A Convenient Primer on Dutch Ovens

The Dutch oven has come back to the kitchen forefront and is now the choice cookware for many professional chefs and amateur cooks. The market has a myriad of Dutch ovens being sold right now and it can be hard finding one that best fits your needs.

There are numerous factors to consider—you have to know the right size, the proper style that best fits your requirements, and you have to consider the materials. We will further discuss what you need to know in this article so you can find the best Dutch oven for your kitchen.

Some important factors to consider

Acquiring a good Dutch oven should be your priority because if you buy a high-quality one, it is an investment that is worth the splurge. Here are some pointers you have to remember.

Consider your budget

As mentioned, a Dutch oven purchase is considered an investment. You should settle on a budget first before going to the store or online and purchasing the first item you see. This will make buying a product easier and faster for you since you have narrowed your options through price.

To decide on your budget, it is suggested that you first do a bit of research on Dutch ovens to find out which kind and what features you want in the product.

Review different kinds

Most Dutch ovens are made from heavier metal materials in order to properly retain heat and provide excellent browning of food. When you are preparing dishes in the item, you have to be prepared to handle the weight you are going to tackle.

The most common kind of Dutch oven is the porcelain enameled, cast-iron type. There are also models that are made from solid cast iron, copper and stainless steel. They usually come with secure lids and straight sidewalls.

The cast-iron kind is considered the classic. It is extremely durable and it needs to be seasoned with oil if bought brand new; however, once it is used, it will retain its seasoning. The metal invokes a reaction to foods that contain acid; thus, you have to refrain from cooking such foods in this kind of Dutch oven.

The porcelain enamel-glazed cast-iron type is ideal for uniformly browning. They are also durable, but the cheaper ones are often prone to cracking and chipping. This type does not need to be seasoned since it is glazed with enamel, which makes cleanup easier on this one. It gets rid of hot spots on the bottom parts and cold up on its sides while at the same time, uniformly transmits heat all over.

The stainless steel kind, meanwhile, is another durable model and it is capable of properly retaining heat. It has a copper core which provides excellent heat control and is compressed between steel layers.

Mind the shape and size

A majority of Dutch ovens are spherical in shape. There are also oval and this particular shape is recommended for making dishes involving larger cuts of meat, chicken, pasta and a majority of desserts. The round ones are recommended for braised meats, roasts, sauces, soups and stews.

The round kind can fit a greater amount of food compared to oval ones, but when it comes to the distribution of heat, the two have the same level of performance. When it comes to shape, you have to determine what kinds of food you will most likely prepare, and then base your choice on this.

Dutch ovens come in a good number of sizes. Round ones usually range from 2-13 quarts while oval ones have sizes ranging from 3-9 quarts. If you plan on cooking for your family or friends, you can opt for a bigger, 5-9 quart model.

As for depth, those with a deeper depth are recommended for stews, meats and braises, while the shallower ones are made for bread, pastries and desserts.

Check out the lid and handle

A Dutch oven can get pretty hot, so it is crucial to inspect the product’s lid and handle; these parts should be fastened firmly to the Dutch oven. If you noticed that they are made from plastic or any kind of lightweight material, you’d be better off passing on these; it is better that you invest in the all-metal kind.

Plastic and other related materials can break in time due to being constantly exposed to higher temperatures. The best Dutch oven has an overall excellent construction, not only in the pot, but also its lid and handles.

Check essential features

Apart from those factors mentioned above, you should also weigh up the features of a particular Dutch oven. Look for a tight-fitting, heavy lid that will help seal in heat, moisture and nutrients within the pot.

Choose a model with taller sides to prevent sauces from spilling over when you are trying to brown larger amounts of ingredients. The handles and the knobs of the model should also have ergonomic handles for better handling and comfort. Dutch ovens are usually heavy, and you should be capable of grasping the oven comfortably and safely to prevent accidents in the kitchen.

Dutch oven maintenance and cleanup

A Dutch oven works hard and it tolerates significantly high temperatures. It can braise meat for a long period of time, can cook stews, casseroles and even function as a serving dish on the table, or be used as a container for your leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

They are a great investment, as attested to by many cooking enthusiasts. They are usually durable, however your Dutch oven still needs proper care and maintenance. Here are some tips on how to properly take care of it.

Make sure to clean the external parts first. The Dutch oven is used at higher temperatures and during certain cooking procedures, the ingredients can bubble over or drip onto its sides.

If you want to remove these unsightly stains after use, experts recommended making a paste of water and baking soda. After mixing the two items together, gently scrub the pot with a non-abrasive scouring pad. Do not use steel wool on a Dutch oven because it can damage its surface.

Take good care and maintain the internal parts of the item. The cooking surface is virtually non-stick, however if you cooked oatmeal in it and it won’t come off, you have to submerge the Dutch oven in a solution of hot water and baking soda, or a small amount of soap, overnight.

If you notice that the item has cracks or chips on it, do not overlook this problem; these cracks and other flaws can get in the way of your cooking. Many manufacturers who make Dutch ovens include lifetime guarantees; in case the item has defects, you should take advantage of this guarantee.

Furthermore, it is crucial to remember if you are using a solid cast iron Dutch oven, you must avoid using certain foods. Solid cast-iron does not work well with foods that are highly acidic; thus, you must refrain from using ingredients like pasta sauces, tomatoes, vinegar and other acidic ingredients in it because it will eventually lead to rusting and corrosion and these flaws can be very problematic to remove.

For solid cast-iron Dutch ovens, you have to season it properly before you can use it. If you have plans to cook pasta or dishes with tomatoes or vinegar, it is recommended that you invest in an enameled cast-iron model instead.

