Best 10 Dutch Ovens
As Of February 2021
One can never have enough kitchen tools, especially when it comes to cookware items. But if there is one cookware item that is a must-have in any kitchen, it’s the Dutch Oven.
We did the
The Best Dutch Oven For Limitless Kitchen Magic!
It’s not hard to see why every chef recommend you have a Dutch oven in your kitchen. You can never go wrong with its endless cooking options, which includes baking. Imagine the taste of a freshly baked bread, right in the comfort of your home kitchen. And this is just the beginning!
The bottom line is, a dutch oven is an excellent investment, and it requires great attention when shopping for one. But with the endless options (not forgetting loads of confusion between Dutch ovens and casserole dishes) we understand why you would have a challenging time choosing the best. With our top recommendations and the accompanying buying guide, you are a click away from buying the best option for your home.
While Dutch oven can be pricey, mostly high-end brands like a Le Creuset Dutch oven, you do not have to spend more than £100.00 to have one of these versatile ones as part of your collection. In fact, our buying guide ensures you get a high-quality piece at a very friendly price.
Let’s dive right in and get you the best Dutch oven!
What is a dutch oven?
A Dutch oven often referred to as a cocotte, is a cooking pot with thick walls and a perfectly fitting tight lid. Traditional Dutch ovens are made from bare cast iron, but new models are from ceramic or aluminium materials.
What can I cook with a dutch oven?
The question should be, what can you not cook with your Dutch oven! Its versatility is one of the reasons it is a highly recommended cookware item. With its super-robust construction, heat distribution and retention, you can use it for cooking almost everything; from slow cooking your stews to searing meat and veggies, and even baking bread. Other recipes you can try making with your Dutch oven include seafood stews, coq au vin, short ribs, roast chicken, mac & cheese, soup, among others.
How to choose the best shape and weight?
Choosing the best shape for your needs is a little bit easier as you can find only two different types - the oval ones and the round ones.
Round Dutch ovens are the most common ones. They are deeper and sit well on a single burner, giving the oven better heat distribution. This gives it more versatility for a wide range of meals.
The oval-shaped ones are wider and shallower, which makes them ideal for long meat cuts. Unfortunately, the heat distribution on these cannot compare to that of the round ones. To make some difference with the heat distribution issue, you will have to preheat it first.
The weight will mostly depend on the Dutch oven's material, where the classic cast iron is the heaviest. There are lighter options, mostly made from stainless steel, ceramic or cast aluminium. However, these will not be as durable as the ones made from cast-iron.
Getting a dutch oven from any kitchenware shop or online retailers is not an issue. In fact, there are too many options for you to choose from. But do you know what exactly to look for to ensure you secure the best dutch oven? Below are all the factors and key features to watch out for:
While cast iron is the primary material for traditional dutch ovens, you will also find several material options, including aluminium, stainless steel, and ceramic. The material affects every aspect of the dutch oven, from its weight to durability, heat retention, and maintenance level.
How large is your household? Do you live alone, have a medium-sized family, or do you often make meals for a large gathering? The dutch oven size is the key determinant of how many people you can serve from single cooking. The more people you serve in every single cooking, the larger you want your dutch oven to be.
Sizes vary from 0.5-quarts for individuals to 13-quarts if you make large portions of food at once. Most households' standard size ranges between 5 quarts and 7 quarts, big enough to feed 4 to 6 individuals or fit a whole chicken.
We would recommend going for a size that is slightly larger than what you need at the moment. Dynamics change, and you might find yourself with an extra guest or family member. It is better to cook more food at any given point than cook in a small dutch oven and not have enough food for everyone.
Here is a simple guide on each available size:
- 0.5 to 2 quarts - best for making desserts or side dishes for individuals. These sizes will give 1 to 2 servings.
- 2 to 4 quarts - best for family-sized side dishes. Will take about 2 to 3 servings.
- 4 to 5 quarts - ideal for families with 2 to 4 members and making one-pot dinner.
