Whether you’re just starting your slow cooking journey, looking for a cheaper alternative, or your slow cooker has broken, there are many different ways in which you can create perfect slow cooked meals without a slow cooker!
Below I’ve created a simple to understand guide which will help you choose the best slow cooker substitute for you!
Table of Contents
- What can I use instead of a slow cooker?
- Dutch Oven vs Slow Cooker
- How to use a Dutch oven as a slow cooker
- How to convert slow cooker recipes to the stovetop or oven
- Slow cooker substitutes aren’t hard to come by!
What can I use instead of a slow cooker?
A rice cooker is a great alternative to a slow cooker because while its main function if for making rice and other grains, rice cookers have the versatility of cooking so many other foods as well. They can be used to braise meats, steam vegetables, some of which at the same time!
I’ve written a separate blog post on the differences between slow cookers and rice cookers, so check it out!
The electric pressure cooker is another great alternative to a slow cooker. A once old method of cooking, it has now been revived using more modern techniques, making it a fantastic way of speedy set-and-forget cooking.
The pressure inside a pressure cooker prevents the water from boiling at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so it can be cooked a lot quicker while preventing the food from drying out.
I also have a separate blog post, running through the aspects of a pressure cooker, how to use it and the physics behind how it works, so check it out!
Below I have linked my favorite pressure cooker. It has amazing reviews, best value for money, and is a fantastic introductory appliance to pressure cooking! This Mueller pressure cooker actually has slow cooker cooking capabilities too!
Developed in the 1800s, the cast iron dutch oven has become the hallmark of great cooking in homes across the world. This truly is an investment piece, thanks to its very long lasting materials it’s produced from. So much so, they used to be mentioned in peoples wills! Now they come with a lifetime guarantee and can be passed down to the next generation (or two!)
If you’re looking for a review on the best dutch ovens, I have created a different blog post comparing Le Creuset and Cuisinart, feel free to read more!
Dutch Oven vs Slow Cooker
A slow cooker can cost considerably less than a dutch oven, with slow cooker prices ranging between 40 – 80 dollars and a dutch oven ranging between 65 to 500 dollars!
Slow cookers are fantastic for keeping your dish warm. The electric slow cooker has the keep warm setting, which is fabulous for hosting dinner parties, such as a potluck dinner, where the dish can be kept warm for very long periods.
A dutch oven is for life, not just for Christmas! Thanks to their sturdy structure, a dutch oven not only has a lifetime guarantee, but it will last long enough to become a family heirloom.
Not only can a dutch oven slow cook meals to perfection, but it is also hugely diverse in its functionality. You can braise, brown meat, sear, stew, make soups and casseroles, deep fry, and even bake in a dutch oven!
Reduce cooking time
A great feature of using dutch ovens instead of the slow cooker is that it usually takes approximately ¾ less time than that of a slow cooker, for the same results! Those really long overnight slow cooking recipes can be wrapped up within 3.5 – 4 hours in a dutch oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook tastier meals
While a dutch oven is more expensive, it is better for making your dishes taste better. It is easier to add vegetables after a period in a dutch oven which prevents overcooking of some veggies that taste pretty bad if they’re overcooked!
If you’re convinced and looking to purchase the best of the best dutch ovens, the Le Creuset dutch oven truly holds the crown, which you can purchase below.
How to use a Dutch oven as a slow cooker
Preheat your conventional oven to your desired temperature. I have listed a temperature converter below for slow cooking!
Begin by slowly heating up your dutch oven on the stovetop to the correct temperature with some oil inside the pot.
Next, braise the meat inside allowing it to brown and tenderize.
Then add in your vegetables, liquid and seasonings to the dutch oven.
Place in the conventional oven at low heat, checking every 15-20 minutes.
If you’re putting your dutch oven in the conventional oven, make sure that the lid handle can withstand the temperatures within the oven. If you’re unsure, you can buy this special handle, which has the ability to withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slow cooking on the stove top
- Using a stockpot, or better yet a dutch oven, slowly bring the pot to heat with some oil inside.
- Add your meat and allow to brown, making sure you kill off any bacteria.
- Then add vegetables like garlic and onions to fry off. Next add your bulkier vegetables, like peppers and broccoli allowing to soften.
- Then add your liquid and seasonings. Bring the pot to a boil and then return to a simmer and cover the pot with the lid.
- Allow to cook for 30-45 minutes, checking each 15 minutes and giving the pot a little stir each time.
- When you’re satisfied, turn off the heat and remove the lid. This will allow some of the excess vapors to escape and really thicken the sauce before serving.
Using a dutch oven or stock pot on a gas stove top
A top tip for using a dutch oven or stock pot on a gas hob is to get a heat diffuser, as this will help reduce the intensity of the flame and allow you to properly slow cook your meal.
If you don’t have a heat diffuser we suggest this one:
How to convert slow cooker recipes to the stovetop or oven
In order to create your perfect slow cooker recipe on the stovetop or in the oven, you’ll need to change the temperature and the timing of the recipe
Slow cookers work on two separate heats – low heat and high heat
- Low heat is approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- High heat is approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Low slow cooking for 4-6 hours is approximately equal to 1.5 – 2.5 hours of high heat cooking.
When you are slow cooking, it is best to braise the meat first (especially chicken and pork) to make sure that it is cooked entirely through.
This is not only to make sure you don’t get sick from raw meat, but it will also help to tenderize the meat during the slow cooking process
Then add your other ingredients, bring your boil to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Slow cookers are made for cooking over extended periods of time, with the idea of being able to leave the house. But even so, i would exercise caution when it comes to leaving something cooking completely unattended.
Electrical appliances are pretty reliable but you should always expect the unexpected, so I wouldn’t recommend leaving the house.
If you are cooking with a dutch oven you should not leave the house as this will be using the stove.
Slow cooker substitutes aren’t hard to come by!
There are many alternative methods to using a slow cooker for the finest slow cooked meals and really impress your family or guests.
If you’re looking for a piece that is not only a lifelong investment, a beautiful decoration to your kitchen, hugely multifunctional, and will create the most delicious meals, then the dutch oven is your best option.
If you’re looking for an appliance that is multi-functional and not too expensive, then either the pressure cooker or the rice cooker may be the one for you.
In any case, all products will produce amazing slow cooked meals and allow you to really level up your cooking skills!