In our tests, the Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven received the best overall spot. This Dutch oven distributed and retained heat well, plus you can select from a number of exterior colors, and it is easy to clean. If you're looking for a budget pick, the Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron 6.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven performed well during testing, distributing heat evenly.
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.
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? We researched and tested Dutch ovens, rating each one on heat distribution and retention, durability, and usability, among other attributes.
From high-end to budget, and shallow to square, here's our tested-and-approved list of the best Dutch ovens to help you make your pick.
Best Overall: Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Easy to use and care for
Retains heat well
Rounded bottom translates to smaller cooking surface
Who else recommends it? Food Network and CNN both picked the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven.
What do buyers say? 88% of 31,300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
This porcelain-enameled cast-iron Dutch oven from Lodge comes in a variety of exterior colors, with a cream-colored interior for excellent visibility, similar to many higher-end versions. Due to the double layer of enamel coating inside and out, this can be used for marinating, cooking, storing, and serving. In addition to the colorful enamel, the modern design gives you wider handles, which make it easier to grip when you have oven mitts on.
The pot is oven-safe to 500 degrees for baking or broiling and holds 6 quarts, making it one of the larger capacity Dutch ovens. Our tester found the tight-fitting lid helped retain moisture during cooking. They also gave the Lodge high marks for how well it distributed and retained heat. After cooking a pot full of chicken tagine, the Lodge pot stayed hot for hours. Our tester also noted that whether you're browning chicken thighs or cooking onions with spices, any stuck-on bits loosen easily with a little bit of liquid.
It can be used on any cooktop, including gas, electric, or induction, but it shouldn’t be used on outdoor grills or over campfires. While handwashing is recommended, it can be washed in a dishwasher.
Price at time of publish: $80 for 6 quarts
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 500 degrees | Available Sizes: 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, and 7.5 quarts
"When it comes to performance, the Lodge seems to cook just as well as its more expensive competitors." — Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Best High-End: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven
Retains and distributes heat well
Inimitable design adds flair to your kitchen
Steep price point
Resin knob is only oven-safe up to 500 degrees
This Le Creuset pot is an all-time favorite but, like all of its cookware, comes with a steep price point. At 5.5 quarts, it’s big enough to prepare most dishes, but not so large that it is too difficult to move. The interior has a light-colored enamel coating so you can cook anything in it and 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. 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 Dutch oven exceeded our home 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 says. Our Lab tested the 7.5-quart model, which (aside from its larger size) shares all the same attributes as this 5.5-quart version. In the Lab, our testers found that the thick cast iron base took a few minutes to heat up, but once it did, it stayed hot. Plus, Lab tests further confirmed its excellent performance—on the stove, chicken thighs browned evenly and released easily, and food that spent a bit of time in the oven didn't stick either.
Our Lab testers did find that the enameled surface sustained a little bit of crazing—a network of fine lines or cracks that might appear—with repeated impact with metal utensils. But, it's good to note that this is a common occurrence with enameled cast iron, and typically doesn't impact its performance. Cleaning this Dutch oven by hand is easy, but it is also dishwasher safe.
Like other cast-iron pots, this one is heavy—the 5.5-quart model weighs just over 11 pounds, and it can weigh 20 pounds or more when it’s filled with food. And if you are looking for a larger size or prefer an oval shape, Le Creuset has those as well. The Le Creuset Dutch ovens come in a wide variety of colors to coordinate with anyone’s kitchen décor. Be on the lookout for new and seasonal releases, like this stunning wine hue called Rhone, available exclusively at Crate and Barrel, and this chocolate-inspired Ganache, a decadent ombre brown.
