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Are Slow Cooker Liners Really Worth It?

By September 23, 2015Slow Cooker Tips

A lot of people swear by slow cooker liners so I decided to test them out myself.  If you’re new to slow cooker liners too, let me explain exactly what they are and if I think they’re worth it.

Are Slow Cooker Liners Really Worth It?

What are slow cooker liners?

They’re plastic bags that you put into your slow cooker (AKA crockpot) before adding the food.  One liner is used per meal and thrown away after the meal is eaten.

Why would I use slow cooker liners?

The biggest benefit is that they line your slow cooker so there is no mess left to clean up.  When you’re done eating, you simply remove the bag and throw it away.  There will be some moisture left in the slow cooker, but all you need to do is wipe it out – no soaking or scrubbing necessary!

Are Slow Cooker Liners Really Worth It?

Who should use slow cooker liners?

  • Anyone with a medical condition that limits use of their hands
  • Anyone who hates doing dishes
  • Anyone who gives slow cooker freezer meals as gifts (I bought slow cooker liners for my grandparents to go with their 20 mini crockpot freezer meals and I’m going to start giving them to my pregnant friends when I make them freezer meals.)

Are liners BPA-free?

Many people avoid using plastic items with their food (like plastic Tupperware and slow cooker liners) because some plastics contain BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical that can seep into food and have negative health consequences.  (You can read more info about BPA from the Mayo Clinic.)

There are many different brands of slow cooker liners, so I would read the box carefully before buying or research the brand online.  Crock-Pot brand liners are BPA-free.  So are Reynold’s Slow Cooker Liners, which are the ones that I tested.

Are Slow Cooker Liners Really Worth It?

What size slow cooker do they fit?

It looks like most liners fit 3-7 quart oval and round slow cookers.  My grandparents have a 2.5 quart slow cooker and I don’t think it’s too small for a liner.  There will just be extra liner hanging outside the slow cooker.

Can you use liners with slow cooker freezer meals?

Readers have left comments on my blog saying that they assemble their slow cooker freezer meals in slow cooker liners and then place the liners in gallon-sized plastic freezer bags and place them in the freezer.  (Most people say that they reuse the outer freezer bag after cooking the meal.)  Now that I’ve used the liners myself I have no idea how this is done.  I stack my freezer meals to save space in the freezer and can’t figure out how to properly seal the liner so that the meal doesn’t spill out.  In my case, I would freeze the meal in a regular freezer bag and then dump it into the liner the day of cooking.

Are Slow Cooker Liners Really Worth It?

How much do they cost?

There are a bunch of different brands of slow cooker liners and the cost varies.  My local grocery store had boxes of four Reynold’s Slow Cooker Liners on sale for $1.99 each, which works out to about 50¢ per liner.  This pack of 20 liners on Amazon costs $13.70, which works out to about 69¢ per liner.  I saw some cheaper liners sold on Amazon, but they had bad reviews so I would be wary of those.  (P.S. I’m not great at clipping coupons, but I saw a 55¢ off coupon in the most recent Red Plum ad.  Doubled that would be $1.10 off a box!)

Where can you buy slow cooker liners?

A quick search online shows that they’re sold in a ton of different stores.  (For example, Kohl’s, Target, eBay, Amazon, and Walmart.)  You can find slow cooker liners at most grocery stores near the foil and plastic wrap.  I’ve also heard of people finding them at The Dollar Store.

Are Slow Cooker Liners Really Worth It?

Are slow cooker liners really worth it???

A lot of people swear by slow cooker liners so I decided to test them out myself.  My husband does the dishes after dinner so I thought he would be most excited about them.  After trying a couple of them we decided that they were a cool invention but not something that we’ll use everyday.  I make slow cooker meals A LOT (usually 5x a week), so the cost would add up and the idea of cooking our meals in plastic everyday wasn’t appealing to us.  I’ll buy them when I see a great sale or have a coupon and use them for meals that tend to stick to the pan.  I’ll definitely buy them for slow cooker freezer meals that I make as gifts.

Have you ever used slow cooker liners?  If you have an experience to share or a question to ask, please comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.  

