Dutch Oven Vs Slow Cooker: Everything You Need to Know
Are you planning to invest in high-quality cookware to make a deliciously tender slow cook pot roast or maybe a rich beef stew? Most people would suggest either getting a Dutch oven or a Slow cooker (crock pot). However, these two are often confused, especially on how they work. Of course, you are allowed to have both because there are similarities - but there are also differences.
What Is The Difference Between A Slow Cooker And A Dutch Oven?
The main difference is that the slow cooker has its own power supply whereas the dutch oven does not, however, the cooking technique is similar.
Can You Use A Dutch Oven As A Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can the cooking technique and recipes are similar and in some cases identical. Whereas a conventional oven is somewhat different. But in most cases, you can substitute a dutch oven for a slow cooker?
If you are using a stovetop pots for cooking a lot have a look at the All Clad d3 vs d5 - they are top quality pots.
Look at both to fully understand the Is a dutch oven the same as a slow cooker?
What is a Dutch Oven?
Dutch ovens have existed for hundreds of years already. It originated in The Netherlands where people usually bring this with them when traveling in order not to carry a lot of equipment, since a Dutch oven can be used in several ways in cooking. It was first designed as one-pot cooking for several stale foods because of its large size and durable material.
As you have observed, Dutch ovens are made with an enamel coating and cast iron to further prevent the food particles from sticking, hence making them easier to clean(called an enameled dutch oven). A cast-iron Dutch oven needs an external heat source that comes from either a stovetop, microwave, or oven that should be in low to medium-high heat. It is versatile in cooking and can be cleaned in a dishwasher.
In addition, a Dutch oven can also be used in serving the food straight from the stovetop to the tabletop. Modern Dutch ovens are made with presentable colors and designs, making them suitable to bring during potlucks or random dinners with friends. It also keeps the food moist for a long time just like a slow cooker. A dutch oven recipe is similar to a slow cooker recipe so you can usually use them interchangeably.
Dutch ovens can be purchased in larger sizes than slow cookers - see also best large pots for cooking for a crowd.
What is a Slow Cooker?
A slow cooker is sometimes referred to as a "crock pot". This is a type of cookware that works similarly to a self-contained Dutch oven. A slow cooker can also be a substitute for an electric pot that cooks at low to medium temperatures.
A slow cooker has its own heat source, thus it will allow you to set your own setting that will work best for your dish. Whether you set it on warm, low, and medium heat, it will give you the desired result that you expect, especially when you want to do a corned beef. A slow cooker also provides a setting for you to set a timer on your desired cooking time, so as not to undercook or overcook. Usually, an electric pressure cooker, like an instant pot can be used as a slow cooker.
When using one, it is best to use it if your oven is not preheated. Also, a slow cooker is safe to be used if you plan to leave it for a couple of hours and can help.
What is the Difference Between a Dutch Oven and a Slow Cooker?
Below are the differences that we have listed down according to their materials used, cooking ability, usability, and cost. That said, find out which one works for you best.
A Dutch oven made of cast iron is known as a "cast iron Dutch oven". Since it prevents food from sticking, it's best used in frying, even if it has an external heat source like a stovetop. Moreover, there are two types of cast iron Dutch oven that you can see in the marker. They are:
An enameled cast iron Dutch oven is easy to clean since it prevents the food from sticking to the bottom. Because of its enamel coating, you will not need to season it before using it. Its interior coating will help get rid of the time in a short time.
This is quite the opposite of the previous one. Before using this, you will need to season it properly since it has a high tendency of retaining the food in the bottom. It does not have a coating, hence it can absorb the flavors from the food so well. So, a deep cleansing is needed from you.
On the other hand, slow cookers also come in several types. Here are they:
A basic slow cooker uses a ceramic rock and a metal base for its material. It has a manual timer, allowing you to change the settings low, high, and off heat. If you are a beginner, this would be perfect since it is very easy to use.
A modern mid-tier slow cooker uses a high-quality stainless steel material for better cooking. It has functional features such as a timer function for the hours or minutes of cooking and a warming feature. The timer feature is essential in helping you maintain the heat and automatically turns it off after the controlled cooking time. It can also automatically switch to a warming mode after hours of slow cooking.
A high-end slow cooker has all the features of the previous types of slow cookers (basic and mid-tier). Some use LED displays while some use stainless steel materials for more durability. Depending on the brand, some high-end slow cookers will allow you to have another cooking method aside from slow cooking.
As known by many users, there are many ways in which a Dutch oven provides an excellent cooking experience. You can cook meats directly on the stove while using less heat than a frying pan. Also, a Dutch oven can make beef, pork, lamb stews simmer with a deep flavor without giving too much moisture. And the Dutch oven's cooking methods can produce vibrant flavors and with seasoning, you can produce some amazing dishes. I love chili made with beef broth - a dutch oven chili is like nothing else!. The dutch oven and crock pot recipe will handle especially with tough cuts of meat and turn them into pull apart tender.
