Slow cookers make it very easy to cook a healthy nutritious meal over the course of the day. However, you can also use an oven to make similar meals.
But when it comes to energy usage how much energy does a slow cooker use vs an oven and which option is more energy efficient?
While you might think a slow cooker uses a lot of energy and an oven would use a similar amount which is more energy efficient is actually surprising.
A slow cooker only uses around 150-210 Watts of power vs an oven which uses 1000-5000 Watts (2400 Watts on average). Cooking food in a slow cooker for 8 hours uses a similar amount of energy as running an oven for 35-55 minutes. A slow cooker is much more energy efficient.
When cooking in an oven most meals take more than an hour to cook, with many slow cooker recipes taking multiple hours to cook in an oven. This means in almost all cases a slow cooker will be much more energy efficent and much cheaper to run than using an oven.
This is also true for slow cookers vs stove tops energy consumption. A slow cooker uses similar or less energy than a stove top and is cheaper to run, even though it is left on and running all day long.
This doesn't seem right. You would think that a slow cooker would use lots of energy because it's using electricity all day long to keep the food hot and cooking.
But because slow cookers only cook at a moderately low temperature between 170-300ºF (77-147ºC) it doesn't require a great deal of energy. And because it has a closed lid which doesn't let steam or heat escape once the food gets up to temperature not a lot of energy is needed to keep in there.
Overs on the other hand are designed for cooking at much higher temperatures around 200-500ºF (100-250ºC). They also have a much larger capacity which requires more heat and they use hot air to heat things, whereas slow cookers have direct contact with the food.
Ovens require much more energy to cook food when compared to a slow cooker.
Do Slow Cookers Use More Electricity Than An Oven?
No, slow cookers use a lot less energy than an oven. They only use around 150-210 Watts of energy compared to an oven which uses between 1000-5000 Watts of energy (2,400 on average). A meal cooked in a slow cooker takes less energy than the same meal cooked in an oven.
Even when you consider that a slow cooker is on for anywhere from 4-10 hours during the day and an oven might only be on for 1-4 hours an oven still requires a lot more energy to cook the same meal.
Even the time it takes to preheat an oven, which can take 30-60 minutes, uses a similar amount of energy to cooking an entire meal for 8 hours in a slow cooker.
Can I Slow Cook In My Oven?
If you don't own a slow cooker and don't want to buy one for whatever reason is it possible to slow cook a meal in your oven instead?
Yes, it is possible to slow cook meals in the oven. Most ovens have a warm setting of 170-200ºF (77-93ºC) which is good for slow cooking. Ovens aren't as good at trapping moisture so you'll need to use a casserole dish or dutch oven and cover with aluminum foil.
Some adjustments do need to be made when slow cooking in your oven.
The biggest adjustment is that an oven will cook your food faster than a slow cooker and a slow cooker traps more moisture than an oven so you'll need to compensate for that loss of moisture.
You can help retain moisture by using a dutch oven or casserole dish and covering it with aluminum foil to trap moisture. You can also adjust your recipe and add more liquid to your dish to account for the extra loss of moisture.
How Do You Slow Cook Meat In The Oven?
If you're looking to slow cook meat in the oven there are a few important things to take into consideration so your meat isn't overcooked, undercooked or dried out.
Sear Your Meat First
You'll want to make sure you sear your meat in a hot pan before putting it in an oven to slow cook. This works to trap moisture in the meat so it cooks better and the surface will caramelize, making it even more delicious.
Use a Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer is a must if you're slow cooking larger portions of meat in your oven. Use this to ensure your meat gets hot enough and cooks all the way through.
Cover With Aluminum Foil
Place your meat in a dutch oven or casserole dish with aluminum foil in top. These will help to trap moisture so that your meat doesn't dry out too much
Warm Your Plates
When slow cooking meat in the oven your meat won't be extremely hot when it's ready to eat.
You don't need to leave it to sit to cool down and if you use cold plate it'll strip the heat from your meat. Heat up your plates prior to serving so your meat is hot when you eat it.
What Temperature Should You Set To Slow Cook In Oven
If you're looking to slow cook a meal in your oven what temperature should you set your oven to?
When slow cooking in an oven you should preheat your oven to approximately 300ºF (150ºC) and then lower to 170-225ºF (77-107ºC) when putting your food in.
For best results you'll want to use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is actually at the right temperature. Sometimes ovens don't hold their temperature accurately and if your oven gets too hot there's a chance you'll overcook your food and dry it out.
You can still slow cook food in an oven that struggles to get down to low temperatures. You'll just have to account for the increased temperature and shorten your cooking time appropriately.