As seen in:
Le Creuset
Signature
Cuisinart
Contour Stainless
Calphalon
Nonstick
Lodge
Enameled Cast Iron
Calphalon
Contemporary Stainless
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Good

Offers a blend of traditional craftsmanship and cutting edge technology that makes it a staple of many professional kitchens.

A very attractive, bright stainless steel appliance with a glass lid - the kind of cookware that fits in with just about any kitchen decor.

Composed of hard anodized aluminum - a material that is 80% stronger than stainless steel.

Has the heat retention qualities that serious cooks look for, and it's attractive enough to go straight from stovetop - or oven - to the table.

Made of a combination of aluminum for even heating and heavy gauge stainless steel for long-lasting strength.

Bad

Quite an investment, but owners say they would never consider another model.

5 quarts will be plenty for some, but not for larger families.

Entry-range model. The non-stick coating is not very durable.

Metal/wire utensils will scratch the enamel and could invalidate the lifetime warranty.

The lip doesn't pour particularly well.

Bottom Line

Without a doubt the best Dutch oven on the market. The most versatile and highest quality appliance available.

Plenty of users are more than happy with the value they get from this oven.

Second only to the Lodge in terms of the value it provides.

The best value for the money. If you want a cast-iron Dutch oven but Le Creuset is too much, Lodge is the answer.

A very popular Dutch oven that is tough to beat for the price.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
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Models Considered
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Hours Spent
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Experts Interviewed
201
Consumers Consulted

Best Dutch Ovens

The variety of Dutch ovens available is remarkable, from models that cost around fifteen bucks, to those that are well on the way to a thousand. We've stayed away from the cheapest because of durability issues and have also not included the most expensive because, apart from the exorbitant price, few people need a 19 inch pot that weighs twenty-five pounds empty!

Although three-legged, outdoor Dutch ovens are popular with campers, you're unlikely to use them all year round, and you can't use them with an ordinary stove, so we haven't included those either. Our finalists are all indoor models. They are:

Products we Considered

Le Creuset
Signature
Cuisinart
Contour Stainless
Calphalon
Nonstick
Lodge
Enameled Cast Iron
Calphalon
Contemporary Stainless

Considerations

Appearance, Size, & Weight

The look of a kitchen appliance is always important and can be a deciding factor if two models are otherwise similar, but one matches your kitchen decor better. You'll want to make sure your Dutch oven has a large enough capacity for your purposes, and you should also think about weight - some can be surprisingly heavy, which a vital consideration for many people.

Manufacture

Do you want the traditional look and feel of an enameled cast-iron, or does a lighter stainless steel Dutch oven suit you better? It's not just the cook pot itself; there are glass lids, stay cool handles, and practicalities such as whether the parts are dishwasher-safe.

Cooking Performance

The material will have an impact on what it's like to cook with. You'll almost certainly want to pop it in the oven at some point, so things like the amount of heat that the knobs and handles canl take comes into play. Each element adds to or detracts from the overall versatility of your Dutch oven.

Price

We've avoided the cheapest Dutch Ovens as well as the very costly models, but that still leaves a considerable gap between the least and the most expensive. This section of our ratings shows just what you get for your money.

Considerations

Appearance, Size, & Weight

Cuisinart 445-22 Contour

The Cuisinart 445-22 Contour Stainless Dutch oven is a very attractive, bright stainless steel appliance with a glass lid - the kind of cookware that fits in with just about any kitchen decor. It has nice big handles which are useful if you have a cloth in your hands or are wearing oven mitts. All told (including lid and handles), it's 12.75 inches in diameter, a fraction over six inches tall, and it holds 5 quarts. One of the advantages of stainless steel is its relatively light weight, and this Dutch Oven is just 4 pounds. Given that a quart of water weighs 2 pounds - so potentially you could have 10 pounds of contents to carry around - this will be much easier to handle than the cast-iron equivalent.

Simply Calphalon Nonstick

Where the Cuisinart has quite a traditional design, the Simply Calphalon Nonstick Dutch oven is more contemporary. The dark aluminum body and clear glass lid are extremely elegant, although they won't suit all kitchen styles. This is a 7 quart model, and in spite of external dimensions of approximately 14 inches by 6 inches, it still only weighs around 6 pounds.

Lodge Color EC6D43

If you're a fan of traditional appearance, then the Lodge Color EC6D43 Enameled Dutch Oven will certainly appeal to you. What's more, it's available in half a dozen different colors, so one should match your kitchen perfectly. It's delicately shaded, giving it a look of age-old durability, with nicely molded handles and a stainless steel knob on the lid. This is a 6 quart model, 14 inches across and six inches tall, and its solidity is confirmed by a weight of just over 14 pounds.

