Let’s say that you don’t have a slow cooker for one reason or another. You will either be unable to slow-cook foods, or you will have to swap out the slow cooker with another cooking pot option. So, what can I use instead of a slow cooker?
You can slow cook without a slow cooker or crock pot with cast iron Dutch ovens, stock pots, pressure cookers, rice cookers, clay pots, casserole dishes, and using the sous vide method.
When using each appliance, the cooking time for your stew or crockpot recipe should be adjusted.
Learn more about a Dutch oven as an alternative and how to use it for slow cooking. We will cover how to cook your food as effectively as possible, even without a slow cooker.
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Slow Cooker Alternatives
Sometimes, a recipe calls for ingredients to be cooked in a slow cooker, but what can you use if you don’t own one? Whether you want to slow cook in a traditional pot pan or other kitchen appliances for slow cooking. Most slow cooker recipes can be prepared using the following cooking methods.
1. Dutch Oven Stovetop or Oven Slow Cooking
Outside of using a Dutch oven as a slow cooker, you can use any cooking pot with a lid as long as you understand the heat characteristics of your stove. Even a casserole dish covered in tin foil could be a slow cooker.
2. Stockpot with a Heat Diffuser
A stockpot with a heat diffuser can mimic the slow cooking process by providing even, low heat. It’s beneficial for dishes that require long, slow simmering. Check out an extensive range of heat diffusers for your stockpot, saucepan, or cooking pot.
3. Heavy Bottom Sauce Pan
While traditionally used for making sauces, this high-quality stainless steel saucepan can also be versatile for slow-cooking smaller portions. Its thick base distributes heat evenly, making it ideal for gentle simmering and braising. Use a tight-fitting lid to retain moisture and control evaporation. Remember that it’s best suited for recipes with smaller quantities due to its capacity.
A cast iron skillet with a well-fitting lid can be an excellent alternative for smaller one-pot meals or dishes requiring slow simmering.
5. Tangine or Clay Pot
Clay pots can be used for slow cooking, similar to a Dutch oven. They help retain moisture and impart a unique earthy flavor to dishes. They are particularly popular for slow-cooking Mediterranean and Asian recipes.
6. Stoneware Casserole Dish for Slow Cooking in the Oven
Oven slow cooking imbues dishes with deep flavors and tenderness like traditional slow cookers. Opt for a heavy-duty, oven-safe pot or casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.
Set the oven to a low temperature, typically between 200°F to 250°F (93°C to 121°C). You can braise the meat on the stovetop and then use the oven to cook for 2-8 hours.
7. Wok with Lid
Some Woks come with lids and can be used for slow-cooking stir-fry dishes or Asian-inspired recipes. The curved shape of the wok allows for an even distribution of heat.
8. Slow Cooking in a Pressure Cooker
Another alternative to slow cookers includes using a stovetop or electric pressure cooker for slow cooker recipes, and it’s just a matter of adjusting the liquid and the cooking time.
9. Slow Cooking in a Rice Cooker
It’s easy to slow-cook a meal without a slow cooker in your rice cooker, as the cooking process is similar to a slow cooker or crockpot. Rice cookers aren’t specifically designed for slow cooking, so always monitor the moisture level to avoid burning or overcooking.
10. Electric Dutch Oven
Another alternative for slow-cooked food is an electric Dutch oven. For even cooking, secure the lid and prevent sticking. Set the appliance to a low or simmer setting and cook for 2-8 hours.
11. Sous Vide Slow Cooking
Sous vide provides precise temperature control, making it a unique way to achieve perfectly slow-cooked dishes. A sous vide immersion circulator is used, and you set the temperature. Commonly, temperatures range from 140°F to 185°F (60°C to 85°C) for slow cooking.
The sealed bag is placed into the water bath, fully submerged. Cooking times can vary greatly, generally for a low temperature for a long time. From 1 hour to 48 hours, depending on the dish.
How to Convert Slow Cooker Recipes to the Stovetop or Oven
|Slow Cooker on Low Setting 200°F||Slow Cooker on High Setting 300°F||Conventional Oven or Stovetop Slow Cooking|
|4 – 6 hours||1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours||15 – 30 minutes|
|6 – 8 hours||2 – 3 hours||35 – 45 minutes|
|8 – 12 hours||4 – 6 hours||50 minutes to 3 hours|
How to Use a Dutch Oven as a Slow Cooker
What matters here is turning the oven or stovetop at a low temperature so that it cooks the meat and veggies slowly.
You can start the food preparation on the stovetop by searing or browning ingredients in the pot. Then, add all ingredients, including the liquids required.
Cover the pot and bring to a simmer.
- Turn the cooktop down to a slow simmer or
- Place the covered pot into the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check the Recipe
Before you begin slow cooking, check the recipe to see that you can convert it from the electric slow cooker over to a Dutch oven. In most cases, you shouldn’t have a problem. It may not even say, which usually means that you can.
