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Pizza in a Slow Cooker? Yes, and Maybe

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Vegan Planet: Pizza in a Slow Cooker? Yes, and Maybe

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Pizza in a Slow Cooker? Yes, and Maybe

For those of you who are familiar with my 2004 cookbook, Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, you know that I like to test the boundaries of what’s possible to cook in a slow cooker — from cheesecakes, to seitan pot roast, and yes, even vegan haggis, recipe here.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that I’ve been experimenting with making pizza in a slow cooker for my upcoming new slow cooker cookbook.  As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, it is possible to make pizza in a slow cooker.  The question is, do I want to?  I’m not sure…maybe you can help me decide.

When I served my first slow cooker pizza to Jon, I was mostly just excited that it worked.  Sure it was thicker than our usual “thin and crispy” crust, and it was oval-shaped, since it conformed to the shape of my large slow cooker.  But still.  It was pizza, right?  And guess what, it tasted good — that is, if you like a Sicilian style “thick and chewy” pizza.  

But the real issue stems from the question Jon posed as he ate his second slice: “Why would you want to make pizza in a slow cooker that takes around 2 hours to cook when you can make one in the oven in 12 minutes?”  It was then that I realized my answer “Because I can!” may not be enough of a reason to justify including the recipe in my new book.

So I put it out to you, dear readers.  Can you think of a reason why you would want to make pizza in a slow cooker?  The fate of this recipe may lie in your hands!


I asked my boyfriend the same thing last weekend when he made a chocolate cake in his pressure cooker. The cake took as long as when he uses an oven. I guess the only reason I would make a pizza in my slow cooker is if I really, really, really wanted a pizza and my oven wasn't working. It is good to have options!
That's a good point, Christine. And also, if you don't have an oven at all, it's good to know you can still "bake."
As long as the end result is actually good, good and not "just because you can" good, then I say totally include it. I would totally try it just because I could.
Makes sense, Jenn. Yes, the result was good, although we do prefer thin crust pizza over thick. Still, it tastes great!
I would include it in the book because you can put it in the slow cooker, then go shopping, or have a coffee with a friend, or go outside and do gardening, or shovel snow, then.....
When you come back in.... it's ready!

You don't have to worry if it's going to burn in the oven, if you do decide to do something (it may take longer than 12 minutes, or you may momentarily forget, then, BAM, the pizza is already burning, what a waste!)

That's why you should include it in the cookbook.
I live where it is still over 100 during the day (Phoenix AZ). I try not to use the oven and am using my slow cookers for as much as possible.

Looking forward to the new book and would love a slow cooker pizza recipe included.
I had the same questions about some ofo teh recipes when I did my slow cooker recipes earlier this year. Just because you can, doesn't always mean you should. I suppose it depends on the focus you want the finished book to have!
Since I'm crazy-busy in the hours between picking up my son from school and getting dinner on the table, I think slow-cooker pizza would be awesome. I could get it ready before I picked my son up, we could rush around to activities and get homework done and then sit down to a leisurely dinner.

Sounds awesome to me!
I've asked myself this question about some of the recipes I've tested, too, like cake. Examples of times I might want to use the slow cooker would be if I don't have time to wait at home for something to bake in the oven or cook on the stove, or if it was hot and I didn't want to turn on the oven. I'm still not 100% sure it's OK to leave the house while something is cooking in the slow-cooker. Is it?
I like to take my pizza from wherever I can get it and in my new small town, I'm making our pizza for our vegan family. Since my guy and I are both in classes right now and have different schedules, I like the idea of leaving a pizza and him being able to come home and just attack it. The best part of the slow cooker for me is that everyone who approaches it gets a nice hot meal :)
Wow, these are all great points. Thanks!

I agree about the convenience factor. I like being able to get something in the slow cooker, and not have to stand by and watch the clock.