63 Comments

  • Joni says:

    Crockpot liners have changed the way I look at using my slow cooker. My husband and sons used to HATE helping with cleanup after a slow-cooked meal. The result? I had to do the scrubbing. Now, after letting the slow cooker cool slightly, we simply pull out the “gunk” and throw it away. Life is happier and the Crockpot is used more frequently!

  • pattyfromfl says:

    I use a crockpot about once a month. I used a crockpot liner for the first time cooking a small turkey. I thought it was heavenly to lift out the bag and have no mess! I will continue to use them. My husband does not do the dishes and I’m all about the no mess aspect of these bags!

  • Amy C says:

    Anyone else get nervous heating up things in plastic? I’m not asking to sound “judgy,” but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about recently. Even though the liners are BPA free, I’m just not fully convinced I’m not putting more chemicals into my food by heating it up with a plastic liner. I wish I WERE convinced, it would be easier for sure!

    • Amy C says:

      I LOVE your recipes and cookbooks btw! They’ve been a game changer for me! 🙂

    • Trista says:

      Yes. As someone who works for a major plastics manufacturer, I’m aware of the varying degrees of quality of plastic. Those plastics that are of a higher-quality are the ones least likely to leech anything into your food, but they’re also the most expensive to produce and therefore more expensive for consumers. For this reason, I’m weary of disposable/inexpensive plastic products for cooking/reheating food. Of course, these bags are BPA-free, so that’s good. I just worry about what else may be in them that might be harmful to us that we just don’t know about yet. Obviously, this isn’t research-based, just my opinion. To me, it’s worth a little more cleaning time with my slow-cooker. When we’re done eating, I just put the crock in the sink and fill it with warm, soapy water. After putting the kids to bed, I come back and lightly wipe it down, and everything comes right out. Then I stick it in the dishwasher, and by morning, it looks good as new! I generally make Kelly’s recipes four times per week, and this system serves me well.

    • Jyssica Smith says:

      Yes, I have also been thinking about this lately! I do enjoy the no mess clean up of the liners though. I am happy to find out that they are BPA free though!

    • Debra says:

      I don’t trust cooking in plastic at all. Plastic is petroleum based. I think I would rather wash my crock pot– Notice that Kelly didn’t address the safety part of your question.

      • Kell says:

        Exactly, and I agree! These days everyone wants the quick easy way out on everything. I personally have no interest in heating food in plastic like this. Take the time to clean the crockpot. Take the FEW minutes to clean it. What if you find out later, chemicals in products like this cause you and your family health issues. It’s not worth it. Health these days is being pushed aside for convenience. Sad.

        • Justin says:

          I agree. On my father’s side of the family, they used inexpensive aluminum cookware. I don’t know if there’s a connection but my many of my dads brothers and sisters are developmentally disabled.

          I’ve been playing it safe and replacing all my plastic Tupperware with healthier ceramic dishes.

          Its amazing that bpa is legal. And it’s merely one chemical that’s known to be bad.

          Plastics and hydrogenated food (also a form of plastic) imitate estrogen in our bodies. Whether were a male or female, do we want these chemicals with unknown effects in our bodies?!

  • Terry says:

    I’ve never used one, and honestly don’t think I would. I’m cheap so the cost deters me, but more than that, the plastic! I think that some of the ‘legal’ plastics that are replacing BPA are actually WORSE for you than BPA… but because something is legal or approved by the FDA, doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to ban it in a few years! It just makes me super nervous.

  • Carol says:

    I use my slow cookers almost daily and the liners have definitely made my life easier! I buy these bags that can be used in the oven or slow cooker from Amazon. 50 for $20.85 works out to .417 each. Definitely worth it for me! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000KERJ4Q?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

  • Carol says:

    I use the crock-pot liners and put them inside 1 gallon freezer bags. The way that I do it is I have a casserole dish about the same bottom shape as my slow cooker. I place the bag in the casserole dish as if it were the crock, layer or dump my ingredients in and then I take the top of the liner and gather it together like a bread bag and use a twist tie. If the bag won’t hold its shape to be removed and placed in the freezer bag I leave it in the casserole dish over night in the freezer and then put it in the freezer bag. This way it is nice and flat and takes up less space in my freezer and the meals just nicely stack one on the other like poker chips. I also thaw the meals out in the same casserole dish so that there is no leakage in the fridge.

