With autumn in fall swing, we’re all starting to crave cozy, comfort foods and satisfying meals to enjoy during these shorter, cooler days. We’re trading in barbecues and cookouts for roasted meats and vegetables, and so many people are pulling out their crock pots and dutch ovens.
But what’s the difference? And is one better than the other? Let’s find out.
Crock Pots: The Pros and Cons
Crock pots are ideal for busy moms and for tied-up professionals. That’s because you put in the minimal effort but still get the maximum flavor.
With a crockpot, you can just bunk in your ingredients, set the temperature and let everything cook all day long. Who doesn’t want to come back home to the deep, rich scents of a rump roast and potatoes filling the house?
Crock Pot Pros
- Temperature control
- No supervision required. After you add all the ingredients and spices, it will work its magic while you focus on other things.
- Ideal for large cuts of meat, such as beef and pork
- Pulled pork is tender and succulent when it’s cooked in a crock pot.
- Perfect for hearty stews and soups, like minestrone
- Ideal for chili
- Beans hold up well when they’re cooked for long periods of time.
Crock Pot Cons
- Diluted or weak flavor: this is a common problem with slow cookers because they are usually sealed very well and this prevents steam from escaping. Unfortunately, in other cooking methods, this excess liquid can cook off to leave you with deeper, more focused flavors.
- High-quality crock pots are generally pretty expensive.
Dutch Ovens: The Pros and Cons
Dutch ovens are usually made of cast iron and enamel, making them perfect to use both on the stovetop and in the oven. It’s not safe to leave your stove or oven on while you’re not home. For this reason, you can’t leave them unattended for hours as you would a crockpot.
However, this “inconvenience” of dutch ovens is exactly what gives them their advantage over crock pots. Because dutch ovens can be used on both stovetops and in ovens, you can really play with and build deeper, more intricate flavors.
With crock pots, you basically add everything all at once and then walk away. But with dutch ovens, you can get more involved.
Think about making a meat and vegetable roast in the dutch oven. First, you braise the beef on the stove. Then, you add vegetables like onions, celery, and carrots, all before adding stock or additional ingredients or spices.
At this point, you can transfer your dutch oven from the stove to the oven, and let it roast until it’s a glorious meal fit for a king.
This stove-to-oven approach allows flavors to develop and grow in a way that’s basically impossible with a crockpot. And when it’s all said and done, you can reduce the drippings to create savory glazes and sauces. This is next to impossible with a crock pot because renderings are generally quite diluted.
Dutch Oven Pros:
- Offers a hands-on approach to cooking and more opportunities to play with flavors.
- You don’t have to use several pots and pans. You can braise, sauté and roast everything all in the dutch oven.
- Dutch ovens are better at crisping and caramelizing meats and skins, making this an ideal way to obtain a crispy, roasted chicken.
- You get better results for baked rice recipes since excess liquid can escape and prevent the rice from becoming too soggy.
- Easier to clean: you just have one pot!
- Dutch ovens are very versatile, and you can easily make a savory roast or a sweet treat in them.
Dutch Oven Cons:
- Cast iron enameled dutch ovens are pretty heavy.
- They retain heat longer, so you can easily burn yourself if you’re not careful.
- Dutch ovens require more supervision throughout the cooking process.
Are Dutch Ovens Better Than Crock Pots?
As you can see, crock pots and dutch ovens both have their own set of pros and cons. Is one “better” than the other? It really depends on how you prefer to cook and what kind of meal you’d like to make. You also have to consider how much time you have to potter away in the kitchen.
For days when you can settle in and enjoy the cooking process, a dutch oven might be ideal. For your busy Monday-to-Friday routine, crock pots are probably the more convenient option.
So, for whichever type of crockery you choose, we’ve rounded up some yummy recipes for you to try at home.
Delicious Recipes for Crock Pots
- Italian Braised Pork: No one will ever think you used a crock pot for this mouth-watering dish. The combination of red wine, tomatoes and the quintessential Tuscan flavor, fennel seeds, leaves you with a succulent dish the whole family will enjoy.
- Beef Stroganoff: Nothing quite says comfort as slow-cooked beef stroganoff. Rich, creamy and easy: what more can you ask for?
- Split Pea Soup: Hearty, satisfying and inexpensive. This is an easy way to ensure that you’re eating lots of good nutrients even if you don’t have lots of time to cook.
- Apple Cobbler: Do you want to make a fall-appropriate dessert without slaving away in the kitchen? This apple cobbler is your ticket for a sweet treat without spending hours in the kitchen.
Top Recipes for Dutch Ovens
- Brown Sugar Baked Beans: Whether you’re preparing for a summer barbecue, or just want a side of sweet brown beans, this is an easy way to achieve the maximum flavor that beats anything you’d get in a can.
- Braised Chicken with Mustard Greens and Squash: Usher in the fall harvest with this deeply satisfying dish that will have you (and everyone else!) coming back for seconds. And if you’re not a fan of mustard greens, you can easily swap them out with kale or spinach.
- One Pot Lasagna: Most of us love the traditional Italian dish, lasagna. But not everyone has the time to layer everything together the way our grandmother’s used to. This one pot lasagna is the solution!
- Easy S’Mores Dip: You read that right! This is as good as it sounds and something that will wow your friends and family.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether you prefer crock pots or dutch ovens. The most important thing is that your meal preparation is as stress-free as possible so that you can sit back and enjoy a delicious meal.