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.
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.
About Lodge Cast Iron
Founded in 1896, the Lodge family has been making high quality cookware and accessories for over a century. Lodge Cast Iron operates two foundries on the banks of the Tennessee River in the small town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee a town Lodge is proud to call home. The company is built on family values, American history, and high quality cookware. All Lodge seasoned cast iron and carbon steel cookware is proudly made in the USA, meaning youâll get craftsmanship that has been passed down through generations.
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You Will Use It When You Make Pasta
We all know that the key to glossy, better-than-restaurant pasta is adding starchy-salty pasta water to your sauce and then cooking your noodles right in there so they soak up all that sweet, sweet ambrosia. I used to attempt that in a regular old stainless-steel frying pan, and the pasta would always go everywhere, which is where the Dutch oven comes inits the only vessel in my kitchen that will easily fit a pound of pasta, plus whatever Im doctoring it up with. Sizzle a bunch of garlic in plenty of olive oil, throw some cooked pasta in there along with pasta water and a good knob of butter, stir it all around enthusiastically, and youll be sold on this whole Dutch oven thing after one bite.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats
is a food, restaurant, and travel writer, and video host based in New York City. She spoke with industry professionals, chefs, and home cooks for this comprehensive review, in addition to performing a cross-section analysis of consumer and editorially rated braising pans.
Catherine Russell, who updated this article, spent much of her time in her grandmother’s kitchen growing up, and thats where she first experienced the complex and satisfying connections between food, family, and culture. On those many afternoons spent in a small kitchen warmed by the oven and redolent of spices, she learned to bake, roast, broil, and cook most anything from scratch, and often with only the recipes as grandma remembered them.
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The 7 Best Dutch Ovens In 2022 According To Cooking Experts
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Though there are many kitchen tools a good chef needs to complete their collection, a Dutch oven is arguably one of the most important due to its versatility. This cooking pot can often be on the pricier side, but as Edith Dourleijn, cooking coach and owner of Creative Cook Co., noted, it can replace virtually every pot and pan you have. You can do so many things : roast big meats, bake your bread, bake your pies and all that type of stuff, she said. If you only need one pan, this would be it.
Before you invest in a Dutch oven which can easily run you upward of $200 for a quality model its important to know what youre investing in. We consulted chefs and cookware experts to break down how to shop for a Dutch oven and compiled some top picks based on their guidance.
Upgrade Pick: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast
Le Creusets Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven is the best Dutch oven you can buy. Its the most durable oven weve tested, and we think its the best option for cooks who want a heritage piece of cookware. Le Creusets oven turns out great food every time, and its the most enjoyable to use of any we tested. Le Creusets oven is one of the lightest we tested and has the largest handles, which makes it the easiest oven to cook with and to clean. Le Creusets pots have a durable enamel coatingwith a smooth finish for even cookingthats backed by a lifetime warranty. Le Creusets oven is expensive, and if you get it, youll be investing in longevity. In our tests we didnt find that it cooked that much better than the Lodge, but in our experience its enamel has far more staying power.
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Other Names For Braising
Braising is sometimes referred to as pot-roasting. The difference is what size the meat is: If its cut up, its braised if its whole, it is pot-roasted. On the other hand, stewing means the food is totally immersed in liquid its not necessarily seared or sautéed beforehand. Stewing is performed on the stovetop, and braising can be done on the stove or in the oven. Pressure-cooking and slow cooking are forms of braising, too.
The Criteria: What To Look For In An Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are made from steel or cast iron, both with and without an enamel coating. For this review, we targeted enameled cast iron only because that’s the type we find to be best suited to the dishes we usually make in this type of potstews and braises, chilis, and hearty ragùs. We prefer cast iron for many of these dishes because of its great heat retention and enamel because it offers a protective coating that’s easy to cook in and clean. Acidic dishes, such as sauces and stews that call for tomato or wine, can develop a metallic taste after spending hours in plain seasoned cast iron, making enamel an even more important factor.
Dutch ovens also come in two common shapes : round and oval. While the latter can be helpful for certain kinds of oblong roasts, a round Dutch oven is more practical for most recipes, so that’s the kind we settled on for this review.
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What Is A Camp Dutch Oven
A camp dutch oven is a Dutch oven with legs that is primarily used in outdoor cooking. You can hang it over a fire or cook it in the coals with or without a cooking stand. Camp ovens come in several sizes and in two depths: shallow and deep. Shallow is more versatile and used for most baking and family meals. And you use deep more often when making soups and stews or meals for larger groups.
The Best Dutch Ovens In 2022
All of the chefs we spoke to agreed shoppers should invest in a Dutch oven made out of cast iron which provides the best heat retention and temperature distribution with at least a 5-quart capacity and including a lid. Below, we included some expert recommendations for Dutch ovens worth considering and other highly rated options that aligned with their guidance on how to shop for them.
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A Note About Warranties
Most of the enameled cast iron Dutch ovens we tested are backed by a lifetime warranty. Despite some big price differences, they are fairly consistent from brand to brand. Does spending more get you a better warranty? No, but it might buy you a warranty without a lot of loopholes from a company with a better reputation for honoring it. We don’t have much evidence beyond anecdotal information that the best-known brandsLe Creuset, Staub, and Lodge come to mindare pretty good about it. Whether that’s worth considering when you plunk down your card for a new pot is up to you.
The Best Budget Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Martha Stewart 6
What we liked: The is a big pot with good performance and a budget-friendly price tag, under $100. It doesn’t hurt that it boasts a handsome design in nine different enamel colors.
