How We Test Dutch Ovens
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab, we’ve tested more than 25 Dutch ovens over the years to understand how each heats, cooks and cleans. We did this by cooking a lot of beef stew using more than 60 pounds of beef stew meat, 8 pounds of onions, 7 pounds of carrots, 14 quarts of chicken broth and 12 bottles of red wine. Making stew provides the opportunity to evaluate a Dutch oven’s ability to brown meat, simmer steadily and turn out flavorful beef stew with tender meat and a rich sauce.
We also assess the cookware’s heat distribution and responsiveness by coating it with shortening and a thin layer of flour and then heating the pot until the flour browns the level of browning is then evaluated against a standardized chart. The pattern of the browning helps us determine hot spots in the pan and indicates how evenly it distributes heat. We also weigh each Dutch oven and check whether the lid fits well and the handle stays cool enough to touch. We note whether it’s easy to clean and if it stains or chips with use.
In addition, our kitchen experts often test Dutch ovens by using them at home in their daily cooking and have been using their personal enameled cast iron Dutch ovens for years.
How We Chose Dutch Ovens To Test
To choose which Dutch ovens to test, we considered best-selling options from major retailers like Amazon and cross-referenced reviews from other reputable brands, like America’s Test Kitchen and Wirecutter.
Our research revealed that the cast iron Dutch oven market falls into three pricing categories: the premium, French-made brands Staub and Le Creuset, which cost $200 or more mid-tier models in the $100150 range, usually made in China and lower-cost brands that come in at under $100, also made in China. More than half of our testing field came from the last category, proving that there is some stiff competition for your Dutch oven dollar.
While an increasing number of brands are producing enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, the pot’s basic design has changed very little over the years. The main differences from one pot to the next come down to small variations in form and more or less stringent oversight of the production process. One of the main selling points of the heritage brands, like Le Creuset and Staub, is that they operate their own factories and are therefore able to maintain higher production standards. The engineers at the Staub foundry, for example, adjust the moisture of the sand in the molds that form their Dutch ovens daily based on the air’s humidity. At Le Creuset’s factory in Fresnoy-le-Grand, about two hours north of Paris, 15 employees inspect every pot before it ships out.
Cast Iron : Dutch Ovens
If you love cooking one-pot meals, pasta, soups or stews, the Dutch oven is a must-have. Whether its an old family recipe or your favorite weeknight steamed veggies, a Dutch oven is sure to make every meal a lovely experience. At Target, find a variety of Dutch ovens to choose from. Explore a range of iron dutch ovens, cast iron dutch ovens, round dutch ovens, non-stick dutch ovens and enamelled ovens. Perfect for simmering, poaching, braising or marinating your favorite meats, veggies, pasta and rice, this cookware is super versatile. Find a collection of Dutch ovens that can go from your stovetop and into an oven. Enjoy all your favorite casseroles, cobblers, chili, baked bread, roasts and many more dishes. Dutch ovens are made of hard-anodized aluminum that ensures even heating. It also comes with a ceramic coating that is heat-resistant and non-stick. Upgrade your kitchen with an enamelled cast iron Dutch oven in a range of lovely colors. You can be sure to enjoy a restaurant experience in your very own home. Browse through a large collection of Dutch ovens to find the right pick for you!
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Best Nonstick Dutch Oven: Calphalon Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven
Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are naturally nonstick , but if you prefer something lighter and flawlessly nonstick, you’ll want this Calphalon Dutch oven. The classic hard-anodized aluminum body heats rapidly, and you don’t have to worry about stuck-on bits of beef bourguignon or dried-on soup remnants. They’ll slip right off in the sink, and the pot will be as good a new. With this size and weight , this might also be a great gift for a grandparent or family cook that makes big batches of everything but can’t easily move the heavy cast iron options.
Buy it: Calphalon Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven, $55
What Is A Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven sometimes called a French oven or a cocotte is a large, typically heavy piece of cookware best known for its ability to slow-cook dishes like beef stew, pulled pork, Bolognese sauce and soup. Dourleijn noted the deep pot is also great for roasting chicken and other big meats.
Atticus Garant, the executive chef at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, added that you can even bake bread in your Dutch oven. the complete work horse in the kitchen, he said, noting that its thick base is the essence behind how handy a tool it can be in any kitchen.
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The Best Dutch Ovens Explained
A Dutch oven refers to a deep pot which is typically made of heavy cast iron with a tight fitting lid. Not only is this type of cookware used on a cooktop, but it can also be used in the oven. Home cooks turn to this type of cast-iron pot because of its versatility, excellent heat retention and even heat distribution. The best Dutch ovens are often the ones that cost more. This is due to the quality of the materials used and the longevity of the product. Its therefore the overall consensus that you should buy once, buy right when it comes to Dutch ovens as the right one can last for decades. In saying that, you can also get unexpected levels of quality from more affordable Dutch ovens since true quality doesnt just refer to durability or whats on the price tag. It can also be spotted in the food produced, overall functionality of the product as well as in how easy it is to use or clean.
Best Dutch Oven For Bread: Emile Henry Round Stewpot Dutch Oven
- Weight: 7.4 lbs.
Emile Henry’s signature ceramic material heats evenly and cuts down on hot spots . But the real reason this is the best Dutch oven for bread is because it’s a favorite of renowned bakers like Ken Forkish. The brand is well-known for their bread cloche, which isn’t as versatile as a Dutch oven, but for the serious bread baker, it’s a must-have.
If you don’t want to devote the funds to one-dish piece of cookware, you’ll be plenty happy that you can use this Emile Henry Dutch oven for your breads, and then turn around and use it for soups, braises, and more. A 4-quart Dutch oven is also the sweet spot for most no-knead bread recipes . Larger ovens, those five quarts and above, may be too vast, which will limit your bread’s ability to rise during the bake. The ceramic finish also makes this dishwasher-safe, but to avoid chips, you might prefer to hand wash.
Buy it: Emile Henry Round Stewpot Dutch Oven, $100
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What Is The Difference Between A Dutch Oven And A Slow Cooker
Though Dutch ovens and slow cookers serve similar purposes in the kitchen, they dont provide the same results when it comes to quality or versatility. Dourleijn explained that since Dutch ovens retain heat better, its easier to brown foods in them. Gray added that with a Dutch oven, you can start off on the stovetop and then go straight into the oven, which you cant do with a slow cooker. However, if you are new to cooking and want something you can set and forget, Dourleijn said a slow cooker is a fine starting point.
CORRECTION : A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of the executive chef of the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel. He is Atticus Garant, not Grant.
Dutch Oven Vs French Oven
Dutch ovens and French ovens share the same shape and general aesthetic. In fact, a French oven is a form of round Dutch oven, with the main point of difference being the construction. While most Dutch ovens are made of cast iron, they are not necessarily made of enamelled cast iron, instead they can be constructed from seasoned cast iron or other materials like stainless steel. However, a French oven exclusively refers to a cast iron pot with an enamel coating. It is this enamel coating top brands like Le Creuset made famous through use of colour
Read Also: Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven
How To Choose The Best
If you’re in the market for a cast iron dutch oven, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure you choose the best one for your needs.
- The size of the dutch oven. You’ll want to make sure it’s large enough to accommodate whatever you plan on cooking in it.
- The shape. Some Dutch ovens are round while others are oval. Choose the shape that will work best for the type of food you plan on cooking.
- The weight. Heavier dutch ovens will be more durable and last longer, but they can be difficult to lift when full. Choose the weight that you’re comfortable with and that will best suit your needs.
The Best Heritage Cast Iron Dutch Ovens: Le Creuset 55
There’s a reason Le Creuset continues to be one of the most recommended manufacturers in this category: It has a proven track record. We’ve used Le Creuset for years in our homes and test kitchen, reaching for it countless times to develop hundreds of recipes for Serious Eats, and it’s never let us down. The price is high, but Le Creuset has never failed to make the purchase worth it. While Le Creusets are available in more than 17 core colors, about half of them ship with a black phenolic knob that can handle up to 500°F given the price, we’d like to see all their pots come with the brand’s heavier-duty stainless steel knob option.
Like Le Creuset, Staub has a long history of making handsome enameled cast iron in France and costs a little less. Some home cooks may not like the black enamel interior, which does a fine job of hiding scratches and browns meat well, but can make it harder to see fond developing. Otherwise, this Dutch oven, available in nine colors, is a solid bet with a reputation for durability.
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How Many People Do You Cater For
Although the conventional advice is 1 quart per person, this in reality does not reflect peoples usage. The official advice that is given is 1 quart per person then add on a couple of quarts for left overs. When you add this together, for the average family, this is almost equivalent to 6 quarts. It would therefore make more sense for the most popular Dutch oven size to buy.
