- Dutch ovens are built to last, and they can be used to cook a variety of foods, including pot roasts, soups, stews, and breads.
- Of all the Dutch ovens available, Le Creuset's Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Dutch Oven is the best with its solid construction, varied color options, and sturdy handles that are easy to grip.
- See also: The best slow cookers
Crock Pots and pressure cookers earn all the praise these days, but for centuries, people have relied on Dutch ovens (sometimes called French ovens) as the go-to, one-pot cooking device. These pots are indispensable when simmering a soup or stew, boiling pasta or simmering sauce, making risotto, steaming big batches of vegetables, searing and slow cooking roasts, crafting artisanal breads, and so much more. A Dutch oven might just be the most versatile pot in your kitchen.
Some Dutch ovens may be made from ceramic or aluminum, but most are made of cast iron (often enameled) and can hold between 2 and 8 quarts. They almost always have a lid, and can be used on both the stovetop and in an oven. In our search for the best Dutch ovens, we closely examined dozens of ratings and reviews from experts and home chefs alike. We chose the Dutch ovens in our guide based on their ease of use, durability, and performance.
For more information on how to care for your Dutch oven and how to bake no-knead bread in your Dutch oven, jump to the bottom of this guide.
Here are the best Dutch ovens
- Best overall: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron 5-1/2-Quart Dutch Oven
- Best for camping: Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven
- Best on a budget: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Prices and links are accurate as of 12/4/20. We added a new section to this guide on how to bake no-knead bread in your Dutch oven.
The best overall
If you are looking for a dependable Dutch oven that can handle any recipe for years to come, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Dutch Oven oven is a classic choice that is well-sized, durable, and comes in a variety of colors.
Pros: Handles high temperatures, versatile, lots of color options, durable
Cons: Expensive, relatively heavy
As the name suggests, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven is made of heavy duty cast iron and coated in slick enamel. Both exterior and interior enamel are designed to resist chipping, dulling, and staining (though you can always expect to encounter a bit of each over time with any well-loved Dutch oven). The pot features oversized handles that are easy to grip, even with oven mitts on. The overall size of the 5.5-quart Dutch oven is 10.2 inches in diameter and 4.5 inches deep.
Le Creuset states that the knob of the lid can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but the rest of the pot is only oven safe to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. However, many people report putting their Le Creuset in the oven at much higher temperatures with no ill effects.
This model is available in a wide spectrum of colors, from neutrals to gem tones (and everything in between). Best of all, each Le Creuset Dutch oven comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
The best for camping
The Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven is rugged, durable, and well-sized, so you don't have to sacrifice delicious cuisine in order to rough it in nature.
Pros: Can place coals on top for even heating over a campfire, the lid doubles as a griddle
Cons: Impractical for oven and stovetop uses, too heavy for backpacking
The Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven features a cast iron body and lid seasoned with soy-based vegetable oil for a nonstick finish. The 8-quart pot weighs 20 pounds and is 12 inches in diameter and 5.5 inches deep, which allows plenty of room for a large meal.
The lid inverts for use as a griddle and is flanged to hold hot coals. There are three legs on the base of the Dutch oven for added stability when placing it in a campfire, though this makes it not ideal for use on the stovetop.
It has a smart design, and the loop handle makes it easy to hang the pot up when you're done. Lodge says that the cast iron will offer a lifetime of durability, and many people say they've had their Lodge cast iron gear for decades. Cast iron is so durable that you can usually breathe new life into an even badly rusted pan with a good clean and reseasoning.
It's easy to clean (as long as you clean the pot immediately after using it) and even comes with suggested recipes.
The best on a budget
The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is ideal for home chefs on a tight budget who want a Dutch oven with a strong track record.
Pros: Inexpensive, terrific for searing meats, large handles
Cons: Several complaints about the pot arriving chipped
The French have the high-end Le Creuset, and Americans have the budget-friendly Lodge Dutch oven. The Lodge family has been making cast iron pots and pans since 1896, making it the oldest family-owned cookware foundry in the country. Despite this rich history, the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is actually made in China along with all of Lodge's enameled cast iron products (the seasoned cast iron Dutch ovens and pans are still manufactured in the US, though).
The Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven comes in six different sizes, ranging from 1.5 quarts to 7.5 quarts. You can choose from 10 colors, including red, Caribbean blue, and purple. Each is designed to withstand oven temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lodge states that the Dutch oven is dishwasher safe, but the company recommends hand washing with warm soapy water after the cookware has cooled. Lodge offers a lifetime limited warranty on this Dutch oven.