    • Kelly says:

      Interesting! Thanks for sharing, Carol.

      • ROBERT DOUGLAS says:

        EVERYTHING YOU USE FOR MAKING MEALS ECT. MAKE SURE THEY ARE BPA FREE. SUCH AS YOUR SLOW COOKER. DO I HAVE TO BUY AN EXPENSIVE SLOW COOKER FOR IT TO BE A GOOD SLOW COOKER. I HAVE FOUND ONLINE MANY WELL KNOWN MAKES OF SLOW COOKERS BPA FREE.WITH 10 STARS OUT OF 10 IN QUALITY . I AM GOING TO BUY GOOD BPA FREE POTS AND PANS. IF WE DO NOT LOOK AFTER OUR OWN HEALTH NO ONE ELSE WILL. I HAVE GONE ON TO JUICING. DO YOU HAVE ANY RECIPIE BOOKS ON SLOW COOKING. HAVE A HEALTHY LIFE AND LIVE LONG

  • Angel says:

    Soooo glad to see this as I was wondering myself as well. I’m a fan of safe products which had me wary of them but I’ll definitely consider them for those occasional meals that I know for sure usually leave a pretty dirty crock pot. Also, just a teeny tiny note about the coupon comment (which I love btw cuz who doesn’t love a good bargain!?), stores that double coupons usually only double the value up to a dollar so a $0.25 coupon doubles to $0.50 off, a $0.50 coupon doubles to $1 off and a $0.75 coupon ‘doubles’ to a $1 off if that makes sense. That way those fellow coupon clippers know how to budget for their savings. Here’s the lots more happy, healthy meals!! :O)

  • Shelly says:

    I use the liners for projects I do at school with kids…. It makes cleaning up after making candles a snap! Then I have no problems using the crock pot for dinners again.

  • Kelly Wildenberg says:

    I made one of the recipes with cheese and tator tots last night. It made a huge baked on mess in the crock pot. It had run out of juice while I was at work and just baked onto the crock pot. Would have been nice to have a liner. I will get them to use whenever there is cheese in a recipe. Didn’t know there was such a thing, but it will now go on my grocery list. Thank you!

  • Penny Schulze says:

    I tried them once and wasn’t thrilled…for 2 reasons: (1) the one-size-fits-all doesn’t really work for me. I have arthritis in my hands and it was really awkward for me to try to get the food out from the folds in the bag w/o spilling it all over (but then, that’s probably just me…). (2) My family said the food had a ‘plastic-y’ smell and taste, even tho I used the Reynolds brand. I have used the oven bags for roasting for years and not experienced that smell or taste; don’t know what the difference is between the two. However, I would be willing to try them again if they were to be made in different sizes (I have a 4-qt cooker).

  • Karen Videgar says:

    I have been using these liners for several years now! Both my daughters use them as well. I won’t ever use my crockpot without these! I was in a chili contest a few years ago and used the liner for keeping the chili warm during the competition. When my pot was empty I took the bag with the chili “over cooked” on the bottom and threw it away!! No mess to clean up and I was SO happy 🙂

  • Liisa says:

    My biggest issue is the waste in landfills. I take the gallon freezer bags, rewash and reuse because they do help with space saving. If I had more, I’d just use my glassware storage containers.

    • Jeanie says:

      Yes, yes– ecological reasons. They don’t compost for years and years and years. So to love and save our Mother Earth throw away as little plastic as possible.

  • Susie says:

    I will have to try these out. Can’t wait to try out your recipes. Thank you.

  • Sophie says:

    When Aldi has crockpot liners on special buy I usually buy a few packs (don’t remember the cost right now, but cheaper than something like Reynolds). I’m generally wary of the whole plastic thing, and we have a tight budget so the extra expense for the liners does make an impact. However, for my usual crockpot meals I’ve learned which ones are hard to clean up after, and which are easy. The ones that are hard I try to use a liner for, whereas the easy ones I go liner free.

