The original Dutch ovens were heavy, thick-walled pots made from raw cast iron. When similar cast iron pans came onto the market with an enameled coating, they were dubbed French ovens because at the time they were being made in France, and they’ve also been called cocottes. Today, though, any short and squat pot might be marketed as a Dutch oven, even some that are made from thin metal. But if your recipe says to cook in a Dutch oven, they likely mean the cast iron kind.
Raw cast iron pots have... some disadvantages. They have to be well-seasoned in order to be non-stick, and acidic foods can eat away at the coating and react with the metal. Sure, a little iron is good for you, but you don’t want to end up with rusty-tasting tomato soup.
With an enamel-coated pot, you can cook any acidic foods you like. But they also have their downside. The enamel can chip, which is more likely with lower-priced pots than their more expensive counterparts, and the enameled pots with non-metal knobs can’t be used at the highest temperatures.
Here are the best Dutch ovens for most kitchens.
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This pot is an all-around winner. It’s big enough to prepare most dishes, but not so large that it is too difficult to move. It has an enamel coating so you can cook anything in it, and like most Dutch ovens it can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. The knob is either metal or a composite material that’s safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. For more versatility, the knob is removable, so if you need to cook at an even higher temperature, you can buy a replacement metal knob.
The Le Crueset Dutch... ovens come in a wide variety of colors to mix and match with anyone’s kitchen décor. Like other cast iron pots, this one is heavy—it weighs just over 11 pounds, and it can weigh 20 pounds or more when it’s filled with food. Le Creuset cast iron pots are made in France. And if you are looking for a larger size or prefer an oval shape, Le Creuset has those as well.
02 of 08
This porcelain-enameled cast iron Dutch oven comes in a variety of exterior colors, with a cream-colored interior. While hand washing is recommended, it can be washed in a dishwasher, and it has a lifetime warranty.
The pot is oven-safe to 500 degrees for baking or broiling and holds 6 quarts. It can be used on any cooktop, including gas, electric, or induction, but it shouldn’t be used on outdoor grills or over campfires. The tight-fitting lid helps retain moisture during cooking. Because of... the double layer of enamel coating inside and out, this can be used for marinating, cooking, storing, and serving.
03 of 08
If you’re not willing to spend a lot for a single piece of cookware, this Dutch oven offers many of the same features at a much lower price point. The large size is great for big families or large roasts or poultry, and the cookware is has a durable enamel coating. While this has a metal knob, the cookware is only rated to oven temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, so you won’t be able to use it for some of the no-knead bread recipes that require higher temperatures.
This Dutch oven comes with... a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer as well.
04 of 08
The large stainless steel loop handle on this pot makes the lid easy to remove, even while wearing an oven mitt, and the matte-black enamel interior is less likely to show staining than the cream-colored interiors found in many other pots. The side handles are comfortable to hold with potholders or while wearing mitts, so it’s easy to get in and out of the oven, and it’s safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit when baking.
The underside of the lid has little nubs that cause condensation to rain down on... food and help baste your stew or roast while cooking, and the pot is broiler safe, so you can brown the top of the food after you’ve simmered or braised it with the lid on. Right now, this cookware is only available in one color, a rich red. Since it’s a fairly new line, there aren’t as many pieces available as are available from other manufacturers.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
This raw cast iron Dutch oven comes pre-seasoned to give you a head start on getting a perfectly non-stick pot. But that’s not the best part. The lid of this Dutch oven doubles as a skillet with two side handles, so you get two pots in one for an incredibly low price.
Simmer your soup in the pot and make cornbread in the skillet at the same time. The downside of the skillet feature is that the lid doesn’t have a top handle for lifting. Raw cast iron cookware is safe for use at any oven... temperature as well as on an outdoor grill or campfire. At super-high temperatures (oven-cleaning temperatures), the seasoning can burn off, but it won’t hurt the cookware, you would just need to season it again.
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This pot is wider and slightly shorter than other pots of the same size, but you can still fit an average-sized chicken in the pot. Meanwhile, the larger bottom surface means you can brown more food at one time before braising. This cookware is known for more even browing with fewer hot spots than some of its competitors, and it has a black interior that is less likely to show food stains.
Nubs on the interior of the lid send moisture raining down on the food for self-basting. The top knob is... small, but raised high enough to make it easy to grasp when removing the lid. The lid is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, while the pot can handle up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This cookware is made in France and is available in several different colors.
07 of 08
If you’re taking your cookware camping, this is the Dutch oven you need. Unlike pots made for stovetop cooking, this one has legs on the bottom to lift it off the ground so you can place coals directly under the pot. The lid doubles as a skillet, or you can pile additional coals on top of the covered pot to heat food from above and below.
The pot has a handle so you can hang it from a tripod over a campfire as well as side handles. It also includes a lid lifter for removing the hot lid safely and... a “thermometer channel,” which is a notch in the top of the pot for inserting a thermometer to check food temperature without removing the lid. While this comes pre-seasoned, it’s probably best to season it again before use.
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A 15 ½-quart pot is probably not necessary for most families’ everyday cooking routine. But larger families, people who host a lot of parties, or those who do large-batch cooking will love the ability to fit three chickens or more than three gallons of soup into one pot. The oval shape makes it ideal for food like a whole turkey or a leg of lamb, but it’s also great for that batch of tomato sauce.
Of course, a pot this size is heavy, and even heavier when it's full. But if you need that much... food, you’ve probably got someone nearby who can help lift it out of the oven. This cookware is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
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