Dutch Oven vs Crockpot – What’s the difference?

A Dutch oven is traditional cast iron or enameled cast iron pot with a lid. It is a classic kitchen appliance that can be used for slow cooking on a cooktop and inside an oven. 

A Crockpot is a branded electric slow cooker that was developed in the 1970s.  It is made up of a ceramic or stoneware pot that goes inside an electric crock/pot. 

The electric pot has heating elements present on the sides and the base. It is used over a countertop for prolonged slow cooking.

Let us briefly understand what they are before moving forward with the difference

What is a Dutch Oven? 

A Dutch oven is the toughest kitchen appliance in terms of durability. 

Traditionally it was made with cast iron but now enameled versions are quite common. 

They are heavy-weight pots with a lid and can be used on any cooktop surface, inside ovens, and even outdoors over campfires and coal.

You can braise, sear, saute, boil and steam all inside this one-pot crockery.

What are Crockpots? 

Crockpots are electric slow cookers that are advanced and stylish. Depending on the model, it usually consists of a ceramic or stoneware pot, an electric crock, a lid, and smart cooking functions.

Crockpots are used to slow cook food without supervision. The highest temperature range inside a crockpot is 300F. 

You need to throw in the ingredients and then turn the setting to high, medium, or low. Some crockpots come with metal inserts that can be used for searing meat/vegetables over a cooktop surface and then transferred inside the Crockpot.

Modern crock pots come with a timer and other smart controls enabling up to eight hours of cooking. Some crockpots also come with a keep-warm function. 

Crockpots are perfect for busy and working people who are gone most of the day and want to come back to cooked meals.

They are also used to cook overnight for a morning cup of soup/broth, dessert, and even bread.

Difference between a Dutch oven and a Crockpot 

Both Dutch ovens and Crockpots are used for long-cooked recipes like stews, soups, braised meat, chili, etc.

Both have their set of pros and cons. Allow me to elaborate on the difference between the two.

Design of Dutch Oven and Crockpot 

Crockpots are electric slow cookers, a modern version of slow cookers. 

They are lightweight compared to Dutch ovens. With many designs in the market, you can customize crockpots according to capacity and style.

Dutch ovens, on the other hand, are made up of cast iron or enameled cast iron. There is a lot of variety in the market for pretty colors and capacity. If you like to cook outdoors, traditional cast iron is the best option.  

Cost Difference in Dutch Oven and Crockpot 

In terms of cost, a good dutch oven can be expensive compared to a crockpot.

A crock-pot can start with as little as 20 dollars and can go up to 200-300 dollars depending on the additional smart features in the model.

A  good Dutch oven starts from 40 dollars and can cross 400 dollars depending on the brand. 

Convenience in Cooking 

A crock-pot can be carried anywhere as it is lightweight. You can prepare your food at any place near an electrical socket. All you need to do is plug it in and enter your settings.

A Dutch oven is quite heavy to carry but worth taking during camping and outdoors. You can sear, braise, brown, caramelize, and even bake! A one-pot dish, you can cook practically anything inside it anywhere. 

A crock-pot does not offer you different cooking techniques and is less flexible when it comes to cooking styles.

Cooking time

If you like to spend the least minimum time and effort in cooking, go for a crock-pot. Just set it up and you can be gone for hours while the food gets slow-cooked. A crockpot can be controlled with a timer and gives you the freedom to multitask. 

A Dutch oven cannot be left alone for hours and needs to be looked after either on a stove or oven. You may need to stir and check up on it at intervals. 

You can slow cook or immediately sear, steam, or boil practically anything that fits inside a Dutch oven. A dish can be ready to eat within minutes.

Taste and Consistency of Cooked Food 

When it comes to taste, a Dutch oven wins hands down. It gives a thick consistency and packs delicious flavor to the cooked food on a stovetop or in an oven. 

This is because the liquid does not get to evaporate in a crock-pot, leading to thinner gravies.  However, you can tenderize large cuts of meat easily in a crock-pot. 

