lifting it out and tossing it in the bin.
Cooking multiple meals at the same time – This particular perk is a big one. You can put 1 liner in, load it up, and then put in MORE liners, loading as you go to the capacity of your crockpot. That’s right – you can cook more than one meal at a time!
Versatility – Crockpot nylon liners are heat resistant up to 400 degrees and most brands may be used in other appliances, such as a rice cooker or to line bakeware and put in the oven. It’s always nice when a product isn’t limited to a single appliance, so this is definitely a nice perk.
Less stress and strain – Have you ever not cooked a favorite meal in the crockpot because you knew that the cleanup was going to eat up a good portion of your day? Crockpot liners solve this problem and if you have arthritis or other health conditions that require avoiding strenuous activities like lifting and scrubbing the pot liner, then crockpot nylon bags solve this problem quite neatly.
With very few exceptions, nothing wonderful in this life comes without a catch. With that in mind, let’s look at the 4 most important crockpot liner cons to consider.
Environmental footprint concerns – From an environmental perspective, single-use plastic goods are typically frowned upon, and nylon is non-biodegradable. Manufacturing them also involves heat and petroleum or coal-based ingredients, so as with all nylons products, there is concern over their environmental footprint.
The moisture factors – With steam and plastic, you’re going to get moisture buildup, so you’ll sometimes have to wipe the inside and the outside of the pot as a result.
Sometimes they leak – Plastic can be torn if you aren’t careful (such as with a potential ‘sticking’ scenario’. While quality liners are much less likely to do this, it can happen, so you need to keep that possibility in the back of your mind. One important note: You can avoid the biggest cause of leakage – sticking to the heating element – with a quick application of cooking spray before you use the bags. The importance of this will be very apparent when we get to the reviews.
Not everyone trusts plastics – This isn’t limited to crockpot liners, but also to Tupperware and other plastics, but there is a worry of chemical leeching of BPA, which is essentially a weak form of estrogen, and while there are BPA-free plastics advertised, a study that was done in 2011 indicated that these too may indeed leak BPA. If you eat a lot of plastics anyway, then this may not worry you, but we’d be amiss not to bring this up.
The Best Crockpot Cooking liners
Now that we’ve covered a crash course in crockpot liners, it’s time to take a look at what you came for. Below you’ll find the best crockpot liners on the market and we’ll follow them up with some buying tips when you’re searching on your own and our favorite from the list.
Oh, and before we get started, to help give our readers a little more fun and some added value with these reviews, we’ll include a synopsis of the ‘Worst reviews on Amazon’ that each product received, balanced with the percentage of folks who disagreed. Let’s take a look!
1. Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners
Since introducing the wonders of aluminum foil to us way back in 1919, Reynolds has been a trusted companion in just about every American kitchen. The Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker liners we’ve linked as an example measure 13 x 21 inches to fit 3 to 8- quart-sized slow cookers.
They’re also made from a BPA-free type of nylon and since they’re Reynolds, you know that they’re durable.
Worst reviews for this product on Amazon
While 88% of reviewers gave it 5 stars, and 10% 3-4 stars, there is 1% that reported a 1-star rating, and the worst they reported was leaking. One reviewer named ‘Mike’ has a potential reason, saying that they stuck to the heating element in his (see our previous advice on adding water).
He also didn’t like that you had to pull open the bag, rather than them being already opened. We know that’s only 99%, but we couldn’t find the missing 1%, so there you have it!
2. KOOC Slow Cooker Liners
The KOOC Slow Cooker liners that we’ve linked here come highly recommended in a value-pack that includes 3 packages of liners that fit 4 to 8.5-quart cookers and measure 13 x 21 inches. You get 30 bags to do with as you will and like Reynolds, they are also certified as BPA-free.
Worst reviews for this product on Amazon
Out of 5960 reviews, 79% gave it 5 stars, while 3-4 stars came from 18% of reviewers, and 2% gave them only 1-2 stars.
As far as the ‘worst review’, there were multiple reports of melting and resulting leakage. As this is the second time we’ve encountered this in liner reviews, we’d like to remind you that cooking spray fixes this particular pitfall and we suspect the 79% who ‘high-fived’ this product were well aware of this.
3. PanSaver EZ Clean Multiuse Cooking Bags and Slow Cooker Liners
PanSaver EZ Clean Multiuse Cooking Bags and Slow Cooker Liners get kudos from this reviewer both for daring to throw a 10-word name on the market and for the robustness of their product.
The liner offers we’ve linked include a whopping 50 liners, designed to fit 3-to-6-quart slow cookers and 9 x 13 baking dishes. Now, we mentioned robustly, and PanSaver liners are that – they are 12.5% thicker than most other bags on the market.
Their actual measurements are listed as 15” x 16” by 2”. Let’s see what the worst was that could be said about them by Amazon reviewers.
