Both in and beyond the kitchen, the dutch oven is an incredibly versatile and powerful tool, though many are unaware of its greatness. Often simply called a "casserole dish" outside of the U.S., it was first developed in the Netherlands in the 17th century using a metal casting method that resulted in smoother cast iron surfaces. Nowadays, many dutch ovens are coated with enamel for an even smoother and easier-to-clean surface atop the same sturdy cast iron interior.
You can cook virtually anything in a dutch oven! Because they're made of cast iron, they are durable, reliable, and low-maintenance, plus they can withstand high temperatures and are safe for use on the stovetop, in the oven, or over a campfire. They're a particularly good choice for slow and steady cooking that fills your home (or campsite) with amazing scents as it cooks away effortlessly for several hours.
A dutch ovens, as its name implies, can be used as a kind of miniature oven making it perfect for everything from roasts to stews to casseroles. It can even be used to bake breads, pies, and other desserts.
Non-enameled dutch ovens can also handle deep frying and extremely high temperatures, though enameled versions must be used with slightly more caution, since the enamel is less durable at high temperatures than the cast iron it covers.
So you know dutch ovens are amazing, but what options are out there and which ones can you trust? Here's a few of our top choices and what makes them great.
You may recognize the Lodge brand name from their popular cast iron skillets. Their dutch ovens are just as solid and reliable, and this enameled version is an affordable alternative to some of the more popular but more expensive dutch ovens out there. You can find it for $45 on Amazon for the 6-quart size, though it also comes in 3-, 4.5-, and 7.5-quart sizes. It's safe up to 500°F and comes in lots of different colors so you can choose one that makes you feel extra excited about cooking with it.
This 5-quart, non-enameled pot is the cheapest option on our list at only $22 on Amazon. It is safe up to 500°F and has removable silicone handle covers for easy handling even when the pot is hot and bubbling away on the stovetop.
This second option from Lodge is our pick for camping. Its legs give it stability when resting over a campfire, and it has a long metal handle so it can easily be lifted out of or hung over an open flame. The rimmed lid style also allows live coals to be placed on top for more even heating. This model comes in 5, 8, or 10 quarts, and can withstand temperature above 500°F, making it one of the most versatile options on our list.
If there's one name you know in the world of dutch ovens, it's probably Le Creuset. Hands down the most famous and beloved dutch oven brand, Le Creuset makes very reliable, durable, and beautiful enameled dutch ovens. The only thing is, they're also some of the priciest, with the 7 1/4-quart size coming in at $370 on Amazon. However, they still earn a place on our list because owners of these dutch ovens happily swear by them, and because the brand consistently produces beautiful and high-quality products. They also come with a 5-Year warranty and are oven safe to 500°F. As long as you can afford to splurge, you can rest assured that you'll love a Le Creuset.
This enameled 4.5-quart option from Rachael Ray is a particularly stylish option, with big stainless steel handles that are easy to grip. It's also one of the cheapest options on our list, costing only $28 on Amazon, and coming with a lifetime warranty. Like most other products in this list, it's safe up to 500°F.
This 6.5-quart cobalt blue beauty is another enameled option with considerable popularity. It's oven safe to 450°F and comes with condensation ridges on the interior of the lid to help encourage moisture retention, particularly when roasting. It comes with a mid-tier price-tag of $51 on Amazon.
Do you love cooking in the dutch oven? Got a favorite dutch oven recipe to share? Let us know in the comments! We'd love to hear what you've been cooking up.