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Sep 25, 2012 05:59 AM

Dutch oven vs. Slow cooker

I have been reading (on another site) about loads of delicious-sounding slow cooker or crockpot recipes.
I do not own a slow cooker, and live in an apartment with a not-at-all- spacious kitchen (read NYC apartment!!) so to buy and store another appliance is something I need to weigh. I've been wondering what I could do with a slow cooker, that I cannot do with my dutch oven.
Can slow-cooker recipes easily be converted to dutch oven cooking? Is the advantage of the slow cooker that you can leave it on all day and then come home to a finished meal?
I am asking for help in deciding whether or not I should bite the bullet and get a slow cooker, or if I can do basically the same recipes with the dutch oven?
Also, if you REALLY think a slow cooker is indispensible, can you suggest a brand and features that I should look for?

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  1. The advantage is what you mentioned - walking away from the appliance. I personally love my slowcookers as do many people. There are many that don't care for them, which is also fine.

    Yes, you can convert the recipes to a dutch oven. There are charts to do this online.

    My suggestion is that if you think you would like a slowcooker but are worried, wait until Black Friday when they are often on ridiculously low special for the day. Get one for next to nothing and try it out. Similarly try borrowing one for a couple of weeks from a friend (don't forget to share what you make with them!) and give it a try. You don't needfeatures though, just low, high and off. Warm is nice to have though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Astur

      Eh, mines also has a timer for both high and low, once time is reached it automatically switches to warm. I bought it on sale a few years ago and haven't seen it since.

      I love that little feature since I don't have anyone at home to turn down the slow cookers when I'm at work.

      1. Thanks, Astur, for the suggestions and the rave about slowcookers. I certainly CAN wait until Black Friday!!
        And thank you, lwhit for the link. That was great!!

        1. We have a slow cooker that was used twice and end then boxed up and put into storage. Other than being able to walk away from it, I found no advantages to using a dutch oven. What really turned me off was a recipe for a roast where you first had to brown the meat in a dutch oven and then put it into the slow cooker and add the other ingredients. If I've got it in the dutch oven already, what is the slow cooker doing for me? I'm not one much for dumping in a bunch of things in the morning and coming home from work to a pot of some bubbling mass with a slick of grease on top. If you want one, you can have mine.

          ETA: Anything that can be made in a slow cooker can be made better in a dutch oven.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Bkeats

            "... Anything that can be made in a slow cooker can be made better in a dutch oven."

            Ditto - if not better, at least as good.

            1. re: Bkeats

              To each his/her own. I find it invaluable for making chicken stock (just did this weekend), and it's great for beef stews and similar meals. Which are not laden with a slick of grease on top. ::::shrug:::

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Why was it invaluable for making stock? I just made stock last night, in a small dutch oven on the stove top.

                1. re: paulj

                  Because I can start it at any time (including 8pm, which I've done in the past) and let it go for 18-24 hours without having to be there - or be awake.

              2. re: Bkeats

                I agree with you about 95%. I do find that legumes like chickpeas and navy beans do awfully well in the slow cooker. But mostly I prefer my Dutch oven. My cooker is newer and I find it disconcertint to walk in hours later and find it bubbling away when it's on low. I know the newer ones are set to run warmer, but....

                1. re: lemons

                  Yup. I suppose if my current (very old) crock pot decides to go to appliance heaven, I'll either not get a new one that cooks at a much higher temp, or search yard sales for another old one.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Usually Salvation Army Stores and Goodwill Stores have crockpots that have rarely, if ever, been used for a minimal amount of money.

                    1. re: Wtg2Retire

                      Yes, but most often they'll be the newer models. I think they switch to the higher temp models happened about 10-12 years ago, so they'd have to be older than that. Other than the designs on the sides of the heating element, I'm not sure how I'd be able to determine an older model anyway. Which is why I baby my current one. :-)

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        If it has mushrooms on it or small gold, brownish flowers, it's an older one. :)

              3. In the summertime, using a slow cooker greatly reduces heat in the kitchen. Personally, I love to cook in the slow cooker.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Wtg2Retire

                  This is the one clear advantage slow cookers have. However, I usually don't find myself wanting stews, braised meats, chili, etc. during the summer. I think of them as cooler weather dishes which then mitigates the advantage.

                  As the OP has a NYC sized kitchen like me, I don't think there is any particular reason to get a slow cooker. I look for multi-function which applies to a dutch oven. Adding a slow cooker won't allow her to do anything she can't currently do. It takes up a lot of space in a small kitchen. For those of you who have not experienced a NYC style kitchen, it will surprise you how little space you have to work with. Its not at all like those apartments you saw in Friends.