Not to name names, but there are certain appliances or pieces of cookware I've bought with great gusto that have ended up collecting more dust than reps at dinnertime. My Dutch oven, on the other hand, became an instant featured player in my weekly routine, and a pot I use far more than I imagined when I first bought it. In fact, my beloved enameled cast-iron Dutch is probably the piece of cookware I urge friends and family to buy most if they don't have one or aren't sure if they want one. Am I making it clear that I like my Dutch oven? I like my Dutch oven.
I can find any excuse to use this particular pot at any time of year -- trust me -- but chilly spring, fall and winter evenings are when I really tend to crave Dutch oven food. If stews, soups, sauces, bread, braises and roasts are on your 2021 to-do list, it's time to add a quality cast-iron Dutch oven into the mix. Be it for Julia Child's famous coq au vin, a melty beef bourguignon, Grandma's Sunday sauce recipe or even for a simple batch of sautéed greens, a sturdy Dutch oven is an essential piece of cookware for making comfort food. A bonus: Dutch ovens look so right sitting atop your stove, in fact, I just leave mine there most of the time. Plus, enameled Dutch oven pots are easy as heck to clean, which just may be my favorite thing about them.
As you might have guessed, there are several types of Dutch ovens and they come in a slew of sizes, shapes, styles, prices and materials. To hunt down the best Dutch oven to add to your kitchen collection, you'll want to learn about how these pots are used, what's available out there and what each one will cost. Intrigued? Sure you are. Let's get to the important stuff.
What is a Dutch oven?
Dutch oven, a term often interchangeably used with French oven or cocotte, is an essential kitchen tool. If you're not familiar with these pots or enameled cast-iron cookware in general, they typically feature thick walls and a tight-fitting lid (unlike casserole dishes) with a single handle, loop handles or a knob, and most are made from bare or enameled cast iron, which provides exceptional heat retention, though can also find stainless steel Dutch ovens. This popular piece of can be used on a stovetop, in the oven or even over an open campfire and is a favorite vehicle for everything from to browning and braising meat. They're a favorite vessel for dishes that need to be cooked low and slow, like stews, sauces and roasts.
What can you make with a Dutch oven?
These sturdy cast-iron pots are incredible -- you can accomplish almost any cooking task in a Dutch oven and when you get a piece of meat going low and slow with a braising like stock, wine or brandy, some very magical things can happen. Because of the unparalleled heat retention, a Dutch oven is perfect for building a slow Sunday red sauce or making stock from last night's roast chicken. Dutch ovens are truly one of the most versatile pots you can own, and a lot of home cooks will tell you it's their favorite-- myself included. Folks get very attached to them too, and a really good Dutch oven made by a high-end producer like , or will last for decades, if not longer.
If you're in the market for your first Dutch oven or are replacing or upgrading the one you have, here are a few of the best Dutch ovens in various styles and price ranges to consider, as well as what to look for when choosing a new Dutch oven.
What to look for when buying a Dutch oven
When shopping for the perfect Dutch oven, you'll want to consider the size of the pot. That's probably the most important decision you'll make so give it some real thought. The most popular interior sizes are between four and seven quarts, but you can find products as small as two quarts or as large as 10 or more. If you tend to make large holiday meals with lots of grub for your extended family, a bigger Dutch oven might serve you well. Just keep in mind that larger pots will be quite heavy (especially when full of food). I personally think a four-quart Dutch oven is great for a single person or couple but would probably bump up to a six-quart if I had a few kids or more mouths to feed on the regular. Keep in mind, most are cast iron so they're not particularly light, so don't overshoot just for the heck of it.
What shape and weight should a Dutch oven be?
Speaking of weight, Dutch ovens are supposed to have thick walls, so don't shy away from a pot that seems heavy -- it's really just heavy duty and that's a good thing. You may also see round versus oval Dutch ovens, and the best option here depends on how you plan to use it. If you do a lot of stovetop oven cooking or frying, sauteing and browning, stick with a round model, as it will fit on the burner better. Some round models are what are called "double Dutch ovens," where the lid is deep enough to use as a skillet. An oval dutch will better fit long cuts of meat like tenderloins, rib roasts and large poultry so if you plan on cooking those frequently versus stews and shanks, consider an oblong shape.
