Why Do Slow Cookers Crack

Having a slow cooker pot crack is disappointing, but it does happen. There are many reasons that a ceramic insert can crack such as rapid temperature changes. Most causes of cracks can be avoided, but others like age are inevitable. Why do slow cookers crack? What to do.

No, you cannot fix a cracked ceramic slow cooker pot. Unfortunately, there is no safe way to fix a pot that has cracked. You have to replace the ceramic insert if you want to safely use your slow cooker, as long as the base is in good working condition. 

why do slow cookers crack

It is unfortunate when your slow cooker cracks, especially when you’re in the middle of cooking. If it’s a hairline crack then you can safely remove the food and continue cooking in the oven or on a stovetop. If the pot cracks in half then you’ll have to throw away the meal to avoid ceramic shards in your food. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes cracks, safety tips, and how to replace your ceramic insert.

Causes of Slow Cooker Pots Cracking

There are many reasons that a slow cooker pot may crack. Some things can be avoided and others cannot. Here are a few ways that ceramic inserts can crack.

Manufacturing Defect

It happens rarely, but it is possible to get a slow cooker that is already broken. Luckily these are covered under a limited warranty. Open the owner’s manual and you’ll be able to find where and how to replace your slow cooker. 

crockpot manufacturing defects

Rapid Temperature Changes 

If the slow cooker pot is subjected to quick changes in temperature it can crack. Some people like to store their leftovers in the fridge still in the slow cooker. Avoid putting it in the fridge hot. Also, avoid placing the pot in the freezer. When washing, allow the slow cooker to cool down completely, and don’t use cold water on it while it’s hot.

Dried Out Contents

If you don’t put in enough liquid in your slow cooker and then cook on high the contents inside can dry out. The liquid could potentially evaporate if it is not functioning correctly.

Being left in this state for too long could cause the pot to crack. 

Age

This is a hard one to avoid. If you take proper care of your pot without any rapid temperature changes you can prolong the age of the pot. Over time though pots can create hairline cracks and eventually be useless. 

Rough Handling 

Slamming down the slow cooker, while cooking or storing can cause cracks over time. It’s best to gently place the slow cooker on the counters and where you store it. Cracks may not form right away, but the more the pot is handled roughly the more likely it can crack. 

Stovetop Use

Slow cookers are meant to reach high temperatures, but using them on a stovetop can cause cracks. This is caused because of rapid temperature changes.

Ceramic is safe to use in the oven, but not above 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Replacing the Ceramic Pot 

Replacing your ceramic insert pot is actually quite easy. Many replacements can be found either directly from the manufacturer or for around $60 on Amazon. As long as your base is in good working condition then you will only need to replace the insert. 

However, always consider to replace the whole thing as it might be more beneficial. New warranty, for example.

If you have a 6-quart slow cooker then here is a replacement insert: Replacement Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker Crock Pot Liner Black Oval 6-Quart.

Or if you need a replacement lid there is this one 9 inch Tempered Glass Lid Accessory for Instant Pot 5 and 6 Quart Pressure Cooker.

safety first

 Slow Cooker Safety Tips 

There are many things to keep in mind when it comes to safely use a slow cooker. Many of these safety tips will keep your ceramic pot as well as keep your food safe.

Plan Ahead 

  If you plan on making a meat dish with your slow cooker make sure the meat is thawed out before cooking. Frozen meat cools the slow cooker and makes it more susceptible to bacteria growth. 

Have a Clean Workspace

Make sure the space where the slow cooker will be is cleared of clutter and cleaned. Prep your ingredients on a clean surface as well. Use an antibacterial cleaner in your workspace for best results.  

Keep Ingredients in the Fridge Until Ready to Use

Keeping your ingredients in the fridge will keep them from reaching room temperature. If they reach room temperature they become more likely to grow bacteria. Pull your ingredients out when you’re prepping them or adding them to the slow cooker. 

Don’t Mix Ingredients While Prepping

If you’re prepping your meat and vegetables at the same time don’t mix them until they are in the slow cooker. Bacteria that may be on the meat can leach onto the vegetables during preparation. 

Cut Larger Meats into Smaller Pieces

Larger thicker pieces of meat can take more time to cook and may not cook thoroughly. This can cause your meal not to be done when you need it to be. To avoid this, cut the large pieces into smaller, more manageable pieces that will cook evenly. 

Cut meat into smaller pieces

Don’t Overfill the Slow Cooker

Overfilling the ceramic pot can lead to two things: spillage from too much liquid, and uneven cooking. To make the best use of your slow cooker only fill it ½ way. Also remember that if you’re using a slice of fatty meat and hard vegetables like carrots they produce more liquid during the cooking process, so you may need less liquid than may be called for. 

Leave the Lid On

Unless you’re adding softer ingredients like fresh herbs or pasta near the end of your meal cooking, the lid should remain on. Lifting the lid removed heat and condensation from the cooker. This can lead to dry meals and the possibility of the meal not reaching safe temperatures above 140℉. 

