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Shopping Guide for Best Dutch Ovens

Whether you’re a master chef or a boxed macaroni-and-cheese connoisseur, there’s no denying the helpfulness of having a Dutch oven in your kitchen. These thick-walled pots with tight-fitting lids are an essential item for every cook thanks to their durability and versatility. From soups and stews to roasts and fruit compotes, a Dutch oven is up to the task. This versatile pan can go in the oven, on the stove, in the grill, or on the fire. You can use a Dutch oven to bake, roast, braise, and sauté. Pizza, French fries, scrambled eggs, and homemade bread are just a few of the delightful things you can make in a Dutch oven.

At BestReviews, we perform extensive research on the products we review. We strive to acquire a thorough market understanding of products, including consumer attitudes and opinions about specific models. To remain free of outside influences, we do not accept samples or free goods from manufacturers.

If you’re ready to buy a Dutch oven, we invite you to examine the above matrix where our top picks are examined in more detail. To discover additional information about Dutch ovens, we invite you to read on and learn more in our shopping guide.

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.

What Are Dutch Ovens Made Of?

Materials

Aluminum and Stainless Steel

Some manufacturers take advantage of specific metallic properties by bonding layers of stainless steel to a heat-conducting aluminum core.

In conjunction with a tight-fitting lid and thick sides, this makes for a powerful cooking vessel.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Le Creuset Signature

Capacity

Le Creuset has an unrivaled reputation for excellent cast-iron cookware, and the Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven is no exception. This 7 ¼-quart pot will never be considered light, but it's certainly less heavy than most competitors, making it substantially easier to carry around the kitchen. Some cast-iron pots have lids that seem loose compared to their modern stainless steel counterparts, but the Le Creuset is precision-made and snug. Culinary enthusiasts agree that the Le Creuset is the perfect addition to today's kitchen – it’s a fine blend of traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology.

Materials

Cast Iron

Some manufacturers take a more sophisticated and time-honored approach to making their Dutch ovens.

The process begins with the melting down of iron ore and other metals at an extraordinarily high heat. A mold made out of sand, clay, or a combination of the two holds the melted metal and allows it to form its shape. After cooling, the intricate process of removing the iron pot from the mold takes place. Finally, a finished product comes off the assembly line.

The end result is either a pure cast-iron Dutch oven or, in some cases, a cast-iron pot with a nonstick enamel finish.

Dutch ovens fall into two camps: those made of aluminum and stainless steel and those made of cast iron. Aluminum Dutch ovens are generally less expensive and lighter in weight, but they don’t cook as evenly as their cast-iron counterparts.

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Dutch Oven Features to Consider

Beyond the material it’s made of, there are other a few other features to consider when selecting a Dutch oven.

Features

Size

Dutch ovens are measured by their capacity. A small Dutch oven might hold two quarts; a large Dutch oven might hold 12 quarts.

Most cooks base their choice of size on how many people they’ll be cooking for.

DID YOU KNOW?

Regardless of size, you can use the versatile Dutch oven to perform a host of cooking tasks, from sautéing to roasting to baking.

Features

Shape

Most Dutch ovens are either round or oval in shape. For stews, soups, and similar dishes, a round Dutch oven is optimal.

For poultry, fish, spare ribs, and other foods that would fit better in a longer pot, an oval Dutch oven is ideal.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron

Ease of Use

The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is an attractive pot in the traditional style. It has enough color options that one should suit your decor, and at six quarts, it 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.

Features

Lid and Handles

To avoid food drying out while cooking, the lid should fit tightly on the Dutch oven, and the top handle should be securely riveted.

Ideally, the handle will be made of either silicone or a metal that can withstand high heat. Cheaper lid handles made of plastic or a composite material may crack.

Side handles are a helpful addition to a Dutch oven. In addition, your cookware should have one or two strong wire handles (called a bail) that you can easily grab to raise and lower the pot.

EXPERT TIP

When frying in a Dutch oven, be careful not to fill it too high with oil, and add the food in small quantities.


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Features

Feet

Feet on the bottom of a Dutch oven allow it to sit evenly over the heat source.

In the oven and on the stovetop, they allow the pot to sit flat.

For outdoor cooking, the feet may help you situate the pot over hot coals.

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.

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Cooking Methods Suitable for a Dutch Oven

So which cooking methods can you use with a Dutch oven? Most people realize a Dutch oven can be used for simmering soups and stews, but this versatile pot can be used for much more than that.

Let’s start with braising.

