Durable, expertly coated enamel resists sticking, stains, chipping, and cracking. Consistent quality and durability. Lightest cast iron by weight in its class. Tight-fitting lid designed for steam circulation and self-basting. Oven-safe to 500 degrees. Long-lasting.
Expensive. Still heavy compared to aluminum or stainless steel.
This 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven has a coil on the handle for easy lifting and a tight-fitting lid for keeping food hot and moist. It's easy to clean, requiring hot water and a stiff brush, and its 4-inch depth makes storage easy.
The handle doesn't fold down all the way.
Four-quart pot that is oven-safe under 500 degrees. Features 2 side handles and a lid with a round stainless steel handle. Naturally leaves small amounts of iron in food. Kosher-certified seasoning. Lid interior features a self-basting texture.
Food may stick to the pot.
Coated in porcelain enamel to prevent damage. Has a 6-quart capacity. Can be used in the oven under 500 degrees. Features 2 side handles and a lid with a round handle. Designed to cook food evenly and maintain warmth.
May be lacking in durability.
Comes in an array of vibrant and versatile colors. Enamel coating is more durable than most budget options. Easy to clean. Compatible with most stovetops. Features wide handles and a self-basting lid that releases steam evenly.
Can be too heavy for some cooks.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
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.
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.
Some manufacturers take a more sophisticated and time-honored approach when making their Dutch ovens.
The process begins with the melting down of iron ore and other metals at 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.
Beyond the material it’s made of, there are a few other features to consider when selecting a Dutch oven.
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. If you cook for a household of two, but frequently entertain larger groups, you may want to get two sizes.
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.
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 type of metal that can withstand high heat. Cheaper lid handles made of plastic or composite materials 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.
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.
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.
Braising 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 braising.
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.
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 maintain 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A. Yes, you can safely cook with your Dutch oven on a gas, electric, or induction burner.