Expert Tip: When slow cooking on the stove, you will first brown the meat and add the desired liquid, seasonings, and other recipe ingredients. Once you have brought the pot to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer.
How to Adapt a Recipe from a Slow Cooker to a Stove or Oven
To adapt the recipe for a stovetop or in the oven, you will add one-third to one-half more of the liquid than you would use in an electric slow cooker.
The food put into an electric slow cooker needs the ingredients to be submerged in liquid so that ingredients soften. The result is that slow-cooked meals are generally runnier until you thicken them if desired.
When you cook the same dish in a cast-iron Dutch oven, you will need extra liquid due to the steam that will build up inside the oven due to its heavy, tight-fitting lid.
The liquid in a dish cooked inside a Dutch oven will be thicker and richer due to its self-basting ability. Either running down the side of the oven or dripping off the spikes on the underside of the Dutch oven’s lid.
Slow Cook Without a Slow Cooker
Cooking with a slow cooker hands you the advantage of saving time and effort. Still, you have one crowd of chefs who prefer to cook the old-fashioned way, such as with a Dutch oven.
You don’t have to clutter up your counter space with this cookware. Slow cooking has the advantage that it tenderizes tougher cuts of meat. At the same time, slow-cooking your meats adds flavor.
Don’t Leave Home!
While cooking on a stovetop or in the oven, with a Dutch oven or other cooking pot, you should never leave the stove running and leave. Remain in the home.
With slow cookers, as long as you follow the directions from the manufacturer, you can leave the food slow-cooking overnight or head to the office for the day to come home to a slow-cooked meal.
Slow cookers were designed to cook for long periods. Still, be responsible because they can still be a fire hazard.
Most slow cookers have a 24-hour cycle; after that point, they would shut off automatically. You shouldn’t run your slow cooker this long because it could become a fire hazard.
Advantages of Not Using a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker cooks things slowly, making the meat less tender and the vegetables more firm. You will never get the same results from an electric slow cooker as a Dutch oven, which could explain why Dutch ovens remain popular today.
In terms of the quality of the food, it will taste better coming out of a Dutch oven. When people often cook sauces in an electric slow cooker, the sauce doesn’t thicken the way it should because of the temperature difference.
Can I Use an Oven for a Slow Cooker Recipe?
Yes, you can usually cook a slow cooker recipe in the oven. Check the recipe, but usually, it doesn’t matter if you use an electric slow cooker or a Dutch oven. It will have nearly the same effect as shown above and might taste better, too.
The Dutch oven is the old-fashioned version of the electric slow cooker. Just turn the temperature down to 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit so that it cooks slowly.
Here’s why you can use a Dutch oven instead of an electric slow cooker.
Under the guidance of electrical engineer Irving Naxon, Naxon Utilities of Chicago invented the slow cooker. What makes the slow cooker interchangeable with the Dutch oven comes from the fact that Naxon built the electric slow cooker on the same principles used for the Dutch oven.
This makes it easy to switch out one for the other.
Dutch Ovens Cook Faster
One of the reasons people still use the Dutch oven is that it takes 25 percent of the time an electric slow cooker takes. Most dishes in the Dutch oven will take three-and-a-half to four hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Should You Use the Dutch Oven or the Slow Cooker?
Most cooking fanatics will have the Dutch oven and the slow cooker in their cooking toolbox. Why would you keep both on hand?
First, the slow cooker doesn’t cost quite as much as a Dutch oven. You might pay $40 at most, while a Dutch oven will run you anywhere from $65 to $600, depending on the brand.
The electric slow cooker has benefits that the Dutch oven can’t beat. For example, keeping food in an electric slow cooker at a potluck dinner is convenient and keeps the food warm.
In contrast, the Dutch oven makes your delicious recipes taste better. Some vegetables taste terrible if you overcook them. This cookware lets you add the vegetables later, and you don’t risk overcooking or undercooking them like you would with the slow cooker.
Expert Tip: Want to know how to elevate the flavor of your foods? Stirring in seasonings may work to an extent, but through heating the spice in oil or butter, you can take the flavor of your dish to the next level. This works especially well for browned meat and chicken.
To Finish – What Can I Use Instead of a Slow Cooker?
You can use even a regular pan over a slow cooker, but it would be advisable if you were to use a Dutch oven since this pan preceded the slow cooker.
Cooking this cast-iron pot has advantages, like faster cooking and better flavor. Eventually, you may want an electric cooker because they come in handy.
A person could prepare their food before work, head to the office, and return to have their food cooked.
It does have some fire danger, however, and while people tend to see slow cookers as less of a fire hazard, they have caused eight percent of fires, while Dutch ovens have only caused three percent.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks