The 10 Best Dutch Ovens

Best-Dutch-Ovens

While the name may not be instantly familiar, a Dutch oven or cocotte is not a niche product, but actually one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you can buy.

Typically made from cast iron – this can be coated or uncoated – a Dutch oven looks like a heavy-grade pot at first glance. The pans have super-thick walls and lids that help lock in the steam and cook your food evenly. Although very heavy, sturdy handles makes it easy to shift these pans around.

Use this cookware on the stovetop or in the oven. You can bake bread in them, boil stews, braise meats so even tough cuts come out tender, and much, much more.

Now, if you have no idea what you’re looking for when you’re comparing the best Dutch ovens, focus on the following pointers on the buying trail:

  • Materials: Most Dutch ovens are made of cast iron. This material is known for retaining heat well and distributing the heat efficiently. Ideal for use on all cooking surfaces including induction, these pans often come pre-seasoned. As you continue seasoning it over time, the surface will improve. Untreated cast iron pots will need handwashing with no detergent or you’ll end up stripping away the seasoning. Well maintained, a cast iron Dutch oven will last a lifetime. Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens have a coating bonded to the metal to remove the need for seasoning. Ceramic cocottes are more affordable than cast iron, even though they look almost as good. On the downside, ceramic cookware is more prone to chipping. Not all ceramic cookware is designed to cope with direct heat either
  • Capacity: If you only have the space or the budget for one Dutch oven, look for one with a capacity of between 5 and 6 quarts. This will be spacious enough for a roast or a large batch of soup, but it won’t be so heavy as to make lifting it prohibitive. For larger families or anyone looking to cook for big crowds, look for a 7 to 9-quart Dutch oven
  • Handles: Make sure the handles on the Dutch ovens you’re considering are roomy enough to accommodate oven mitts
  • Brand: While we don’t specifically refer to brands in our buying guides, in the case of Dutch ovens it’s worth pointing out the main players. Le Creuset and Staub cookware is ruthlessly expensive, but correspondingly effective. Lodge is another cast iron specialist, although their pots and pans are priced slightly more keenly

As long as you keep these pointers in mind, you should find choosing the best Dutch oven is pretty straightforward. Dive in and explore the top 10 models on the market.

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I. The 10 Best Dutch Ovens

1. Our #1 Pick: Lodge Dutch Oven

Lodge-6-Quart-Enameled-Cast-Iron-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 6 quarts
  • Weight: 14.88 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.25 x 11.6 x 6 inches

Lodge is a specialist in the field of Dutch ovens, and this pre-seasoned cast iron cocotte may be one of the heaviest pieces of cookware we review today, but it’s also pretty maneuverable.

Made from a porcelain enamel that’s designed to retain heat and resist chipping. You can use either wood or silicone utensils with this pan, but you should avoid using any metal utensils.

The side handles mean you should find it easy enough to shift this cocotte around, as long as you can deal with the weight of this thing. It nudges 15 pounds, so make sure you’re comfortable wielding that kind of weight.

The design of the lid locks in all the moisture and tenderizes tougher cuts of meat.

Safe to slide into the oven at temperatures to 450F, you can whip up a variety of dishes with this trusty workhorse.

As with all Dutch ovens, this model responds best to handwashing. It’s comes pre-seasoned, though, so you can get going right out the box.

Available in a broad palette of muted colorways, Lodge allows you to pick up a cast iron Dutch oven without digging as deep as you would need to for cookware by Staub or Le Creuset.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Treated with porcelain enamel
  • For use with wood and silicone utensils
  • Side handles for maneuverability
  • Extremely heavy

2. Upgrade Pick: Le Creuset Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Le-Creuset-Enameled-Cast-Iron-Signature-Round-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 5.5 quarts
  • Weight: 12.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 x 10.75 x 4 inches

Le Creuset is a brand that needs no introduction. If you have deep pockets and demanding tastes, this cast iron gem is well worth popping on your shortlist.

Despite the robust cast iron build and the 5.5-quart capacity, this cocotte manages to remain relatively lightweight, although it still nudges 13 pounds.

The large handles are designed to make it easy to shift this thing around, even if you’re wearing oven mitts.

You can use this Dutch oven on almost any cooking surface, including induction.

In the center of the lid, you get an oversized knob that’s designed to cope with temperatures to 500F, giving you ample latitude in the kitchen for all your favorite recipes, even those demanding scorching temperatures.

Finished in a variety of striking colors, the enamel won’t chip or crack, even after sustained use.

The pale colored interior not only makes it easier for you to monitor the progress of your food, but it’s also intended to keep wear-and-tear to a minimum.

Heat retention and heat distribution are first class as you would expect from Le Creuset. While this Dutch oven is not cheap, you can expect decades of use from this cookware if properly maintained.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Exceptional brand heritage
  • Lightweight for cast iron
  • Easy to handle
  • Not the cheapest Dutch oven

3. Cuisinart Round Dutch Oven

Cuisinart-5-Qt-Round-Cast-Iron-Casserole

Features

  • Capacity: 5 quarts
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 11.6 x 6.22 inches

Kitchenware specialist Cuisinart serves up a highly effective Dutch oven that’s also very keenly priced. Does it represent value for money, though?

There is a wide choice of sizes in this line, with this 5-quart model making a great choice if you’re only planning to buy a single Dutch oven. This size is arguably the most flexible of all.

Finished in a ceramic blue, this cookware will look great in the kitchen as well as performing admirably when you whip it into action.

The interior of this cocotte is porcelain enamel, so you won’t get any taint imparted into your food like you do with some cheap and shoddy cookware.

Ideal for gas, electric, halogen, and induction cooking surfaces, once again flexibility is uppermost here. The cocotte is also safe to pop in both the oven and broiler, widening your options further.

While the vast bulk of user reviews of this Dutch oven are positive, we found some isolated complaints about quality control issues. Check the contents of your delivery closely.

It is possible to pop this cocotte in the dishwasher, but we would strongly recommend hand washing. Over time, the harsh chemicals in dishwasher detergent are liable to degrade the interior, so stick with some warm soapy water and you’ll benefit over time.

Overall, this is one of the best Dutch ovens on a budget, and it comes from a brand you can trust, too.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Works on all cooking surfaces
  • Dishwasher-friendly
  • Outstanding heat retention
  • Some quality control issues

4. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Dutch Oven

Lodge-Pre-Seasoned-Cast-Iron-Double-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 3 quarts
  • Weight: 12.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.62 x 10.38 x 6.3 inches

Next up in our showcase of the best Dutch ovens is another entry from Lodge, so how does this cocotte stand and fall?

Firstly, this is a much smaller capacity unit than most on our shortlist today. The 3-quart capacity makes this Dutch oven a smart choice for singles, couples, and small families. If you’re catering for a bigger family or guests, we would recommend exploring some of the more substantial models we review.

Assuming the capacity fits your needs, you’ll get surprising value for money here.

The key selling point is the way this Dutch oven converts into a skillet and griddle. Not only do you get a Dutch oven with a compact footprint, then, but it also serves double duty. For apartment dwellers or anyone with limited space in the kitchen, the Lodge is a winner all round.

Your cocotte will arrive pre-seasoned, so you can get straight down to business. If you notice a brownish residue, this is left over from the seasoning process. It’s not rust and it will disappear with use.

Like all cast iron cookware, this Dutch oven isn’t light. That said, the side handles are ergonomic and help you to shift this pan around without straining yourself.

User testimony is predominantly positive, although we encountered a few complaints about the finish of this Dutch oven.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Converts to a skillet
  • Comes pre-seasoned
  • Loop handles streamline maneuverability
  • Finish could be improved

5. Tramontina Round Dutch Oven

Tramontina-Covered-Round-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 6.5 quarts
  • Weight: 13.85 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.88 x 10.63 x 8 inches

Tramontina make some highly effective cookware that’s also competitively priced. How does this Dutch oven shape up, then?

The rounded design is ideal for loading in large and tougher cuts of meat. With a 6.5-quart capacity, you’ll have ample space inside to cook for all the family.

Made from enameled cast iron, this pan retains heat wonderfully, and it also ensures that heat is evenly and efficiently distributed throughout.

Safe to pop into the oven at temperatures to 450F, there’s not much you can’t cook in this adaptable addition to your kitchen.

Suitable for use on all cooking surfaces, including induction, this Dutch oven is a safe bet for all households.

Inside the pan, the porcelain enamel treatment is super-simple to clean, and it’s also free of PFOA, PTFE, and all other toxins likely to leach into your food.

Designed with ridges in the lid, the condensation that forms spills back down into the pan and tenderizes your meat further.

You should only hand wash this Dutch oven for best results, making sure to dry it thoroughly and then store it in a cool, dry place. Take care of this simple maintenance and you should get years of faithful service from this cocotte.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Oven-safe to 450F
  • Condensation ridges
  • Enameled cast iron
  • Prone to chipping easily

6. Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Le-Creuset-Enameled-Cast-Iron-Signature-Round-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 3.5 quarts
  • Weight: 8.14 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 11.5 x 5.6 inches

Next up is another entry from the upscale Le Creuset, so what do you get for the stiff price tag this time?