And, yes, Andrea, I think it's fine to leave the house with slow cooker on -- I do it all the time.
I see the crockpot as a time-saver, creating beautiful dishes that require lots of long, low heat without any attention from me. Pizza on the other hand is the essence of speed cooking. Make the dough in the food processor in the morning (5 min.) and leave it out to rise all day. Roll it out, top it, and bake it in the evening (20 mins). Where does the crockpot save me time or effort? If it doesn't do either, then I would vote for leaving it out.
I would make pizza in a slow cooker if I was taking it to a party and didn't know if the oven would be available, or if I were having a party and needed the oven for other dishes, if I was remodeling the kitchen, or if I needed to start dinner early and then be able to leave it alone, something that happened a lot when my son was small.

Right out of college I lived in a rental with a broken oven. It worked for 10 minutes, then the gas would go out and it wouldn't light again until it cooled back down. I could not convince my landlord that it was broken. He refused to understand that you couldn't cook anything in 10 minutes. I would have loved a crockpot pizza recipe back then!
I think "because I can" is a fine reason, personally!

Like some people said here, it's a nice alternative if you have errands to run or chores to do while it's "baking." There's also no risk of burnt crust.

One more thing, which I know most people don't worry to much about - and I don't either, but I'll mention it anyway! - is that cooking foods at a low temperature both a) preserves more of the nutrients and b) prevents certain potentially-harmful substances from forming. The tomato sauce will hold onto more of its vitamin C and lycopene, the flour in the crust won't produce acrylamide at high temperatures, and any olive oil in the crust or sauce won't have its molecular integrity challenged by high heat.

Food-science dork, me? Nooo...
We also live in Arizona in an RV and we do have an oven, but I rarely use the one inside. Just too hot even with the air on, so we put the crockpot outside and can do other things while things are cooking! Would love to see it in the book! Hope it is since I just preordered your book and it is coming this week!
Let's hear it for food science!
Thanks for ordering my new cookbook, Quick-Fix Vegan, although the slow cooker pizza recipe is for the slow cooker cookbook I'm writing now, which won't be out for another year. Hope you enjoy QFV in the meantime!
Yes, I love to make everything in my slow cooker. Would love to have a easy great tasting pizza.
Yes please! To answer the question though, I may only be able to spare time in the hours leading up to dinner, not right before. It doesn't matter that it only takes 12 min. to cook in the oven. If it's 12 min. I don't have, I'll never make it!
I'll have to agree with the vast majority here. I'd like to have the option. I'm not sure when I'd use it, but I'm always happy to know it's there!
Some good ideas have already been mentioned. Another one is if you are feeding a crowd and your oven racks are already taken up with additional pizzas or other items (lasagna, dessert, etc).

This would also be great for people whose ovens don't heat very evenly, like the small ovens they often have in apartments. I could imagine it being difficult to cook a thick crust pizza evenly in one of those.
I think a slow cooker pizza recipe would be awesome for the mother of a toddler. He loves to help me cook which means that everything takes about ten times longer to cook. Pizza is also one of his favorite foods and while I make pizza with him applying the toppings quite a bit. But it would be equally nice to have a crock pot pizza recipe that I could toss together while is in day care and then serve at dinner time.
I don't think I would try it, but I guess it could be handy for people whose oven breaks or for students who only have access to a slow cooker.
2 hours is a good length of time to get it set, go to soccer practice and come back. We're always struggling to find things to eat quickly enough with our weird practice time and get the kids off to bed - I often resort to PB&J in the car and then some fruit when we get home. This would be a nice alternative!
I am down with the 'just because I can' reasoning. It is fun to do things. But people have also made really great points about convenience. Some nights anything other than plonking leftovers in the microwave is too much, so a low cooker pizza could be just the thing for a nice unwind with a DVD after a hectic afternoon. Everyone loves pizza.

If it doesn't end up making the cut for the book, I hope you will share the recipe with us somewhere else!
From an energy conservation standpoint, it is much more green to use the slow cooker than to heat an oven--especially to a high heat and then only use about 12 minutes worth. So I say include the recipe.

Really looking forward to this new book!
I hate turning on the oven in the summer and pizza doesn't really fit in my toaster oven so crock pot cooking would be a good alternative.
I like the idea of a slow cooker pizza though I would have to make a gluten free crust. I use your Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker all the time and am looking forward to another slow cooker cookbook from you.
My stove isn't working and I am making this tonight.
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