Dutch ovens are known for being timeless, durable and versatile as traditional cookware. In fact, many families treasure the classic seasoned cast iron Dutch oven as a family heirloom which have been used in making the best roasts, stews, casseroles, and even baked bread.
Read on and discover how you can improve your cooking with the best Dutch ovens in the market today.
Dutch Ovens: Their Origin
Dutch ovens have been part of culinary history in various places in the world. It is known as a camp oven in Australia, a cocotte in France, a casserole dish in Britain; and a potjie in South Africa.
Where did the Dutch oven begin? Way back in the 1600s, the Dutch system of producing cast iron cookware was more advanced than the English system. In 1704, Abraham Darby went to the Netherlands to observe how the Dutch produce their cookware which was later became known as “Dutch ovens.” When he returned to England, he adopted the process and shipped his “ovens” all over Britain as well as to America.
John Ragsdale, an author, suggests that the name “Dutch oven” may have been derived from the original Dutch process for casting metal pots. Other historians surmise that such term may have come from the Dutch traders who traveled from one town to another and sold in the Pennsylvania area who used similar cast iron pots or kettles.
How did the Dutch ovens, then, look like? They were originally designed with feet to sit above the ashes in a wood or coal burning place. They had sloping sides and were usually not as tall as stock pots. Their tight-fitting lids helped hold moisture in. Their thick walls worked to protect the contents. Such design allowed them to be placed in a fire and to have coals placed on top for the actual cooking process.
Dutch Ovens Today
Modern Dutch ovens are cylindrical, thick-walled cooking pots usually made of seasoned cast iron, with tight-fitting lids. It is interesting to know that many cast iron pieces become family heirlooms and get passed down from generation to generation. Dutch ovens made of enameled cast iron or anodized aluminum are now popular options as well.
Types of Dutch Ovens
To help you choose the particular Dutch oven best suited to your needs, it would be good to know their unique qualities of the three types of Dutch ovens, namely plain cast iron, enameled cast iron and anodized aluminum. The chart below presents the general features of these Dutch ovens.
Characteristics of Dutch Oven Types
Plain Cast Iron
Enameled Cast Iron
Nearly non-stick when well-seasoned
Repeated cooking will enhance its non-stick quality
Food may stick
Heats slowly and evenly
Does not endure high temperature
Heats faster but may have hot spots; loses heat faster
Type of cooking
Best for outdoor cooking; can cook almost anything
Best for kitchen cooking
Not recommended to be used on the grill or over an open flame.
Perfect for overland trail and destination camping
Less heavy than plain cast iron
One-third the weight of plain cast iron
Can rust so it must be seasoned
Should not be washed with soap or in a dishwasher; otherwise, the seasoning can be stripped
More difficult to clean and maintain
Cannot withstand the use of metal cooking utensils
Easy to clean and maintain
Easiest to clean and Can be washed with soap and water
Easy to clean and maintain
Tips on Choosing Dutch Ovens
After getting familiar with the overall features of the three materials used in manufacturing Dutch ovens, here are some other factors to consider to help you gain more clarity before buying the Dutch oven that best suits you.
What kind of dishes will you cook with your Dutch oven? Where will you do much of your cooking? For indoor use, you may opt for a smooth bottomed Dutch oven. For outdoor use, you may get one with short metal legs to place it over charcoal or gas grill.
Simon Hoffer, the author of Cooking Makes Delightful with Dutch Ovens, suggests choosing a Dutch oven with thick walls and bottom. It should feel heavy when you hold it. This ensures that it will hold heat and distribute it evenly. Nowadays, Dutch ovens are made of plain cast iron, enameled cast iron and anodized aluminum.
How many people are in serving in your home? Do you need different sizes for different occasions? It is important to know which size is the best for you.
Here is a quick guide on choosing the right size for you.
Dutch Oven Size Chart
Capacity in Quarts/Gallon
Number of Persons Served
15 or more
Safety and Convenience
Dutch ovens made of cast iron are really heavy, even without hot food. So if you have a small body build or have weak wrists, you may need to get one which is lightweight.
To help ensure that you can comfortably carry it, choose a Dutch oven with strong, sturdy and heat-resistant knobs and handles which are easy to grasp while wearing heavy oven mitts.
7 Best Dutch Ovens
Whether you’re planning to buy a Dutch oven for the first time, or you’re thinking of getting a newer model, here are 7 of the most recommended Dutch ovens that would be of great service to you and your kitchen.
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Round French (Dutch) Oven
Manufactured by a French premium cookware maker, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven is always synonymous with excellent quality and customer satisfaction. This lightweight 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven is pre-seasoned, making it ready for immediate use. It has sturdy side handles on its base and lid for convenient and safe cooking. It also comes in 7 colors.
Saute, sear, fry, bake and stir fry to your heart’s content. Since it is made of cast-iron, it locks in moisture for tender, succulent dishes. Its cover easily converts to a skillet. It is versatile since you can use it on all cooking surfaces.
It is designed to give you long years of service with its interior enamel that prevents stains as well as its exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking. It is the exactly like the traditional Dutch oven.
Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven
Bring to your kitchen the legacy of an authentic Dutch oven with the Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven. It continues to draw admiration from cooks, housewives, and anyone who have experienced cooking with it. Since it is pre-seasoned, it offers a natural, easy-release finish that allows you to limit the oil needed in your cooking.
It is perfect for your oven-to-table presentation of your favorite family dishes. Its domed lid can be used as a skillet for eggs, bacon, and more.
To prolong its lifespan, it is recommended to constantly re-season it as it wears off. Showing some tender, loving care for this will give you much in return.