- 5 to 6 quarts - the “go-to” size between a large and a small Dutch oven. This size will make 5 to 7 servings, making it the best choice for a small crowd or meals for 2 people.
- 6 to 10 quarts - for larger servings, especially soup or cooking a whole goose, you can count on this size. It gives out about 8 to 14 servings.
- 13 to 15 quarts - it's the largest size available and can fit a whole turkey. These sizes have 15 to 20 servings, and best if you are always catering to large crowds.
The manufacturer’s guide will always state how much heat the Dutch oven can withstand. Mostly, it comes down to the material of the Dutch Oven, and what heat sources it can use. Uncoated traditional cast iron Dutch Ovens can withstand up to 240-degrees of heat in an open flame, stovetops or an induction.
Enamelled cast irons will only do about 230-degrees. Anything more than this will destroy the enamel coating. Ceramic materials can also go up to 240-degrees, but cast aluminium and stainless steel materials are ideal for low to medium heat cooking temperatures.
You need to consider the different features that ensure using the dutch oven is safe for you and the longevity of the cookware. These include the lid, handles and the knobs.
The lid must be well-fitting to ensure the moisture from your food do not evaporate and leave your food dry. Although most Dutch oven's covers are of the same material as the oven itself, some use a different material, like tempered glass. The tempered glass allows you to keep tabs on your cooking progress without lifting the lid, but it is very delicate.
As much as this narrows down to personal preferences, you could also consider the lid's shape. A flat lid where the inside has ridges or bumps will redirect the condensation directly into the pot. On the other hand, Dome-shaped lids will mostly have a smooth inner surface redirect the condensation back into the oven from the sides.
These are important because you need handles to carry the dutch oven, whether empty or not. But the most important thing to consider on the handles is the amount of heat they can take and whether they are strong enough to withstand holding when hot and the Dutch oven if filled with food. The handles also need to have enough space for your hands to hold when wearing oven mitts or potholders.
Because the lid will have a knob or handle that allows you to lift it, it's important to check how much heat it can withstand. Most can withstand up to 200-degrees, meaning you cannot use them in the oven with heat temperatures more than this. Otherwise, the knob will crack. An option would be buying a Dutch oven whose lid knobs can withstand higher heat temperatures or buying oven-proof knobs and replace with the ones on the Dutch oven you buy.
Few manufacturers include accessories in the packaging, but the truth is that you won’t really need any most of the time. However, a trivet is one of the accessories to consider getting, especially if you will be using your Dutch oven to serve food directly from the stovetop to the serving table. The trivet needs to match the Dutch oven's shape to ensure it gives your tabletops or kitchen counters enough protection from the hot Dutch oven surface.
Another accessory to get is a strong and thick or heat resistant set of potholders. Remember that most Dutch oven materials are good at heat retention, and you can easily burn your hands when handling the cookware without the necessary protection.
Not every brand will include a warranty, but some come with a year or two of warranty and others have a lifetime warranty. Including replacement, refund or repair against Dutch oven cookware set material defects.
Types of Dutch Ovens
Dutch ovens come in different types, but it all comes down to which one suits your style and budget. To tell this, you need to know the various materials that make Dutch ovens and how these affect the performance and the price.
Bare Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
High-end brands will have bare cast-iron Dutch ovens, which are known for their durability. More than anything, the cast iron is known for its high heat distribution and heat retention. It is also a versatile piece of cookware that allows you to use most, if not all, heat sources, including induction or open fire.
As they age, cast irons make food more delicious and savoury due to the frequent seasoning, enhancing its surface. To retain this seasoning, you must avoid cooking acidic foods in a cast iron or washing using abrasive soaps and cleaning materials. Ensure you handwash it and re-oil your bare cast iron Dutch oven before storing.
Enamelled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
Unlike the bare cast-iron Dutch ovens that require constant oiling and handwashing to retain the seasoning, enamelled cast irons do not. The glassy coating surface can withstand most cooktops and cooks all sorts of foods, even the acidic ones. While it gets visible stains easily, you can clean them up with slight scrubbing using non-abrasive detergents.