 Temperature Setting 

Dutch ovens are quite versatile when it comes to temperature. You can cook food in a wide range of temperatures.  They rely on a cooktop or oven to regulate temperature. Traditional cast iron can be kept on wood flames as well!  

A crock-pot has only two to three temperature settings. A high, medium, and low. Some models also have incorporated a keep warm setting.  The maximum range of temperature in a crockpot is 300F. 

 Safety While Cooking 

When it comes to safety, Dutch ovens can turn dangerous and cause serious burns when hot. 

With a crock-pot, you do not have to worry about burns. However, being an electric appliance, it can break down and cause circuit/ electric issues. It will also fail to work during power outages.

Pros and cons of a Dutch oven and a Crock-pot  

Both Dutch oven and Crock-pot are equally cherished and can be used simultaneously for a pleasant cooking experience.

Use a dutch oven for thick and flavourful dishes and a crockpot when you want to spend the least amount of time in the kitchen.

The Pros of a Dutch oven 

  • Durable and easy maintenance
  • A Dutch oven offers flavourful and thick sauces 
  • You can use it on any cooktop surface, inside an oven, or in campfires. 
  • A dutch oven allows you different cooking techniques in one pot – brown, braise, sear, caramelize or bake
  • A Dutch oven comes in pretty colors 
  • It is very easy to clean. All you need is hot soapy water or baking soda for stuck-up food.
  • A Dutch oven does not have an electric casing and it is very easy to store the pot and lid.

The Cons of a Dutch oven

  • A dutch oven is a heavyweight cookware
  • It can scratch a cooktop surface if not manipulated correctly.
  • A Dutch oven can get hot and may cause burns if not handled with care 
  • You cannot leave food for hours unattended. Food can stick and burn inside a Dutch oven. You need to keep an eye out and stir.

The Pros of a Crock-pot 

  • A Crockpot needs only a countertop electric connection, leaving the stovetop and oven free.  
  • The Prolonged slow cooking tenderizes cheap and tough cuts of meat 
  •  A Crockpot consumes less power due to slow cooking
  • It Self cooks and allows you to multitask
  • Some Crockpots have an option to keep warm until its time to serve
  • It is available in different contour styles and shapes.
  • A crockpot comes with smart functions  to control temperature and time 
  • It is dishwasher safe and scratch-resistant.

The Cons of a Crockpot 

  • A crock-pot sits inside a metal pot housing that needs electricity to operate. It cannot work in power outages or outdoors without an electrical supply. 
  • The inner pot is made of stoneware or ceramic and can break 
  • There are lots of parts that need to be cleaned in a Crockpot
  • It is bulky to store due to casing and electric cables
  • A Crockpot makes thin syrups as liquids don’t evaporate.
  • You need a separate metal insert or pan for searing when cooking in a Crockpot.

Our Final Verdict – Dutch Oven or Crock Pot

Both Dutch ovens and Crockpots are traditional, reliable cookware that ensures delicious home-cooked meals. 

Looking at the pros and cons, I would want to use a Dutch oven in my free time and treat my family and friends. The outdoor option is a cherry on the cake.  

If all I need is soup or broth, and have no spare time from work, I would go for a crock-pot. The “set and forget” option is worth millions when it comes to comfort food at home.

When it comes to design, a crock-pot is an electric slow cooker with smart settings depending on the model. I can easily manage temperature and time well in a crock-pot. 

It requires the least minimum effort, ensures my safety, and gets my food done while leaving me free to multitask for hours. 

Dutch ovens are durable and have excellent heat retention qualities and can be used on top of any cooktop or oven. You can also take it outdoors for camping. A one-pot meal, a Dutch oven frees you to choose your cooking pattern and recipe.

You can braise, steam, saute, boil, bake and slow cook effortlessly inside a Dutch oven. 

Regardless of which one you choose, both of them are well-crafted classic pieces for cooking scrumptious meals. I would strongly encourage you to make room for both.

In the end, it depends on your budget, the time you can invest, and your cooking preferences. Happy cooking!

Other articles you may also like: