What We Like
Loop handle on lid is easy to grab
Attractive design looks good on stove or shelf
Self-basting lid is great for braising
What We Don't Like
Heavy weight might be too much for some cooks
There are many choices for enameled cast iron cookware, so we were curious what set the Anolon Vesta Cast Iron Dutch Oven apart from the rest of the pack. We used the 5-quart pot (there’s also a 7-quart option) on the stove and in the oven, testing it with searing, braising, baking, and boiling. From casseroles to soups, we kept the Vesta busy with all of our cooking. Read on to see what we thought.
Design: Oh-so pretty
Dang, this pot is pretty. From the rich red color to the graceful handles, the Vesta is undeniably attractive. Even better: The design features are also functional. The large loop handle on top was easy to grab and felt secure even though the lid was heavy. The side handles, complete with their own curves, also felt super solid when we lifted and moved the pot. Under the lid, little nubs collect moisture as food cooks, then the liquid rains back down onto the food, basting it.
From the rich red color to the graceful handles, the Vesta is undeniably attractive. Even better: The design features are also functional.
One downside to the large top handle is that it takes up a bit more space for those who prefer to store pots with the lid right-side up. However, placing the lid upside down solves that problem easily. Still, this is a heavy pot, so it will require a sturdy shelf.
Material: Cast iron with a coating
This Dutch oven is made from enameled cast iron topped with a stainless steel handle. The exterior stuns in a sleek and shiny red (also available in umber), while the interior is a slightly rough black that looks much like uncoated cast iron, but it is actually coated and never needs seasoning.
We’ve owned other cookware with a similar black interior, and we’ve found that it holds up well and doesn’t stain, scratch, or chip. We expect the same performance from this pot over the years. The worst we’ve seen with finishes like this is when water is left to evaporate in the pot after washing, leaving behind a white residue. This probably also remains on other cookware, too, but it’s not visible.
This pot can handle oven heat to 500 degrees and can be used under the broiler. The one slight oddity was that the enameled coating looked darker when this emerged from a hot oven—almost purple—but it went back to its normal color as the pot cooled again. This didn’t seem to adversely affect the enamel afterward.
The enameled coating looked darker when this emerged from a hot oven—almost purple—but it went back to its normal color as the pot cooled again.
While it can be used on any cooking surface, including induction, we found no reference to using this pot on the grill. In theory, it might be fine, but many grills can reach higher heat than an oven, so the exterior enamel could be damaged.
One major advantage to enameled cast iron—aside from the fact that it doesn’t need seasoning—is that it can be used to cook anything, including highly acidic foods that might not fare well in an uncoated pot. One of the first things we cooked in this pot was a basic tomato-based spaghetti sauce. We also used it to heat a vinegar mixture for some quick pickles.
Our bread baked in the pot browned beautifully and released with no sticking. And obviously, it’s well-suited for stews, soups, casseroles, and all sorts of comfort food that loves a long, low simmer on the stove. Overall, we found it worthy of its namesake: Vesta, the Greek goddess of the hearth.
Heating Capacity: Hot, hot, hot
Like all cast iron cookware, this pot heats slowly but retains heat well, and the heat is even across the surface of the pot. It also stays hot after cooking is done, so it can keep food warm for serving. However, that also means that mitts or potholders are good to have on hand until the pot is cool enough to handle—and a trivet or hot pad should be used if placing the pot on a surface that could be damaged from the heat.
Under the lid, little nubs collect moisture as food cooks, then the liquid rains back down onto the food, basting it.
Cleaning: Simple sponging
While this product should only be hand-washed, we found that cleaning was easy. At most, cleaning this cookware required a sturdy kitchen scrubby and some dish soap, but more often it just needed a gentle wipe with a soapy sponge.
Price: Definitely affordable
This is a mid- to low-priced piece of cookware. It’s not nearly as pricey as the premium brands, but it’s more expensive than the bargain brands. Given that it’s made by a company that’s well-known in the cookware business, we feel that the price is better than expected. The quality of the pot, the attractiveness of the design, and the lifetime warranty make it worth the cost.
We have to admit to a longtime love of Le Creuset, but we actually found that the Anolon we tested was more attractive and performed exactly as we hoped.
Competition: One of the best options on the market
At about half the price, the Lodge 5 Quart Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven ($68.50) is a fine choice if you’re looking for an uncoated cast iron Dutch oven. We love the idea that the lid can be used as a second cooking vessel, making it an even better value. However, the Lodge is made from uncoated cast iron which requires special care and may not be able to handle highly acidic foods unless the seasoning is particularly robust. On the other hand, the Lodge can be used on the grill as well as all other cooking surfaces. We actually love both of these, for different reasons.
On the high end of enameled cast iron cookware is the Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven. Le Creuset has a long history of making high-quality enameled cast iron cookware. That great reputation also comes with a high price tag, though. The 5.5-quart option costs $350. We have to admit to a longtime love of Le Creuset, but we actually found the Anolon we tested was more attractive and performed exactly as we hoped. Given the lower price tag, we’d give the Anolon the nod in this matchup.
Winner, winner, gotta make dinner!
We didn’t expect to like the Anolon Vesta Cast Iron Dutch Oven as much as we did. The rich red color and the sleek lines made us smile, while the cooking performance gave us plenty of great meals and easy cleaning. The fact that it’s both attractive and relatively inexpensive was the icing on the cake, making this pot a clear winner.
- Product Name Vesta Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Product Brand Anolon
- SKU 51820
- Price $99.99
- Color Paprika red or umber
- Material Enameled cast iron
- Warranty Lifetime