If you ever wondered what the recommended fill-level is for slow cookers and crockpots you wouldn't be alone. The fill level changes for each recipe, so there may not be a specific fill-level to follow. You will have to adjust the food level basically through trial and error or keep a safe 1.5-inch clearance from the brim of the pot.
If you fill a crockpot or slow cooker right to the top edge of the pot, during the bubbling or simmering process, a vacuum will form which will cause some of the crockpot liquid to be siphoned out of the cooker, and it will drip down the side of the pot and onto your counter.
For this reason, do not fill your slow cooker right to the top, but allow at least 1 to 1-1/2 inches of space below the top edge of the pot to allow ample room for the foods to simmer during cooking. This practice will reduce food waste and avoid a messy cleanup.
How to Keep Foods From Sticking to the Interior of Your Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are designed with a glossy interior finish to help keep foods from sticking and make cleanup easier. However, over time the finish will eventually wear off and foods will start sticking to the walls of the cooker. This will be very noticeable and certain foods, like acidic pasta sauces, can wear off the finish quicker than other foods.
However, if you spray or grease the interior of your slow cooker with a cooking oil spray before placing the food in it, the finish will last a little longer and foods will be less likely to stick to the interior. Though this is only a temporary solution, it can help to extend the cooker's usable life. As the pot gets more unsightly and cleaning becomes more difficult, your only alternative will be to replace the slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Bags Make Cleanup a Breeze
There is another product on the market to save on slow cooker clean-up: slow cooker cooking bags. These are mostly designed to fit large crockpots or slow cookers in the 5 and 6-quart range. They are very simple to use, affordable and a few brands are available in varying pack sizes.
We've tested the Debbie Myer Slowcooking Liners and Reynolds Slowcooker Bags. All of these are similar in construction and size, contain the mess and should be discarded after each use. Once you've tried one, you'll not likely want to be without them. They are time savers.