Price at time of publish: $400 for 5.5 quarts
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 500 degrees | Available Sizes: 1, 2, 2.75, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, 7.25, 9, and 13.25 quarts
"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
Best Non-Enameled: Lodge 5-Quart Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven
Great for stove, oven, and grill
Pre-seasoned for immediate use
Lid doubles as a frying pan
Must be hand-washed
Requires special care
Handles get hot during cooking
This raw cast-iron Dutch oven comes pre-seasoned to give you a head start on getting a perfectly nonstick 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. With this, you'll be able to simmer your soup in the pot and make cornbread in the skillet at the same time. Our home tester found the skillet also worked wonderfully to do double batches at once, like when browning meat. Once they did an extra round of seasoning, even cinnamon rolls came right out without leaving a crumb behind.
Our Lab tested the 7-quart model of this pan and found that it worked beautifully to brown chicken, with crisp edges and very minimal sticking. Cooking rice also turned out great, with no sticking or hot spots detected. We also tested the durability of this model and noted that it can be used with metal utensils and stand up to fairly rough handling without any sign of damage—it's a piece that can certainly be handed down well into the future.
The downside of the skillet feature is that the lid doesn’t have a top handle for lifting, and our home tester noted that the handles do get very hot when in use. 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. This would make a great, affordable gift for a cook of any skill level as it is easy to use and will last for years to come.
Price at time of publish: $50 for 5 quarts
Material: Seasoned cast iron | Oven Max: 500+ degrees | Available Sizes: 5 and 6 quarts
"That lid design isn’t just for show—it can be used as an additional cooking vessel for frying, baking, and simmering." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Budget: Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron 6.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven
Only oven safe up to 450 degrees
If you’re not willing to spend a lot for a single piece of cookware, this Dutch oven offers many of the same features as competitor models at a much lower price point. Its generous capacity is great for big families or large roasts and poultry, and the cookware has a durable enamel coating. While this has a metal knob, the cookware is only rated to oven temperatures of 450 degrees, 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, our home tester was pleased with its design and how evenly it distributes heat. It expertly handles acidic foods, like tomato soup, beautifully browns beef for stew, and requires almost no seasoning (the rim of the pot and lid aren’t coated, so seasoning or oiling them occasionally would help prevent rust).
Our Lab put the 5.5-quart version of this oven through some testing and found that the pan didn't get as hot as some of the other models, resulting in a lighter, "blonder" sear on chicken. Additionally, cooking rice in this model wasn't ideal—it came out overcooked, presumably because of its lack of heat retention in comparison to other pots we tested. One other thing to note is that the enamel on the outside of the pot began to show signs of wear after some impact with a metal spoon, so we don't think it has the same longevity as some higher-end versions. Regardless, it still gave an overall satisfactory performance, especially when its modest price point is taken into consideration.
Price at time of publish: $100 for 6.5 quarts
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 450 degrees | Available Sizes: 3.5, 5.5, 6.5, and 7 quarts
"When I cooked beef stew and served it directly from the pot, it stayed warm well after bowls were emptied. Not only is that great for dinners where people will be reaching for seconds, but if you're a huge hostess, you'll also find it great for potlucks and for keeping the mashed potatoes warm on the stove while other foods are being finished." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Runner Up, Best Budget: Crock-Pot Artisan 5-Quart Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
Excellent nonstick performance
Available in many color options
Cooking area seems small
Hand wash only
For another budget pick, this 5-quart model by Crock Pot performs well above its modest price point. The cast iron build gives the oven heft so it doesn't move on the stovetop and also offers even heat distribution and retention. The lid's texture gives it a self-basting feature, allowing condensation to collect and redistribute itself over whatever is cooking so it doesn't dry out. Oversized handles make it easy to grab with pot holders on, and the metal knob and Dutch oven are oven-safe to 500 degrees.
In our Lab tests, we were able to achieve consistent and even browning with a nice crust on chicken thighs, though we did find the cooking surface to be on the small side—not a deal-breaker if you're okay with browning in batches. When it came to cooking rice, it didn't stick or burn when left to simmer and steam and all liquid was completely absorbed.
