Slow Cooker Vs Dutch Oven: Which Is Best For Cooking

Standing in the kitchen and monitoring the dishes while being cooked, isn’t that tiresome? What if you could just set them up for cooking and do other jobs without worrying about constant checkups?

I know that sounds tempting. After all, who wouldn’t prefer to rest a while when warm dishes are cooking? With a slow cooker or Dutch oven, you can do it easily. Both simmer the dishes at low temperatures, making them juicy and delicious.

By seeing the title, you already know we are comparing Dutch oven vs. slow cooker. However, do you know what they are? What’s their job in the kitchen? How would they bring a change in your busy life?

Isn’t it better to have a complete idea about each of them before buying one? If you are looking for the facts that will help you choose easily, dive right into the article!

What Is A Dutch Oven?

dutch oven vs crock pot

The Dutch oven has been around for decades and is still popular because of its usefulness. It is another kitchen cookware made from seasoned cast iron (mostly) or aluminum. Some models are enamel coated, which makes them shiny.

Unlike a slow cooker, it depends on a stovetop, induction, or similar heat sources to heat up and cook. You can also use it for oven baking, which is another plus. A heavy, tightly sealed lid helps in heat retention, making it perfect for multiple types of cooking.

Being a versatile cooking appliance, it can cook various dishes and follow different cooking methods. You can boil, steam, braise, sauté, sear, fry, and even slow cook in a Dutch oven. The idea of a slow cooker came from a Dutch oven! So, yes, you can use it as a substitute for a slow cooker if you want.

Here are Top 3 Dutch Ovens:

  1. Lodge EC6D33 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  2. Crock-Pot Artisan Round Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  3. Lodge L10DOL3 Dutch Oven with Dual Handles

What Is A Slow Cooker?

slow cooker

Let’s start with what a slow cooker is. A slow cooker, also known as a crockpot, is a kitchen appliance that runs on electricity. The crockpot is a company that is specifically famous for making slow cookers.

It features low-temperature cooking for a more extended period, thus earning the name. Depending on your dish, around 4 to 12 hours are needed to cook it thoroughly. However, you can also set it for 48 to 72 hours.

There’s an inner pot, generally made with ceramic or porcelain which heats up through the outer metal pot. A glass lid sits on top, capturing the air and water vapor, creating pressure inside.

The slow cooker maintains a consistent temperature and slowly cooks the dishes with this pressure. Gradual and slow cooking adds more flavor and taste to the recipes making your meal more enjoyable!

Also See: All-Clad Slow Cooker Ceramic Vs Aluminum – Which Is The Best?

Here are top 3 Slow cookers:

  1. Crock-Pot 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker (SCV700-S-BR)
  2. Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker (33443)
  3. Cuisinart PSC-650 6-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Dutch Oven Vs. Crock Pot: Things Need To Know

Now that you know what a slow cooker and Dutch oven are let’s get into the comparison. As I mentioned, you can use a Dutch oven as a slow cooker. It is a suitable replacement. But of course, both crockpot and Dutch oven have their exclusive features. They all come dragging their pros and cons along.

If you have space in your kitchen and money to spend, you can have both. They have different duties to perform. But yes, if you are thinking of buying any one of them, I believe our slow cooker vs Dutch oven comparison will help you.

Dutch OvenCrockpot
MaterialsCast iron, enameled cast ironCeramic, metal
Stovetop usageYesNo
Oven UsageYesNo
Cost/PriceHigh than crockpotLess than Dutch Oven
Best ForStews, soups, braisingPulled pork, Stews, soups

Here are the facts that make slow cookers and Dutch ovens different from each other. You should know about these to make decisions you won’t regret later.

1. Materials

Slow cookers have three different parts made of different materials. The outer shell/ pot is made of iron or other metals and contains heating coils. A smaller inner pot that goes inside is generally ceramic-made. It heats up through the heating coil using electricity. And lastly, the lid that traps the water vapor is glass-made.

