What is the difference between a Dutch oven and a crockpot? This is a question that comes to mind when you are considering making a new cookware purchase.
You wonder which one is the better choice and which one gives you the best value for your money. Well, while both aren’t mutually exclusive, they serve different purposes. Let’s find out more about Dutch ovens versus crockpots.
What Are Crockpots?
A crockpot is actually a brand for a type of slow cooker. It’s got an identity of its own because while other brands do manufacture slow cookers, the Crock-Pot is the original. It was invented by Irving Naxon while looking for a better way to cook his mother’s classic bean recipe.
The crockpot has an independent heat source heating a ceramic crock to an even temperature. Most have high and low heats, and some even have a warming option. While it’s possible to control the temperature on the unit, many feature additional digital controls.
What Are Dutch Ovens?
Dutch ovens have a cast-iron crock encased in an enamel coating which prevents food from sticking. They are the original slow cookers and are versatile enough to create all kinds of dishes from the stovetop to the oven.
Its main benefit is that Dutch ovens cook slowly but quicker than slow cookers. However, you require an external heat source for cooking.
Dutch Oven Versus Crockpot
Here are the major differences in features between a crockpot and a Dutch oven.
Dutch ovens are made of cast iron to evenly heat food on low heat, while the enamel coating prevents food from sticking. However, they require an outside heat source for cooking and can be used to braise and sear meats to a nice brown.
Crockpots, however, use a ceramic crock with an enamel coating on its own heat source. They are not fit for braising meat but are a better choice for dishes needing many hours to cook food to a moist.
Size And Features
Crockpots come in one-person-sized crockpots that keep dips and small sides warm to large, oval crockpots for cooking for multiple people. Segmented crockpots are a bit expensive but let you cook more than one dish at a time.
Dutch ovens range from small, personal crock sizes to large options that can feed ten or more people. Its size and weight increase proportionately. So make sure you know how heavy a Dutch oven will be when you opt for a large Dutch oven.
Crockpots cost between $50 to more than $100, depending on the size and features. There are also affordably priced and expensive Dutch ovens based on their size and brand. Brands like Le Creuset are rather expensive, while brands like Lodge offer budget options.
How To Cook With A Crockpot
Crockpots are perfect for cooking meals in your absence. You just have to fill it up and leave it, and you return to a hot meal that practically cooks itself. They are perfect for busy cooks and for cooking dishes requiring more moisture. Here is an article on whether or not a crockpot is oven safe.
When To Use A Crockpot
Crockpots are the ideal choice if:
- You are making soups.
- You will be away most of the time.
- You want to cook overnight.
- You want to have more control over settings like duration and heat.
How To Cook With A Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens can be easily shifted from the stovetop to the oven. While they don’t take as long as slow cookers to cook, they brown and crisp dishes pretty well. They are ideal for cooking dishes where you want the moisture to cook off while retaining tender vegetables and cuts of meat.
When To Use Dutch Ovens
Use Dutch ovens if:
- You require brown parts in a dish.
- You want more moisture to cook off.
- You have the time to use the oven or stove.
- You seek the versatility of a stove and oven.
Advantages Of Using A Crockpot Over A Dutch Oven
Here are four advantages to using a crockpot over dutch ovens:
Depending on the size, basic crockpots are relatively cheaper than decent Dutch ovens.
Crockpots are safe enough to use when you are away, and the house is empty because it may at the most blow a fuse. However, people are not usually comfortable leaving ovens on while they are out.
All you have to do is fill up the Crockpot with your dish ingredients, and you have a hot meal waiting for you in the evening.
Crockpots generally cost a fraction of a conventional oven’s cooking costs. They are also easy to clean. Just place the dish into the dishwasher.
Advantages Of Using A Dutch Oven Versus A Crockpot
Here are the five advantages to using a Dutch oven over a crockpot:
You can do anything in Dutch ovens: frying, baking, sautéing and braising both on the stove as in the oven.
Some people like that you can cook dishes in half the time as compared to a crockpot; perfect for those in a hurry.
Long Term Value
Dutch ovens are a worthy investment. They can perform various tasks and will last for decades with the proper maintenance. Slow cookers, however, have a limited shelf life.
Better Tasting Dishes
The same dishes cooked in a Dutch oven taste better than if cooked in a crockpot.
Slow cookers remove most of the nutrients in dishes during the cooking process. So while the food tastes good, the food isn’t as healthy as dishes cooked in Dutch ovens.
And The Winner Is…
In the Dutch oven versus crockpot contest, there is no clear-cut winner. Because it all depends on you, the cook.
If you don’t have the time to stand in the kitchen to cook, then a crockpot is a wise investment. It helps you put meals on the table while you tend to other work. It’s perfect for those who work through the day and don’t have much time in the evening or those who don’t want to waste money by constantly eating out.
On the other hand, if you enjoy the art of cooking, then you could buy a Dutch oven. As both are great tools to have in the kitchen, the perfect solution would be to start with a crockpot and then buy a Dutch oven when you have the time to enjoy cooking even more!