It was hard to find any major flaws with this oven. Like many enameled versions, using a metal utensil may leave scratches on the inner enamel, and you'll have to be careful not to crack the outer coating with rough handling. The manufacturer highly recommends hand washing it to clean, which is pretty easy.
Price at time of publish: $55 for 5 quarts
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 500 degrees | Available Sizes: 3, 5 , and 7 quarts
“Beginner home cooks that are looking to get into Dutch ovens would love this product. No fear of the cast iron cleanup with the enamel coating makes it definitely appealing.”
Best Shallow: Staub Cast Iron 6-Quart Cochon Shallow Wide Round Cocotte
Even heat distribution and retention
Interior nub allows for self-basting
Pot can handle 900 degrees
Dark interior makes it harder to see fond development on bottom of pot
This Staub cocotte is made in France and is wider and slightly shallower than other pots of the same size, while still holding a generous amount of food. 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 degrees, while the pot can handle up to 900 degrees.
Our home tester found it "jaw-droppingly good at everything it does" and raved about its performance as a bread baking chamber and vessel for cooking beans and stews. In our Lab tests, it showed even, deep brown caramelization when searing chicken thighs, demonstrating even heat distribution and no hot spots. Rice cooked perfectly, just shy of al dente, and it didn't stick or burn when left to steam with the lid closed. (Note: Our Lab tested the Staub 5.5-quart round cocotte, which is made nearly identically to the 6-quart shallow cocotte in materials and construction.)
We didn't notice any markings or damage with use, though enamel always has the potential to crack or chip on impact. While the price point on this model is on the high side, its performance and durability live up to what you'd expect for a Dutch oven of this caliber. It's easy to clean—though the dark interior requires that you inspect it closely to ensure it's free of debris—and promises decades, if not a lifetime, of use.
Price at time of publish: $385 for 6 quarts
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 500 degrees (with lid), 900 degrees (without lid) | Available Sizes: 6 quarts
"The heavy lid completely seals the moisture inside, and the dimpled spikes on the lid allow the moisture to fall back on top of food evenly." — Renu Dhar, Product Tester
Best for Camping: Camp Chef Classic Pre-Seasoned Dutch Oven
Flanged lid to hold coals on top
Lid doubles as a griddle or trivet
Opening in the rim for thermometer
Can’t be used on all heat sources
Heading for the great outdoors? This camp-style uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven will help you cook up anything your nature-loving heart desires. It's designed with feet to raise it over hot coals, plus you can place coals atop the flat, tight-fitting lid for even heating inside. Best of all, this 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 6 quarts, which is perfect for solo camping trips or cooking for small groups. It's a truly versatile piece of cookware—you can also flip the lid over to use it as a skillet or griddle. In fact, our tester did just that, warming up tortillas and frying eggs directly on the lid for a perfect outdoor breakfast. Don't be nervous if you're not well-versed in using coals to set the temperature—neither was our tester—as this comes with a guide with charcoal distribution guidelines. Once our tester got the hang of where to place coals, she was able to whip up shakshuka and cheesy enchiladas with ease.
One thing to note is that this is undeniably better for outdoor cooking. While this is oven-safe, it might be awkward to place inside of one due to the legs. It might work on a gas cooktop, depending on your stove grates, but it is not recommended for an electric or induction cooktop.
Price at time of publish: $45 for 10 inches
Material: Seasoned cast iron | Oven Max: 500+ degrees | Available Sizes: 10, 12, 14, 16 inches
"One of my favorite weekend dinners to make is eggplant braised in a Dutch oven with tomatoes and garlic. I serve it with Moroccan-spiced ground lamb, feta, and quick-pickled cucumbers. It's the kind of lazy, slow-cooking meal that always reminds me how much I enjoy playing around in the kitchen!" — Lauren Keating, author of "Clean Eating Instant Pot Cookbook: 80 Healthy Recipes for Busy People" and several other Dutch oven cookbooks.