Well, this a smaller and much more compact Dutch oven, so make sure the 3.5-quart capacity is enough for your needs. In return for taking a hit on capacity, you’ll get a cocotte that’s pretty lightweight considering it’s made from cast iron.

As with all the best Dutch ovens from Le Creuset, this one comes with oversized handles intended to accommodate bulky oven mitts. The central knob in the lid is designed to stay cool to the touch, and it’s oven-safe to a scorching 500F.

Outside, the pan is finished in an enamel that shouldn’t chip or crack, even when this pan has been with you for years.

Inside, you benefit from the hear retention and distribution properties of ceramic enamel. The surface is also easy to clean after use.

The lid fits snugly and tightly into place. This serves to efficiently circulate the steam, channeling all the moisture back into your food for lip-smackingly tender results.

As long as you can afford the steep sticker price, you won’t regret investing in this Dutch oven from Le Creuset. Let us know what you think if you opt for this cocotte.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Multiple colorways
  • Oversized handles
  • Limited capacity

7. Staub Cast Iron Cocotte

STAUB-Cast-Iron-Round-Cocotte

Features

  • Capacity: 5.5 quarts
  • Weight: 14.33 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.87 x 10.24 x 6.57 inches

No collection of the best Dutch ovens is complete without an entry from Staub. Just like Le Creuset, Staub doesn’t hold back when it comes to pricing, but this is reflected in the build quality and performance of the cocottes they produce.

Without the lid, this pan is safe to slide into the oven at temperatures to 900F. With the lid on, you’re still safe at up to 500F, covering most main bases.

The cast iron build locks all the heat inside this Dutch oven, and it then circulates evenly and consistently.

The heavy lid slots into place and ensures that all the moisture stays inside tenderizing your food rather than dripping down the exterior of the pan.

Underneath, you get a smooth enamel base that makes a neat fit for all cooking surfaces, including glass, halogen, ceramic, and induction alongside gas and electric cookers.

As with most cast iron Dutch ovens of this capacity, you’ll be dealing with a weighty beast here. Luckily, this is not the type of cookware you need to flip around, so use the ergonomic handles to slide it into the oven or pop it onto the stovetop and you’re good to go.

Perhaps the key selling point for this model is the way the interior is designed to encourage exceptional browning. Overall, you’re getting one of the best Dutch ovens out there, even if it’s one of the more expensive.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Lid designed to lock in moisture
  • Oven safe to 900F without lid
  • Promotes first-class browning
  • Extremely heavy

8. Camp Chef Round Dutch Oven

9-1/3-Qt-Seasoned-Cast-Iron-Camp-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 6 quarts
  • Weight: 5.81 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 8 inches

As we near the end of our Dutch oven reviews, the first of a pair of Camp Chef models. How does this spacious cocotte stack up, then?

This is the commemorative edition for the Yellowstone National Park, and it comes with the proprietary True Seasoning this brand is renowned for. Get going right out the box with no concerns about seasoning.

The 6-quart capacity gives you the freedom to cook larger meals in a single session.

Made from cast iron throughout, this pan isn’t as heavy as you might fear, so makes a good choice for anyone who struggles with shifting around much more substantial hunks of cast iron.

The lid has a notch baked in to accommodate your thermometer, a small but valuable touch.

If you’re new to using Dutch ovens, don’t be intimidated and take full advantage of the seasoning book thrown in. Take care of this cocotte properly and it will return years of faithful service in the kitchen.

Most users reviews of this Dutch oven sing its praises, but we found some scattered gripes about the design of the handles. Setting this aside, you’re getting one of the best lightweight Dutch ovens while still benefiting from a cast iron build.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Reversible griddle
  • Lid lifter included
  • Pre-seasoned cast iron
  • Handle design could be improved

9. Camp Chef Square Dutch Oven

Camp-Chef-Square-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 8 quarts
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Dimensions: 16.25 x 12.5 x 4.5 inches

Next in line is a beefier model from Camp Chef, this time with an 8-quart capacity.

You can reverse the lid of this Dutch Oven and use it as a highly effective griddle, effectively giving you double the bang for your buck.

When it’s used to lock in the moisture of your stews and braised meats, the lid also works well, so you won’t be compromising on function for the sake of novelty.

As with all the best Dutch ovens, this one has a notch in the lid to make room for your thermometer, an integral part of using these things to cook with precision.

The looped handle on the lid should help you to maneuver this pan around seamlessly, and it’s large enough to accommodate your hand inside an oven mitt.

