Slow cookers are just that: small cooking units set at low temperatures that slowly cook food -- typically meats. Ovens, on the other hand, are larger units used to cook food more quickly and at higher temperatures. Both the oven and slow cooker achieve the same goal, but have numerous differences. There is a large variety of both slow cookers and ovens on the market. Each product has its own cooking options.
Types of Foods
Because the slow cooker cooks food more slowly and for longer, it cooks cheaper, tougher cuts of food. The heat and length of time used breaks down the collagen in the connective tissue of the meat. A conventional oven bakes food faster. This makes it difficult for a conventional oven to cook tougher cuts of meat. Use a conventional oven to cook delicate meats, such as fish.
Ease of Use
Both slow cookers and conventional ovens are easy to operate. Simply place food in a slow cooker, plug it in and set the options you desire to use. For example, a slow cooker typically has a "low" and "high" setting as well as a "warm" setting. Some slow cookers also have timers. A conventional oven has a thermostat used to keep the oven set at a certain temperature. Simply preheat your oven by turning it to the temperature you wish to cook your food at and put your food in the oven for a predetermined amount of time. Ovens also have timers.
Ease of Cleaning
Some slow cookers have a glass bowl that you insert into the heating unit. It is easy to remove the bowl from the unit and wash it either in the dishwasher or by hand for hard-to-clean bowls. For slow cookers without a removable bowl, simply wash the unit by hand. A conventional oven doesn't require a cleaning after each use. Some ovens are self-cleaning, and you can perform the cleaning cycle on a regular basis, such as annually.
A slow cooker uses less wattage than a conventional oven, allowing you to leave it unattended for the majority of a day. You can prepare the food in a slow cooker ahead of time, set the timer and let it run all day, if necessary. You can prepare food to cook in the conventional oven ahead of time, but you can't leave the food unattended all day. You have to continually monitor food prepared in a conventional oven to ensure it is not overcooked.
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