It happens to the best of us. We over cook something in our crock-pot and we are left with a burnt or stuck on mess to deal with. But have no fear they can be cleaned up with a little time and perhaps some elbow grease.
These instructions are for cleaning the stoneware crock part of your crock-pot. Never submerge the base of your crock-pot (the part you plug-in) in water. To clean that part just use a squirt of household cleaner and a damp rag or sponge.
I think you should always start with the easiest and more natural methods first and then if the burnt on part is still there, move on to the next step.
Throw it in the dishwasher
If your crock-pot is dishwasher safe and the mess inside is only a little stuck on you might be just fine by tossing the crock in the dishwasher. The detergents used in modern automatic dishwasher detergent is designed to cut through grease, and stuck on food. I find that with my large family however, that I don’t always have room in my dishwasher for the crock. So I usually hand wash it.
Soak it in hot soapy water
I find that 99% of crock-pot messes can be cleaned up by soaking in hot soapy water. Put your crock-pot in the sink, squirt in some dish-soap and fill with the hottest tap water you can. Let it soak for 1 to 2 hours and wash as usual.
Baking soda works wonders
If soaking your crock-pot for a couple of hours did not seem to do the trick completely. Pour out all the water from the crock and sprinkle liberally with baking soda and scrub. The baking soda acts as an all-natural scouring powder that is safe to use on almost all surfaces. I usually find this tip does the trick. However if scrubbing with baking soda does not work then my next suggestion is to dump about 1/4 cup of baking soda into the crock, fill it will water to cover all the burnt areas, squirt a tad of dish soap and put the crock into the heating base of your crock-pot. Cover and “cook” on high for 2-4 hours. The combination of heat, baking soda and detergent should do the trick.
Use oven cleaner as the last resort
Oven cleaner….it is toxic and I really hate using it. The fumes are horrible to breathe in and it’s just some really nasty stuff. But as the last resort dry your crock off as much as possible with a paper towel or something and spray some oven cleaner on the burnt stuff and let it sit a few hours to over night. If you have REALLY burnt stuff on you may need to keep applying the stuff and waiting and washing and scrubbing till you get it all off. I usually purchase oven cleaner at the dollar store (Dollar Tree) because it is the cheapest place I can find it and it hardly ever goes on sale.
There is a saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (or manure if you ever watched Steel Magnolias) and there is truth to that saying. I find that preventing a burnt on mess is always easier than cleaning up one. Here a three tips for preventing a mess.
- Use a crock-pot liner. These a heat safe plastic liners that you can cook in. Much like an oven bag. Especially when cooking anything that has a sugary sauce base like BBQ sauce, as sugar burns more readily. Cheese is also a notorious item that burns in the crock-pot.
- Spray your crock with non-stick cooking spray. This will not help you from burning your dish but it usually helps release anything from the sides and bottom of your crock should you burn it.
- Follow the recipe and cook for the listed length of time. If a recipe has a time range, such as 4-6 hours. Cook for 4 hours and then check it to see if it is done yet. If not cook longer. Time ranges are given in many recipes because different crock-pots cook slower or faster than others. If your dish is done at the lowest time range turn it off or if your crock-pot has a “warm” setting put it on warm to keep it till time to serve.