Most Stylish: Made In Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Gives an excellent sear
Self-basting lid feature
No larger size available
Hand wash only
This trendy brand not only performs well, but its silhouette also works beautifully with both rustic and contemporary decor themes. Made in France from enameled cast iron, this promises even heating and excellent heat retention, just like similar Dutch ovens at a much higher price point. This 5.5-quart model is available in two stylish colors, features a metal knob on its lid, and is oven safe up to 580 degrees.
In our Lab tests, we were able to create a nice hard sear on chicken thighs, but its smaller size meant we had to cook our recipe in batches. With rice, we found that it didn't cook quite as evenly (some left a little undercooked) but there was no sticking or burning as the liquid was absorbed. We also put it through some durability testing, and are happy to report that it stands up well to the dings and scratches you'd normally put it through.
Cleaning this piece is pretty straightforward: soak it in warm, soapy water for 10-15 minutes to soften any stuck-on food, and wash by hand (it's not dishwasher safe). While we do wish this Dutch oven was available in a larger size, it's a pretty solid choice at a reasonable price.
Price at time of publish: $200
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 580 degrees | Available Sizes: 5.5 quarts
“The smaller size of the Made-In make it a little more difficult to do things in a timely manner, however it performed well on the rice and chicken without much effort.”
Best Ceramic: Emile Henry 6-Quart Round Dutch Oven
Lighter than cast iron
Microwave safe, freezer and oven safe
Oven safe to 700 degrees
Doesn't heat as evenly as cast iron
Not induction compatible
Prone to breakage
If you're searching for a Dutch oven that isn't so heavy, you may want to opt for a ceramic version. Made of high-fired Burgundian clay, this model by Emile Henry can handle temperatures up to 930 degrees and can go nearly anywhere a cast iron Dutch oven can go. Use it on the stovetop, on a grill, or in the oven—it can even be used in the microwave (it doesn't work with induction, though). The glaze—not enamel—is scratch-resistant and you'll find drip points inside the lid to keep your food from drying out.
When choosing a ceramic Dutch oven, it's important to note that it will inevitably perform very differently from cast iron versions, simply due to its materials. Our Lab tested the 7.5-quart Emile Henry model and found that it does not heat as evenly as cast iron, resulting in hotter outer edges and a slightly cooler surface towards the center. That being said, we were still able to create browned chicken thighs and evenly cooked rice with little trouble. When testing durability, our Lab noted it is much more susceptible to breakage—handle it with care, since one drop or heavy impact can potentially crack it and render it useless.
This Dutch oven can be easily cleaned by hand or sent through the dishwasher. Emile Henry backs this with a 10-year warranty should it have any production or quality defects.
Price at time of publish: $250 for 6 quarts
Material: Ceramic | Oven Max: 700+ degrees | Available Sizes: 4, 6, 7.5 quarts
Best for Bread: Marquette Castings 6-Quart Dutch Oven
Heat safe to over 500 degrees
Excellent price point
Carrier is a separate purchase
This enameled cast-iron Dutch oven has features we like for baking bread—a metal knob that won’t be bothered by oven heat, a wide flat bottom for a good crust, and the ability to withstand heat over 500 degrees. With all that, it still has an affordable price tag that leaves some money to pay for fancy flours, add-ins, and tasty toppings.
But of course, a good Dutch oven can be used in a multitude of ways, so we tested this model in our Lab with non-bread tasks. It has a generously sized cooking surface where we were able to sear chicken without sticking. We did find that browning results weren't as even as with other models we tested, but it did cook rice perfectly with no sticking or scorching. The white interior makes it easier to monitor the browning process and see the fond (aka the caramelized brown bits) develop in the bottom of the pot. During our durability tests, we noticed a little bit of chipping of the external paint after impact, but that won't affect its usability.
Marquette Castings designed this with extra-large loop handles for an easy grip, even when wearing your favorite oven mitts. Available separately is a carrying bag that makes it easy to bring a hot pot—even directly from the oven—to a potluck or party.
