Have you come across a recipe in either a recipe book, online show, or a cooking-based YouTube channel which calls for using a special utensil called Dutch oven?
It might sound completely alien to you if you’re hearing it for the first time and have been using the regular oven all the way along. You’ll be left with questions like is Dutch oven really a necessity for cooking certain types of dishes, can’t those dishes be prepared on a normal oven?
But don’t worry, here we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Dutch oven, what is it used for and how you’ll benefit from it.
We’ll also list some of the best Dutch ovens to help you in your buying process. Let’s get started.
What is a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are cylindrical-shaped cooking pots provided with a tight-fitting lid at the top. These are known for their versatility and bright colour combination. You can cook the food right in the oven and transfer it straight to the tabletop.
These are often thick-walled and are made from cast iron. Some Dutch ovens are also made up of aluminium and ceramic. Besides that, the ovens are comparatively larger with a wider base, which helps in even distribution of heat.
Because of their name, you might predict that Dutch ovens originated in the Netherlands whose citizens are referred to as Dutch, but it’s not entirely clear whether that was actually the case.
One theory supporting that they did originate in the Netherlands says that the Dutch developed cookware using casting metals in moulds of sand instead of clay. This gave a finer finish to the pot. Abraham Darby, a partner of a utensil making company in Bristol, after visiting the Netherlands, brought the concept into Britain and called it a Dutch oven.
They have been in use for hundreds of years. You can find variations of Dutch ovens in nearly every culture and tradition around the world. The Japanese have Tetsunabe, Balkans have Sac, South Africans have Potjiekos, British have Casseroles and the Spanish have Cazuela and so on.
These types of cooking pots were designed to sit on hot ashes of wood or a fireplace for a prolonged period. The Dutch, at one point in time, had their lids slightly concaved where they could place the burning coals. This would then provide heat from all sides. Such type of oven in the Netherlands are called Braadpan which means roasting pan in English.
In the United States, they were present right from the colonial era. It is believed that they arrived with the colonists and settlers as they were multi-purpose and hence deemed useful for such long voyages. But immediately after their arrival and centuries following that, they were considered desired inheritors and valuable items rather than an ordinary kitchen utensil.
The best Dutch oven to buy
This is by far the best pre-seasoned Dutch oven out there, that too at an incredible low price.
Manufactured in the US by Lodge, it is available in various sizes, all of which are seasoned cookware. This product is designed in a way that requires minimal care and maintenance.
Furthermore, the unmatched material quality ensures the oven will last for generations. The design is impressive and such that it fits into every occasion, whether it be camping or family dinner. For easy handling, there are two loop handles made of strong cast iron. All in all, this product is highly recommended.
- Available in multiple sizes
- Lifetime durability
- Easy to clean
- Easy to handle
- No flanged lid
- Available in just one colour
Classic Dutch Oven from Milo
Milo is a new start up brand that is disrupting the cookware industry. This Dutch oven is partly inspired by the French oven and is ideal for baking and slow cooking braises. This is an enameled oven which means it is easy to maintain and delivers amazing performance at the same time.
The oven can withstand the temperature of up to 500 degrees Celsius and comes with a lifetime guarantee. With a size of 5.5 quarts, you can prepare food for a family of five to six members. Very competitive on price, this French-inspired Dutch oven will surely give other premium-ranged ovens a run for their money.
- Sleek design
- Dishwasher safe
- Naturally non-stick
- No flanged lid
Top of the range pick
This is a premium range enameled cast-iron Dutch oven from Le Creuset with superior heat distribution and retention. It is available in multiple eye-catching colors like Cherry, Marine, Oyster, Soleil which you probably wouldn’t find anywhere.
Both the interior and exterior are enameled which resists cracking and breaking. It is provided with larger handles, thus making it easier for you to transfer.
Le Creuset is a premium top of the range French brand. It has the best Dutch oven’s money can buy.
- Enameled interior and exterior
- Available in multiple colors
- Equipped with larger handles
- Facilitates superior heat distribution
- No flanged lid
Best Dutch oven for bread
If you’re purchasing Dutch oven specifically for preparing bread, then here are a few options for you.
This is a double Dutch oven with a convertible lid that can be converted to a skillet. The dome-shaped cover is excellent for roasting or baking. This is seasoned cookware from Lodge and requires little maintenance and you can start baking right away. With a size of 5 quarts, this should be your preferred pick for preparing bread and cake items.
- Seasoned cookware
- Durable and versatile
- High-quality design
- Prone to getting rusted
The non-stick interior of this oven facilitates easy baking. You don’t have to worry about the darkening of the bread. It is made from anodized aluminium which makes the oven lightweight and extra durable. For easy handling, silicone handles stay cool even in the harshest temperatures. On top of that, you get a 10-year warranty on this product.
