Hello and Welcome! What’s so great about a Dutch oven? Well, the short answer is… Everything! Boiling water for pasta, cooking a pot roast, making a soup, searing, braising, deep frying and baking bread; if there’s one pot to rule them all, I put my money on the Dutch oven. Dutch ovens come in varying sizes, weight and material. Let’s take a look at few of the varieties.
Large Dutch Ovens
A large, 7-quart Dutch oven will give you the most bang for your buck. Its large capacity handles large quantities, large volumes of liquid and big cuts of meat with ease. So If you can only have one Dutch oven, I would say to spring for a big one. Le Creuset reigns supreme when it comes to ease of use, quality and durability.
I use my large 7.25-quart Dutch oven so often, I leave it on the stovetop, so storage is not an issue. The enameled cast iron is so easy to clean, and the pot is so durable that I never worry about what I am cooking in it. Le Creuset is expensive, to be sure, but it will last a lifetime with proper care.
There are less expensive options, such as Cuisinart’s Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole. The Cuisinart Dutch oven has slightly smaller loop handles, but it has straight sides and a large cooking surface.
When considering a Dutch oven, you want to look for large loop handles for a secure and comfortable grip while wearing oven mitts. Straight sides means a larger cooking surface, which you want for searing and braising. Make sure the sides aren’t too tall, either, it should not be difficult or uncomfortable to reach into the pot with utensils.
Avoid pots with dark interiors. Dark interiors make it hard to tell when food is browning – which is important when sautéing and searing. Steer clear of pots with ill-fitting lids; gaps in the contact surfaces will result in poor moisture and heat circulation. Definitely avoid pots with nonstick coating. Nonstick coating prevents fond from developing (which we want for braising). Also, nonstick coatings are way more heat sensitive than we want in a pot that goes from stovetop to oven.
Lighter-Weight, Large Capacity Option
Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens such as the Le Creuset and the Cuisinart, are heavy – even when they’re empty (weighing in at over 15 pounds!). But don’t let this keep you from investing in a large Dutch oven. There are other, lighter-weight options. All-Clad 6-quart Stainless Steel Stockpot is a good option; handling (nearly) all the tasks of a cast iron dutch oven. While stainless steel does not radiate heat and moisture like cast iron, which is essential for baking bread in your Dutch oven, All-Clad gets high marks for excellent heat distribution, though not great for baking bread.
When looking for a non-cast iron Dutch oven, be sure to avoid an all-aluminum version. Look for “try-ply” pots which are three layers of metal: an aluminum core between two layers of stainless steel. Additionally make sure they are fully clad, meaning the three layers run the entirety of the pot – from top to bottom.
Dutch Oven Recipes
Below, I have gathered just a few of the recipes from the blog for which I used my 7.25-quart Dutch oven. Each recipe demonstrates the variety and range of recipes perfect for Dutch ovens. Crispy fried chicken for Orange Chicken; an emulsified sauce for Spinach Tagliarelle; a long and slow braise in the oven for Red Wine Braised Short Ribs; and a slow simmer on the stovetop for Sazón Chicken Chili.
Smaller Dutch Ovens
The next size down would be something in the 4 to 5-quart range. This is a great option if you don’t typically cook for a crowd. You can certainly opt for a Le Creuset 5.5-quart, or the Cuisinart 5-quart version. I have a Dansk Dutch oven in a 4-quart size. I quite like it.
Dansk Dutch ovens are made of steel with an enamel coating. It does a great job for all the things I would do in a Dutch oven. I have baked bread in it too, and while the bread tasted great, the crust was a less crunchy and crispy (owing to the heat and steam circulation of steel, versus cast iron).
Dansk Dutch ovens have great design touches: the large handle shape; and the lid which doubles as a trivet, making oven-to-table that much more special. Its light weight also makes it a great piece of serve ware. I used it to serve this week’s Chipotle Pumpkin Soup.
So, whether it’s marketed as a covered casserole, Dutch oven, or even stockpot; a large capacity pot (4-7 quarts) with large loop handles; short, low sides; and a wide cooking surface will be the hardest working pot in your kitchen.
Remember to avoid dark interiors that make it hard to tell when food is browning; curved sides which take away from cooking surface area; and all-aluminum pots.
