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Can I use my slow cooker as an oven?

Using a slow cooker as an oven is something many home cooks wonder about. Slow cookers and ovens cook food differently, so the results will vary depending on what you’re making. However, in certain circumstances, a slow cooker can be used to bake and roast food with decent results.

How Do Slow Cookers and Ovens Cook Food Differently?

Slow cookers and ovens use different methods to cook food:

  • Slow cookers cook food slowly at lower temperatures (typically between 170-280°F) and rely on long cooking times to tenderize and flavor food.
  • Ovens quickly cook food at much higher temperatures, usually between 300-500°F. The hot air surrounds the food to roast or bake it.

These different cooking methods impact the end results:

  • Slow cooking melds flavors and produces tender, fall-apart meats, while retaining more moisture.
  • Oven roasting and baking produces drier, firmer textures with nicely browned exteriors.

So slow cookers excel at braises, stews, and chilis, while ovens are ideal for roasting meats and baking casseroles, breads, and more.

What Kinds of Oven Cooking Work in a Slow Cooker?

While slow cookers don’t function exactly like ovens, they can mimic some oven functions with careful planning and recipe adjustments:

  • Baking: Slow cookers can make cakes, quick breads, and some casseroles. They won’t brown or crisp the tops, so dishes like crispy-top casseroles won’t work.
  • Roasting: Tougher meats like pork shoulder can be slowly roasted to tender in a slow cooker. You won’t get the browned exterior, but the interior will be fall-apart tender.
  • Broiling: Slow cookers can’t reach broiling temperatures, so this direct high-heat oven function won’t work.

Tips for Baking in a Slow Cooker

Here are some tips for successfully baking in a slow cooker:

  • Use a recipe formulated for slow cooking.
  • Avoid thick batters – thin, pourable batters cook best.
  • Grease the slow cooker crock well.
  • Cover the slow cooker loosely with foil to prevent excess moisture.
  • Use a toothpick to check doneness; cook times will be 2-4 hours on low.
  • Allow baked goods to rest, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Tips for Roasting in a Slow Cooker

For roasting meats and veggies in a slow cooker:

  • Cut meat and veggies into uniform pieces for even cooking.
  • Brown the meat first on the stovetop for better flavor.
  • Use lots of seasoning – slow cooking mutes flavors.
  • Add some broth or water to generate steam and cook evenly.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours for large cuts like roasts.

What Are the Drawbacks to Using a Slow Cooker as an Oven?

Slow cookers have some distinct disadvantages when trying to mimic oven functions:

  • No direct heat source means little to no browning or crisping of exterior surfaces.
  • Moist environment from a tight lid causes very different results from dry oven heat.
  • No temperature controls limit your ability to fine-tune cooking temperature.
  • Smaller slow cooker size limits what you can cook.
  • Timing can be tricky – oven-to-slow-cooker conversions only provide estimates.

For best results, embrace the differences and play to the slow cooker’s strengths instead of trying to replicate oven results exactly.

Should I Get a Slow Cooker with an Oven Function?

Some newer slow cooker models now offer an oven cooking function. These allow you to remove the lid and cook at higher oven-like temperatures between 250-400°F.

The advantages to these models include:

  • Ability to crisp and brown foods by removing the lid.
  • Higher temperatures facilitate better baking and roasting.
  • Greater versatility from being able to slow or oven cook.

However, there are still some limitations:

  • Smaller size limits what you can cook compared to a real oven.
  • Temperature precision and control not as accurate.
  • Careful monitoring required when using oven function.

If you do a lot of slow cooking and oven baking in the same appliance, a model with an oven function may offer more versatility. But don’t expect it to perform exactly like a real oven.

Slow Cooker Oven Cooking Times

Cooking times will be significantly longer when using a slow cooker as an oven. Here are some estimates:

Food Oven Time at 350°F Slow Cooker Time on Low
Chicken breasts (boneless) 20-30 minutes 4-6 hours
Pork chops (1 inch thick) 30-60 minutes 6-8 hours
Meatloaf (8×4 inch) 60-90 minutes 6-8 hours
Casserole 45-60 minutes 3-4 hours
Vegetables 15-45 minutes 2-4 hours
Cake 45-60 minutes 2-3 hours
Quick bread 50-70 minutes 3-4 hours

Note that cooking times can vary a lot depending on the specific recipe, size and quantity of food, and your slow cooker model. Get to know your slow cooker to determine ideal time and temperature settings.

Tips for Converting Oven Recipes to the Slow Cooker

When adapting traditional oven recipes to the slow cooker, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reduce liquid: Less evaporation occurs in a slow cooker, so use 25-50% less.
  • Cut food into smaller pieces: This allows food to cook through fully.
  • Cook on low heat: This keeps temperature gentle and prevents burning.
  • Add convert times: Expect oven recipes to take 2-4 times longer.
  • Use a thermometer: Check doneness temperatures since times are estimates.
  • Uncover at end: Remove lid at end to release condensation.

Test oven-to-slow-cooker recipe conversions multiple times to get the timing, liquid, and ingredient proportions right.

Best Oven Recipes to Make in a Slow Cooker

Here are some of the best oven recipes to try converting to the slow cooker:

  • Vegetables: Roasted veggies like potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts.
  • Meats: Roast chicken, beef roast, meatloaf, baked ziti, chicken parmesan.
  • Breads: Biscuits, cornbread, banana bread, zucchini bread.
  • Desserts: Cobblers, cakes, cheesecakes, custards.
  • Casseroles: Enchiladas, lasagna, mac and cheese, pot pie.

Dishes with creamy, tender textures or moist, braised meats tend to adapt best. Avoid things requiring crispy crusts or tops.

Slow Cooker Oven Recipes to Try

To get you started, here are some delicious slow cooker oven recipes to try:

1. Slow Cooker Pot Roast

This easy to make slow cooker pot roast turns out incredibly tender and flavorful. Just a few simple ingredients makes for a hearty, comforting meal.


  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 5-6 potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Grease slow cooker and sprinkle pot roast with salt and pepper.
  2. Place roast into slow cooker and top with onion soup mix, broth, potatoes, and carrots.
  3. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.
  4. Slice roast and serve vegetables alongside.

2. Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Cook up a classic meatloaf without heating up the whole oven. This slow cooker version is just as comforting.


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic powder


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and shape into a loaf.
  2. Place into greased slow cooker and spread ketchup on top.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until meatloaf reaches 160°F internally.
  4. Slice and serve meatloaf with extra ketchup if desired.

3. Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup

All the flavors of a cheeseburger in an easy, comforting soup! Make this crowd-pleaser entirely in the slow cooker.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • S&P, garlic powder to taste


  1. Cook ground beef and onion in skillet until browned; drain fat.
  2. Transfer to slow cooker and add carrots, celery, flour, broth, and seasonings.
  3. Cook on low heat for 6 hours.
  4. Stir in milk and shredded cheese until melted.
  5. Serve topped with more cheese and bacon bits if desired.


At the end of the day, slow cookers and ovens create very different results, so don’t expect your slow cooker to truly replicate oven functions. However, with the right recipes and techniques, slow cookers can achieve decent baking, roasting and oven-style cooking. Focus on dishes that complement the moist, gently cooked environment of the slow cooker. While results may not be exactly the same as the oven, you can still turn out delicious meals.