- Non-stick interior helps in easy clean-up
- Comfortable silicone handles
- Non-stick coating might flake off after frequent use
This Dutch oven is a mix of superior heat retention ability and contemporary styling. It possesses self-basting condensation ridges which cook food evenly from all sides. The lid is fitted with a stainless steel knob, thus trapping all the heat in. The exterior is made up of porcelain and enamel which gives it a smooth finish.
- Equipped with a secure fitted lid
- Self-basting condensation ridges
- Enamel might chip off after frequent use
This is the perfect alternative for non-stick cooking with coats of the enamel finish. The cookware is universal and hence, it can be used for braising, roasting, frying, baking and pan-frying. Put it inside an oven and it’ll slow cook your cake perfectly. The smooth finish also means that you don’t have to spend too much time cleaning it after every use.
- Distributes the heat evenly
- Great alternative to non-stick cookware
- Easy to clean and dry
- Doesn’t work as great as non-stick cookware
This seven-quart Dutch oven comes with self-blasting lids which create a continuous blasting environment where you can evenly cook your bread. This artisan collection from Crock-pot is rust-free and easy to clean. Put it inside an oven for a seamless baking experience as it can withstand heat upwards of 500 degrees F.
- Available in attractive colours
- Ceramic might chip off
In shape, the product is very much similar to a frying pan. This Dutch oven from Cuisinart is multi-purpose and comes in varying sizes and colours. Besides baking, you can use it for frying and sautéing. The cast iron provides superior heat retention and porcelain exterior gives it a smooth finish and durability.
- Made up of cast iron
- Strong and durable finish
- Versatile and compatible with induction cooktop
- Handles provide a secure grip
- Quality could have been better
- Starts chipping easily
This Dutch oven is completely made from 18/10 stainless steel, with a layer of aluminium at the bottom for better heat conductance.
The unicolor oven resembles a pressure cooker. It can withstand the heat of up to 500 degrees F and is dishwasher safe. Priced in the low range, this Dutch oven casserole might just fit the bill if you’re looking for ovens in economy range.
- Made up of 18/10 stainless steel
- Aluminium disc bottom facilitates even heat distribution
- Works fine on a range of cooktops – induction, glass, gas, ceramic and the likes
- Not as durable as it should be
Dutch oven cookbooks
After you’ve purchased a Dutch oven of your choice, you need recipes to try it out. Here are some recipe books that I recommend for some inspiration:
From Chicken pot pie to Butternut squash to Braised short ribs, this recipe book contains over 150 recipes which you can easily prepare in a Dutch oven. From newbies to seasoned chefs, this book has something for everyone.
Going for a camp with your Dutch oven? This cookbook specifically written for campsites will inspire you to cook delicious meals that you thought weren’t possible with limited resources. It contains 86 limited-ingredient recipes that you can cook anywhere by simply using a Dutch oven.
Types of Dutch ovens
There are primarily two types of Dutch ovens. Bare cast iron and enameled. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Bare cast iron
Cast iron is a preferred choice of chefs as cookware simply because it is an excellent conductor of heat. Utensils or appliances made from cast iron can withstand high temperatures that can exceed several hundred degrees Celsius.
Furthermore, the metal does not get degraded over time. You can place these directly on an open fireplace, which makes them ideal for outdoor activities.
On the flip side, you’d need to take extra care of these type of pots to maintain the integrity of the iron core. But if these ovens are handled properly, then bare cast iron Dutch ovens can last generations.
In the enameled version of Dutch ovens, the core is made up of ceramic or aluminium rather than cast iron. Ceramics conduct heat impressively, thus they can be used for all types of cooking styles. But unlike cast iron ovens, these do not require special cleaning or pre-seasoning. Thus, they are in hot demand among consumers who prioritize convenience.
However, some enamel ovens are not intended for high-temperature use and can operate only on low to medium flame.
How to use a Dutch oven?
If you’re reading about Dutch ovens for the very first time, then they might seem a little complicated at first sight. You might be confused about their usage and the precautions that you need to take while using them. But this heavy-duty pot is really simple to use in real life.
To utilize the Dutch oven to the fullest, think of it as a mini oven. Thus, you’d be better able to correlate to the working principle of a conventional oven.
You can use a Dutch oven in two ways. First, you can put it directly on a high flame or burning coal and second, you can keep it inside another oven. So let’s look at how to use a Dutch oven in two different scenarios.
On a flame
As the Dutch oven is made from cast iron, it can withstand extreme heat. What’s even better is that the heat is distributed equally all over the container. This results in an evenly cooked food.
Whether you’re going to use it for baking, simmering, or sautéing, the basic process remains the same. Here are the steps involved for cooking on a flame using Dutch oven:
- Season the inside of the Dutch oven thoroughly.
- If you’re cooking meat, then cook it directly inside the oven until its brown.
- Once done, transfer other food ingredients and liquids inside the Dutch oven.
- Cover the lid and lower the flame.
- Cook until the food is ready or as directed.
Inside an oven
Another benefit which a Dutch oven provides is that you can use it directly inside an oven to cook your meals. This is very convenient if you have finished browning the meat and need slow but consistent temperature for further processing.
So after you’ve half-cooked your meat, simply place the Dutch oven inside the conventional kitchen oven and cook as per instructions. As an advantage, food will be cooked evenly inside an oven since heat will be applied from all sides rather than only from the bottom in case of stovetop or firewood flame.
What to cook in a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are large saucepans, which are probably the largest among the utensils that aren’t a stockpot. If you have a family, then owning a Dutch oven is totally worth it. You’ll be able to prepare a variety of foods in large batch sizes and can do so effortlessly, because these ovens are easily transferable from an oven to the table.
Whether it is roasting, making soups, stews, deep frying, or braising, you can literally accomplish every cooking task in a Dutch oven.
As the oven cooks food slowly and for a longer time, you can bake using a Dutch oven. Pizza, cake, biscuit, dessert are just some of the things you’d be able to prepare. When you’re on a camping trip, pizzas can be hard to prepare without an oven.
But with a Dutch oven, simply prepare firewood or burn some coal and then place the oven on top of it. Your pizza and cookies will be ready within an hour or two.
Need to prepare soups? The Dutch oven has got you covered. As the cast iron, aluminium, or ceramic (from which the ovens are made) are good conductors of heat, they’ll heat up pretty soon if you set them on high flame. So if you’re looking to make a stew or simply want to boil some water, just place the oven on the flame, close the lid and wait for 30-60 minutes.
Dutch ovens are considered ideal for roasting meat or root vegetables since they tend to maintain heat very well. Simply pour some oil inside the oven and place your meat. Now, place it on a stovetop and wait till it gets golden brown. Follow it up by placing the Dutch oven inside a preheated conventional oven.
If you’ve got food items that take a long time to simmer, consider simmering them in a Dutch oven. Simply place the oven on the burners, pour some water, then the food, and let it simmer for several hours. Dumplings or chili are such types of food that require simmering and can be efficiently cooked inside a Dutch oven.
Omelette and tortilla
The lids of the Dutch ovens are concave in shape. So when they’re sufficiently hot, you can use them as a skillet or griddle. When you’re roasting meat or have the oven placed on high flame, the lid gets hot with it. You can utilize it to prepare tortillas, cook eggs, or simply warm some sausages without having to light another stove.
How to season a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens require seasoning which helps you in two ways:
- Prevents rust, corrosion and ensures the longevity of the oven
- Prepares a non-stick cooking surface
Seasoning despite being important is a relatively simple process. It’s recommended to season even before you start using it for the first time. This eliminates any contaminants and dust particles the oven may have.
There are two types of seasoning. Here’s how to conduct a proper Dutch oven seasoning:
This is the very first time you’ll be seasoning the Dutch oven wherein you’ll remove the protective factory-made wax layer and apply the non-stick coating. There are also pre-seasoned Dutch ovens available in the market, which are known as enameled. For these types, you can skip the initial seasoning process.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let it cool and then wash it with soapy water using a scouring pad. You can also use vinegar for this.
- Dry the oven with a paper towel and then place it under sunlight.
- Once you’ve dried the oven, rub it with vegetable shortening both inside and outside.
- Wipe off all the oil once done using a cotton rag.
- Now, place the oven upside down on a flame for about 45 to 60 minutes.
- Turn off the grill and let the oven cool down on its own for 30 minutes.
- Repeat the process 4 to 6 times, or until you’re okay with the colour as mentioned on the product cover.
- This will create the non-stick coating that the Dutch oven requires.
Once you start using the oven with oil and grease, they’ll continue to season it. But some acidic foods can remove the coating. Most Dutch ovens won’t require seasoning once you’ve done it for the very first time.
But it’s advised to re-season it from time to time to keep its coating in a healthy position. For example, if your food is sticking too much, then it’s a sign that you should re-season your Dutch oven.
Use the same procedure which you used for seasoning it initially. But here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Don’t wash it again with soapy water as you did previously. Normal running water is just fine.
