When you use your slow cooker as much as we do in the wintertime, eventually you make a meal that leaves behind some serious burnt or stuck-on food that you can't easily wash away. When that happens, it's time to give that ceramic insert a deep clean — which is easy to do! You just need to keep a few things in mind.
1. Fill it with water and "cook" it for a few hours.
The easiest way to loosen burnt food and return your slow cooker crock to its smooth, clean finish? Fill the crock with water and "cook" it for a couple hours! As we wrote about here, a low-heat soak for a few hours is the easiest, hands-off way to deep-clean your slow-cooker insert.
2. Add baking soda if it's really bad.
If your slow-cooker insert has a persistent ring of crud along the inside, you can up the cleaning ante with a little baking soda. (We know it's a magic cleaner in the kitchen.) Just fill the insert with water up to the top, add a few tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of dish soap, and then turn the setting to LOW. After a few hours, dump out the water and wipe down the insert with a little more baking soda and a non-scratch pad. Any residual stains or stuck-on food should wipe right off!
This method is similar to the way we recommend cleaning burnt stains off enameled cookware — you're just using the slow cooker's heat setting instead of cooking it on the stove!
3. Get rid of that white film with vinegar.
Black slow-cooker inserts often develop a white film from mineral deposits. The film won't affect the cooking, but if it bothers you, you can get rid of it with vinegar. (Another kitchen-cleaning wonder.) Fill the insert with water, add 1 cup white vinegar, and then let it soak for a few hours or overnight. Wash and dry as usual. The white film (if not gone completely) should be a lot less noticeable.
What are your tips and tricks for cleaning your slow cooker?