dutch oven vs slow cooker?

victoriajaneJuly 10, 2009

I've been reading past posts listing people's opinions on the essential kitchen cookware, and the enameled cast iron pot (or dutch oven, it's sometimes called, like a Le Creuset but different brands carry them) comes up again and again. I'm wondering: for what you would use enameled cast iron for (stews, low slow meats like brisket, roasts, etc.), can you substitute a slow cooker? Do they serve the exact same function or is there another use for the enameled cast iron that can't be done with the slow cooker? Or is it a question of the food tasting better with the enameled cast iron? I'm just wondering if it would be redundant to have both. thanks so much!

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I have both, and there is some overlap in their functions. However, an enameled dutch oven can be used in more ways than a slow cooker can. You can use it as a stovetop utensil to make stuff like spaghetti sauce, or as a soup pot. You have a greater range of cooking temperatures to choose from. You can cook something on high heat then reduce the heat and finish the dish by cooking slowly either on the stovetop or in the oven.

It also can be used as a nice serving dish in that most of them are attractive and the iron holds the heat well so the food stays warm on the table.

The main advantage of the slow cooker is the 'set it and forget it' aspect, which is nice if you're working. I feel safe putting some stuff in the slow cooker and then leaving the house for a few hours; I wouldn't feel safe doing that with a dutch oven on the stove or in the oven.

The most common use for enameled dutch oven is probably braising; browning some meat and then adding a little bit of liquid, and putting the dutch oven in a slow oven for hours to cook the meat into scrumptious goodness. A great cookbook for this technique is Molly Stevens' "All About Braising". One of my favorite braises is the one listed in the dutch oven thread; it's for 'gigot a sept heures' or seven hour leg of lamb. Great stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: dutch oven thread

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:52AM
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I have both a slow cooker and enameled dutch oven. I prefer the enameled dutch oven. Many times I have left the dutch oven, at noon, in the oven and set the oven to turn on at a certain time and come home to a sumptious dinner. I never have trusted the slow cooker, when i am not home.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 1:21PM
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kris, that's interesting, because I think it is the reverse for most people, i.e. they feel comfortable leaving the house with the slow cooker on but not the oven. Can I ask why you feel the opposite? I have left the oven on with something like a roast in it for short periods of time (picking up kids from practice for example) but never for hours and hours. I'm not exactly sure what I fear is going to happen; I just thought I wasn't supposed to. However, like you, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be leaving a crock pot plugged in and cooking while I was away, either.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 10:15PM
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I don't like leaving corded appliances running when I am gone. Every now and then there will be a story about a fire started by a bad cord on a coffee pot or other appliance. I just feel my oven is safer, it is self-cleaning and designed for high heat for a period of time. I don't worry about leaving it on at 300-325 degrees for a long time.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 1:16PM
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My daughter asked me if I was afraid to leave the house with the slow cooker on? I asked her if she left her home with the furnace or hot water heater on :)
I use both. I have a stainless steel stove top dutch oven that was bought in 1951 or 1952. Can't remember which. It cooked for 7 people for many years and now it cooks for one. I have a small slow cooker I use when I am going to be in and out or before retiring. They both have their advantages and I wouldn't want to give up either of them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 3:21PM
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I don't have a slow cooker...but have sure eating more than enough meals cooked in one.
I much prefer a cast iron dutch oven. many many times I have browned a piece of meat and added onions broth seasonings etc and put it into the oven at 225 about 10, left for the day, returned at 5 or 6 to lovely browned meat and lushous gravy.
I feel much better about leaving my oven on thnt a corded appliance.
I call a cast iron enameled Dutch oven a cordless crock pot! LOL!
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 10:22PM
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I call a cast iron enameled Dutch oven a cordless crock pot! LOL!

Linda, that was basically my question...if I can do the same thing with an enameled cast iron dutch oven in my range on low heat as I could do in a crock pot, than do I even need to get a crock pot at all?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 9:33PM
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In my view, nope!
Others will disagree....

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 7:38PM
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I haven't used my crock pot in years, I think I will garage sale it. I can always use the extra space.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 12:33PM
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I agree with Linda. I actually have three different pots that do essentially the same thing: slow cooker, dutch oven and pressure cooker. I never use the slow cooker. In fact I don't even keep it in my kitchen anymore, it's stored in a shelf in my laundry room along with some other things I use only occasionally.

I use the dutch oven a lot and as was said above, it does the same thing. Now, the advantage to the pressure cooker is that it does the same thing too, only much faster. So I do use the PC when I want to cook fast but get the same result as if I'd cooked low and slow.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 2:57PM
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beachlily z9a

I was in Tuesday Morning a couple of days ago and they had Le Creuset stuff there. I am in the market for a 5 qt. Dutch Oven because I've given away all my Cruisinart pans due to a new induction range I'll get next week. Well, joy, I had trouble lifting the lid. Forget the pan itself. I have carpel and arthritis and it seldom bothers me (I garden like crazy and cook .... ).