Even though you don't have the option of leaving the Dutch oven, you may have to add something to the dish as it cooks to keep it moist. As such, make sure that it has a tight-fitting lid to keep the moisture intact while maintaining a delicate balance of the flavor and texture.
While the slow cooker can be used to cook stew and tenderize tough cuts of meat. It is a game-changer in the kitchen by giving you the option to leave the appliance on overnight or turn it on and leave the house without worrying about burning it. It is also an advantage if you are busy and need more time to cook, especially if you have a lot of dishes that take several hours to be finished.
The slow cooker couldn't cook things that needed to be charred. It was a bit uniformly moist, which is good for some meats but leaves a soggy feeling in others but it did a great job in browning different cuts of meat.
These are the best thing to do in cooking in a slow cooker:
A Dutch oven is more flexible in offering different cooking options. Almost any oven recipe such as baked salmon can be done perfectly. It can also be used in stovetops and microwaves. A Dutch oven can also be used either halfway through your cooking or in finishing things off.
While a slow cooker gives flexibility in leaving the appliance on for a longer period of time than a Dutch oven. It lets you save so much time in cooking while doing other things that need to be done. Many people get nervous about leaving the whole house while an appliance is still on, but this is not the case for a slow cooker.
A high-quality Dutch oven can be bought for around $100 only. However, products that come from reliable and established brands like La Creuset cost around $170.00 for a 3.5 qt Dutch oven. That price is an enamel cast iron sloping sides and a large surface area ideal for simmering and reduction. It has a secure grip, ergonomic handles, and tight-fitting lids. Its versatile shape will allow you to do searing, sautéing, braising, frying, and more.
On the other hand, small slow cookers also cost the same as Dutch ovens. They have an estimated price of $60 to $180, depending on the brand, size, and functions. For an instance, the All-Clas oval-shaped slow cooker can be bought at $179.00 only. It is a 6.5-Quart programmable slow cooker that comes with an LCD screen. It has three settings for you to choose from: Keep warm mode, Slow cooking settings in High mode which is 2 to 8 hours, and low mode that cooks for 4 to 20 hours.
Can You Use a Dutch Oven Instead of a Slow Cooker
Technically, you can use a Dutch oven instead of a slow cooker. This is because a slow cooker was invented using a Dutch oven as its basis. When you do this, take note that you need to modify the recipe a little to match the differences in the cooking process.
If you need to convert a slow cooker to a Dutch oven, here's what you need to do:
Be sure to add water to your recipe and check its texture all the time. The moisture level is essential, especially if you want to cook faster without drying a large portion of the meat. If it is tough meat, it is better to slice it down to smaller pieces, unless you are roasting a whole chicken.
Another important thing is to adjust the time. If you're cooking for ten hours in your slow cooker, reduce the time to two hours and check until you've got the right result that you want, as a dutch oven can take 25% of the time.
If you need to convert a Dutch oven to a slow cooker, here's what you need to do:
It's better to add less water or moisture to a slow cooker. You're at risk of having soggy dishes because the slow cooker lid tends to fit much tighter, hence the moisture cannot come out unlike in the Dutch oven. If you want to make the recipe look good, cut down on the moisture by a third. And as you progress, you can always add more water. You will know how to proceed once you have mastered it.
When using a slow cooker, you do not have to slice the large meat into small pieces; just leave larger pieces behind. Cooking small pieces in a slow cooker can result in scorched meat, especially if cooked for a longer period.
It's a good idea to sear your meats on the stovetop. If you have a particularly tender cut of meat, it is a good idea to sear it before putting it in the slow cooker in order to preserve some of the flavors. It's best to use the high setting on your slow cooker if you have a recipe for 300 degrees or higher.
How long does it take to cook with a slow cooker vs a dutch oven?
Both cook dishes like brisket and potatoes - and the cooking time is almost identical if the cooking temperatures are the same. See above for a conversion example.
One advantage is the slower cooker or crock pot often has a glass lid so you can see the cooking progress on your chicken broth while keeping an eye out for the cooking liquid, is there still enough there.
I would prefer a chuck roast in a dutch oven - but a slow cooker will also do it just fine. You can not use a rice cooker though. At a pinch, you could use a casserole dish in a conventional oven.
When choosing between a Dutch oven versus a slow cooker, you have to consider your style of cooking, which determines the best option you have to get. As a wrap-up, remember that Dutch ovens are versatile because of their materials and cooking times. They are easier to store and have great capabilities for all kinds of meat dishes. While slow cookers are easy to use because you don't have to wait for several hours for your dish to be cooked completely. If you have a really bad cut of meat, it will fall off the bone in a matter of hours. (similar to a sous vide)
Slow cookers are great if you do not have the luxury of time to spend cooking. Both certainly win instead of just using a roasting pan.