Dutch ovens are the original slow cooker in many ways. And because they need just slightly more attention and oversight than a Crock-Pot or slow cooker, now might be the perfect time to invest in one. For bean stews, beef bourguignon or even a simple batch of sauteed greens, a sturdy Dutch oven can be your closest ally for making nourishing comfort food all year long. Oh, and they look pretty great too.
Dutch oven, a term often interchangeably used with French oven or cocotte, is a staple in the kitchen. If you're not familiar with these pots, 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 cast iron or enameled cast iron. This essential piece of can be used on a stovetop or in the oven and are a favorite vehicle for , browning or braising meat, frying, or cooking food like French fries, casseroles, soups and stews.
These kitchen necessities are incredible -- you can accomplish almost any cooking task in a Dutch oven with the right temperature. They're truly one of the most versatile pots you can own, and a lot of home cooks will tell you it's their favorite Marquette Castings will let you cook food for decades, if not longer.. Folks get rather attached to these durable items, likely because a good Dutch oven from an expert producer like Le Creuset or
If you're in the market for your first Dutch oven or are replacing or upgrading your current model, here are a few of the best Dutch ovens in various styles and price ranges to buy:
- Our favorite overall: Le Creuset Signature Dutch oven
- Our budget pick: Lodge 6-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven
- Our favorite splurge: Staub round cocotte
- Our favorite new brand: Milo classic Dutch oven
- Our favorite for fun colors: Martha Stewart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven
- Our favorite nonenameled: Lodge preseasoned cast-iron Dutch oven
- Our favorite stainless steel: Calphalon Contemporary stainless steel Dutch oven
- Our favorite nonstick: Calphalon Contemporary nonstick Dutch oven
- Our favorite for camping: GSI hard anodized Dutch oven
- Our favorite for the holidays: Staub cast-iron pumpkin cocotte
What to look for when buying the best Dutch oven
When shopping for a Dutch oven, you'll first want to consider the best size for your needs. The most popular interior sizes are between 5 and 7 quarts, but you can find products as small as 3 quarts or as large as 13. 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).
Speaking of weight, Dutch ovens are supposed to have thick walls, so don't shy away from products that seem a bit heavy duty. 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!
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 from our own 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 at all familiar with Dutch ovens, you've probably heard of Le Creuset. A French brand, Le Creuset is arguably the gold standard when it comes to Dutch ovens, and you can rest assured you're getting a quality piece of cookware when you buy Le Creuset's signature Dutch oven. Creuset makes its oven available in 5.5-, 7.25-, 9- and 13.25-quart interior sizes, as well as a rainbow of beautiful colors that will make it a showpiece for your kitchen when you're not cooking delicious grub.
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 traditional cast iron, 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 their unbeatable 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, it'll will replace it free of charge. Le Creuset even has a line of Star Wars Dutch ovens!
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, so your oven size is always exactly what you need, as well as a wide selection of colors.
The Lodge Dutch oven is made from cast iron and enamel coated, and it delivers superior heat distribution and retention. It's oven-safe up to high temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and while you can technically put it in the dishwasher, the manufacturer recommends you hand wash your Lodge to reduce the risk of chipping the enamel finish on the surface or damaging the steel lid lifting knob. Reviewers say this Lodge Dutch oven is high-quality, especially considering its affordable price, and many say it's versatile and a joy to cook with.
If you're willing to spend top dollar on an investment piece for your kitchen, you won't be disappointed with the Staub round cocotte, which delivers both in terms of performance and appearance. (It's a gorgeous addition to your kitchen decor.) Cocotte is the French term for a Dutch oven, and this European brand certainly knows how to make a beautiful piece of cookware! Its 5.5-quart cocottes come in more than 10 colors, all with durable enamel finishes.
These Dutch ovens feature a self-basting lid with spikes on the underside to deliver continuous distribution of juices while cooking, and the oven-safe enamel surface and cast iron construction ensures effective heat distribution and retention. There's no seasoning required, and the enamel is easy to clean with soapy water.
The Staub round cocotte is an ideal vehicle for baking, frying or browning your favorite Dutch oven recipes, like soups, casseroles, roasts and braises, and reviewers rave about it, writing, "This pot is as close to perfect as a pot gets. It's sturdy, durable, functional and flat-out easy to use."
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 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 6-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." Right now save $125 with special code VIP.
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 cast iron Dutch oven.
This product doesn't have an enamel exterior -- instead, it's been preseasoned with vegetable oil. It has a 7-quart capacity that reviewers say is perfect for grub 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.
Read more: How to clean cast iron
Cast iron is the most common material for Dutch ovens, but there are also stainless steel options available, such as this model from Calphalon. The 8-quart covered Dutch oven is made from stainless steel and features an aluminum core for excellent heat conductivity, and it's oven- and dishwasher-safe, even with its glass lid. The brushed exterior will look sleek and modern in your kitchen, and reviewers love the large capacity and see-through cover, which makes it easy to monitor your food without letting heat escape.
No need to break out your scrubbing brush with the Calphalon nonstick Dutch oven! The unique product features a non-stick coating that will ensure that it's easy to get food off when it's time to clean up. This 8.5-quart Dutch oven is made from heavy-gauge, hard-anodized aluminum that delivers quick, even heat distribution, and it has a stainless steel handle on each side that stays cool, as well as a tempered glass lid with another handle rather than a knob. The whole unit is oven-safe for temperatures up to 450 degrees (so baking is a snap), and you can put pot and lid in the dishwasher if you choose.
Not only can you use Dutch ovens in the kitchen, you can use them in the great outdoors, as well. Many campers choose to bring a product like the GSI hard-anodized Dutch oven along on their adventures, as these pots can be used over an open flame or campfire.
This particular Dutch oven is designed for camping with fixed legs for increased stability and a deep edge around the lid where you can place coals from the fire. The nonreactive, hard-anodized aluminum Dutch oven weighs 66% less than traditional cast iron, so it's easy to carry out to your campsite. Additionally, this Dutch oven is rust-free and scratch-resistant, ensuring it will survive even the toughest outdoor 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 3.5-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!
More kitchen guides
- The best Instant Pots of 2020 compared
- The best food processor of 2020: Braun, Cuisinart and more compared
- Best grills of 2020: Top charcoal, gas and kamado models
- Best charcoal grill for 2020
- The best kamado grills: Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Char-Griller and more
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau for Chowhound's Cookware Week.