Slow cookers are great! They allow you to simply and easily make healthy, nutritious, delicious meals with next to no preparation time and no real kitchen skills are required. If you can chop up meat and vegetables and pour liquid, you CAN make fabulous meals.
Because slow cookers cook slowly and gently, the nutrients in the food are preserved, and even the cheapest cut of meat will come out tasting divine!
Slow cookers are electric, come in a variety of sizes, and some are manual while others are programmable. You can find out more about the different types of slow cookers available and the ones I use and recommend in this article.
But, what if you don’t own a slow cooker or you want to try a few slow cooker recipes before buying one? What can you do?
Well, it so happens that many slow cooker recipes can also be made in the oven – all you need is something called a Dutch oven pot.
Dutch ovens are large oval cooking pots made out of earthenware or cast iron – often enameled. They have a lid and are quite heavy. If you have something like this in your kitchen, and an oven, of course, you have everything you need for slow cooking. You could also use a casserole pot too but make sure it’s tough enough to survive a lengthy cooking time. I have a glass one that I’ve used for slow cooker recipes, and it works fine. However, it’s not that easy to clean afterward!
Once you have your recipe, and you could try any of the ones I’ve published on the slow cooker recipe page, make the meal as usual, starting with browning the meat. Once the meat is browned, add all the ingredients to your Dutch oven. Once all the ingredients are in the pot it’s time to add the liquid – usually some form of stock. This is where you need make some changes!
To convert a slow cooker recipe to an oven recipe, you’ll need to adjust the fluid content. Initially, use half to two-thirds of the liquid. Because using the oven means a shorter cooking time, less of the water will be absorbed and evaporate. Reducing the water ensures that whatever you are cooking won’t end up too runny and wet. If haven’t checked yet, click here to go to my Slow Cooking Quick Start Guide.
Next, set your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hotter than a slow cooker but not as hot as most oven recipes call for.
Then, you’ll need to consider and adjust the cooking time. Remember, the oven is hotter than the slow cooker, so you’ll need less time when using a Dutch oven pot. Use this chart to select the appropriate cooking time for your recipe.
|SLOW COOKER||DUTCH OVEN|
|12 hours/Low||3 hours/325° F|
|10 hours/Low||2 ½ hours/325° F|
|8 hours/Low||2 hours/325° F|
|6 hours/Low||1 ½ hours/325° F|
|5 hours/Low||1 hour, 15 min./325° F|
|4 hours/Low||1 hour/325° F|
|4 hours/High||2 hours/325° F|
|3 hours/Low||45 min./325° F|
|3 hours/High||1 ½ hours/325° F|
|2 hours/Low||30 min./325° F|
|2 hours/High||1 hour/325° F|
|1 hour/Low||15 min./325° F|
|1 hour/High||30 min./325° F|
This chart is pretty reliable but I still suggest you check the meat is cooked by using either a meat thermometer or cutting a piece or two in half to ensure it’s done all the way through.
Once your oven is up to temperature and your ingredients are ready, it’s time to pop your Dutch oven into the REAL oven and leave it to cook. Just like the slow cooker, avoid opening the lid during the cooking process as you’ll let heat escape and extend the cooking time. Be patient, leave the Dutch oven to do its job, and wait for the cooking time to elapse.
Once the time is up, very carefully remove the Dutch oven from your oven and serve up your meal. The pot is hot and heavy, so you’ll need to take care if you are going to avoid burning yourself or dropping your meal!
If there is still too much liquid in the pot, you can ladle it off or remove the lid and return the pot to the oven for 15-30 minutes so a little more fluid can evaporate. If you are using a cast iron Dutch oven, you can also put it over a low flame on your stovetop. Alternatively, add some cornflower to make a thicker sauce.
So, that’s now you can make slow cooker meals without a slow cooker! I still think a slow cooker is the best option but knowing how to convert slow cooker recipes to oven recipes can be useful from time to time.
If you are looking for a slow cooker I recommend you to check my article Find The Best Slow Cooker for You, where I covered the most important features, sizes and types so you can easily understand what type and size of slow cooker you need.
Slow Cooking – Quick Start
Tips, easy recipes and all the tools you need to start right away your first slow cooking experience with a delicious recipe. All in my Quick Start Guide, completely for free ! Click here to start.