Price at time of publish: $100 for 6 quarts
Material: Enameled cast iron | Oven Max: 500 degrees | Available Sizes: 4 and 6 quarts
“Six quarts gives you a little more versatility in what you can do with it. Breads would be easy to accomplish in this Dutch oven as well as something like a medium roast, short ribs, and soups and stews.”
Our top choice is the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven because everyday cooks can still enjoy a highly functional, versatile pot; plus, it's easy to clean. For those who want a budget-friendly option, the Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron 6.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven is an excellent option that won't break the bank.
Other Options We Tested
- Great Jones The Dutchess: A previous version of this roundup included the oval-shaped model called The Dutchess by Great Jones. Our tester noted some hot spots when using this Dutch oven on the stove due to its long shape, despite the fact that cast iron should distribute heat fairly evenly. Another concern was that the stylish copper loop handle proved difficult to grab when wearing oven mitts, creating a slightly precarious situation when checking on a braise. Though it's reasonably priced and certainly very attractive, ultimately, we found that there are better options available.
- Amazon Basics 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven: This popular budget option performed well, but our Lab tests made us question its durability in the long run. We noticed some minor cosmetic scratches after cooking with metal utensils, so we'd caution buyers to use a wooden spoon whenever possible.
- Denby Natural Canvas Cast Iron: This seemed like a great, budget-friendly model for beginners, but our Lab tests found a few pain points. It's got a pretty small cooking surface, so you'd have to batch cook large amounts of proteins. We also noticed some durability issues with the enamel—while it doesn't affect the oven's functionality, we feel there are better options out there at a similar price point.shallow
How We Tested
Our editors spent weeks researching cast iron pans, developing a standardized methodology against which to test them, and putting them through their paces at The Lab. We then collected the data—as well as insights from our home testers—and used it to determine ratings and placement on this list.
We tested them by searing chicken and sauteeing vegetables on the stovetop, and slow cooking rice in a simmering broth in the oven. Each model was judged by heating ability (conductivity, distribution, and retention) and nonstick capability. For durability testing, we struck the lid and interior of the dutch oven 25 times with a metal spoon to see if there was any damage to the finish.
What to Look For When Buying a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are most often made of cast iron, whether enameled or not. But you can also find these pots in ceramic, stainless steel, and aluminum varieties. As we'll discuss later, the material impacts everything from heating capacity and reactivity to durability, weight, and maintenance.
Dutch ovens can be found in sizes as small as 1/4-quart (perfect for individual servings of French onion soup or cobbler) and as large as 13-quart, great for large batches of chili or braising pork belly for a crowd. For most households, a 5- to 7-quart is the most popular: it’s large enough to hold a whole chicken or bake a 2-pound loaf of bread, and depending on what you're cooking, it can easily feed a family of four with leftovers. When selecting the size for your oven, it’s better to have one that’s too big rather than too small. It’s much easier to cook a small amount in a big pot than to have a smaller pot filled to the brim. Also, consider that a Dutch oven can be quite bulky; you will want to make sure you have adequate storage space for whatever size you choose.
The two most common shapes for Dutch ovens are round and oval. Round is the most popular shape: it sits well on a single burner for even heating, is often deeper, and the shape also lends itself well to smooth stirring. An oval-shaped oven is usually shallower and wider than round versions; it's ideal for cooking longer cuts of meat in the oven. On the stovetop, an oval shape doesn’t distribute heat as evenly as round ovens, but you’ll barely notice a difference if you preheat it in the oven before use.
A Dutch oven’s lid is very important: Well-fitting lids will help keep meats from drying out and keep stews and sauces from evaporating too quickly. Most ovens will come with a lid in the same material as the rest of the vessel, but you may find a Dutch oven with a tempered glass lid that allows you to visually monitor your food. The shape of the lid is a matter of preference; domed lids with smooth interiors will send moisture back down the sides of the oven, while flatter lids with bumps or ridges on the inside offer a self-basting feature by redirecting any condensation directly down into the pot.