Finally, it's generally better to choose a Dutch oven that's short and stout, rather than one that's skinny and taller (though a double Dutch oven will typically be a little taller than a regular Dutch oven). Why? A wide diameter gives you more interior surface area to brown food, and it can also save you time by cooking or frying ingredients faster.
We read dozens of reviews for each product, compared pricing and product specs and, of course, drew consideration from our own test kitchen experiences baking, browning and frying a variety of dishes to curate a comprehensive list of the best Dutch ovens on the market. No matter your needs, you're sure to find the best Dutch oven on this list, which we'll update regularly.
If you're willing to spend a bit of coin to secure one of the best Dutch ovens in the market, a regal Staub round cocotte won't disappoint. Cocotte is the French term for a Dutch oven, and this Alsace-based legacy cookware brand certainly knows its way around a beautiful piece of cast-iron cookware. Staub's cocotte comes in several sizes and a cacophony of colors -- 10 to be exact -- all with a durable enamel finish and solid cast-iron core.
Staub's Dutch oven features a self-basting lid with spikes on the underside to encourage an even and continuous trickle of juices while cooking. This pretty pot is a perfect vessel for baking, frying, braising or browning your Dutch oven recipe favorites, like chili, casseroles, beef stew, pot roast, sourdough bread and more. Reviewers rave about it, with one writing, "This pot is about as close to perfect as a pot gets. It's sturdy, durable, functional and flat-out easy to use."
Enameled cast-iron cookware is also extremely easy to clean and this luxury piece is no exception. Braises and roasts lift off the coated surface with the greatest of ease. I like the 4-quart size for singles and couples with no kids but if you have more mouths to feed, consider upgrading to this 5.5-quart model.
You don't necessarily have to spend an arm and a leg to get a great Dutch oven for your kitchen. The Lodge is widely heralded as the best Dutch oven for the price. Lodge Ditch ovens come in sizes ranging from 1.5-quart to 7.5-quart and three colors.
The Lodge Dutch oven is made from classic cast iron with an enameled coated. It's oven-safe up to scorching temps of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and while you can technically put it in the dishwasher, the manufacturer recommends washing by hand to avoid chipping the enamel finish or damaging the steel lid lifting knob. Lodge produces some of the sturdiest cookware around and reviewers agree, especially considering its affordable price.
If you're at all familiar with Dutch ovens -- or cookware at all, for that matter -- you've probably heard of Le Creuset by now. The iconic French brand is considered by many to be the gold standard, and you can rest assured you're getting a quality pot in Le Creuset's signature Dutch oven. Le Creuset makes its oven available in 5.5-, 7.25-, 9- and 13.25-quart interior sizes, as well as a full rainbow of truly beautiful colors that will make it a showpiece, even when you're not cooking.
Le Creuset cast-iron Dutch ovens are covered in vitrified porcelain making them easier to clean and resistant to stains, odors and acids. The nonreactive interior and cooking surface don't need to be seasoned like a traditional cast-iron Dutch oven, and you can use Le Creuset's oven on essentially any cooking surface, including induction cooktops and even open fires. Additionally, Le Creuset signature Dutch ovens have large, easy-grip handles and a heat-resistant, stainless steel knob.
Every detail of Le Creuset's pots has been considered, and the quality is reflected in Le Creuset's reviews, where happy chefs swoon over their beloved Dutch ovens. Many claim their Le Creuset Dutch oven to be the most-used item in their kitchen, from preparing easy meals to baking bread and heating soups, and most agree this product is worth the investment. Plus, Le Creuset's signature Dutch ovens come with a "limited" lifetime warranty, which means that if it's defective, the company will replace it free of charge. Le Creuset even has a line of Star Wars Dutch ovens.
Direct-to-consumer cookware companies are popping up left and right, and Milo is an up-and-coming brand that sells high-quality Dutch ovens at affordable prices. The Milo Dutch oven rivals products from some of the most well-established cookware brands, thanks to its cast-iron construction and durable enamel coating.