The question you will have to answer is how many people you need to cook for followed by whether you want to cook leftovers. Obviously having leftovers allows you the flexibility of freezing cooked food that offers some convenience in the future.
It also perhaps offers some flexibility for the following days food or a little snack later that evening perhaps. Whatever the reason, leftovers can be a great thingIm a big fan as you can guess.
Lodge Ec6d43 6 Qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven Enamel Island Spice
- 100 Years and Still Cooking Originally established by Joseph Lodge in 1896.
- and with over 118 years of experience.
- the Beauty of Porcelain In 2005 Lodges tradition of excellence continued as the company introduced its range of vibrant enamel cookware.
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|14.0 x 7.0 x 12.0 inches|
Reviews From Real Customers
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Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven
Several of the chefs we spoke to said they use Dutch ovens from Le Creuset either at home or in their professional kitchens. Todd Gray, executive chef and co-owner of Federal Fritter in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, said hes a fan of the bright color options and the enameled cast iron material. This Le Creuset has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 460 reviews on Le Creusets site.
Gray also noted that he likes to keep a smaller version on hand specifically for the toaster oven when he wants smaller portions.
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Other Options We Tested
- Great Jones The Dutchess: A previous version of this roundup included the oval-shaped model called The Dutchess by Great Jones. Our tester noted some hot spots when using this Dutch oven on the stove due to its long shape, despite the fact that cast iron should distribute heat fairly evenly. Another concern was that the stylish copper loop handle proved difficult to grab when wearing oven mitts, creating a slightly precarious situation when checking on a braise. Though it’s reasonably priced and certainly very attractive, ultimately, we found that there are better options available.
- : This popular budget option performed well, but our Lab tests made us question its durability in the long run. We noticed some minor cosmetic scratches after cooking with metal utensils, so we’d caution buyers to use a wooden spoon whenever possible.
- Denby Natural Canvas Cast Iron: This seemed like a great, budget-friendly model for beginners, but our Lab tests found a few pain points. It’s got a pretty small cooking surface, so you’d have to batch cook large amounts of proteins. We also noticed some durability issues with the enamelwhile it doesn’t affect the oven’s functionality, we feel there are better options out there at a similar price point.
Le Creuset 55 Quart Dutch Oven
My trusty Lodge works just as well as one of those fancy Dutch ovens with the sexy-sounding French names, but it costs a third of the price. With a shiny, smooth, nonstick enamel finishwhich is just as practical as it is prettythis thing is all about functionality, baking, braising, sautéing, and roasting food perfectly. I appreciate its slightly curved base, which makes for easy stovetop stirring, and its wide loop handles, which allow me to maneuver confidently from oven to table. Could you splurge on one of those pricey Dutch ovens? Suuuuuuure. But do you need to? Absolutely not. Alex Beggs, senior staff writer
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You Will Use It To Make Tender Gently Simmered Meaty Things
Like this kimchi bacon chicken braise, a personal favorite of mine. Or this rich pomegranate lamb shank stunner. Or pot roasthow you gonna make pot roast without a pot? An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is perfect for braises because of its heft, which helps with heat retention and distribution. Its ideal for searing meat over high heat on the stovetop and then transferring it to the oven for low-and-slow cooking. Thats versatility. Youll wonder how you ever got through these miserable winter months without one.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Dutch Oven
Material. Is it naturally non-stick? Will it require seasoning or extra care?
Size. Dutch ovens are commonly sized by quarts. The standard size is around five to seven quarts. Why not go straight down the middle with a 6-quart Dutch oven?
Weight. Cast iron Dutch ovens can be heavy even when empty. Consider how easy it will be to lift once filled with your favourite dish.
Colour choices. With a wide range of colours to select from, youre bound to find one that best matches your kitchen decor. Or why not add a few to your wishlist to mix and match later.
Design. Are the handles easy to grip? Does the lid have a knob or a handle?
Care. Be sure to check whether your Dutch oven is dishwasher safe or requires hand washing only.
Warranty. Does it come with a lifetime warranty? This can provide peace of mind when making an investment.
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What Do You Need To Consider To Choose The Best Dutch Oven Size
Generally, there are a few recommendations that I make and factors that need to be considered. I will list these with a little explanation.
The conventional advice that is offered to people is the one quart is equivalent to one serving. However, this does not factor in the actual usage and purpose. What is it that you will actually be cooking? You can see why the 6-quart size is the most popular Dutch oven size to buy even though most people buying do not cook for 6 people.