Slow cookers produce low levels of heat over long periods of time to cook your chosen meal, but having the lid fitted securely on top of the slow cooker is pivotal to ensuring good results.
If you’ve lost your slow cooker lid or it has been damaged and rendered unsafe to use, then this doesn’t mean you need to throw out your slow cooker. There are plenty of options you can look into as slow cooker lid alternatives so that you can continue to enjoy slow-cooker meals. Possible choices include using aluminum foil, a chopping board, a plate, or a replacement lid.
Here we delve deeper into the topic of slow cooker lid replacements to arm you with all of the essential information you need in the event of a loss of a broken slow cooker lid.
Are Slow Cooker Lids Necessary?
If you have lost or damaged your slow cooker lid then you might be wondering if you can just use your slow cooker without it. While your cooker will technically still work without a lid, it isn’t going to get close to the temperatures required to safely cook your food or break down the meat for a really tender result. Slow cookers typically reach between 170° and 280° F at a maximum, but they take a long time to hit these temperatures.
On the high setting, your slow cooker will typically take around 4 hours to reach a simmering point, while on the low setting, a time span of 8 hours is more common. The lid of the slow cooker is vital in keeping the hot air inside the crockpot and therefore maintaining the temperature to ensure food is cooked to a safe level.
It is estimated that every time you take the lid off your slow cooker to check on the food or give it a stir, so much hot air will escape that you can expect to add an extra 30 minutes to your cooking time. If taking the lid off for a few seconds affects the cooking time this much, then cooking without any lid at all will obviously seriously impact the length of time it takes a slow cooker to get to a safe temperature.
Without a lid, it’s highly likely that a slow cooker may not reach the necessary temperature at all, even if you cook for double the recommended time. Food needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 165° F to be safe to eat, so if this isn’t possible without a slow cooker lid, then you won’t be able to eat your meal.
Why Do Slow Cooker Lids Break?
Slow cooker lids are made from tempered glass, which is designed to withstand heat. However, it isn’t wholly unbreakable.
Sudden temperature change
Sudden temperature changes can cause the glass in a slow cooker lid to crack, which will render it unsafe to use. You can avoid this instance by waiting for a hot slow cooker lid to cool down before you wash it, and avoid using the crockpot of the slow cooker inside appliances that get to very high temperatures, such as a conventional oven.
Harsh cleaning products
Abrasive cleaning products can wear down the strength of slow cooker lids so that they don’t last as long as they should. To extend the lifespan of your slow cooker lid, wash it by hand with regular dish soap, and avoid using harsh cleaners with abrasive qualities.
Slow cooker lids should be stored with the slow cooker itself, ideally on its own shelf inside a kitchen cabinet or on the kitchen counter. If you throw your slow cooker lid into a pan drawer with other pots and pans, then you can expect it is going to succumb to breakage sooner rather than later.
Slow cookers typically have a long life span, and many people notice that their grandparents are still using slow cookers, which they’ve owned since the 1970s or 80s. Like any piece of kitchen equipment, nothing lasts forever, so if your slow cooker lid breaks after several decades of use, then you can put it down to old age.
Can I Use a Cracked Slow Cooker Lid?
If your slow cooker lid is cracked, but still in one whole piece, it is not safe to use and should be disposed of. A cracked slow cooker lid is liable to shatter or release fragmented pieces of glass while being used, which could result in shards of glass winding up in your food. Don’t take the risk, and throw away slow cooker lids as soon as they show any signs of breakage.
What to Use Instead of a Slow Cooker Lid
If your slow cooker lid has been damaged or misplaced, you can use items you already have in the kitchen instead.
Probably the best alternative to a slow cooker lid is tin foil or aluminum foil. This is a low-cost product that most people already have in their kitchen, and it can be cut to any size or shape to match your slow cooker. Fold your tin foil over the top of your slow cooker crock pot and tuck it around the edges to prevent any hot air from escaping. Be sure to use an oven glove when removing the foil, because it can get very hot.
If the crock pot of your slow cooker is perfectly flat, then a chopping board can work as a temporary replacement for a slow cooker lid. As long as your chopping board is larger than the slow cooker, it will cover the opening and prevent hot air from getting out.
A tempered glass cutting board works as a great slow cooker lid because it also allows you to see inside to check on your recipe. You can also use wooden chopping boards as slow cooker lids, but be aware that they will absorb lots of moisture from inside the slow cooker, which can cause them to swell and become ruined.
If you’re lucky, you might find a plate in your kitchen cabinet which perfectly fits the size of a round slow cooker. The plate can be used upside down or right way up, depending on what gives you the most secure fit, and it should be a little larger than the slow cooker so that it doesn’t fall into the pot.
A larger plate will also give you better grip when you need to remove it. If your slow cooker is an oval shape, then a plate probably isn’t going to be a good match for this.
If your lid is lost or damaged, then you may be able to find a replacement lid that works just as well. Contact your manufacturer to see if they still sell the make and model of the slow cooker and if they are able to send you a replacement lid.
Alternatively, some manufacturers online sell generic slow cooker lid replacements for those slow cookers which are made to common or standard sizes. Always measure your slow cooker before ordering a generic replacement lid to ensure it’s going to be a good fit and you aren’t wasting money.