    I was given Reynolds liners once and I actually prefer the Aldi liners! The Reynolds ones ended up leaking so we actually DID have to clean the crockpot after all! And it was hard and stuck on because it was the liquid (broth, sauce) leaking through and then cooking. Gross. If you were always going to use a liner I *guess* you could get buy without the addition of a clean, but that thought kindof grosses me out … and we don’t use a liner every time anyway. Maybe we just got a bad batch of Reynolds, but I’ve never had that problem with Boulder’s (Aldi’s brand)!

  • Donna says:

    I have tried the liners in the past. They sometimes leaked. I wasn’t sure stuff wasn’t leaching chemicals out of the plastic either. So, I prefer to use a non-stick cooking spray. After I empty the crock pot, I add hot water and put the lid back on. After dinner when I wash the crock pot the gunk comes off easily.

    Thanks for your recipes! They are great! I don’t have much freezer room. So, I make most of them from fresh ingredients. Also, I have adapted some to use to feed my dog too. She loved them as well!

  • I’m with all those who love the liners. My husband does the clean up if I do the cooking and he LOVES them. We made the cheesy tater tot one last week and it would have been tough to get out without the liner. Also, since there are two of us, I sometimes take the leftovers out in the liner and put it in the fridge in a bowl to eat the next day. Just spoon it out of the bag and on a plate and in the microwave. I don’t microwave the liners, because who knows what happens in there.

  • Barb says:

    On all current Tupperware catalogs: “Products sold by Tupperware US & Canada are BPA free.”
    When I first saw the liners for Slow Cookers I thought “Some people are really lazy.” I changed my mind after scrubbing baked on food from my crock pot. The liners save me time and reduce frustation. I enjoy your blog posts.

  • Sue Caldwell says:

    Before the crock pot version was available, I used the Reynolds Oven Cooking bags in my crock pot. The taller narrower shape works better for my crock pot anyway. Also, I often take my crock pot to work for luncheons and the bags make clean up a snap since I wouldn’t want to be scrubbing and splashing at work.

  • Susan says:

    My friend and I just got together to make a bunch of freezer meals before she returned to work. I bought Reynolds bags, thinking it would help her (she has young children) and help me because I have a bad back and arthritis. Scrubbing the crockpot can be daunting for me. I thought I was a genius putting the meals in the bag, then placing those in gallon freezer bags (obviously I wasn’t the only one, lol). My thoughts (aside from the plastic concerns) were: #1-I still had to wipe it down #2-they’re costly #3-they tended to freeze with ‘wrinkles’ so a couple recipes ended up not fitting in my slow cooker until they had significantly thawed. I was unable to ‘stretch’ the liner to actually fit. ?
    I ended up realizing the extra step of freezing them IN the slow cooker liner was unnecessary…IF I decide to use them again, I won’t freeze IN them, I’ll just place my frozen meal in it when I’m ready to cook. 🙂 Great recipes btw, they’re really helping out both our families! ?
    PS-We live in an older ranch house, with no garbage disposal, I think the liners are helpful with super liquidy recipes that I don’t want to end up in our septic tank…I can just twist tie it up and out to the trash it goes.

  • Brenda says:

    I read somewhere to spray your crackpot down with your favorite cooking spray before adding the ingredients. I do this and rarely have any problems with clean up. That amount of fat it adds is negligible and it is much less expensive than the liner bags.

    • Hilary says:

      Exactly what I do! If it’s really going to be a sticky recipe I add a little olive oil and use my fingers to smear it around like a baking dish. I soak and wash. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to clean up, but I have a friend who swears by them. Me? I’m too cheap to mess with ANOTHER thing I have to buy and throw out.

      I do however like the perfect portions bags for keeping meats separate in a big bag for freezing. It’s me and my daughter so this allows me to separate the meat and then store in one big ziploc as opposed to many ziplocs.

  • Karen says:

    I love the liners! True, they do add to the cost of each meal but I hate washing dishes! I don’t put my crock in the dishwasher, last one cracked. I let it cool first but I don’t think the dishwasher is good for them. I’m happy for those of you that say that washing them is easy, it never has been for me! It’s always so crusty around the edges and I can’t get it off, I’ve tried soaking, heating, scrubbing and using a plastic scraper! I just felt like there was baked on gunk left! I have a cheap-o rice cooker, I think it’s a Black and Decker, metal pot and I’ve used the liners for that! WOW! I can cook beans in it and they don’t burn, no stuck on rice! I realized that the oven bags fit perfectly and are a little cheaper! So those of you with small crockpots, try the oven bags! I think there are two sizes, just try them out and see which size works for you!