While Dutch ovens are typically oven-proof, the lid’s handle, or knob, may have a heat threshold below 400 degrees (like Le Creuset’s classic black polymer knob). These non-metal knobs that are heated beyond their limit will crack and make a hot lid difficult to remove. You can buy an oven-proof replacement knob in stainless steel and switch them out yourself, or simply select a model that already has a metal knob or handle that can withstand higher temperatures.
Since the entire Dutch oven will heat up when it is in use, it’s important that the handles are easy to hold without the risk of getting burned. Loop handles on the sides of the vessel should be wide enough to hold even while wearing potholders, and secure enough that they won’t crack or bend when carrying a heavy pot filled with soup or braised meat. Camping-style ovens will often use a wire bail handle, useful for hanging over an open fire or lifting to turn and adjust atop hot coals. Ensure that the wire handle is made of galvanized tempered steel and is sturdy enough to carry the weight of the pot and its contents without breaking.
Traditional uncoated cast iron ovens are built to withstand use on any cooktop, as well as an open flame. Bare cast iron can typically handle over 500 degrees; high-fired ceramic is rated to about 500 degrees; enameled cast iron can be heated to around 450 degrees before it could start to damage the enamel coating. Stainless steel and cast aluminum should be used at medium and lower temperatures. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide for your Dutch oven’s specific maximum heat limit.
For in-home use, Dutch ovens don’t require many accessories. However, if you are using your pot straight from the stove or oven to the table, you’ll want to invest in a good trivet that matches the shape of your oven and keeps it slightly raised off the table. A trivet will protect your tabletop from damage; because cast iron retains heat exceptionally well, the pot can radiate heat long after it’s removed from the stove. You’ll also want to invest in thick potholders to prevent burns. For camping-style Dutch ovens, you may want a lid lifter, which will allow you to rotate, move, or pull the lid off if it’s loaded with hot coals.
Uncoated cast iron will give you the most value for your dollar; a generously sized model will likely still fall under the $100 mark. High-end, French-made enameled cast iron ovens can be quite pricey, averaging around $250 to $350 for a 6-quart model. If you are on a budget, you can get a quality 6-quart enameled Dutch oven for around $50 that will still perform beautifully when it comes to baking, braising, and creating soups and stews. Other materials will range in cost depending on where they are made and how heavy they are: imported cast aluminum and stainless steel will typically cost less than European-made versions.
Many major manufacturers offer some warranty against defects in material and workmanship. Le Creuset and Lodge offer a limited lifetime warranty, with other brands like Emile Henry and Staub giving anywhere from a 10- to 30-year warranty. These guarantees may exclude damage arising from improper use, thermal shocks, drops, or normal wear and tear, and can also be void if used in a commercial kitchen. Before you buy, be sure to check on the manufacturer’s terms and warranty coverage to make sure it’s what you need.
Types of Dutch Ovens
This is the material of choice for the top-rated Dutch oven brands, due to its ability to retain and distribute heat. Not only is cast iron highly durable, but it is also suitable for use on almost any cooktop (including induction), and directly over open fires such as atop a barbecue grill or over a campfire. Each time you use a cast iron pot, you continue to season it, improving its surface. However, it is not ideal for acidic dishes, since acids can react badly with the pan’s material and can sometimes cause “off” flavors. Bare cast iron pots require some maintenance: they need to be hand-washed without detergents (which can remove the seasoning) and re-oiled before storing. With proper care, these pots can last virtually forever.
Enameled Cast Iron
This is a very popular material for Dutch ovens, bringing an element of rustic European design to your kitchen. These ovens are made of cast iron that has a glass-like enamel coating bonded to the metal, which helps to prevent rusting and also eliminates the need for seasoning its surface. This material is ideal for all types of food because it is non-reactive, unlike bare cast iron. This type of cookware is also suitable for a variety of cooktops, including induction. Lighter enameled interiors are more prone to visible stains, but these can be removed with a non-abrasive cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend, as well as gentle scrubbing.
