Grab yourself a sturdy Staub or Lodge Dutch oven and be ready for soup season.
Dutch ovens are by far my favorite cooking tool. Unlike grills, Dutch ovens shine when it comes to creating cozy comfort food in the fall and winter months. Though I typically use mine year-round, these sturdy pots shine extra bright during the cooler months when we turn to soup, stew and slow-cooked recipes to help keep us warm. Dutch ovens are available in a dizzying range of sizes, shapes and materials, so doing your research is important. Finding the perfect Dutch oven for your kitchen size, cooking style and aesthetic requires some consideration. The best we've found all around is the Staub Dutch oven for its quality, but there may be others that suit you better.
Most Dutch ovens are made with a solid cast-iron core and a slick-yet-resilient enameled coating that keeps food from sticking. A quality pot should last you decades or longer and many folks consider them as much an heirloom as a utilitarian piece of cookware. Oh, and a good Dutch oven needn't cost you hundreds of dollars, either, but go too cheap and your pot may wear and chip faster than you'd like.
If you needed one more reason to invest in this versatile pot, Dutch ovens look so right atop the stove and do double duty as serving vessels for dinner parties and holiday gatherings. I lit the burner under more than 10 Dutch ovens, from legacy producers to contemporary cookware-makers and a few wallet-friendly pots. These are the best Dutch ovens for every type of home chef.
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. It's also about $150 cheaper than a Le Creuset Dutch oven, but with no noticeable deficiencies in terms of build and performance. All that adds up the Staub 5-quart landing atop my list as the best overall Dutch oven.
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 litany 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
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 quarts to 7.5 quarts and three colors.
The Lodge Dutch oven is made from classic cast iron with an enameled coating. 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.
While the Lodge is a perfectly suitable choice, my favorite value Dutch oven is the Marquette Castings' 4-quart Dutch oven for $80. It's the perfect size if you're regularly cooking for two or three but might be a bit small for groups larger than that. I banged and scraped it for months and found the enamel to be as durable as pricier models including Le Creuset and Staub. It's also available in six attractive colors at this wallet-friendly 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 but it's worth noting, you'll pay a premium for the name too.
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's 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 most folks who own one will tell you this pot 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. The signature Dutch oven from Le Creuset starts at around $250 for a small 2-quart size and goes up from there. Expect to pay closer to $400 for a more practical 4- or 5-quart pot.
Direct-to-consumer cookware companies are popping up left and right, and Milo is an up-and-coming brand that sells quality Dutch ovens that look great at approachable prices. The Milo Dutch oven rivals models from a few of the more established cookware brands, with cast-iron construction and durable enamel coating. The Milo also has an undeniable modern charm underscored by the black-and-white paint jobs.
The Milo Dutch has a 5.5-quart capacity and is oven safe up to 500 degrees F. It can even go in the dishwasher without damaging the enamel, but I had no trouble hand-washing this pot. Milo offers a lifetime guarantee on its products, but I wouldn't worry about it breaking down. In the several months I worked with the Dutch oven it didn't show any signs of wear, and the build seems very sound.
It clocks in at a very reasonable $145 and would make an excellent addition to a kitchen with a sleek, modern aesthetic.
This Dutch oven from direct-to-consumer kitchen brand Misen is different from others for a few reasons: It comes in a large 7-quart size, which should be plenty of cooking capacity for even the largest families. This is a heavy piece of cookware, clocking in at around 16 pounds with the lid.)
You can also opt for either a standard top with a steel knob or a grill lid that doubles as a cast-iron grill pan. The grill top comes with a separate silicone lid to use as you would a normal pot topper just in case you want to use the grill pan and covered Dutch oven at the same time.
This large pot comes in five lovely shades. It's protected by a quality enamel coating that showed no signs of wear or chipping in the several months I used 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 re-seasoning as needed -- but the sturdy construction will last for decades.
If you're the type of kitchen warrior who covets the cool piece of cookware that nobody's heard of yet, then I would direct you to the elegant Vermicular cast-iron oven pot.