Worst reviews for this product on Amazon
84% of reviewers gave PanSaver liners a solid 5-star rating, with 3-4 stars being given by 13%, and with the remaining 3% giving it only 1 – 2 stars. Out of the worst reviews, again there were melting/leakage concerns having to do with the heated element, although we cannot confirm if they knew the cooking spray trick or not.
Other than this, the only notables were an appearance by a reviewer named ‘Winston Churchill’ and one complaint that the 3 – 6 quart bags did not fit their 2 ½ quart crockpot – make of that what you will.
4. Smartake Slow Cook Liners
Next up, we have Smartake Slow Cook Liners for 3 – 8 quart low cookers and these BPA-free bags promise to have no water leakage. We are uncertain how this is achieved, however, it is notable that they are listed to be resistant to 390 degrees of heat, rather than 400.
Measuring 13 x 21 inches, they are considered hardy enough to use in the microwave and Smartake even tests them by attempting to ignite them – advising that during this quality testing the bags used did NOT ignite.
They do advise using 2 bags to avoid any leakage, although whether this is a result of feedback on crockpot liners melting on heating elements we cannot say – there is simply not enough data. So, let’s look at how these popular bags fared in the reviews.
Worst review for this product on Amazon
Analysis of the Amazon reviews gives them a 4.7 out of 5 stars, based on 1428 bits of feedback. The 5-star reviewers were comprised of 81% of users, with another 16% rating it at 3 to 4 stars – notably, 11% was the lion’s share for a 2-star vote.
Getting to the worst review, there were the usual heat-related or unspecified leakage claims, but we did get one review from ‘Misty’ that stated she got a chemical taste from cooking.
That sort of thing gets our attention and for fun aside, that’s a reason why ‘worst reviews’ can be useful. Looking deeper, we didn’t find any other references to this problem, with user ‘Jerri Larson’ reporting that she and her husband ‘press it sometimes’ by using them for cooking during 12-hour shifts.
Notable, but not recommended, folks!
Next, we checked Misti’s profile to make sure she’s not a serial complainer, however, out of 3 total reviews 2 her product reviews WERE favorable.
Remember that from the perspective of this review data, this is a 1427 to 1 occurrence, but customer feedback from Misti states that she experienced some sort of scenario that affected taste and so we wanted to make sure and share this.
5. WRAPOK Slow Cooker Liners
The deal we’ve linked here is for 2 packets of 10 slow cooker bags from WRAPOK. Measuring 13 x 21 inches, they are designed to fit 3 to 8.5-quart cookers and are BPA-free and heat-resistant up to 400 degrees.
These slow-cooking liners are listed as a good fit for oval or round cookers, but make no mention of casserole dishes so you’ll want to check with the packaging or directly with the vendor before using them for this – they should be fine, but you can’t be overly cautious when it comes to your kitchen.
Worst review for this product on Amazon
Ratings were favorable, with 4.4 stars overall, 77% of those being 5-star reviews, with 10% opting for 4, and 3 stars from 7%. 6% of these ratings came as 1-star reviews, along with the 2-3 stars making up the last listed 10%. Once again, Amazon seems to have lost 1% somewhere since we have a 99% total, but let’s continue.
As far as the worst reviews, user “PJDSR’ advised that they were a poor fit and didn’t account for the handles on their pot. This is odd, as 13 x 21 seems to be the standard, and they advised that they cut squares into the bags as a workaround.
One common theme that also appeared in the 1% was complaints that the material is very thin and there were comments about leaks, with a few customers citing that they much preferred Reynolds. This 1% is comprised of 36 out of 644 reviews for these popular bags so this is worth mentioning for our readers.
Silicone Slow-cook Liners
Before we exit the product arena, we should mention Silicone Slow-cook liners as a reusable alternative for those out there who like the idea of a liner with a smaller environmental footprint. Below you will find 2 examples that we’ve found with more than 100 reviews listed.
Crockpockets: The Original Slow Cook Divider
Crockpockets Slow Cook Dividers are designed for oval 6-quart Slow cookers, and allow you to cook 2 meals at a time! Measuring 5.5″ Deep x 8.5″Wide x 4.5″ High, they are BPA-free and dishwasher safe.
While we like the idea of cooking two items at a time and the smaller footprint, the vendor does note that these pockets do get hot. As the design doesn’t incorporate handles, these are ideal for serving directly out of the pot but removal and storage will need to wait until they cool down.
Worst review for this product on Amazon
Feedback is based on 286 reviews posted by Amazon customers, with 72% giving the product 5 stars, along with 19% giving it 4-star reviews. 6% gave it 3 stars, while 1 and 2-star ratings were both at 2%.
Reviewing the 2 reviews that make up the 1% worst, Deborah D. felt that the product felt flimsy outside of the pot, while Jennifer Parsano felt ‘disappointed all the way around’ but did not care to elaborate.
