The Dutch oven is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware in the modern kitchen. Safe for stovetop, oven, broiler, and usually campfire, the dutch oven can be a large saucepan, stockpot, roasting pan, bread pan, or casserole. The heavy material used to manufacture dutch ovens provides slow and even heating and outstanding heat retention, so food can be cooked slowly over a long period or quickly over a hot flame.
Dutch ovens were traditionally made of cast iron, and most still are. Some are pre-seasoned bare iron, while others—the most user-friendly—are enameled cast iron, which takes the heating properties of iron and adds a glassy smooth finish for easier maintenance and natural nonstick properties. Some dutch ovens are made from stainless steel and/or aluminum, offering a modern vessel that is supremely easy to care for, but doesn’t hold the heat quite as well as iron-based pans.
Material is one consideration when shopping for the best Dutch oven, and there are a handful of others. Keep size and weight in mind when browsing for Dutch ovens: a large enameled cast iron pan with a lid can get quite heavy, around 15 pounds, so consider whether a smaller size would be easier for you to handle. Quality Dutch ovens have a knob on the lid with sturdy handles on the sides that can be gripped firmly with oven mitts. These pots most commonly come in round and oval shapes, so think about which shape would best suit your cooking needs.
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Form, function, and value combine in the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Available in 11 lustrous shades, the 6-quart round oven offers even heat and a nonreactive surface for superb cooking results. At 12 inches in diameter and 7 inches deep, the Lodge Dutch oven features an arched lid with a heavy stainless steel knob and integrated loop handles for a sturdy grip. This pot is oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and compatible with all stovetops, including induction.
Weighing in at 14.9 pounds empty, the Lodge Dutch oven is a durable, heavy pot. This 6-quart size is ideal for a mid- to large-sized household; the Lodge is also available in 1.5-, 3-, 4.5-, and 7.5-quart sizes to meet your cooking needs. This Dutch oven is offered at a surprisingly low price for its quality and functionality.
While all iron or enameled cast iron Dutch ovens can technically be used on open flame, the Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven was made specifically for use in campfires, hearths, and firepits. The 8-quart oven is 12 inches in diameter, 6 inches deep, and weight 20 pounds—this is a heavy-duty piece of equipment. Made from pre-seasoned cast iron, this Lodge Dutch oven has three integrated solid iron legs to help balance it carefully among the coals. The lid is flat and tight-fitting, with a flanged edge to support coals on top of the oven for use as a bake-oven in open fires. The lid on this Lodge pot can also be flipped over and used on the fire as a griddle, opening up even more cooking capabilities.
If you prefer to hang the Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven over the fire, the heavy gauge wire bale attached through the iron handles will support it from a structure or heavy wire strung to a tree branch. The Lodge has the capacity to fit a whole chicken—it’s ideal camping as long as you can carry it to the campsite. Wash this Lodge pot by hand, wipe with cooking oil to reseason, and this pan will last for generations.
Holding a massive 7 quarts of food or liquid, the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Dutch oven is 12 pounds of porcelain-enameled cast iron. The glossy enamel on the exterior is multilayered for chip resistance and durability, while the interior enamel is light-colored for visibility and heavily glazed for stick- and stain-resistance.
The 13-inch diameter of this Cuisinart pot is offset by two stable iron loop handles, and the flat lid includes an iron knob. The Cuisinart will fry, braise, or broil on any cooktop (including glass and induction) and will roast, bake, or broil in the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (the lid is safe to 350 degrees). The Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Dutch oven is easy to wipe clean and is conveniently dishwasher safe.
This petite 5-quart round Dutch oven from Crock-Pot offers the benefits of a large oven in a smaller package. The enameled cast iron Crock-Pot oven features rounded integrated handles, and a shiny steel knob tops its gently sloped lid, which is designed to return moisture to the food. Vibrantly glazed exteriors complement lighter interiors for better visibility while food browns.
The Crock-Pot Artisan is compatible with all stove tops including induction and is oven-safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. At 10.75 inches diameter (including handles), the Crock-Pot weighs in at 12 pounds and is a great option for cooks who don’t need to produce large quantities of food.
This Le Creuset pot is a piece of handcrafted elegance offered at a price that matches. Each 7.25 -quart oven in the Le Creuset Signature Series is hand-cast using sand molds in a foundry in France, as they have been for more than 100 years. The Dutch oven measures 14 inches in diameter, 7 inches deep, and weighs in at 14 pounds.
The slightly domed lid of this Le Creuset pot seals to lock in moisture and is topped with a composite knob that is oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The exterior enamel is designed to resist chipping and fading, while the interior is glazed differently to resist staining and dulling. Truly a functional work of art, the Le Creuset pan earns its price tag with artisan craftsmanship and outstanding function and durability, available in 11 attractive color options.
Bruntmor’s Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven can perform the expected functions of an enameled Dutch oven, but its special claim to fame is its extraordinary suitability for baking artisan loaves of bread. This 6.5-quart cast iron pot has excellent heat retention. Its specially-designed lid features condensation ridges that evenly collect moisture and creates steam to help dough rise. The reflective absorbed heat emanating from the walls of the open oven during baking creates a crisp crust with a soft and chewy interior. While bread is the Bruntmor’s specialty, the 10.5-inch diameter oven is stovetop and oven safe, making it suitable for other cooking tastes as well. Weighing in at a hefty 16 pounds, this is a solid, very capable piece of cookware.