Use a Food Safe Thermometer

Have a food-safe thermometer to check the inner temperature of the foods you’re cooking. This is the best way to see that your food has reached temperatures above the bacteria growing temperature of 140℉. 

Storing the Leftovers 

The ceramic insert of the slow cooker can be placed right into the fridge if you have room for it. Leave the lid on and put the whole pot into the fridge. If you don’t have space then placing the leftovers in an airtight container will work as well.

Very important: Never place your ceramic insert in the freezer. The lower temperatures can crack and ruin the pot. 

Healthy Cooking with a Slow Cooker

Slow cookers rely heavily on the use of fresh ingredients to make meals. The low heat on slow cookers keeps the nutrients in the food, unlike higher heat cooking methods. Slow cookers are a great method for having a meal ready when you need it and are too busy to make something, and they help prevent ordering other unhealthy options. 

Retaining Vitamins with Slow Cooking

Low slow cooking holds in more nutrients than the high heat cooking methods. This is because you’re slowly adding heat to the ingredient instead of instantly heating it. The ingredients hold in their nutrients for longer periods than with high heat. 

Stopping and Starting a Slow Cooker Again

This is not recommended. Stopping the slow cooker for extended periods can drop the temperature to the bacteria growing temperature. To keep your meal safe you should leave the cooker on until the meal inside has finished cooking. 

Minced Meat Should be Browned before Slow Cooker Use

Browning your minced meats before adding them to the slow cooker prevents the meat from clumping. Browning the meat in a skillet also removes any excess grease the meat may have. This will help prevent excess liquid in the slow cooker

However, I never do this. Once the meal is ready I will crumble the clumpy meat with the help of an spatula and it works too.

Advantages of Slow Cooking 

There are many advantages to using a slow cooker. They are a healthy way to cook a meal when you need to be away for hours.  

Healthy Options

The nature of slow cooking makes more healthy options available. Cooking for yourself means you’re deciding what goes in your food, and which ingredients you’d like to use. There are only a few things like dairy that can’t go in a slow cooker, but the options for a healthy homemade meal are endless. 

Save Money

Slow cookers tend to use less energy than large appliances like the oven. You can also save by buying cheaper cuts of meat. The slow cooker makes those tougher meats nice and tender. 

Easy to Learn

Slow cookers are very easy to learn how to use. There are thousands of recipes out there for your specific taste. All you need is a basic understanding of cooking and you’re ready to learn. 

Convenient to Use

If you want to have a meal at the end of the day but don’t want to cook when you come home, then slow cookers are great for that. You can set up a meal before you go and have it cook all day. When you return there will be a meal hot and ready. 

Kills Pathogens

For meat to be safe from bacteria, it needs to be cooked above 140℉. Slow cookers on their lowest setting cook above this at 170℉. When using other appliances that cook food quickly there is a chance that the internal temperature of your meat doesn’t reach above 140℉, and in some cases can cause food poisoning. 

Cut Out Extra Fats

With slow cookers, you don’t need to grease up the pot with anything extra like lard or butter. The natural fats in meats already produce quite a bit of moisture, and adding more could cause the pot to spill over from overfilling it. 

Less Burnt Foods

The chances of burning your food in a slow cooker are very low because they have liquid inside. However, there is a chance of overcooking your meal. Follow the directions on the recipe you’re using and follow the cooking time. 

Less cleaning with slow cookers

Less Cleaning

When using a slow cooker you only need the slow cooker pot to cook. This reduces your dish load immensely. You’ll only have plates or bowls from the meal and the pot. If you use a slow cooker liner you have even less to clean out because the pot will simply need to be wiped out.

Possibility of Food Poisoning 

It’s quite easy to get food poisoning from a slow cooker. When foods are placed inside that are frozen they can make the slow cooker insert cooler. The lower temperatures put the food into a danger zone where bacteria can grow. 

These bacteria, Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria, and Clostridium Perfringens, can breed inside frozen meats, and since they won’t be at higher temperatures for long periods can cause food poisoning

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can You Use a Cracked Slow Cooker?

It is not a good idea to use a cracked slow cooker. There is a possibility that the pot could leak and ruin the base. There is also the chance of getting ceramic shards in your food. It’s best to replace the ceramic insert before using the slow cooker again. 

Don't use a cracked crockpot

How Do I Know If My Slow Cooker is Broken?

If you suspect your slow cooker base is broken you can test it. Fill the ceramic pot with tepid water and cook on low for eight hours. With a food-safe thermometer, you can test the water and if it’s above 185 degrees Fahrenheit then the slow cooker is working. 

When Should I Replace My Slow Cooker?

Here are five things you should watch for when it comes to replacing your slow cooker.

  1. The cord is wrapped in fabric or is frayed in spots
  2. The insert is attached to the base
  3. There’s a big gap between the lid and insert
  4. It’s too big (or too small) for your needs
  5. It’s not heating up properly

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, when a slow cooker pot cracks it can’t be fixed and is no longer usable. The best thing to do is to replace the insert. As long as your base is working correctly then you don’t have to replace the whole slow cooker. Hopefully, with this knowledge, you can keep your slow cooker safe and make many meals with it.  

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