The beige pot bottom is 9 1/8 inches in diameter and fits all the chicken thighs without crowding, allowing us to develop good browning and fond without any trouble. At nearly 14 pounds, it was the heaviest pot in the test, but it also has some of the best handles, which help make that weight less of an issue. Even with oven mitts, we were able to easily lift and transport the pot without straining or fear of dropping it. The pot’s design is simple and uncluttered.
We had one concern regarding the pot’s durability: In 2011, the company recalled its Dutch ovens for faulty and potentially dangerous enamel. We spoke to the company about it and were told that they’ve since changed manufacturing facilities in China, which was good to hearthough we did find at least one online review of a Martha Stewart pot that describes the enamel fracturing. What we don’t know is whether that damage was due to user error or a manufacturing defect. We’ll keep an eye on the Martha Stewart Dutch oven as we continue to cook with it and will update this review accordingly.
Serious Eats / Emily Dryden
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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
Test : Heat Conduction And Retention
Serious Eats / Emily Dryden
The first question we had about our lineup of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens was whether there was much difference from one to the next in how they conducted and retained heat. We know that iron is a poor conductor of heat and a great retainer of it, but given that each pot has a different mass and slightly different build, including variations in floor and wall thickness, it’s conceivable that some would conduct heat better than others, while others might retain the heat better.
We tested heat conduction by placing each Dutch oven on an induction burner set to a fixed, moderate heat setting. We then snapped photos with a thermal imaging camera and measured floor and wall heat in timed increments with an infrared thermometer.
We then tested heat retention by preheating each lidded pot in the same 350°F oven, then recording the pots’ loss of heat in both the walls and the floors using the infrared thermometer.
While our methods of measuring the temperature of the pots weren’t perfect , they gave us a decent enough picture to confidently draw an interesting conclusion: There isn’t a significant difference that sets one enameled cast iron Dutch oven apart from another in terms of thermal properties. They all heated and cooled in remarkably similar patterns and at remarkably similar rates. This is not the area where one pot will distinguish itself.
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Staub 55 Quart Cocotte
You might be familiar with Misen knives , but the DTC company has expanded into cookware too. Their Dutch oven is durable, well made, and reasonably priced. While the sides of a Le Creuset or Lodge Dutch oven meet the bottom at a gentle slope, Misens base is more angular, which frees up surface area for browning but does make it a tad tricker to get into the corners with a spoon. The high sides contain grease splatters better than competitors, and the generously sized handles mean you dont have to worry about a heavy pot of stew slipping from your oven mitts. Choose between a regular lid and one that doubles as a grill pana cool feature, but trickier to remove from the pot when hot. Misens Dutch oven only comes in 7- and 9-quart feed-a-crowd sizes, so if youre looking for a smaller cast-iron pot, look elsewhere. M.C.F.
The Best Heritage Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Le Creuset 55
What we liked: The Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven is a beautiful pot that comes in 17 core colors, plus special editions. Weighing just over 11 pounds, the 5 1/2quart Le Creuset isn’t as heavy as many of the other models we tested , but that didn’t appear to affect performance. On the stovetop, it cooks very well: There wasn’t an excessive amount of sticking when we browned chicken thighs, and the fond that developed was easy to see because of the contrast against the interior enamel’s beige color. The Signature line has larger handles than the older Classic model, which we’re all forit makes the pot easier to grab and carry. We can also vouch for Le Creuset products’ longevity, given that we’ve used their pots for years at work and home without any major complaints. Splurging for the Le Creuset means investing in a reputation that’s backed by generations of satisfied users all over the world and a warranty that anecdotal evidence says you can rely on. The Signature pot comes in 1- to 13 1/4-quart sizes.
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Test : Cooking Jambalaya
To see how well the Dutch ovens cooked on a stovetop and in the oven, we used them to make Creole-style red jambalaya with chicken, sausage, and shrimp. This one dish tests Dutch ovens in a few key areas: searing meats and sautéing vegetables on the stovetop, then slow-cooking everything in a simmering broth in the oven.
Phase 1: Browning Chicken and Developing Fond Without Too Much Sticking
Serious Eats / Emily Dryden
Using just enough oil to grease each pot, we expected the boneless chicken thighs in our recipe to quickly brown over moderately high heat. Here, we uncovered a rare quality that really does distinguish one cast iron pot from another: the bottom surface area.
A larger surface area is critically important since it reduces crowding and allows better, faster, and more efficient searing. In the end, we just couldn’t abide pots that skimped on surface area for searing. All our winning models had bottoms that were a minimum of 8 inches in diameter or very close to it.
Beyond that, only one pot grabbed a disqualification in this phase of the test because its enamel coating latched onto the chicken so hard that the meat shredded when we attempted to lift it. That’s fine for ropa vieja, but not much else.
Phase 2: Wet Cooking
The rice for our jambalaya requires wet cookingsimmering the rice, meats, and vegetables in the cooking liquidbut it also tests how evenly the pots cook since the goal is to have all the liquid absorbed by the rice by the time it’s all done.
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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Lodge 6qt Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven
- Deliver flavor every day with timeless flair.
- Stainless steel knob and loop handles for great control
- Smooth glass surface won’t react to ingredients
- Unparalleled heat retention and even heating
- Use to marinate, refrigerate, cook, and serve
- Great for induction cooktops
- Comes with pot protectors that protect your enamel dutch oven from chipping and prohibit moisture build up when storing