Food & Drink

With a few adjustments, slow-cooker recipes work just fine in a Dutch oven

Q. There are so many slow-cooker recipes around. Can I convert them for Dutch ovens?

Yes, you can convert those recipes. Both slow cookers and Dutch ovens are great for braising, which is cooking slowly in a small amount of moisture using steady heat and a covered container. You just end up cooking a little faster in the oven.

Generally, if a recipe involves cooking slowly over steady heat with the lid on, it can be made with either with a few adjustments. Slow cookers need to be half-full in order to work efficiently, since the heating element in most is around the sides, not the bottom of the container. So you might want to reduce some ingredients, basing it on what your Dutch oven can hold.

You might need to add a little more liquid, since slow cookers don't allow evaporation.

Dutch ovens often have lids that fit a little looser, allowing some steam to escape.

A recipe that is cooked on the low setting in your slow cooker will take about a quarter as long in a Dutch oven in a 325-degree oven (if it cooks for 8 hours on low, it will take two to three hours in the Dutch oven). A recipe that is cooked on high setting will take about half as long. But remember, that's only an estimate, so leave yourself a little extra time.

Recipes that aren't good for either the slow cooker or the Dutch oven would be things cooked in open pans – in other words, roasting. Those usually depend on evaporation and browning for flavor.