Can I Substitute a Dutch Oven for a Crock Pot?
I got this question in my inbox a few days ago. I think it's a pretty good question. The beauty of a crock pot is that the heat comes from the bottom and the sides and is kept low and consistent with a thermostat.
The heavy lid locks in moisture, so you can set it and forget it. Just walk away for a few hours and return to a beautiful braise, stew, or chili.
I am a big proponent of the crock pot for braising. But maybe you have limited space. Or maybe you have cats that might jump up on the counter and burn themselves on a hot crock pot while you're away at work.
Regardless, the short answer to the question of substituting a Dutch oven for a crock pot is "yes."
After all, the crock pot was designed to replace a Dutch oven in the first place, so cooks wouldn't have to heat up their oven to cook a meal. Temperature regulation is the main concern in adapting a crock pot recipe for a Dutch oven. Most crock pots have two heat settings: low and high.
Depending on the source, these could convert to about 175°F and 195°F, respectively, or it could refer to low and high wattage and not temperature.
Since there is no Low or High setting on an oven thermostat, we kind of have to take a guess. One thing about cooking in a Dutch oven inside a conventional oven is that cooking is usually a bit faster than using a Crock Pot.
If a crock pot recipe calls for 8-10 hours of cooking, you can complete the cooking in the oven in about 3 ½-4 hours. That doesn't mean, however, that you'll have the temperature twice as high in the oven.
When using a Dutch oven, I generally heat all the ingredients on the stovetop until they reach a boil and then put them in a preheated 210-225° F oven. This very low oven temperature will ensure that your food reaches a safe temperature but will cook proteins gently to stay moist and tender.
While I have seen braising temperature recommendations as high as 325°F, I maintain that braising should be done slowly and at a low temperature.
I would use a Dutch oven instead of a crock pot if needed and keep the oven set no higher than 225 degrees F. I would cook the meat until fork tender, which I generally find takes between 3-4 hours.
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Good question.....good answer.
I just wanted to say that I find you site and your blog very helpful. This entry came up just a day or two before I ran into this exact problem.
I'm using a big kitchen pot for a substitution for a crock pot to cook pinto beans you have to soak for like 10 hours and then it requires another 10 hours of low heat in crock pot, but I'm just using normal kitchen pot and cover so I guess I'll find out what happens and post it.
Thank you! Trying to cook ahead for the week and had 2 crockpot recipes and only 1 crockpot big enough for the recipes! This is a big help.
I'm wondering if you could use a dutch oven on the stovetop and use a low setting with a flame tamer (also known as a flame diffuser). Any ideas anyone?
I actually prefer using a cast iron dutch oven to a crock pot and 225*F works wonderful for everything, and yes, 2-4 hrs takes care of just about anything you can think of to put in there.
BHW, this may be a little late, but yes, the dutch oven can be used on the stove top with a flame tamer.
I looked at several sites to answer this question, not pleased with the answers. When I arrived at this site I thought your answer was spot on. Since we agree we must both be brilliant!