If you’ve been feeling guilty because your crockpot is gathering dust, you’ll love these unusual uses for a slow cooker.
But this versatile piece of kitchen equipment can be utilized for more than cooking food! Check out these great ways to use your slow cooker rather than letting it just sit there taking up cupboard space.
Unusual Uses For A Slow Cooker
1. Make clarified butter: Also known as ghee, this is unsalted butter with all of the milk solids and water removed. The remaining butterfat is soft and liquid, earning its name as ‘gold oil’ in portions of the world. Making clarified butter can be time-intensive on the stove, but it’s easy to do in a slow cooker: place 2 or 3 pounds of butter in the cooker then cover and cook on low. After an hour, skim the milk solids that have floated to the top until you reach clear liquid. Strain that liquid through cheesecloth into a clean jar.
Since this process removes all of the milk solids and water, ghee is shelf-stable: you can leave it on the counter indefinitely, refrigerate it for up to a year, or freeze it forever. Use it in place of vegetable oil for frying or sauteeing: with the milk solids removed it has a high smoke point while still imparting a buttery taste. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to lobster or crab legs.
2. Freshen the air: Whether you need to get rid of cooking smells or want to scent the house for the holidays, your slow cooker can also serve as an air freshener.
Fill it 3/4 of the way with water, add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Turn it on HIGH and leave it uncovered. The steam will waft fragrance throughout your house. No essential oils on hand? Toss in cinnamon sticks, star anise and whole cloves, or even some apple and orange peels.
3. Make new candles from your old ones: We all have those old candles that are lopsided or have holes burned through one side. Rather than toss them in the trash, use the slow cooker to make new ones. Be sure to use a crockpot liner so your slow cooker stays food safe, though.
To rehab old candles dump them in the lined crockpot and turn it on LOW. After the wax melts, fish out the old wick and gather your heatproof containers. Tie a weighted candle wick (Amazon $9.69) on a pencil laid across the container’s rim and let the other end dangle into the empty container. Carefully ladle the melted wax into the container without disturbing the wick and let cool. Voila, new candles!
4. Dye fabrics and yarn: Got a black t-shirt that’s looking gray, or some other fabric or yarn you’d like to dye? Your slow cooker can do it without making a horrible mess!
First, line the slow cooker with a crockpot liner (available at most grocery stores) then mix the dye in the crockpot following the instructions on the bottle. Soak your fabric or yarn in equal parts water and vinegar then squeeze it out and transfer it to the crockpot. Stir well with a non-porous spoon and let it “cook” covered on HIGH.
After an hour, turn the heat off and remove the lid. Let the contents reach room temperature (2 to 4 hours) then carefully remove the fabric and transfer it to a sink filled with cool water and 1 cup of salt to “set” the dye. Rinse well and dry.
5. Make your own body lotion: Skip the parabens and artificial fragrances and get soft, naturally moisturized skin. Again, you’ll want to use a crockpot liner to keep your slow cooker food safe and make cleanup a breeze.
To make your own lotion, melt 8 oz. cocoa butter in 2 oz. of distilled water in your slow cooker on LOW, then stir in 1 oz. of beeswax, 4 oz. of sweet almond oil, and 2 oz. of coconut oil. Turn off the heat, stir in essential oils if you’d like to add fragrance, and immediately pour the hot liquid into clean jars. The lotion will thicken into cream as it reaches room temperature. Once fully cool, cover tightly and store in a dark cupboard.
Of course, if these projects all seem too labor-intensive you can always find recipes on my Crockpot Cooking Pinterest Board to make everything from soup to nuts!
Note: This entry was originally published August 19, 2011. It has been completely revised and updated for republication.