This article was last updated on January 6th, 2021
Let’s say that you don’t have a slow cooker for one reason or another. You either will not be able to slow-cook foods, or you will have to swap out the slow cooker with another cooking pot option.
What can I use instead of a slow cooker? Dutch ovens make for an excellent alternative to slow cookers, and in the days before the electric slow cooker, people would slow cook their food in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Even today, Dutch ovens popularly get used to slow cook foods.
If you’d like to learn more about Dutch ovens and how to slow cook foods, keep reading for further information. We will cover how to slow cook your food as effectively as possible even without a slow cooker.
What Else Can You Use Besides Slow Cookers?
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 used as a slow cooker.
What matters here comes down to turning the oven or stovetop on a low temperature so that it cooks the meat and veggies slowly.
You can start the food preparation at the stovetop by searing or browning ingredients in the pot. Then add all ingredients including liquids required.
Cover the pot and bring to the simmer.
- Turn the cooktop down to a slow simmer or;
- Place the covered pot into the oven at say 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: To slow cook on the stovetop, 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, 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 the ingredients soften. The end result is that slow cooked meals are generally runnier until you thicken it – if desired.
When you cook the same dish in a Dutch oven you will need extra liquid due to the steam that will build up inside the Dutch 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.
Cooking 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 a Dutch oven. Slow cooking has the advantage in that it tenderizes the meat for the less expensive cuts. At the same time, slow cooking your meats adds flavor.
Don’t Leave Home!
During the process of 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, and after that point, it would shut off automatically. You probably shouldn’t run your slow cooker for this long, anyway, because it could become a fire hazard.
Advantages of Not Using a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker cooks things slowly, and the meat is less tender and the vegetables more firm. You will never get the same results from an electric slow cooker that you would a Dutch oven, which could explain why Dutch ovens remain popular even today.
In terms of the quality of the food, it will taste better coming out of a Dutch oven. Many times when people cook sauces in an electric slow cooker, the sauce doesn’t thicken the way that it should because of the temperature difference.
Can I Cook a Slow Cooker Recipe in the Oven?
Yes, you can cook a slow cooker recipe in the oven in most cases. 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, and as shown above, it might taste better too.
The Dutch oven is the old-fashioned version of the electric slow cooker. Just turn the temperature down low 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 electric 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 that people still use the Dutch oven comes from the fact that it takes 25 percent of the time that 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 up to $600, depending on the Dutch oven.
The electric slow cooker has benefits that the Dutch oven can’t beat. For example, at a potluck dinner, keeping foods in an electric slow cooker is convenient and keeps the foods warm.
In contrast, the Dutch oven tends to make your recipes taste better. Some vegetables taste terrible if you overcook them. The Dutch oven 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 the Dutch oven even comes with its share of advantages like faster cooking and better flavor. Eventually, you may want to have an electric cooker because of how they do come in handy.
A person could get their food ready before work, head to the office, and return to have their food cooked.
It does have some danger of fire, 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.
Tips for using a Dutch oven as a slow cooker – here
Do you need a Dutch oven or slow cooker? – here
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