Lodge EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Discover functionality and style from Lodge EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart. It is made of cast iron with the chip-resistant porcelain-enamel finish. It works on a wider variety of stovetops, including gas, electric, ceramic, and induction. It is designed with bigger handles to provide you with a sure grip. Whatever you cook or bake turns out great because it distributes and retains heat consistently.
For added convenience, it has a slightly curved shape to keep food from getting trapped in the corners of the pot. Keep it vibrant through hand-washing.
Lodge L8DOL3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven
The Lodge L8DOL3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Dual Handles, Pre-Seasoned, 5-Quart is a favorite among cooks of all ages. Its looks and functionality make it enduring. Its sturdy and rugged design with its near non-stick interior, make it a must-have cookware.
Its built-in handles, self-basting domed lid, and flat-bottom design make it convenient for daily cooking, especially slow-cooking food. You would be happy to know that is so easy to clean and care for. Just re-season it after cleaning and store in a cool and dry dust-free place.
Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Dutch Oven
Discover the benefit of hard-anodized aluminum cookware. Well, what does “hard-anodized” mean? It is defined as “a way of hardening a soft aluminum surface electrochemically so it becomes twice as hard as stainless steel.” This oxidized layer is described as non-stick, scratch resistant, and non-reactive to food.
The Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 5-Quart Covered Dutch Oven is made with heavy-gauge, non-stick coating – two layers provide durability and the third layer offers easy release performance.
It goes from stovetop to oven with ease while cooking roasts, chili, soups, and more. It has high sides and a narrow opening which minimizes evaporation during stock and soup-making. It also has a non-stick surface so you can cook healthier meals using less oil or fat.
Camp Chef Deluxe 9 1/3-Quart Dutch Oven
Here’s a great find for outdoor cooking – the Champ Chef Deluxe 9 1/3-Quart Dutch Oven. Its seasoned cast iron makes it ready for cooking. Its lid doubles as a skillet. To make your cooking fun, it has a built-in thermometer notch and it comes with a lift tool. Cool, isn’t it?
Since its loop handle on the lid is quite small for mitted lifting, using the supplied lid lifter for easier handling is recommended.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart Round Covered Casserole
With its many good features, it is no wonder that the Cuisinart CI670-30CR Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart Round Covered Casserole makes it to our list of the best Dutch ovens. To begin with, its superb cast iron construction, together with its porcelain enamel make this cookware versatile and convenient to use.
Its wide cast iron handles and oven-safe knob provide comfort and convenience while cooking. It has a bigger capacity for standard-sized recipes. Its porcelain-enameled interior does not affect flavors or absorb odors.
Since the rim of the pot is not enameled, it may rust if not properly cared for. Likewise, it may get a dull finish due to repeated machine washing. It is recommended to give it extra care as needed.
Comparison of Our Top 7 Dutch Ovens
Heat / Moisture Retention
45% larger handles that provide a sure grip, even with oven mitts
A larger composite knob that withstands temperatures up to 500ºF
Lightweight at 11 lbs.
Works for both slow cooking and searing
Distributes hear very well
Locks in moisture for tender, succulent dishes
Sand-colored interior enamel has a smooth finish that promotes caramelization, prevents sticking and resists stains
Colorful, long-lasting exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking
Comes in 7 colors
Sturdy, integrated side handles on base and lid
Can be used on all cooking surfaces, grills, and campfires
Pre-seasoned; ready to use
The domed lid can be used as a skillet for eggs, bacon, and more
Bigger handles which make it easier to take in and out of the oven.
Slightly curved shape keeps food from getting trapped in the corners of the pot
10-3/4 inches in diameter by 4-1/2 inches deep
Great for use on gas, electric, ceramic and
induction cook- top stoves and oven
Oven-safe to 500F
Distributes and retains heat consistently
Cover with handle traps in heat, moisture, and nutrients
Its porcelain surface eliminates the need for seasoning
Limited life warranty
Rugged cast-iron construction
Flat-bottom; sits perfectly both on the stovetop and in the oven;
Loop handles aid in carrying
Ideal for slow-cooking food
Keeps heat evenly
Self-basting domed lid preserves moisture
Pre-seasoned with vegetable oil formula and ready for immediate use
Hard-anodized, heavy-gauge aluminum
Heavy-gauge sloped bottom makes stirring easier
Designed to slow-simmer soups, stews, chili and pasta sauces without sticking or scorching
High sides and narrow opening minimize evaporation during the slow process of stock- and soup-making
The nonstick surface also allows you to use less oil or butter for healthy, low-fat cooking
The lid is made of see-through
tempered glass allows you to that check food while cooking
Full lifetime warranty
True Seasoned Finish cast iron
Handle on lid
Metal bail handle on kettle
Lid doubles as a skillet
Lid can be used over hot coals
Great for outdoor cooking
Built-in thermometer notch
Includes lift tool
Oven safe knob for a durable grip
Bigger in capacity than what most people will need for standard-
Oven and broiler safe only to 350 degrees
Provides superior heat retention and even heat distribution
The porcelain enameled interior does not impact flavors or absorb odors
It is hoped that this article has covered the most important features on the best Dutch ovens and it has prepared you to choose the one that meets your needs. Our site’s choice goes to the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron French (Dutch) Oven. It brings together the classic craftsmanship of cast iron and the modern convenience of enamel cookware. Its 51/2 quart capacity is large enough for family and small group gatherings, whether at home or outdoor settings. It is sturdy, lightweight, easy to care for and maintain. So, find the right one for you and be an amazing cook with your new Dutch oven for your friends and loved ones.