Dutch Oven vs. Slow Cooker: Which Is Better?

Dutch Ovens and Slow Cookers both cook low and slow, but they couldn’t be more different.

George Steckel|Dec 13, 2021
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“A Dutch Oven is the original Slow Cooker,” Chef Julia Sullivan of

Henrietta Red

says. It’s true. Electric Slow Cookers and

Dutch Ovens

are designed to cook the same way: low and slow.

But there are some important differences between the two. The biggest difference is that a Slow Cooker needs to be plugged in. Other than that, there are pros and cons to each option, which we'll get into, right here.

What Is a Dutch Oven?

A

Dutch Oven

is a heavy-bodied pot that excels at searing proteins, braising tough cuts of meat, simmering hearty soups and stews, and baking bread. A Dutch Oven comes in two materials,

Enameled Cast Iron and Unfinished Cast Iron

. The notable difference is that Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens have a layer of enamel over the surface, which creates a smoother cooking surface.

Dutch Ovens are safe to use on gas, electric, and induction cooktops and are oven safe, ranging from a safe oven temperature of 450-500, even though you’ll rarely use them at this high temperature. Our Dutch Oven is oven safe up to 475F.

What Is a Slow Cooker?

A Slow Cooker, also known by a popular brand name, Crock-Pot, is an electronic cooking device that slowly cooks food for long periods of time. To use a Slow Cooker, you simply add ingredients, turn it on, and let the Slow Cooker go for hours.

Which Is Better and Why?

The following topics are things to consider when deciding between purchasing a Slow Cooker vs. a

Dutch Oven

.  And while one might not be better than the other, which one you decide is best will depend on your needs.

Versatility:

Dutch Ovens

are way more versatile than  Slow Cookers. Not only can you make stews like you could in a Slow Cooker, but you can also bake bread, build a pasta sauce, sear meat, sauté vegetables, and plenty more.

A Dutch Oven also provides more heat settings and the option to go into the oven, while a Slow Cooker only has three settings (low, high, warm). This will give you more control as you cook different recipes.

And lastly, a Dutch Oven’s removable lid allows for the option of reducing sauces and stews, giving you the perfect consistency and concentration of flavor. Of course, slow Cookers must be used with their lid on, so you won’t get any evaporation, limiting the flavor in the final dish.

Appearance:

Dutch Ovens

come in all different

sizes and colors

, so you can pick one that you like and one that fits in your kitchen’s style. Slow Cookers have a metallic exterior and can be quite an eyesore on your countertop. If you prefer to keep your kitchen counters clean, both a Dutch Oven and a Slow Cooker can be stored in cabinets.

Safety:

Both

Dutch Ovens

and Slow Cookers are safe to use. However, since both cooking vessels have a “set it and forget” mantra, you must never leave either unattended. Don’t leave a Slow Cooker plugged in or a Dutch Oven on a burner or in the oven while you’re out of the house.  As long as you carefully watch what you’re cooking, then both options are safe.

Durability:

Dutch Ovens and Slow Cookers are durable if you

care for them properly

.  It is best to wash a

Dutch Oven

by hand once it is cooled, avoid using metal utensils, and do your best to cook with it above medium heat. Slow Cookers should be unplugged and completely cooled when cleaned.

Picking the Best One for You

If you want a high-performing piece of cookware in which you can build layers of flavor, bake bread, and use it on a stovetop or in the oven, then a

Dutch Oven like ours

is best for you. On the other hand, if you like adding ingredients all at once and not doing much prep work to build flavor, then a Slow Cooker is best for you.