Other Dutch ovens we've tested and considered
Staub Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($280): We also love Staub's Dutch oven, which is another made-in-France creation. It's a little different from our other picks in that the interior is a matte black enamel and the inside of the lid has small spikes that allow for built-in basting. In our experience, these unique features result in better browning and flavors. However, the tradeoff is that it's more difficult to visually monitor browning progress and the textured lid is harder to clean.
Staub often goes head to head with Le Creuset. Considering their Dutch ovens cost about the same and both come in many attractive colors, your final decision will depend on personal preference. Staub may require a little more effort when it comes to the cooking and cleaning processes, but you'll be rewarded with especially moist and juicy results. —Connie Chen, senior reporter
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Dutch Oven ($82.61): This Dutch oven is made of heat-retaining and evenly distributing cast iron and covered with porcelain enamel on both the interior and exterior. It's available in a variety of styles and colors, including a blue 7-quart, a black oval-shaped 5.5-quart, and 5 and 3-quart options in red. Unfortunately, at 16 pounds, the standard 5.5-quart size is among the most heavy Dutch ovens we've tried, and it's not easy to lug around. The exterior also shows wear faster than other models.
How to clean a Dutch oven
Although many manufacturers say their Dutch ovens are dishwasher safe, we suggest that you always hand wash high-quality cookware. This reduces the likelihood of chipping — a common problem with enameled cast iron Dutch ovens — and extends the lifespan of your pot.
You should also avoid using metal utensils, scouring pads, or other abrasive elements on your Dutch oven since they may also cause damage (and potentially void the warranty). Instead, go with nylon pads or scrapers. Baking soda is also helpful for removing baked-on food and stains.
Once you are done washing, dry your Dutch oven thoroughly. And, since it weighs a lot, you may want to let it live on your stove rather than constantly having to work on your lifting form.
How to bake no-knead bread in a Dutch oven
While a Dutch oven is a great multipurpose pot for soups, stews, pastas, and more, it's also an excellent vessel for baking bread. A Dutch oven can go right in the oven, and with a lid on top, creates a steamy environment that helps to create a well-risen loaf that's crusty on the outside and springy on the inside — and one that required little or no kneading.
The process of kneading helps develop strong gluten bonds that allow bread dough keep a specific shape for baking, but that's not as necessary when baking bread in a Dutch oven (or any other pot or pan, for that matter) because the confines of the pot determine the final shape of the bread. Here are some tips if you want to try baking bread in your Dutch oven.
Choose the right recipe: There are plenty of recipes out there for no-knead bread in a Dutch oven. We recommend starting with a basic no-knead white bread and choosing a recipe from a vetted source for best results. The New York Times and Cook's Illustrated both have well-loved recipes for no-knead bread in a Dutch oven, though both recipes are behind a paywall. You can find several great free recipes online: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who developed the Cook's Illustrated recipe, wrote a similar version of no-knead bread for his Food Lab column for Serious Eats that you can access for free. King Arthur also specializes in free baking recipes that are well-tested. We love its recipe for No-Knead Crusty White Bread, as well as its more adventurous recipe for No-Knead Chocolate Cherry Pecan Bread.
Use the right size and shape: Dutch ovens come in numerous shapes and sizes: from 2 quarts to 7 quarts in capacity, in both round and oval shapes. You'll want to make sure the recipe you choose is developed to work with the size and shape of your Dutch oven, lest you want your bread to come out flat, misshapen, or squashed. Most recipes are developed with a 5-quart round Dutch oven, but will also work well in a 7-quart round Dutch oven. Oval Dutch ovens may produce a squatter, oblong loaf, so you may want to specifically look for a recipe designed for this Dutch oven of this shape.
Remove the lid knob: If the knob of your pot lid is not metal (or even if it is), you may want to remove it before baking. While Dutch oven pots are built to withstand high heat, plastic knobs are not, and can melt in the oven. Most Dutch oven knobs simply screw on and off by turning the handle to the left.
Expect some discoloration of the pot: Baking may brown the interior of your Dutch oven as oils and bits leftover from food polymerize on the surface in the heat of the oven. The discoloration is harmless, but you can use a gentle bleach solution to remove the discoloration if it bothers you. (Though be sure to rinse out the bleach thoroughly before cooking in your Dutch oven again.)
Check out our other great cookware guides
- The best slow cookers
- The best Crock-Pot slow cookers
- The best cast iron skillets and pans
- The best electric pressure cookers
- The best electric kettles
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