Q: After seeing your recipe for Slow-Cooker Beef Shanks, I've been thinking about buying a slow cooker. I have some questions, though.
Since the slow cooker uses electricity over such extended time (4 to 6 hours), do you know if using the oven or a slow cooker is more energy-efficient, or costly? Could I use the oven instead of the cooker? Would it have the same taste?
Sent by Angela
Editor: Although we're usually using the slow cooker for longer periods of time than our ovens or any other appliance, it doesn't use that much energy overall. It's a small appliance and maintains its heat fairly efficiently using low amounts of energy.
According to the California Energy Commission (and based on California energy costs), a slow cooker operating for seven hours uses about .7 kilowatt hours and costs $.06. An electric stove at 350°F operating for one hour uses about 2 kilowatt hours and costs about $.16. Exact usage will vary based on your model and prices will vary based on your location.
This said, you can most definitely prepare slow-cooker recipes in the oven! This is actually a very old technique called braising. Set the oven to around 325°F and cook the dish in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, like a dutch oven. Dishes will usually cook more quickly in the oven, so check it every hour.
Here is some more information about energy usage and slow cookers:
• Stoves, Ranges, and Ovens from the California Energy Commission • Crockpot Meals: How to Braise in a Slow Cooker • Weekend Cooking: Break Out the Slow Cooker! • Slow Good: 17 Incredible Recipes for the Slow Cooker • Love Me Tender: 15 Braises from The Kitchn
Readers, anything to add from your own experiences?
(Image: Williams-Sonoma )