  • Lorie says:

    Thought I would weigh in about the liner bags. I use them in my RV. as I’m limited on water when we are traveling. Actually it isn’t a RV at all. I’m a truck driver with a custom sleeper. Your web site has made my life so much easier, since I discovered freezer meals. Prep work is always a problem in a small space. Now I make freezer meals at home and go to my freezer and select what’s going on the road with me. I have converted several of your freezer meals from slow cooker to my Instant Pot pressure cooker. Life is good. All the measuring , chopping and etc is done at home. Always look forward to what you come up with next.

  • Melissa says:

    Never thought of this, but I just read about the ceramic crock pots releasing lead…and I love my slow cooker!!! I thought maybe these liners would help…

  • I used to HATE using my slow cooker until my sister in law introduced me to crockpot liners. Yes, I do feel a little guilty about the landfill issue but it is so worth it to me to actually cook during the week rather than eat out all the time.

  • Brian says:

    You guys are missing one of the best aspects of the liner…
    When I make a big slow cooker meal (pulled pork, stew,…) and there are left overs – I remove the liner after putting on a twist tie and throw it in the fridge.
    Want to warm it up? Put the liner in a microwave safe casserole dish remove the twist tie. And nuke it!

    Wash, rinse, repeat – until the leftovers are gone (or you you get thoroughly tired of pulled pork…)

    • Jeff Bowles says:

      There ya go. That’s the big reason. And since it’s got very little air in the bag, it lasts nicely in the ‘fridge for quite a while.

      Every last bit of this is easy, sanity, efficient, and simple to clean. It’s a bachelor’s dream.

  • Michelle says:

    Kelly- I read your article. I would like to let you know that Tupperware brand products have been BPA free since 2012. That would be the same across the board. Now I cannot speak to Rubbermaid or other products.
    I have used liners. I would for things that are super sticky or bake on. Sometimes it tough to get a baked on item off the cooker liner. In that case I would use them.

  • Brian Heyward says:

    I found on the clearance rack at Walamrt that they were getting rid of their other brands of crock pot liners. They sold them for 50 cents for a package of 4 liners. Great deal! So I bought everyone they had. $20 and 40 packages with 4 bags in each package later (160 bags), I croc pot all the time. I gave a bunch away to my family and friends at cost. Since I owned up to 4 croc pots at one time until a recent grab by one of my sisters, it is the preferred way to present a meal when cooking for Sunday lunch or for the school faculty I work with during our teacher fellowships. Even if I cook the food on the stove or oven, I love presenting it in the crok pot to keep it wam. The Reynolds brand is way to expensive and cost prohibitive. I check the Walmart clearance rack now hoping they’ll get rid of their stock again so I can clean up. Then I’ll sell them online using the profit to pay off student loans!

  • Peggy says:

    I’m hearing crock pots leech any way so a plastic linner stops that.

  • cAROL says:

    The crock on my cockpot doesn’t come out, so soaking and washing it means risking getting water in the electrical components. I love crockpot liners even if they’re a tad too big. I just pull the bag and toss it and give the crockpot a quick wipe inside.

  • Scott says:

    Another massive stab in the back to the environment where convenience and laziness trumps our future. Plastic everything is destroying us on bag at a time. What a shame when we actually have to use a bit of soap, water and elbow grease.

  • Sane Person says:

    Are you kidding me? Throw the ceramic dish in the sink with some water n soap n let it soak then scrub it out, how can you be so LAZY?!?!?!? You are filling landfills and the ocean with plastic bags because you don’t want to clean a reusable ceramic dish when you are finished eating???? You are already using a slow cooker which requires ZERO work. Give me a F-ing BREAK! I am completely disgusted by the thought of cooking all my meals in PLASTIC BAGS. This type of thought is quite LITERALLY the reason our planet is going to SH!T. Have fun with your cancer. Me? Im going to do the DAMN DISHES… Cheers!

    • Rational Person says:

      There are reasons other than laziness to use liners. My mom is elderly and has a difficult time wrangling the crockpot in the sink. It’s heavy for her and therefore dangerous as well. She broke one already so the liners give her the ability to keep some independence and enjoy home cooking.
      My daughter is a grad student often working long days, certainly no one would call her lazy. She has a small crockpot in her work area but no where to clean it up. The liners mean that she doesn’t have to leave her lab to eat out crappy fast food (which would also generate waste for a landfill) and she gets to eat some decent food on those long work days.
      My life is not so complicated so I just wash the crockpot.

      FYI, stress hormones triggered by anger and emotional outbursts are also thought to increase cancer risk. More or less than using crockpot liners has not been studied but still something you might consider.

  • JJO says:

    They leak. There’s always some mess or fluids left behind when using Reynold’s Crock Pot liners.

  • Phyllis says:

    Can you use a slow cooker liner in a pressure cooker

  • Neill Everitt III says:

    I tend to use my crock pot for chili, cheese dips, and dump cakes for meetings, games, and gatherings where I take the dish in my vehicle. Having the dish in the bag with a twist tie keeps it from making a mess in my car, means I don’t have to worry about crowding or messing up the kitchen I’m in, and if there’s leftovers I can pass them to my single or non-cooking friends easy slick and easy. Then when I get home late I have nothing to do but put the crock pot away.

  • Bernadette Berger says:

    I am just wondering if all these people who are concerned with the plastic issue, probably all use microwaves and have no concern about that. I use the bags but not the microwave.

  • Christy says:

    I only use my slow cooker for chilly and a chicken recipe that is really good that a friend of mine found and liked but I was looking at how everyone is looking at the fact the liners are plastic and the cleanup ok 1 I hate scrubbing the pot clean and 2 i might not be able to wash it right away 3 my pot might actually disappear for time to time and when I find it its really gross so my problem is if you don’t like it that’s fine but why are you saying that people who use them are lazy I’m not lazy I get busy with other work that needs done I didn’t even know that they existed until late last night when a Facebook friend said she was out of liners and here I thought I could find comments that would be about the product itself not oh it’s a lazy person thing or its bad for your health well guess what you health nuts sorry to bust your bubble here but we will all die 1 day so if you think about this it’s not our say when we go it’s the almightys say so weither that is God, or Allah or whoever it might be based on your beliefsite or religious beliefs I don’t see why it’s any ones person I think it should be a choice a see more hateful comments than informationall 1s and the 1s that I did see say they do use them but depending on cost is how they use them I’ve only seen a few bad 1s oh the bag leaked ok so there could be a small chance of still having to get the pot cleaned I think I’ll take my chance with the liner and see thanks

  • Chrissy says:

    Haven’t tried the liners yet, but I think I will. Plastics and all, I have used the cooking bags in the oven and man was my turkey P E R F E C T, so I guess I will try. I usually don’t serve in the crock, so I’ve always filled with water and turned on high with the lid on it. By time we are finished eating and I’ve cleaned everything else up I simply scrub a little and poof it is done. Still I see a definite slot for it like taking dishes to church or family’s home for holidays where they do serve out of crock.
    As far as all the others it would be great if corning would listen to our concerns and come up with various easy stack glass containers good for freezing, I don’t know maybe a rubber gasket you take off and on with a clamp thing where after clamped you could turn it upside down to stack. Then we could pull it out pack our lunches by lunch time it would be thawed enough to remove rubber gasket and pop in toaster oven, micro wave etc…..CORNING ARE YOU LISTENING?
    Not sure what the points were trying to make about using microwave, it is just high energy that shakes water molecules causing them to heat up. Don’t see that as dangerous, unless your microwave leaks as it cooks, now that is NOT GOOD. Don’t slam your doors and keep an eye on the gaskets that seal it.
    Aluminum pans cause Alzheimer’s that connection was made long ago. GET RID OF THEM PERIOD.
    CHEAP TEFLON FLAKES, way dangerous get rid of them. Invest in one good set and 10 years from now maybe another. I’ve just purchased my first copper pot thing from the tv add. So far have to say PRETTY IMPRESSIVE. Good luck going to have to try to follow Kelly it sounds like most like her recipes.

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