Calphalon Contemporary

The second Calphalon in our ratings, the Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Dutch Oven, is certainly a very up-to-date piece, blending brushed stainless steel and glass into a lovely sinuous modern shape with flowing, stay-cool handles. It is 15 inches across the side handles, 6.5 inches tall, and will hold 8 quarts, yet given that excellent capacity it still only weighs just over 8 pounds.

Le Creuset Signature

As with the Lodge, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Round French (Dutch) Oven is available in numerous colors - in this case, eight. It's another big pot in the traditional style; in fact, Le Creuset is such a well known brand for this kind of cookware (they've been around since 1925), it could be argued that everyone else's designs are just a copy of theirs! Handles are large, giving plenty of room for gloved hands, and the only other adornment is a black composite knob on the lid. Capacity is a little unusual, at 7.25 quarts, and external dimensions are 14 x 7 inches. Like the Lodge, it's a substantial heft, but given it can hold more, it's actually marginally lighter at slightly under 13 pounds.

The Le Creuset is the combination of traditional style and modern production methods that deliver superb fit and finish.
Considerations

Manufacture

Cuisinart 445-22 Contour

A good Dutch oven needs a well-fitting lid to stop all the goodness from getting out. Although the lid on the Cuisinart 445-22 Dutch Oven is mainly glass (tempered for strength), the edge is stainless steel for a better join between the surfaces. Inside the main stainless steel body is a layer of aluminum to help heat the pot rapidly and spread heat evenly. Nice big rivets hold the stay-cool handles in place and the whole thing is safe to put in your dishwasher and your freezer. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.

The Simply Calphalon Dutch Oven is composed of hard anodized aluminum - a material that is 80% stronger than stainless steel, yet with equal or better heat transference properties. The lid is tempered glass, this time with a deep lip to prevent moisture and flavor escaping. Chunky, purposeful rivets hold the handles in place, adding to the general air of durability, though the warranty is a comparatively short ten years.

Lodge Color EC6D43

Few things in the kitchen look more solid than enameled cast-iron, and the Lodge Color EC6D43 Dutch Oven is a fine example. It's the kind of thing you'd be happy to take from your stove to the table, and thanks to the porcelain enamel surface, it's not only pretty but tough too. However, it's not steel, and that means there are limits with it. While it is dishwasher safe, we recommend that you hand wash it in warm, soapy water in order to maintain its surface. You can use plastic or nylon scrapers and all kinds of fabric scourers but not metal/wire ones as they will scratch the enamel and could invalidate the lifetime warranty.

Calphalon Contemporary

Although the Calphalon Contemporary Dutch Oven has a lighter look than cast-iron pots, it is no flimsy bit of tin. It's actually a combination of aluminum for even heating and heavy gauge stainless steel for long-lasting strength. Like the Simply Calphalon, there are big, solid rivets holding the handles in place which add to the overall quality feel - something that's underlined by a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

When you look at the Le Creuset Dutch Oven, you get an impression of timeless solidity - an accurate reflection of what it's like in real life. The cast-iron is of the highest quality. The vitreous enamel coating on the interior is completely impermeable, but as with the Lodge, it needs to be treated with a degree of care. Technically you can put it in the dishwasher, but it's not recommended. Treated properly, it will last a lifetime (and that's how long the guarantee is), but it won't take the same kind of abuse as a stainless steel version.

Though heavy when compared to aluminum or stainless steel, the Le Creuset is not as weighty as cast-iron from other makers.
Susan T.
Expert Consultant
Susan T.
Chef, Food Entrepeneur

Susan Sano Tuveson has been cooking for people for five decades. Educated in music, law, and languages, she left her legal practice to establish Cacao Chocolates in Kittery, Maine. A three-time Best of Seacoast New England winner, the shop was popular for its high-quality artisanal truffles flavored with unusual local ingredients.

Considerations

Cooking Performance

Cuisinart 445-22 Contour

Keen cooks love a good Dutch Oven because of the versatility it can offer - allowing you to prepare anything from soups to pot roasts and a huge variety of other dishes. The Cuisinart 445-22 Dutch Oven is oven and broiler safe, with the pot good for up to 500°F and the lid to 350°F. Stainless steel won't effect cooking flavors, but it doesn't retain heat as well as cast-iron, and the way it takes up heat can be a little rapid for some people, meaning you have to be a bit more attentive. Indeed one or two owners criticized the Cuisinart for this reason. That might be a little unfair, but it would be unwise to expect it to react in the slower, more predictable way that a cast-iron pot does. While you can use this Dutch oven with most hobs, it's not suitable for induction cookers. The other drawback might be the size. 5 quarts will be plenty for some, but not for larger families.