VYAJI Silicone Divider Slow Cooker Liners
VYAI provides our last product entry for the day and they have some good-looking red and blue silicone dividers to offer. Rated for 450 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re certainly more robust than all the previous products we’ve reviewed, and they are designed to fit 6 – 8 quart slow cookers so that you can cook 2 meals at once.
These dividers are BPA-free, Non-stick, and completely dishwasher-safe, so you can reuse them as often as you like. They also have handles and a spout, which we have to say we like. That said, let’s see who talked bad about them and what they had to say to make sure that there is no ‘hornswoggling’ afoot!
Worst review for this product on Amazon
Well, well, we have a ‘first’ achieved in our listed products – not a single 1-star rating. Out of 149 ratings, 87% gave this product 5 stars, with 8% settling for 4, and 3% giving it 3 stars (incidentally, Amazon gives us another 99% total – what’s up with that?).
Absent the 1%, we looked through the 2-star ratings, and the only reviewer there is Kate S. Pacholl who tells us there was absolutely nothing wrong with the product, but that she didn’t measure her pot first and found the arrived product was smaller than she expected.
We checked the 3% to try and get some ‘dirt’ for you, but alas (or hooray!), there was none to be found.
Buying information – Choosing your liners wisely
Unlike appliances, there’s not much that we can give in the way of recommendations for your slow cooker liners, but here are a few basic guidelines to help you along:
- Some brands offer 10 packs, so you can get a cheap sampling of brands at a time that has gotten your attention to compare them. Get 2 name brands and 1 that you don’t recognize, or do the exact opposite – you’ll get a little comparison contrast and you can stick with your favorite.
- Buy some NON-STICK COOKING SPRAY. Exploring the worst reviews, the biggest complaint is that crockpot liners – as heat resistant as they are – succumb to potential melting when they are right on the heating element. The spray should make this a non-issue, so consider it part of your purchase and the price for easy-cleanup convenience.
- When you are sampling the bags, consider the thickness – thicker is always better as a little added insurance.
Out of all of the products that we’ve reviewed today, had 2 favorite crockpot liners tied at number 1. Here are the liners and the reasoning behind them:
- Pansaver – The added 12.5% thickness is substantial and coupled with the high amount of positive reviews, we felt that Pansaver had earned a place next to our old friend Reynolds.
- Reynolds – Brand recognition is a powerful thing and since Reynolds has maintained it since 1919, we felt they should share the number 1 spot. Not only are they the most popular brand out there, but in the scores of reviews we went through for other liners to dig up ‘dirt’, unhappy customers cited that they ‘wished they’d got with Reynolds’ enough to get our notice.
Finally, while the silicone liners aren’t bags, this IS ‘best liners for crockpots’ and we felt that the VYAJI’s were quite the stellar buy. Not only are they handsome, with their red and blue bright coloration, but we liked that they included handles and spouts for easy removal, placement, and pouring.
A lot of the designs out there do NOT seem to bother with this, producing instead silicone liners that require you to lift from the edges to take them out and that’s not save with hot food. We think they’re a company to keep an eye on for this and they’re earned our recommendation.
Before we get to our conclusion, here is a quick sampling of Crockpot liner frequently asked questions, just in case we’ve missed anything important.
What can I use instead of a crockpot liner?
There are always alternatives, and in this case, instead of crockpot liners, you could use substitutes such as aluminum foil, parchment paper, or silicone baking mats, or you could simply make the pot a little more non-stick by oiling it well in advance.
Do crockpot liners make the food taste like plastic?
No, they should NOT affect the taste of your food. BPA-free crockpot liners are certified by the FDA to be safe for use.
That said, don’t forget the study that we cited today and always read the WORST reviews first if you’re considering purchasing a brand that you’ve never heard of.
Finally, make sure it’s BPA-free for best results.
Do you need to put water under a crockpot liner?
No, the liners themselves are designed not to stick but DO spray a little cooking spray in there to help the heat-resistant bad. Heating elements shouldn’t cause melting and sticking, but as every kitchen aficionado knows, those elements are also ‘quirky’ and sometimes get a little hotter than they should.
Hedge your bets with cooking spray and the likelihood of sticking should be almost nil.
Can you put a Ziploc bag in a crockpot?
No, you cannot put a Ziploc bag in a crockpot. Ziplocs are simply not heat resistant enough for this and you’ll end up with chemically-polluted food and a horrifying plastic mess.
Ziplocs are made of polyethylene plastics, which start to soften up at about 195 degrees Fahrenheit, a mere 90.6 Celsius. If you stuck one in a pot of boiling water, it would quickly melt!
In today’s article, we’ve explored the best liners for crockpots, giving you what we hope is a thorough foundation in the history, usage, perks, and pitfalls of crockpot liners. While they do have their caveats, they provide a certain measure of convenience and they’ve been around now for about 2 decades.
So, if you hate cleaning your crockpot or if health conditions have made your favorite appliance difficult to use for fear of the cleanup, then consider these slow-cook liners – they might just be your next favorite thing!