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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.
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
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.
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. 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
Best High-End: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 5-1/2-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 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 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 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
Best Non-Enameled: Lodge 5 Quart Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven
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.
Best Budget: Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron 6.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven
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 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 according to some reviewers, they're pleased with its design and how evenly it distributes heat.
Best Design: Anolon Vesta Cookware Cast Iron Dutch Oven
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 degrees 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, but this model is available in both a 5-quart and 7-quart option.
"Overall, I found it worthy of its namesake: Vesta, the Greek goddess of the hearth." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Shallow: Staub Cast Iron 6-Quart Cochon Shallow Wide Round Cocotte
Large bottom surface
Interior nub allows for self-basting
Pot can handle 900 F
Dark interior makes it harder to see fond development on bottom of pot
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 degrees, while the pot can handle up to 900 degrees. This cookware is made in France and is available in several different colors.
Best for Camping: Camp Chef 5-Quart Dutch Oven
Feet helps elevate it over hot coals
Lid doubles as a griddle
Might be awkward to use in an oven
Heading for the great outdoors? 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 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.
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, but it is not recommended for an electric or induction cooktop.
Best Square: Camp Chef Pre-Seasoned Square Cast Iron Dutch Oven
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.
Best Small Capacity: BergHOFF International Cast Iron Round Soup Pot with Lid
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 degrees and can be used on any cooktop, including induction. This should be hand washed.
Best Newcomer: Great Jones The Dutchess
Moderate price point
Handles are difficult to hold
Oval shape isn't ideal for stovetop use
Difficult to store
The Dutchess oven, launched in 2019 by Great Jones, is new to the cookware scene, but it offers a generous 6.75-quart capacity at a more affordable price than its European competitors. Made from sturdy cast iron with a slick grey enamel coating, this has wonderful heat retention and durability for the long haul. Its oval shape, however, is more suited to the oven than the stovetop because it's too large for a single burner to heat it evenly (yet too small to fit across two burners). It is ideal for braising longer cuts of meat—think brisket—or as a baking chamber for larger oval-shaped loaves of bread.
This beautiful cast iron oven is available in several matte finishes—perfect if you're into the sleek, minimal aesthetic. Its large size makes it a bit awkward to store, but if you have the room for it, this oven delivers excellent quality at a fantastic price point.
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.
The Ultimate Dutch Oven Buying Guide
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 ¼-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.
Lids: 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.
Knobs: 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.
Handles: 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).
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.