Simply Calphalon Nonstick

With the Simply Calphalon Dutch Oven, both pot and lid are oven safe to 400°F. The non-stick interior coating has obvious advantages when it comes to cleaning and can mean you don't need so much oil to cook with, but it also means you shouldn't use metal utensils. As with the Cuisinart and the other Calphalon, cooks will appreciate being able to keep an eye on what's going on through the glass lid. Cooking characteristics are said by owners to be similar to stainless steel in terms of the way it takes up heat, but some thought it a bit thin and, as a result, they couldn't make it cook slowly, on a low heat - which is often what you use a Dutch Oven for. In its defense, plenty of people said it did a great job of soups, chillis and stews, and it can be used with induction stove tops.

Lodge Color EC6D43

If you haven't done it before, cooking with cast-iron can take a while to get used to, but most owners who have been through the process rate the Lodge Color EC6D43 Dutch oven as an excellent addition to their kitchen. You can't bash it about like you can a plain steel pot, but then again you can't do that with non-stick pots either. You do get certain heat advantages, and the pot and lid of the Lodge will go in your oven up to 500°F. Additionally, heat absorption is slower and heat retention is greater, so it's ideal for stews, pot roasts, or anything where you want long cooking to build up flavor. Unlike plain cast-iron, it doesn't need to be seasoned because of the enamel coating, and it will work on induction cook tops, so it's got excellent versatility. You can marinate and cook in the same pot, and those same heat characteristics also make it great for chilled dishes - because it will keep them cooler for longer.

Calphalon Contemporary

Because it is made of stainless steel (with an aluminum core in the base), the Calphalon Contemporary Dutch Oven can be used with metal utensils - something that many cooks like to do which gives this pot a major advantage over those with non-stick or enamel coatings. Owners also like the fact that, despite its considerable size, it is relatively shallow when compared to more traditionally stockpots. It's oven and broiler safe up to 450°F for the lid and 500°F for the pot itself, and it is dishwasher safe as well. It has been designed to spread heat as evenly across the surface as possible, and users tell us that it's great for browning and making pan gravy, although the lip doesn't pour particularly well. There are other complaints (which we'll look at in a moment), but these are not related to cooking performance. Indeed the majority of owners use words like "outstanding value" and "best roster ever" to describe the Calphalon.

Le Creuset Signature

Le Creuset products are frequently found in professional kitchens. It's cookware that many people aspire to, and it's deserving of its reputation. The Le Creuset Dutch Oven follows that tradition, and though it's heavy when compared to aluminum or stainless steel, it's often not as weighty as comparable cast-iron from other makers. It's probably fair to say that there are lovers and haters, but if you love cooking with cast-iron, the Le Creuset really was made with you in mind. Despite its size, the big handles make it relatively easy to work with. Heat retention is unrivaled, making this such a versatile pot that you can stir-fry or sear with it, yet you can also slow cook a stew or casserole. It's not perfect - you can't use metal utensils and you shouldn't really put it in the dishwasher - but it is fine on induction tops. Ask keen cooks who own one for their opinion, and you'll get universal praise. In this section of our ratings, that's the most important thing.

The Lodge is a very attractive pot in the traditional style and has enough color options that one should suit your kitchen decor.
Considerations

Price

Cuisinart 445-22 Contour

The Cuisinart 445-22 Dutch oven retails for $80, but it's currently available for only $32. That's not much for a well-made, 5 quart, stainless steel pot and lid. It looks smart and it will perform well enough to satisfy many. It's safe in the oven, it's safe to use metal utensils with it, and it's safe in the dishwasher, too. It will stain - despite the word "stainless," most of them do mark eventually - and some owners expressed concern over quality and durability. Having said that, it does come with a lifetime warranty and plenty of users are more than happy with the value they get from this oven.

Simply Calphalon Nonstick

You would normally pay $80 for the Simply Calphalon Dutch Oven, but it is also reduced right now to $29. It's a good, big pot, from a manufacturer with a fine reputation for quality cookware, but it is worth mentioning that this is their entry-level range oven. Not every owner was pleased with the way it was put together or with the durability of the non-stick coating. However, it's undoubtedly popular, and most comments are along the lines of "excellent addition to my kitchen," and "great versatility." It's not the most rigid, and it's not dishwasher safe, but as quite a few pointed out, it's tough to beat for the money.