5 Best Suggested Dutch Ovens

You now know what factors to look for when it comes to choosing the best Dutch oven for your needs. In this part of the article, we are going to list Dutch ovens that have garnered positive feedback from customers. It’s up to you decide what products you want to investigate further before you go shopping. Read the reviews and determine the brand and model that best fits your needs.

Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Utopia Kitchen’s Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven is made of durable, quality cast iron and it comes pre-seasoned. This is the kind of cookware that is recommended for use in lower temperatures.

It will work as expected for up to 500° without doing damage to the item. It is ideal for searing and braising foods, plus cooking hot casseroles. It can serve as a serving dish on the table as well due to its excellent appearance.

Because of its sturdy construction and great size, it presents a substantial cooking pot. It can be used in the oven and is the perfect cooking companion while camping. Lastly, any dish that you can whip up in an oven can also be done in a Dutch oven.

Pros

  • Durable, quality construction
  • Comes pre-seasoned
  • Excellent heat conduction
  • Ideal for use in low temperatures
  • Adds iron to the food cooked in it
  • Ideal for braising and searing

Cons

  • Requires constant, meticulous maintenance
  • Susceptible to rust if not properly taken care of
  • Material may be too heavy for some

Balichun Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Black Enameled 360 Degree Water-Cycling System

The Balichun Cast Iron Dutch Oven, with its black enameled water cycling system, is made of quality materials and has a great construction. It has an ultra-heavy feel and a nice design, available in a wide variety of colors.

You can make many dishes in it from soups, braised meats, down to casseroles. It can be heated in a variety of ways from electric stovetops, gas stoves, ceramic and even induction cooktops. It can go from the stove to the oven.

The Balichun does not display any problems in conducting heat and is able to distribute heat evenly throughout the pot. It is no surprising that it has garnered plenty of excellent feedback from customers; this model really works due to its quality structure and design.

Pros

  • Comes in sleek and beautiful colors
  • Can heat evenly
  • Versatile and can be used on electric, gas, ceramic and induction cooktops
  • Can be used in the oven
  • Has non-stick cooking surface
  • Has heavy, durable feel

Cons

  • Cast iron material may be too heavy for some
  • More expensive compared to regular cast iron

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

The Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven is suggested for a good range of cooking methods, from braising, poaching, simmering, browning and marinating. This item can be used on the stove and oven plus it can also function as a kind of serving dish on the table. Because it is safe to use in the freezer or the fridge, you can also use it to store your leftovers.

The Dutch oven is particularly designed to improve slow-cooking procedure by evenly distributing the heat and containing the best possible moisture content.

This Signature model has all the excellent features of past models, added to the high-tech elements of today’s current features in Dutch oven technology. It has a wide versatility and is available in a great selection of colors to better suit the décor of your kitchen.

Pros

  • Comes with ergonomic, larger handles for better handling of weight
  • Includes coated interiors with high-tech enamel that is chip and crack resistant
  • Can be used on any kind of cooktop from gas stoves to ovens

Cons

  • Composite knob only oven-safe up to 500° F
  • Is expensive
  • Heavy material might not be ideal for those with arthritis or related conditions

Lodge EC7D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The Lodge EC7D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven combines the excellent features of the company’s Dutch ovens, with the advantages of a porcelain finish.

Having this kind of coating gets rid of the need to season the oven. Its smoother, more even surface is not reactive to ingredients as well. Due to the nature of Dutch ovens, it can also serve as an ornamental feature in your kitchen.

The Lodge EC7D43 is good for many cooking types; hence, you can enjoy making a variety of dishes from braised meats, soups, stews, casseroles and even baked goodies like cakes or bread. This is a great addition to your lineup of cooking implements. You can also use the item to fry, sauté or simmer food on the stovetop, or any kind of cooktop.

Pros

  • Does not need seasoning due to porcelain surface
  • Can be cleaned in the dishwasher every so often
  • Secures tightly to lock in moisture, heat and nutrients needed to create flavorful dishes
  • Includes 2 quality coatings of enamel for durability
  • Significantly versatile since it can be used on a number of cooktops
  • Can be utilized in fridge, freezer and marinating raw meats

Cons

  • Cannot be used in the microwave
  • Oven-safe for up to 500° F only
  • Made in China, not USA

Utopia Kitchen Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Due to the advantages of enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens, it is easy to understand why a lot of individuals, from professional chefs to home cooks, have embraced the functions of a Dutch oven. Enameled cast iron is a durable material and it can even be handed down as a family heirloom.

The Utopia Kitchen Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven comes in a chic red color and is made from high-quality cast iron material. This is a hardwearing material which is rust and corrosion resistant. It is free from harmful chemicals like BPA, and also features a scratch- and dent- resistant design.

It will not leak moisture and nutrients over the course of cooking; its 2.5-quart interiors make the cookware a good partner for your kitchen activities. This is something you can cook braised meats, soups, stews and even bread with.

Pros

  • Made from high-grade cast iron material
  • Durable and hardwearing
  • Comes with dent- and scratch-resistant design
  • Rust and corrosion resistant
  • Will not leak heat, moisture and nutrients
  • BPA-free model

Cons

  • Heavier weight might not be good for some people
  • Costlier compared to other kettles

Conclusion

The Dutch oven is very popular with professional chefs and amateur cooks due to its durable construction and versatility. Even campers like using this cooking implement over other kinds of cookware.

One can use the item on a stovetop, the oven and the open fire. They are also a snap to clean though it calls for a more tender touch to preserve it in its tiptop condition. There are models that need to be seasoned, while there are some that are seasoned so you can use the item straight from the box.

When shopping for the best Dutch oven, you will notice that there are lots of available options, from stainless steel down to cast-iron models. But, before you buy the first Dutch oven you see, take into consideration all of the factors mentioned in this article. That way, you will not have a difficult time choosing one that best fits your needs.