This Japanese-made Dutch oven comes in multiple sizes and four hues -- all of which are stunning so good luck deciding. I love the double-grip handles that make snatching it off the stove a breeze, and the pot has a very sturdy build and a sleek and minimalist design. One thing to note is that the bottom of the pot's inside has grill ridges instead of a flat surface. This will help keep charred and burnt bits from sticking but it also sears a bit differently from a flat surface.
The Vermicular oven pot is available in four sizes from 1 quart up to 5.5. There is also a shallow version of the pot which would lend itself well to dishes like paella and egg frittata.
Enameled cast iron is the most popular material for these pots, but there are stainless steel Dutch ovens to consider, including this one from Calphalon. The biggest benefit will be its 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 has an aluminum core which helps with conductivity. It's also oven- and dishwasher-safe. The brushed exterior has a sleek, modern look. The glass lid is nice for keeping an eye on cooking progress without letting heat escape if you're the impatient type.
All things being equal, my vote goes to a cast-iron Dutch oven but if you're planning to lug it around often, you might consider something in lighter stainless steel such as this Calphalon number.
If you plan to use your Dutch oven for Thanksgiving and other fall holidays, you might consider this festive design. This adorable pumpkin-shaped pot has a 3.5-quart capacity and comes with all the features you'd expect from the luxury French cookware maker. It has a smooth enamel coating on the bottom, tight-fitting lid and superior heat retention. Like many of the others, it's oven safe up to 500 degrees. A splurge, to be certain, but the perfect centerpiece for your autumn table.
I'll level with you, there are not a lot of scientific tests you can run on a Dutch oven but they do vary quite a bit in terms of overall quality, durability, aesthetics and design. What it really comes down to is finding a pot that works for you in terms of size, shape, material and cost.
Instead of running efficacy and consistency tests as we would for kitchen tools such as blenders and toasters, I decided to use a number of popular Dutch oven models over the course of a few months for various recipes. The goal was to ensure each pot is constructed with quality materials and designed for ease of use in the kitchen. I noted if any single Dutch oven showed sudden signs of wear: paint chipping or loose knobs, for example. I also looked to see if they had any design glitches like ill-fitting lids, awkward handles or uneven bottoms.
I also weighed aesthetics when considering and ultimately recommending these Dutch ovens since they make excellent serving vessels once the recipe is finished. Don't forget, you'll likely have yours hanging around for many years to come.
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"Dutch oven," a term often interchangeably used with French oven, oven pot 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 cookware can be used on a stovetop, but they are resilient enough to pop in the oven on high heat. You can even use one over an open campfire.
Quality Dutch are also known to last a long time since they're built from sturdy cast iron and coated with thick enamel. Really well-made pots like a Le Creuset, Staub or Lodge are popular and buying from those brands will assure you get the best Dutch oven regardless of price. Those enameled cast iron ovens will last for several decades or longer and are often handed down through the generations.
The most popular type of Dutch oven is made with a cast iron core which helps it to retain heat and then coated with a slick and durable enamel to keep food from sticking. But the term Dutch oven mostly refers to the shape and so you can find versions made from only cast iron (no enamel coating), stainless steel and even clay.
Dutch ovens come as small as one quart and as large as eight, but four to six quarts are the sizes you'll find most commonly. If you're planning to use your Dutch oven for many of the above recipes -- stews, sauces, soups, bread -- that's probably the size range you'll want to stick to.
The list of what you can do in a Dutch oven is long -- very long. But 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. The ability to withstand high oven temps makes them an ideal piece of cookware for baking, browning and braising meat. They're the best possible pot for dishes that need to be cooked low and slow, such as stews, sauces and tender roasts. Dutch ovens are truly one of the most versatile pots you can own, and many home cooks -- myself included -- will tell you it's their favorite piece of cookware.
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.
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 2 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 4-quart Dutch oven is great for a single person or couple but would probably bump up to a 6-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.
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.