This type of cookware tends to be more affordable than enameled cast iron but boasts a similarly pleasing aesthetic for your kitchen. Made of high-fired clay, these pieces are also PFOA- and PTFE-free, non-reactive, and resistant to thermal shock. However, they are more prone to chipping and breakage than cast iron ovens. Look for a ceramic Dutch oven that is suitable for use on the stove (with an induction disc if you need it), because not all ceramic cookware is designed to withstand direct heat. The gentle heating properties of ceramic make it ideal for slow cooking and enhancing flavor. Most ceramic Dutch ovens are oven-safe up to about 500 degrees and simple to clean by handwashing or placing into the dishwasher.
While traditional Dutch ovens are made of cast iron, there are also Dutch oven-shaped vessels made of stainless steel, a durable, non-reactive material that is commonly used for cookware. Well-constructed stainless steel Dutch ovens stand up well to daily use and are easy to maintain. However, they will not hold heat as well as their cast iron counterparts. Regardless, these pots are ideal for someone who doesn’t want to deal with lifting heavy cookware in and out of storage or from the stove to the oven.
This is another excellent option for a Dutch oven that is lighter than cast iron. These ovens are made by casting molten aluminum in a mold, creating a hard and durable oven that is non-reactive and less susceptible to warping or damage. Cast aluminum also can be used on electric and gas stovetops and in the oven, has better heat conductivity than stainless steel, and is naturally nonstick. This material is generally very low-maintenance because it can be soaked and washed in the dishwasher and doesn’t need to be seasoned to maintain its surface.
Likely the most iconic Dutch oven brand, Le Creuset was founded in 1925 in northern France by two Belgian industrialists who combined their casting and enameling skills to create the signature Le Creuset cocotte. The brand currently manufactures enameled cast iron braisers, grill pans, and skillets in a variety of colors, and has also expanded its product offerings with stainless steel cookware and stoneware casseroles. Le Creuset cocottes are still made in France today and are often considered heritage pieces that can be handed down through generations because of their superior durability.
This brand is a premium enameled cast iron cookware manufacturer founded in Alsace, France. Its signature French-made cocotte is made of cast iron and double-glazed with durable enamel, making it rust-proof and easy to clean. Staub’s design includes a flat lid featuring nubs on the interior that allow condensation to form and drip down to baste whatever is cooking in the pot. Staub also produces a variety of ceramic bowls, baking dishes, and oven-only cocottes in addition to an extensive line of enameled and non-enameled cast iron pieces.
As the oldest and longest-running cast iron manufacturer in the U.S., Lodge has built a solid reputation for its uncoated cast iron skillets but it also manufactures griddles, grill pans, woks, and more. Its uncoated Dutch ovens are perfect for stovetop or camping use and are very affordable and long-lasting. Like other companies, Lodge has expanded its product lines and now also sells enameled cast iron cookware. While the uncoated cast iron pans are manufactured in the U.S., its other products may be manufactured elsewhere.
Founded in Colombia, IMUSA is the leading supplier of Latin cookware across South, Central, and most recently North America, primarily to prepare Hispanic foods. The company’s biggest seller is the caldero ("cauldron" in English), a cast-aluminum Dutch oven that serves as an all-purpose pot for making rice, soups, and stews, and braising meats. Its line of kitchen goods also includes stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, and carbon steel cookware, as well as an array of kitchen gadgets and small appliances at a very affordable price point.
This French-based company has been making fine ceramic ovenware and bakeware since 1850. Its Dutch ovens are made from Burgundian clay, which gradually and evenly distributes heat to the center of the cooking vessel. The Flame ceramic pieces (which include Dutch ovens, tagines, bread pots, fondue pots, and more) are glazed and high-fired, do not contain lead or cadmium, and can go from the freezer to the microwave or oven without risk of thermal shock. The Dutch oven can also be used on all stovetops—including induction ranges, thanks to an induction disc—as well as directly on the barbecue grill.