Lodge Color EC6D43

If a cast-iron pot is on your shopping list - and for many cooks there's just no substitute - then at $77 (down from $118), the Lodge Color EC6D43 Dutch oven is worth more than a passing glance. It's well made, it comes in a choice of colors, and its 6 quarts is big enough for many families (a 7.8 quart version is available should you need bigger). It has the heat retention qualities that serious cooks look for, and it's attractive enough to go straight from stovetop - or oven - to the table. Critics will tell you it's a bit heavy (it is) and that it's not the best quality on the market, but conversely, it has literally thousands of delighted owners who find it "a great, low priced alternative." As long as you take that view, you won't be disappointed.

Calphalon Contemporary

Right now you can save big on the Calphalon Contemporary Dutch Oven, reduced from $200 list to just $74. That puts it very much in the same price range as the Lodge - and the two make an interesting comparison between traditional and modern approaches. It could be argued that the stainless steel and aluminum Calphalon overcomes many of the problems with cast-iron: you can use metal utensils and it's dishwasher safe, yet it will take pretty much the same oven temperatures and will work with induction stovetops. We also think it's equally attractive in its own way. One or two owners would have preferred if it was a bit more solidly constructed, and again it came in for criticism for staining and for burn marks. It is, nevertheless, a very popular Dutch oven, with most owners pleased with both its performance and its value.

Le Creuset Signature

A list price of $470 for the Le Creuset Dutch Oven will make a lot of people wince. Even on sale for $325, it's very expensive. So how can you justify spending almost five times the cost of the Lodge or Calphalon Contemporary? Because it's a Le Creuset. Yes, you're paying a premium for the name, but that name has been hard-earned over almost a century. This Dutch oven (actually, Le Creuset call it a French Oven) is the combination of traditional style and modern production methods that deliver superb fit and finish. It's a big pot, and it's no lightweight, but despite its solidity it's not as heavy as many competitors - an indication of the effort Le Creuset put in to making great products, specifically for keen cooks and professionals. Some people will never dream of paying that money for a Dutch Oven. Those owners who have would not be parted from it.

The Le Creuset is a thing of beauty with a tactile quality that can't really be understood until you experience it.

Best of the Best

It will come as no surprise to those who take their cooking seriously that the best Dutch oven is the Le Creuset. Any of the others in our ratings will satisfy many people and offer excellent value, but when you're talking about the top Dutch oven there really is no competition.

Le Creuset have an unrivaled reputation for cast-iron cookware, but they don't sit on their laurels. While this 7 1/4 quart pot will never be considered light, it's certainly less heavy than most rivals, making it substantially easier to carry around the kitchen. Some cast-iron pots have lids that are loose when compared to modern stainless steel counterparts, but the Le Creuset is precision-made and snug. Culinary enthusiasts agree that Le Creuset is the perfect addition to today's kitchen - a blend of traditional craftsmanship and cutting edge technology. It's also a thing of beauty and has a tactile quality that can't really be understood until you experience it.

All of which means nothing if it's not great to cook with. Once you've mastered cooking with Le Creuset, it will be your new favorite way to cook pot roasts, soups, stews, and chili. We've found that few people go back to ordinary pots and pan. You can use it on any kind of stovetop, and you can put it in the oven at up to 500°F. There is perhaps no more versatile piece of cookware.

The purchase of the Le Creuset Dutch oven should be seen as an investment. Even at over a hundred bucks less than the list price, it's still $325. However, customers would contend that even at that price, it's well worth the money. We'll leave the final word with one happy owner: "some other Dutch ovens have a lifetime guarantee, this will become an heirloom."
Best of the Best
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When you're talking about the top Dutch oven, there really is no competition.

Best Bang for your Buck

When it comes to the best value for money Dutch oven, our choice is the Lodge Color EC6D43. It's not an easy decision because the Cuisinart and both Calphalons would find a place in many kitchens and in many ways offer more convenience. However, in our opinion and that of many owners, when it comes to Dutch ovens - and the way most people cook with them - there's no substitute for cast-iron.

The Lodge is a very attractive pot in the traditional style, has enough color options that one should suit your decor, and at 6 quarts is more than adequate for the average family. If it has the disadvantages associated with cast-iron (no metal utensils and not dishwasher-safe), the majority of owners think they are outweighed by the way it heats and cooks - and after all, that's what you want a good Dutch oven for in the first place.

It's not a Le Creuset, but it is only $77. The enamel will mark and it will probably craze over the years, but it should continue to perform as only cast-iron can for a good long time. Overall quality comes in for some criticism, but hundreds and hundreds of owners will tell you it's a "great pot," and "a joy to use." If you want a cast-iron Dutch oven but Le Creuset is too much, Lodge is the answer.
Best Bang for your Buck
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If you want a cast-iron Dutch oven but Le Creuset is too much, Lodge is the answer.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations