If you use a crock pot often, like I do, then at some point you’ve probably wondered “can you put aluminum foil in a crock pot?”
You can use aluminum foil in your crock pot. Cooking with aluminum foil can increase the aluminum contents of food. Medical researchers consider aluminum foil safe to cook with, and increased aluminum exposure has not been shown to cause health problems.
With that said, I personally don’t use aluminum foil in my crock pot, and there are a few reasons for that. So, let’s dig into more details on this subject. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Table of Contents
Is It Safe to Put Aluminum Foil in a Crock Pot?
1. Risk of Disease
You may have heard about increased consumption of aluminum being linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s.
If your primary concern is the increased risk of disease from cooking with aluminum foil, then you shouldn’t be overly concerned.
I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but several respected health organizations/publications have studied the impacts of aluminum levels in people’s diets, and the results have not shown clear links to disease.
For example, Healthline put it this way:
“there is currently no strong evidence linking the use of aluminum foil with an increased risk of disease”
And this statement was referencing research straight from the US National Library of Medicine.
2. Aluminum Does Leach into Food
With the above said, aluminum foil has been shown to increase the aluminum contents of food when used for cooking.
For example, this study on meats baked in aluminum foil, showed that the aluminum contents of the meat increased by “89-378% in red meats and 76-215% in poultry”.
It’s also interesting to note, that the amount of leaching that occurs can increase when:
- You increase the temperatures you cook with
- You cook with acidic foods
- You use certain seasonings in your cooking
As a side note: aluminum foil is thin, and pieces could also get torn off and mixed in with your food. I’ve eaten foil dinners on camping trips enough times to know that accidentally getting a piece of foil in your mouth isn’t pleasant.
If you do choose to use aluminum foil in your crock pot, I recommend you get a ‘heavy duty’ foil which will be much less likely to break apart and have metal flakes in your cooking.
3. Does a Crock Pot Make it Worse?
If we go back to thinking about our crock pots, you may notice that you could potentially be hitting all 3 of the leaching factors (from the previous section) when using a slow cooker.
In other words, crock pots can cook at fairly high temperatures, you may cook acidic foods (for example, chili contains acidic ingredients), and in most cases, you’ll probably use some seasoning (salt, pepper, etc.).
As a result, I think it’s fair to conclude, that if you cook with aluminum foil in your crock pot, some of that aluminum will leach into your meal.
Keep in mind that it’s still generally considered safe to cook with aluminum foil. But personally, I don’t love the idea of extra aluminum leaching into my food. That’s one reason why I choose not to use foil in my crock pot.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, that’s just my own personal choice. But before I jump the gun, let’s cover the reasons why someone might want to use foil in their crock pot in the first place.
Top 5 Uses for Foil in a Crock Pot
There are 5 primary ways that people use aluminum foil in their crock pots.
Here they are:
- Foil collar
- Wrapping food
- Foil balls
- Foil lid
Now we’ll dig into these in a bit more detail.
1. Crock Pot Liner
To make clean-up easier, some folks like to line their crock pot with aluminum foil. I’ve also heard that using foil can help food cook more evenly.
To use aluminum foil as a liner, you just need to do a couple of things:
- Measure out sheets of foil
- Ideally one piece will reach from one side, across the bottom, and up the other side
- Some people like to add extra length, that they can roll-up into handles
- Add sheets to crock pot until the full inside surface is covered
- You may want to add extra layers to make it stronger
And that’s it! Keep in mind that how well this works will also depend on the type of food you’re cooking.
For example, you might be able to lift out a baked quiche if you have layered foil thick enough. But if you cooked soup, you probably aren’t going to be able to do much until the food is emptied.
2. Foil Collar
Crock pots are often hotter on the backside compared to the front, depending on the age, brand, and model. This can cause food to cook unevenly or even to burn.
To solve this problem, some folks like to create a foil “collar” on the back side of the slow cooker, to reduce some of the heat that gets to the food.
To make a collar, you just need to:
- Measure out the length of the back side of your crock pot
- Make 6 layers of aluminum foil (of that same length)
- Place your aluminum foil on the backside of the crock pot
- Note: the foil goes inside the “crock”, so it’s on the back face of the inside of the pot. It will be touching your food.
- Add food to the crock pot
There you have it. It’s a pretty simple way to help your food cook more evenly especially if you have an older model of crock pot where this issue is more common.
3. Wrapping Meat and Veggies
You can wrap meat and vegetables in foil, and then place those individually wrapped food items into your crock pot for cooking.
For example, you could wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and then place the wrapped potatoes in a crock pot to cook.
Here’s a video that shows the basic process:
4. Foil Balls in a Crock Pot
Foil balls can be used to elevate food (especially meats) within a crock pot, to keep it separated from some of the juices that accumulate in the pot.
I haven’t used this method myself, and I don’t know that I’ll have the occasion to do so. When I cook in my crock pot, I mostly cook things where I want all of the different ingredients and juices to blend (like pot roast, chili, etc.)
But, it could be a useful method for you to try.
5. Can You Use Foil as a Lid for a Crock Pot?
If you’re in a pinch, you could create a lid out of aluminum foil, to use with your crock pot. However, if the lid to your crock pot is broken or lost, then it’s probably better to go ahead and buy a replacement or a new crock pot.
A more reasonable use for aluminum foil (related to lids), is to use it to create a better seal around the edges of the lid, if your lid doesn’t hold heat super well.
For example, I have two crock pots. One has a rubber seal on the bottom of the lid, and the other one does not have a rubber seal. The one without the rubber seal doesn’t hold heat as well, so I could wrap the edge in foil to create a better seal.
Alright, now for the wrap-up. Let me begin by saying I’m not a doctor or a scientist but I hope I’ve provided you with enough information to draw your own conclusions about using aluminum foil in a crock pot.
Based on the available information, aluminum foil is considered safe for cooking by medical experts.
However, I don’t think the benefits of using aluminum foil in a crock pot are worth it. At least not in my experience. For example, there are several crock pot liner alternatives, or, my personal preference, you could use no liner at all.
However, if one of the aluminum foil uses really spoke to you, by all means, try it out!
My final parting words of wisdom will be to use heavy-duty aluminum foil so that it’s less likely to break apart into small metal flakes. Now get out there and add some little upgrades to your life.
What are the substitutes for slow cooker liners?
Parchment paper and aluminum foil are two common substitutes for slow cooker liners that are found in most kitchens. If you want to do away with the liners entirely, you can also coat your crock pot in oil to make it easier to clean later.
What Temperature Does a Slow Cooker Cook at?
Slow cookers will generally heat up to about 190-210 degrees Fahrenheit (~87-99 degrees Celsius) on the Low setting and can go up to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (~149 degrees Celsius) on the High setting. However, slow cooker temperatures will vary based on cook time, brand, model, etc.