Dutch ovens are usually constructed of thick metal and hold up well to daily use, but they are not completely impervious to damage. Taking proper care of your cocotte will help preserve the longevity of this essential piece of cookware.
If your oven is made of bare cast iron, you will need to maintain its seasoning in order to protect it from rust and corrosion and to keep its nonstick properties. Be sure to scrub any food particles away without any additional cleaning agents, as soaps and detergents will remove any existing seasoning. Once the surface is smooth and free of any debris, wipe it clean, and lightly oil the inside of the vessel. You will want to heat the Dutch oven on high (about 400 to 500 degrees) to reseason the pan, let it cool, and then put it away for future use.
Enameled cast iron pieces do not need the same care; the enamel coating will serve as its seasoning, giving it a rust-resistant, nonstick finish. Lighter-colored enamel may show some staining after simmering dark sauces, but it can usually be removed with a light scrub with a non-abrasive scouring pad. For stubborn stains, either use a 1:2 paste of vinegar and baking soda or Bar Keepers Friend. Enameled cast iron pieces can also be put into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
The care for cast aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic cookware is similar. For cast aluminum and stainless steel, you will want to let the vessel cool completely before coming into contact with cool water to avoid thermal shock. All three of these can be scrubbed with a nylon scouring pad and dish soap, or put into the dishwasher for cleaning (unless the manufacturer says otherwise).
How do you use a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are prized for their versatility, so your options are pretty wide. You can use most Dutch ovens right on the stove, in the oven, and (depending on their finish) over open fires and atop barbecue grills.
What can you make in a Dutch oven?
Since Dutch ovens have the ability to maintain even heat for a long amount of time, they're ideal for cooking long-simmering stews, soups, braised meats, and even acting as a baking chamber for bread. If you're just getting started, try your hand at this impressive yet easy recipe for beef bourguignon or a classic pot roast. If you've never baked bread in your Dutch oven before, try this no-knead loaf (just be sure your vessel's heat threshold is high enough).
What size Dutch oven is best for making bread?
Dutch ovens between 5 and 7.5 quarts should be enough for a standard single loaf recipe.
Can you boil water in a Dutch oven?
Yes. Cast iron does heat up slowly, so it may not come to a boil as quickly as it would in an aluminum or stainless steel pan, but it can be done.
Can you deep fry in a Dutch oven?
Yes. Thanks to cast iron's ability to hold a constant temperature, plus the depth of the Dutch oven silhouette, it's an excellent vessel for deep frying.
Why use a Dutch oven over other cookware?
One word: versatility. It lends itself well to a variety of cooking styles and can go from stovetop to oven with ease. Its durable construction will help it stand up to frequent use, and most Dutch ovens are attractive enough to act as a serving dish, too, adding a touch of rustic elegance to the table.
Can you put a Dutch oven in the dishwasher?
It depends. Most enameled cast iron-type ovens can go into the dishwasher, but because they tend to take up a lot of space, you might find it easier to hand wash them instead. Non-enameled (aka "raw" or "bare") cast iron should not be put into the dishwasher, as the water and detergent will strip away its seasoning. For more details on caring for raw cast iron, check out this guide.
Can you put a cold Dutch oven in the oven?
Rapid changes in heat can potentially damage cast iron, causing it to crack. If your Dutch oven is cold (as in, it was in the refrigerator), you will want to let it come to room temperature or gently heat it up on the stove before putting it in a hot oven. You can put a cold/room temperature Dutch oven into a cold oven and let them preheat at the same time.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
From baking pans, iron skillets, and griddles, to the Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven she tested for this roundup, 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 updated 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.
5 Best Dutch Ovens 2021 Reviewed. Food Network. https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/packages/shopping/product-reviews/best-dutch-oven
Best Dutch ovens in 2022. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/reviews/best-dutch-oven