This is a method in which your food – anything from roast beef to vegetables – is seared at high heat in the Dutch oven, then finished at a lower temperature with some amount of liquid added. A Dutch oven’s ability to handle both high and low heat is ideal for for braising.

DID YOU KNOW?

A Dutch oven holding leftovers can be safely placed in the refrigerator overnight.

Roasting also works well in a Dutch oven due to the pan’s ability to evenly conduct heat as it surrounds the food. In particular, this type of cooking vessel is suitable for tougher cuts of meat that need to be cooked for longer periods of time in order to break down the connective tissue.

Baking can also be done with great success in a Dutch oven. Pot pies, bread, and even cakes prepared in a Dutch oven can turn out beautifully. Campers sometimes use a Dutch oven to bake over hot coals.

And, believe it or not, Dutch ovens are wonderful for sautéing and frying. With the pot’s ability to maintain a constant heat, French fries and other deep-fried foods made in a Dutch oven taste great.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Calphalon Contemporary Stainless

Design

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

Seasoning a Dutch Oven

If you buy a Dutch oven made of cast iron with no enamel coating, it must be seasoned before you use it. Seasoning prevents food from sticking to the cast iron and helps maintains the cast iron properties of the pot.

Notably, a pot made of cast iron that does have an enamel coating should not be seasoned.

Some modern manufacturers pre-season their Dutch ovens. And some Dutch ovens come pre-seasoned but have a wax coating which must be taken off before use. You can remove the wax by placing the pot upside down in the oven and heating it to 425°F. Place a pan beneath the pot to catch the melting wax.

EXPERT TIP

Enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch ovens should not be heated over 450°F, or the coating could melt.


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Dutch oven seasoning

Seasoning Steps

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.

  • Using a clean rag, apply a liberal coat of olive oil to all sides of the cast-iron pot.

  • Place the pot in the oven. Leave it there for one hour or until the smoking stops.

  • Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool.

  • Repeat this process two more times.

CAUTION

Dutch ovens with an enamel coating should not be seasoned. The seasoning process could ruin the coating.

Dutch Oven Prices

Price

Under $100

Many Dutch ovens in this price range are made of stainless steel. However, you may find some enamel-coated Dutch ovens at this lower cost.

Pure cast-iron pots that can be used for outdoor cooking on a grill, over a campfire, or in a traditional oven may also cost under $100.

DID YOU KNOW?

A Dutch oven is considered a top wedding gift and is on many newlyweds’ registries.

Price

Over $100

The majority of high-end Dutch ovens are made in Europe and are commonly used by leading chefs in the world’s top restaurants.

Home cooks who are brand-conscious and like to have a warranty for their Dutch ovens are likely to favor these costlier pots.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Cuisinart Contour Stainless

Performance

The Cuisinart 445-22 Dutch Oven is oven- and broiler-safe; the pot can withstand up to 500°F, and the lid can withstand up to 350°F. Its stainless steel won't affect cooking flavors, but it doesn't retain heat as well as cast iron, and the rapidity with which it heats up can be a bit overwhelming for some people. Another drawback could be the Cuisinart’s size. At five quarts, it will serve smaller families nicely, but larger families might want something bigger.

Tips

  • To clean an enamel-coated Dutch oven, allow the hot pan to cool down before washing. Never plunge it into cold water abruptly, as the thermal shock could harm the enamel.

  • If there is food stuck to your Dutch oven, soak it for 15 to 20 minutes in warm water to help lift away debris.

  • Do not put your Dutch oven away while it’s still damp. Allow it to dry first, and store it away from steam to avoid moisture build-up.

  • Check the handles and knobs of your Dutch oven periodically, and tighten them if they become loose.

  • Over time, you may need to replace the knobs on your Dutch oven, as they will probably wear out sooner than the pan does.

Dutch ovens are ideal for making one-pot meals which have a protein (meat, poultry), a starch (rice, potatoes), and vegetables with a small amount of liquid.

FAQ

Q. I’m considering a cast-iron Dutch oven for my kitchen, but is the upkeep worth it? And will it look good in my kitchen?

A. When properly cared for, a cast-iron Dutch oven can last a lifetime. In fact, many are passed down from generation to generation. These models require careful maintenance, but they’re built to take a beating. Modern manufacturers have brightened up the look of cast iron significantly by delivering their pots in a rainbow of colors. You can usually find one to match even the swankiest of decor.

Q. What sort of cleaning solution can be used on a Dutch oven?

A. To clean a Dutch oven, use a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and apply the solution to remove stains.

Q. Can I put my Dutch oven on a stovetop?

A. Yes, you can safely cook with your Dutch oven on a gas, electric, or induction burner.

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