Anyway, I went to Williams-Sonoma, after all they have expensive, lovely stuff. On sale, I purchased a 4 qt. Lagostina soup pot that arrived today. It is absolutely beautiful! This is like Christmas (except I have to pay the bills, which I will do happily!). New french door stainless refrigerator and this pot. Then a range. My birthday is in the first week in Aug. Bet those presents are going to be slim!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 7:08PM
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Well, I still like having a slow cooker in addition to my 2 dutch ovens. The slow cooker is great for times when you can't be near the stove all day -- if you work or have a full day of activities, it's a joy to come home to a ready cooked meal. A slow cookers is also nice to use for entertaining as it holds company-sized amounts and keeps the contents hot. My crock pot is my preferred tool for making apple sauce and apple butter. The apples cook down nicely without sticking. Re fire hazard and small appliances, the biggest danger comes from cords that are loose or broken. If the cord's in good shape, there's little to worry about.

I found this article (link below) that says using a stove for an hour or two is more energy efficient than using a slow cooker all day. But by the same arithmetic, using an oven to slow cook a dutch oven for more than a couple of hours uses way more electricity than a crock pot.

Here is a link that might be useful: electricity usage -- slow cooker vs. oven

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 11:09PM
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Another plus to a slow cooker is that using it will not tie up your oven at a low temp for most of the day. Fine to use the oven with a dutch oven, but if you don't have double ovens, you won't be able to bake your bread, pie, or anything else. This m,ay or may not be important to you, but for most of us, all it takes is once for it to be a PITA. That's when I bought my first slow cooker many years ago.

About leaving corded appliances. I'd only worry about it if there are pets in the house when I am away. You know that the cat is on your counter when you're away!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 10:34AM
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beachlily z9a

I just got a induction stove. When reading the manual, I found that the oven has a slow cook setting--170 degrees. This works for me!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 10:35AM
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Two reasons to have the crockpot:

1. during hot weather, we use the crockpot on the deck or in the garage to keep the heat down in the kitchen.

2. for large holiday meals, we use crockpots so oven can be used for the meat and other dishes. We always make the Thanksgiving stuffing in the crockpot as well as soups at Christmas.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 6:07PM
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sushipup and path, good point about the crock pot freeing up the oven for other dishes. We have a 36" Bluestar range which is big, but no additional wall oven. So maybe I need both.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 7:50PM
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I use the crock pot as a warmer to keep things like mashed potatoes warm while I finish the rest of the dinner for big family dinners.They don't get scorched like they would on the stove.
I also use it to keep baked beans warm that I cooked on the stove.
They are great for keeping rolls and corn muffins warm when you making a lot for a big family dinner.If they get too moist then place a paper towel or napkin over the top.

I rarely use it for cooking. We don't care for way the meat and vegetables turn out for stews.It does a good job on spaghetti sauce because you don't have to worry about it burning with a long cooking time.

I like my dutch oven for stews.It does a great job on tough meat.After slow cooking it for hours, it will be tinder.
I like to make chicken stews as well.

A small dutch oven is great as a deep fryer.You don't need so much oil and it holds it's temperature well.You can deep fry donuts or tempera with great results.You don't need a deep fryer that you might only use once a month.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 9:41AM
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Forgot to add: a slow cooker is the easiest way to cook squash. Just rinse the squash and put the whole thing in a crock pot. No need to slice it half or peel it. Turn crock on low, and the squash is done in 5 to 6 hours, nice and soft. Just slice, scoop out seeds & eat. Sure beats wrestling with a hard squash and sharp knife. I eat a lot of squash - spaghetti, butternut, acorn - and this method is soooo easy!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 1:59PM
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I know this is an old thread, but I just want to thank whoever posted the temperature for an induction cooker that equals a crockpot.

I have a fully gadgeted kitchen, and have to cook a totally simple beef stew, no browning, for a friend's party tonight. After reading this thread, I can cook this, getting good results, in the following ways:

Either of the Gaggenau wall ovens
Either of the LaCanche ovens
The Advantium
Induction cooktop with Dutch Oven
Slow cooker
Sous Vide Supreme
Polyscience Sous Vide
Pressure cooker

My suggestion is not to go down this path. :~)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 12:33PM
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What did you finally end up choosing? I probably would have gone with browning the meat in a Dutch oven and then cooking the stew in a pressure cooker. However, some Lacanches have those warming cupboards, which I understand can be used for slow cooking, and I would have wanted to try that. My only induction experience is with a portable unit, and the Staub Dutch oven gets too hot on it, even on the lowest setting, so it is no good for stews.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Sorry, didn't see kd's reply.

I used a Dutch oven in an oven, as the recipe called for. This recipe does not even call for browning the meat.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 9:17AM
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