- It shouldn’t be sticky, but glossy. If it is sticky, then you might have left too much oil in it.
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How to clean a Dutch oven?
After you’ve started using the oven, you need to clean it after each use. Here’s how to clean the Dutch oven:
- Remove all the food items from the oven and wipe excess oil off with the cotton paper.
- Fill the oven with hot water and drain it after 5 minutes.
- Use a scrub brush to clean away the food remnants.
- Wash it under running water.
- Let it dry for 30 minutes and clean it with a towel.
- Apply a little oil or vegetable shortening to the inside of the oven and rub it using a paper towel.
This will provide you with a cleaned Dutch oven. While cleaning the oven, it’s important to not use soap or detergent as it will degrade the coating and expose the iron, which will lead to corrosion.
Things to consider while buying a Dutch oven
Once you’ve decided on buying a Dutch oven, you should look at some aspects specifically. These will help you pick out the best for your needs.
Choosing the right type
First and foremost, you need to decide which type of Dutch oven you’re going to buy. As mentioned above, there are two types: bare cast iron and enameled. Each has its pros and cons, which we have already discussed.
Dutch ovens are measured in quarts which determines how much the container can hold. These are generally large, but available in smaller versions as well. For a family of up to three people, a Dutch oven of three to four quarts is enough.
While for a larger family, you should go for a larger size with a capacity of more than seven quarts. But larger sized Dutch ovens are always better since they allow the air to circulate inside the container once it’s closed. This cooks and tenders the chicken and other food items better.
Shape and design
Traditional Dutch ovens were all dark black cast-irons. But now you can choose from a variety of colors and shapes. Besides black, these ovens are also available in white, red, blue and orange colors. A full black rustic may look good while at camping but may look odd in dinner parties. These colored ovens are often enameled and hence more expensive.
When it comes to shape, there are often round and oval. While round ovens are the most popular, oval ovens can provide flexibility when roasting long food items like a leg of lamb or full chicken.
As Dutch ovens are known for their versatility, they come equipped with added features which make them even more flexible. Dutch ovens have camping capabilities, multi-functional lids, dishwasher-friendly and other helpful features.
Flanged lids allow you to roast food, while camping-capable ovens let you grill food on top of the oven. So you have options at your disposal, you just need to pick the ones that fit your bill.
- NO BREAKING OR RIPPING - These liners are made from strong enough aluminum to never rip or break while stirring or lifting out your food. No more foil in your food or unexpected messes.
- NEVER SEASON OR CLEAN YOUR DUTCH OVEN AGAIN - Have great tasting food without the mess and burnt sugar.
- FIT PERFECTLY IN YOUR 12-INCH DUTCH OVEN - These disposable foil liners come in a pack of 12 and fit 12-inch ovens including brands such as Lodge, Camp Chef, etc. and store in your oven for travel.
- THE ORIGINAL DUTCH OVEN LINERS - Campliners are the original dutch oven liner and have been tried, tested, and refined. Don’t fall for copycats that rip or fail when you need them most.
- PREPARE DINNER AND DESSERT IN THE SAME OVEN - These make cooking easy for beginners, scouts, families, and skilled connoisseurs. What used to require two dutch ovens, may only require one!
What’s so great about a Dutch oven?
You can prepare a variety of foods like fried, sautéed, boiled and stewed. You can use it anywhere until and unless you have a heat source. You can transfer it from stovetop directly into a preheated oven.
What size Dutch oven is best?
Mid-range size is considered the best with a capacity of six to seven quarts.
What is a Dutch oven pot?
It’s just another term for a Dutch oven. It can also specifically mean the container of the oven without the lid.
What can I use instead of a Dutch oven?
A stockpot is the closest thing to a Dutch oven.
Why is it called a Dutch oven?
Most probably because English manufacturers saw that Dutch people used moulds of sand instead of sand for making ovens which were also larger. They then adopted the same into their practice and named it “Dutch oven.”
How to bake bread in a Dutch oven?
Place the dough inside a clean bowl that’s coated with oil and place it inside a preheated Dutch oven.
How to use a Dutch oven in a conventional oven?
Most Dutch ovens are meant to be used inside a conventional oven. Simply place your food inside the Dutch oven and transfer it inside a preheated oven.
Where to buy a Dutch oven?
You can purchase it at online stores like Amazon or your nearest cookware retailer.
Dutch ovens are an extremely versatile kitchen accessory. They will solve many of your cooking-related problems which you might not even have realized you had until you purchase one and start using it. Irrespective of whether you’re intending to use it indoors or outdoors, the Dutch oven is going to be your best buddy in the cooking process.