Cast Aluminium Dutch Ovens
For a lighter option than the cast irons, the cast aluminium Dutch ovens would be an excellent choice. They have a durable and hard surface than the stainless steel type. You can also use it on various heat sources like an electric or gas stovetop.
It also works for a wider variety of foods than the bare cast irons because the molten aluminium is non-reactive to acidic foods, and has a naturally nonstick surface. It also offers better heat distribution and retention than the stainless steel type. You will also have an easy time on maintenance since it doesn't require seasoning and most are dishwasher safe.
Ceramic Dutch Ovens
For a more fancy and glossy looking Dutch oven with a lower price range than the enamelled cast iron Dutch oven, the ceramic type is the choice to go for. They are non-reactive, PTFE and PFOA-free and are not prone to thermal shock.
Unfortunately, the ceramic coating will chip off easily if not well taken care of, and most will not do well in open fires or anything with direct heating. With most ceramic Dutch ovens, you can heat up to 240-degrees without chipping off the coating. However, they are best for slow cooking. They are also easy to care for, where you can use hand wash or dishwasher.
Stainless Steel Dutch Ovens
These are lightweight, do not react to acidic foods and are easy to maintain. The only downside is that they have a low heat distribution and retention rate than the other types.
How to care for your dutch oven?
This will mostly depend on the type of Dutch oven you have. The bare cast irons are the most delicate ones, which require seasoning and no washing with detergents or soaps. The seasoning enhances your food’s flavour, but it also keeps the Dutch oven from rusting and corroding. The cleaning detergents and soaps will rip off that seasoning, ridding it of its nonstick properties.
To clean, all you need to do is scrub off the excess foods, wipe off the small particles with a clean and soft kitchen cloth or tissue and oil it for seasoning. Before storing, you need to heat it in 220 to 240 degrees Celcius of heat for proper reseasoning, then store it once it has cooled.
The rest of the materials do not require such high-level maintenance. Enamelled cast irons already have the enamel surface for rust-resistance and seasoning. If your set is made of a lighter colour shade, dark sauces may leave some staining. This is easily removable with light scrubbing using non-abrasing washing pads. If the stains are stubborn, consider using the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning materials or a homemade solution of baking soda and vinegar in the ratio of 2:1.
Stainless steel, ceramic and cast aluminium materials can be cleaned with handwashing or dishwashing (if the manufacturer recommends it). You will want to ensure you do not put any cold water into the Dutch oven when it is still hot. These materials are highly susceptible to thermal shock, leading to wearing off the ceramic coating or brittleness of the underlying metal.
What’s the difference between Dutch ovens, French ovens and casserole dishes?
While French ovens are sometimes referred to as Dutch ovens, they are not exactly the same. Some Dutch ovens are enamelled on the inside, which reduces the need for regular seasoning like you have to do with the bare cast iron ones. These enamelled versions are actually the French ovens, which gives the traditional cast-iron Dutch ovens some competition when it comes to making acidic foods.
Casserole dishes, on the other hand, are shallower and flatter than the Dutch ovens. They are mostly ideal for oven cooking and not for stovetops. However, some models can work on the stovetop, depending on the material and manufacturer's instructions.
With as little as £45, you will get a pretty decent Dutch oven that meets your cooking requirements. But on the higher end of the spectrum, you need to be ready to face the price £250 or more for big brand names, like the Le Creuset. With a mid-range budget of £100 or so, you will find other known brands like Lodge.
As long as the brand you want meets your requirements in terms of features, durability and deliverables, it doesn’t mean you have to spend above your budget for a Dutch oven.
Sometimes, you do not need to spend your time and money shopping for multiple kitchen gadgets to transform your meals into a 5-star rating restaurant’s menu. On such occasions, all you need is cookware that ensures your food retains all its moisture and nutrients and has even heating results. The only cookware you need to invest in to achieve these results is a Dutch oven. Whether you need a traditional cast-iron or a lighter option at a more affordable price, we’ve got it all.