The Dutch oven has a 5.5-quart capacity and comes in black or white enamel finishes. It's oven safe in super high temperatures -- up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit -- and it can even go in the dishwasher without damaging the enamel. Milo offers a lifetime guarantee on its products, and it claims this cooking pot is ideal both for kitchen newbies and professionals. Happy buyers say that the pan is "heavy and solid like you would expect from Staub or Le Creuset" with a smooth, easy-to-clean finish.
Bring a pop of color into your kitchen with this six-quart Dutch oven from the Macy's Martha Stewart Collection. There are a wide variety of colors to choose from, and many of them feature a subtle ombre finish. These Dutch ovens are made from enameled cast iron and come with a tightly fitted lid that has a center knob and a condensation ring to help circulate moisture while cooking food. A large handle on each side makes the pot easy to move from stove to table, and reviewers call it a "kitchen essential."
If you've got a whole lot of hungry mouths to feed, this extra-large oval enameled cast-iron Dutch oven from direct-to-consumer brand Great Jones is the best Dutch oven to do it in. At 6.75 quarts, you'll be able to fit large cuts of meat such as beef brisket, pork shoulder and lamb shanks for slow-braising until tender. The oval shape makes it easier to fit large chickens, turkeys and other birds too, and bigger handles make it easier to maneuver this big piece of cookware around. The handles will easily fit your hands while wearing oven mitts, which is great since all that heat retention means these pots both get hot and stay hot (be careful).
The Dutchess is available in eight colors with a slick matte finish. You can definitely bring this pretty pot from the oven straight to the table and serve your holiday main course directly in it.
Many of today's best Dutch ovens feature a porcelain-enameled finish that makes them nonreactive, easy to clean and impervious to stains and odors. However, if you like the taste imparted by nonenameled cast iron, you may want to consider the Lodge preseasoned bare cast-iron Dutch oven.
This product doesn't have an enamel exterior -- instead, it's been preseasoned with vegetable oil. It has a seven-quart capacity that reviewers say is perfect for things like bread and soups, as well as many other dishes. Without enamel, it needs to be taken care of properly -- that means careful washing and reseasoning as needed -- but the sturdy construction will last for decades.
Enameled cast iron is the most popular material for these pots, but there are also stainless steel Dutch ovens available, such as this one from Calphalon. The biggest benefit will be weight -- or lack thereof -- but it won't hold heat quite as well as cast iron. The five-quart covered Dutch oven is made from stainless steel and features an aluminum core which helps with heat conductivity. It's also oven- and dishwasher-safe, even with its lid. The brushed exterior has a sleek, modern look. A glass lid is nice for keeping an eye on cooking progress without letting heat escape if you're the impatient type.
Most enameled Dutch ovens are pretty nonstick, so don't get too hung up on it. But if you want actual nonstick surface material, there is a Calphalon nonstick Dutch oven and it fares quite well in the reviews we scoured. The unique product features a nonstick coating, much like you'd find on good nonstick frying pans, that will ensure that food slides right off when it's time to clean.
This 5-quart Dutch oven is made from heavy-gauge, hard-anodized aluminum for even heat distribution. It has stainless steel handles on each side that stay cool, as well as a tempered glass lid with another handle rather than a knob. The whole unit is oven-safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (so baking is definitely in play), and you can put both the pot and lid in the dishwasher if you choose.
Not only can you use Dutch ovens in the kitchen, but in the great outdoors too. Experienced campers will often tote along a Dutch oven such as this GSI hard-anodized pot since these pots can be used easily over an open flame or campfire.
This Dutch oven is specifically designed for camping and made from nonreactive, hard-anodized aluminum and weighs roughly 66% less than traditional cast iron, so it will have slightly lower heat retention but is much more efficient to lug along and into the woods. It also has fixed legs for increased stability and a deep edge around the lid where you can place hot coals. Plus, this camp Dutch oven is rust-free and scratch-resistant, so it'll survive even the gnarliest of excursions.
If you plan to use your Dutch oven for Thanksgiving and other holidays, you might want a festive design, like that of the Staub cast-iron pumpkin cocotte. This adorable pumpkin-shaped dish has a 5-quart capacity, and it comes with all the features you'd expect from this high-end brand. It has a smooth enamel coating on the bottom, tight-fitting lid and superior heat retention and is oven safe for temperatures up to 500 degrees. Plus, it makes the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table.