Due to the legless configuration, this Dutch oven is just as good in the oven as on the stovetop, giving you a remarkably versatile piece of cookware for far less than you may imagine.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Legless design works well in oven
  • Inbuilt thermometer notch
  • Oblong design maximizes capacity
  • Not square as advertised

10. Milo Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Milo-Cast-Iron-Covered-Dutch-Oven

Features

  • Capacity: 5.5 quarts
  • Weight: 10.56 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.5 x 6 inches

Last but not least in our collection of the best Dutch ovens comes a cast iron model from Milo that’s well worth a place on your shortlist.

The 5.5-quart capacity makes this a smooth fit if you need to cook for a larger family.

Whether you’re slow cooking, braising, making stews, or baking bread, this Dutch oven may first seem like a niche piece of cookware, but in reality it’s one of the most adaptable pans you can pick up.

Safe to use on all cooking surfaces and in all types of ovens, this pan can withstand temperatures to 450F, giving you enormous scope in the kitchen for all your favorite recipes.

Almost all users reviews for this Dutch oven are positive, but we found some blowback concerning the amount of time it takes to boil water in this pot. If you were planning to cook up a lot of pasta in this cocotte, you may want to reconsider.

If you’re still in any doubt, this Dutch oven is guaranteed for life, removing any niggling concerns from purchase.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Clean aesthetic
  • Ideal for use on all cooking surfaces
  • Oven-safe to 450F
  • Takes long time to boil water

II. FAQs

1) What can I make in a Dutch oven?

Dutch ovens have many different use cases, but they come into their own when you’re cooking low and slow. They are designed to maintain an even heat over a prolonged period, making them perfect for soups and stews that need lengthy simmering. Dutch ovens are also great for braising meats. Many consumers use Dutch ovens as a baking chamber for making fresh artisan bread. Imagination is your only limitation when you have a cocotte in the kitchen.

2) How do I use a Dutch oven?

Luckily, using a Dutch oven is straightforward. Check that the models on your shortlist are compatible with your stove. Not all work with induction cookers, for instance. You can then use your cocotte on the stovetop, in the oven, on a BBQ grill, or over an open fire.

3) Why should I consider investing in a Dutch oven over other forms of cookware?

The main selling point of Dutch ovens is their incredible versatility. You can shift the pot easily from stovetop to oven, something that’s not always practical with other cookware. The durable build of the best Dutch ovens means they could feasibly last a lifetime if properly maintained. Also, if you choose wisely many Dutch ovens are elegant and enhance rather than clutter up the kitchen.

4) Can I deep fry food in a Dutch oven?

Yes, you can. Cast iron in particular can hold an even temperature for a long time, perfect for deep frying. The depth of these pans also makes them suitable for deep frying food.

5) Can I boil water in a Dutch oven?

Yes, although you should be aware that cast iron heats up very slowly. Don’t expect water to boil as quickly in a cocotte as it would in a stainless steel or aluminum pan. You’ll get there, but it will take some time.

6) Can I pop a cold Dutch oven into the oven?

Cast iron can crack if it’s exposes to dramatic changes in temperature. If your Dutch oven has been in the fridge, you’ll need to bring it up to room temperature before popping it in the oven if it’s made from cast iron. Once it’s at room temperature, it’s safe to pop in the oven and it will preheat at the same time.

7) What’s the ideal capacity of Dutch oven if I want to make bread?

If you’re looking to make a single loaf of your favorite artisan bread, a Dutch oven with a capacity of between 5 and 7 quarts should be ideal for your purposes.

8) Are Dutch ovens dishwasher-safe?

This depends on the type of Dutch oven you choose. Many enameled cast iron cocottes are dishwasher-safe. They take up so much space inside, though, that it’s often easier to wash them by hand. An untreated cast iron Dutch oven is not safe to put in the dishwasher. The water and the dishwasher detergent will strip the seasoning away. Always dry your Dutch oven thoroughly after washing.


III. Conclusion

Maybe you came here to Madiba today confused about what a Dutch oven can do and why you should consider adding one to your kitchen arsenal. If so, you should now be clear on what you can do with a cocotte.

Even if the name isn’t instantly familiar, once you see how many different cooking applications you can take advantage of with a Dutch oven, you’ll soon be looking to grab one.

Stick with any of the cocottes we review today and you’ll have a clear idea of where they stand and fall. We never attempt to conceal any of the flaws in the products we review, allowing you to buy with eyes wide open.

If you run across a Dutch oven we didn’t cover today, we hope you find some useful nuggets in our brief buying guide to better inform your decision.

Bookmark our blog before you head off and make sure to pop back soon.

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