On the other hand, you can call a Dutch oven a slow cooker made with an iron cast. Instead of multiple parts, the Dutch oven is single-pot cookware built with seasoned iron. Some of the models are enameled, adding glaze to them. The lid is also heavy and also made of metal.

2. Capacity

The size or capacity of cookware is an essential factor that you should check. If you have a small kitchen area or storage problem, buying anything large will only add a headache for you. But yes, if you have a large family, going for a larger appliance is the only option.

Slow cookers and Dutch ovens have a wide range of sizes available. Slow cookers are usually available from 1 quart to 8 quarts, while Dutch ovens are available up to 13-quart size. So, both of them are suitable for cooking a feast. You should choose depending on your need.

3. Heat Source

Dutch ovens are stovetop cookware that depends on stove flames to heat up. However, you can also use an induction oven or similar electric outlets. You can even put the pot on a campfire, and it will cook the meal for you. As it is oven safe, it can also be used in the oven.

Slow cookers solemnly depend on electricity to heat up and operate. You need a secure and steady connection with optimum voltage for it to function properly. But nowadays, there are models which let you use a stove or induction as a heat source.

4. Temperature

Slow cookers use a low temperature for slow, long-term, unattended cooking. ‘ Low, warm, and high,’ three temperature settings range from 170°F to 280°F. Depending on your dish, you need to set the temperature.

As Dutch ovens depend on stoves or other heat sources, their temperature is never the same. If the flame is high, the temperature will rise, and the temperature will drop, too, if it’s low. However, a Dutch oven can withstand up to 500°F in the oven. But make sure to check that the handles and knob can tolerate that much heat.

5. Heat Retention

As both appliances come with different lids, their capacity for heat retention also varies. Dutch ovens have a heavy metallic lid that tightly seals the pot and doesn’t let the heat escape. Thus, they have a high heat retention rate.

On the other hand, slow cookers feature glass lids that are not as capable as metal lids. Even though they trap water vapors and create pressure efficiently, their heat retention capacity is less than a Dutch oven.

6. Cooking Method

Many crockpots don’t allow you to boil, sauté or stir the ingredients. If you have one of those models, you need to use a different pan for those jobs. Later, you need to assemble everything and set it for slow cooking.

Dutch ovens are called a one-pot cookers, which allows you to do almost everything. You can also use different cooking methods like boiling, frying, baking, or slow cooking.

7. Reduction

As the slow cooker’s heat retention capacity is low, it doesn’t reduce the liquids much. So, if you put 1 Liter of water in it, it is more likely that you will have almost the same amount of liquid at the end of your cooking. So, if you are cooking soup or stew, the consistency will be runny and thinner.

Soups made in Dutch ovens are way thick as they have high liquid reduction. Thanks to this feature, you can enjoy thicker and more flavorful dishes.

8. Versatility

Dutch ovens are way more versatile than crockpots. As I have previously mentioned, slow cooking is one of the many features of Dutch ovens. You can also boil, steam, sauté, braise, bake, fry, and cook different dishes.

Though slow cookers are made explicitly for slow cooking, advanced models are capable of boiling, steaming, sautéing, and stir-frying. But they are only a few.

9. Keep Warm

One thing that makes crockpots beat Dutch ovens is their ‘keep warm’ feature. You can still keep the dishes warm even after cooking on a slow cooker. Some models switch to this mode automatically when the dishes are cooked. With its help, you can keep your meals warm for 12 hours or more! That’s amazing, isn’t it?

10. Cooking Time

As you can adjust the temperature of Dutch ovens by raising the stove flame or oven temperature, you can also accelerate or lengthen the cooking time. You can switch from slow cooking to fast cooking or vice versa if you suddenly have an important matter to attend to.

Slow cookers use low temperatures, the highest being 280°F (approximately) for slow and gradual cooking. So, even at the highest temperature, it will take you at least 4 hours to have a perfectly cooked meal. But yes, you can extend it as much as 72 hours if needed.

11. Maintenance

Any gadget needs maintenance once in a while to function smoothly. If your Dutch oven is one with simply seasoned cast iron, not will any enamel coating, you will need to season it will oil or similar products regularly, especially before cooking. For those with enamel, seasoning is unnecessary, but it’s better to do so once in a while.

As slow cookers are electric appliances, their cords should be checked regularly. Other than this, they don’t require much maintenance.

12. Cleaning Up

Dutch ovens without enamel coatings are not dishwasher-safe at all. You should wash them by hand if you want them to last long. The enamel-coated ones can be washed using a dishwasher; however, it is better to do it by hand.

Depending on the model, some parts of a slow cooker maybe be dishwasher safe. Read the instruction labels properly before throwing any part of a crockpot in the dishwasher.

13. Durability

Both slow cooker and Dutch oven can last for a pretty long time if you use them with care. But as Dutch ovens are metal-made, they tend to last longer than ceramic-made slow cookers. Especially the enameled Dutch oven will last you a lifetime if used properly and carefully.

14. Convenience

If we consider the involvement of cookware, a Dutch oven is undoubtedly the winner. You can do almost all cooking steps in this single pot, making it a single cooker. But slow cookers with no sauté, fry, or boiling feature involve other pans, which in some cases may be a hassle.

But you can apply the ‘set and forget’ policy on a crockpot. As it runs on electricity and has a timer, you don’t need to worry about it turning off. It will automatically switch off and let you know that your dish is ready to serve with a’ ting’. Some models switch to ‘keep warm’ mode and keep the food warm.

However, you can not just forget about your Dutch oven on the stovetop or oven! You wouldn’t want your kitchen to burn off, would you?

Dutch Oven Or Slow Cooker: Which One Is Better?

We can never really pick one from this comparison in a crockpot and Dutch oven. Both appliances have their exclusive features with pros and cons.

While the Dutch oven excels in some sectors, the slow cookers also win some rounds with flying numbers. So, it is rather difficult to point out which one is better.

Depending on your needs, you should choose a Dutch oven or slow cooker. We have mentioned all the sectors we could think of and laid them out before you.

You should go for a crockpot if you are on a tight budget. Dutch ovens are way more expensive than slow cookers. But that’s worth it as you can use it for almost all types of cooking, regardless of method.

Now, you are the one to decide which one you feel suits your kitchen and lifestyle the best.

Frequently Also Asked Questions [FAQ]

Can I bake in a Dutch oven?

Yes, of course! Dutch ovens are made to be oven-safe and thus perfect for any kind of baking. However, if you are baking above 500°F, check whether the handle and knob can withstand that much temperature.

Can you replace the slow cooker with a Dutch oven?

Slow cooking is one of the features of the Dutch oven. Slow cookers were manufactured by being inspired by the Dutch oven. So yes, you can replace a slow cooker with a Dutch oven without any trouble. However, you may not enjoy the facility of ‘keep warm’ in it.

Is it worth buying a Dutch oven?

If you are looking for a kitchen appliance that can do multiple tasks or a one-pot cooker, spending money on a Dutch oven is wise. It can boil, braise, sauté, sear, slow cook, fry, and bake easily.

Can you cook soup in a slow cooker?

Not only just plain soups, but you can also make delicious bone broths, stews, curries, etc., in a slow cooker. That’s the perk of being versatile.

What is a crockpot best for?

There are multiple models of crockpot in the market that can cook soups, stews, curries, gravies, sauté and steam meats and veggies, and stir fry things. If you want your dishes to be tender, juicy, and flavorful, all you need is a slow cooker.

Final Thoughts

Dutch oven and slow cooker or crockpot, whatever you prefer to call them, specialize in different cooking methods and have their own sets of features with advantages and disadvantages. We have done this Dutch oven vs slow cooker article so that you can have a better idea of what makes them different.

In the end, you are the one to make the final call. You know best which one will fit your lifestyle the most. Take your time, go through the facts again if needed and make your choice. Happy cooking!

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