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The Dutch oven is an indispensable piece of cookware in any kitchen—and for good reason. This deep, lidded pot made of heavy cast iron can do just about anything: from braising meats to baking bread to simmering stews. Why? Because Dutch ovens hold a large amount of heat extremely well, making them ideal for the low, slow cooking necessary to tenderize meat and vegetables; they also create the perfect internal environment for baking some of the best artisan-style bread. If these aren't reasons enough to buy one, a good Dutch oven can also last several years.
But with all the models available on the market, how's one to choose? And does it have to break the bank? From high-end to budget, and shallow to square, here's our list of the best Dutch ovens to help you make your pick.
Easy to use and care for
Retains heat well
Rounded bottom translates to smaller cooking surface
This porcelain-enameled cast-iron Dutch oven comes in a variety of exterior colors, with a cream-colored interior. While handwashing is recommended, it can be washed in a dishwasher, and it has a lifetime warranty.
The pot is oven-safe to 500 F 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. Our tester also gives the Lodge high marks for how well it distributed and retained heat. Because of the double layer of enamel coating inside and out, this can be used for marinating, cooking, storing, and serving.
"When it comes to performance, the Lodge seems to cook just as well as its more expensive competitors." — Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Retains and distributes heat well
Inimitable design adds flair to your kitchen
Steep price point
Resin knob is only oven-safe up to 500 F
This pot is an all-around winner but comes with a steep price point. 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 F. 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 Creuset exceeded our tester's expectations in terms of heat distribution and retention: "The pot’s high sides and heat-conducting properties made evenly browning a whole chicken a cinch," she raves.
The Le Creuset 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.
"This was our first time cooking with a Dutch oven and Le Creuset pulled out all the promised stops in terms of versatility and ease of use." — Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Only oven-safe up to 450 F
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 F, so you won’t be able to use it for some of the no-knead bread recipes that require higher temperatures.
While this Dutch oven is considerably heavier than some others according to some reviewers, they're pleased with its design and how evenly it distributes heat. It comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer as well.
Loop handle on lid
Self-basting lid is great for braising
Heavy weight might be too much for some cooks
Available in a rich Paprika Red or sandy Umbra with elegantly designed handles, there's no denying the Anolon Vesta is a good-looking pot. But what really makes it stand out to our tester is that these features are not only pretty but functional. 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 F 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. Since it’s a fairly new line, there aren’t as many pieces available as there are from other manufacturers.
"Overall, I found it worthy of its namesake: Vesta, the Greek goddess of the hearth." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Large bottom surface
Interior nub allows for self-basting
Pot can handle 900 F
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. Many reviewers are happy with how well this cookware browns, with fewer hot spots than some of its competitors. This Dutch oven also 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 F, while the pot can handle up to 900 F. This cookware is made in France and is available in several different colors.
Feet helps elevate it over hot coals
Lid doubles as a griddle
Might be awkward to use in an oven
Going camping? This camp-style uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven has feet to raise it over hot coals, and the flat lid is designed so you can place coals on top for heating on top. The tight-fitting lid keeps moisture in during cooking and can also be used as a griddle. The Dutch oven arrives pre-seasoned, so you can pack it for your trip as soon as it arrives, but the coating will improve with additional seasoning and use.
This holds 8 quarts, which is perfect for solo camping trips or cooking for small groups. This Dutch oven is made in America. It has loop handles that make it easy to move, even with bulky oven mitts. This should be cared for like any other cast-iron cookware; it is not dishwasher safe.
While this is oven-safe, it might be awkward to use because of the legs. It might work on a gas cooktop, depending on your stove grates. It will not work well on an electric or induction cooktop.
Doubles as a stovetop grill
Large cooking surface area
Some say lid can be tricky to lift
Round Dutch ovens are the most common, but there are times when a square Dutch oven is the better choice. Many reviewers rave about how versatile this square Dutch oven is: It's great for making even rows of biscuits or buns or for baking cornbread or brownies, but it’s just as good for roasts, casseroles, and more, since it has a roomy 8-quart volume.
The Dutch oven and lid are pre-seasoned, so you can use it right away, but the surface becomes even more nonstick with extra seasoning and use. The lid is reversible and has raised ridges so it can also be used as a stovetop grill.
This should be hand washed.
Can be used on any cooktop
Only oven-safe up to 400 F
With cookware, bigger isn’t always better. This 3-quart Dutch oven is great for side dishes or small servings of soup, chili, stew, and more, and it’s lighter and easier to move than larger pots that weigh more.
The high-gloss exterior enamel coating will look attractive for years to come. The interior coating means this Dutch oven will never need to be seasoned. The cookware is safe to 400 F and can be used on any cooktop, including induction. This should be hand washed.
Our top choice is the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven because, for an affordable price, everyday cooks can still enjoy a highly functional, versatile pot; plus, it's easy to clean. But for those who have design as well as functionality in mind, we recommend the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round Dutch Oven—its longevity makes it well worth the investment.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
From baking pans, iron skillets, and griddles, to the Anolon Vesta Casserole pot she tested above, Donna Currie knows a good cast-iron product when she sees one. The Spruce Eats writer is a self-proclaimed lover of all things cast iron: "I’ve had cast-iron skillets knocking around in my kitchen for decades, acquiring seasoning and becoming beautifully nonstick," she says.
This piece was edited by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. She researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight.
What to Look for in a Dutch Oven
Material: Since it won’t chip or discolor over time, raw cast iron is generally the way to go. Raw cast-iron Dutch ovens do require seasoning and thorough cleaning, so enamel-coated may be optimal if convenience is a deciding factor. Stainless steel won’t retain heat as well but is a good choice if you need something lighter.
Shape: Most Dutch ovens are oval or round. Both will fit large cuts of meat, but a round one with extra deep sides fits standard burners better, providing more even cooking. Extra-wide and shallow Dutch ovens aren’t as versatile since food won’t be fully submerged in cooking liquid.
Size: Each quart should feed one person. Choose a deep 6-quart Dutch oven if you’re looking for the most versatility—it will comfortably feed a family of five or six, plus it will fit large cuts of meat without issue. If you regularly feed a crowd, you might consider an 8- or 10-quart pot instead.