I hope you found this Dutch oven post informative and helpful if you’re in the market for one. If you don’t yet have one, I hope I have given you some inspiration to get one! Thanks so much for spending some your day with me, take care and be well! xo Kelly
MariOctober 13, 2021 at 10:07 am
Once again, you have read my mind. I have been thinking about investing in a Dutch oven, but didn’t know which one I should get. When I was growing up my mother had a six quart pot that she called a Dutch oven. It was heavy duty and probably aluminum. She used it mainly for soups and pasta dishes. There were seven of us including my parents, and the six quart was just about right. My Dad was from Kentucky, and he insisted on a cast iron frying pan, which he called a skillet. It was his baby and anytime something needed frying, he did it. Sometimes he overdid it. I can still remember that he always cooked breakfast for us when my mom was absent or in the hospital having a baby. When my youngest brother was born, my oldest brother, who was three, was allowed to talk to Mom on the phone. He told my mom that “Daddy burned the hell out of the pork sausage.” She was amused, the rest of us were shocked. And giggly. You never know when kids will hear something inappropriate. When my oldest son was five, he came out with a doozy during Sunday Mass. the church was silent except for the loud, incoherent mumbling of my three year old. My oldest son decided to translate. At the top of his lungs. He came up with a sentence I never expected to hear. We did not swear much, and certainly not that word! My friend who was with me got the giggles, and we had to leave, while my oldest child looked quite pleased with himself! Talk about embarrassing.
The Dutch oven and frying pan now sit in my sister’s kitchen, on the stove top. Sadly, they are rarely if ever used, but she loves them. You have convinced me to go for the cast iron. I like the look of the Dansk enameled steel too, but I think the cast iron is the way to go. I may never use mine for bread, but it would be nice to have that option. Another grey day with the possibility of rain. I do miss the sun. On the plus side the birds don’t wake up at six in the morning, so that’s good. Happy Wednesday Kelly, Alex, Terry and all the lovely people who follow this blog.
Kelly DjalaliOctober 13, 2021 at 10:22 am
Hi Mari, Kids do say the funniest things! I am glad you will go for the cast iron, they really are a dream to cook with. And, I bet when you pass your cast iron Dutch oven to your kids, the pot will get a lot of use! Thanks so much for writing in today, it’s great to hear from you and I hope you are well. Here’s to sunnier days, xo Kelly ☀️
TerryOctober 13, 2021 at 10:08 am
I agreee totally my Dutch oven stays on top of my stove as well. It is in constant use. In fact today Saxon chicken chili is going to be made In it.
I have two Dutch ovens but my main one is the cast iron one. Thanks for this post have a great Wednesday ??Mom
Kelly DjalaliOctober 13, 2021 at 10:16 am
Aren’t they just the best piece of cookware! I am happy you have a couple, Mom. Enjoy that Sazón Chicken! xo Kelly
DeannaOctober 13, 2021 at 10:26 am
I love my dutch oven too! Unfortunately, I bought a 5 quart one, and wish I had purchased a larger one. I am limited in the size of a roast with the 5 quart. My husband does not like the taste/texture of meat cooked in the crockpot, but loves dishes from the dutch oven. I guess I do too. Have a delicious day!!
Kelly DjalaliOctober 13, 2021 at 10:45 am
Hello Deanna! You know it’s interesting, when cooking a roast in a Dutch oven versus the crock pot (I am not sure why this is the case) but if you don’t trim the roast of excess fat the meat tends to be greasier when cooked in the crock pot. I think it has to do with the way the heat is conducted and circulated…perhaps more of the fat renders in a Dutch oven, with the juices and the fat reducing more consistently…I need to do more research on this. And I totally agree about going for the larger size, I am so glad I went for it even though the price tag gave me a heart palpitation. Lol. Thanks so much for stopping by today! Have a great day, xo Kelly
SandraOctober 13, 2021 at 10:50 am
My mom has loved Le Creuset since forever. I never really paid attention. Now I’ve read your post and understand the details! Not that my mom wouldn’t explain it’s just that everyone would get to eating! But she always says Le Creuset is worth the money. Thank you for all the great posts!
Kelly DjalaliOctober 13, 2021 at 12:03 pm
Hi Sandra, Your Mom is absolutely right! Le Creuset is 100% worth the investment. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment today, It’s great to get your feedback and thoughts! Have a wonderful day, xo Kelly
Suzanne SmithOctober 13, 2021 at 12:19 pm
I love my Le Creuset 7 qt dutch oven. I use it constantly. You’re so right—it’s so versatile for all sorts of things I make. If I could only keep one piece of cooking items, this would be it. When my RA was initially so bad, I couldn’t pick it up as I was in so much pain and physically I just couldn’t lift it. I got to a point where I almost gave it away, as I thought I’d never be able to use it ever again. I’m so glad to say I am much better with my treatment now for my RA, and I’m so very grateful I kept the Dutch oven as I would be lost without it! It’s a keeper.
Kelly DjalaliOctober 13, 2021 at 3:37 pm
Hi Suzanne, I am happy you kept your Le Creuset too! And that you are able to use it comfortably. It has definitely become an indispensable item in my kitchen. Thanks for writing in today, it’s good to hear from you. xo Kelly
stefanieOctober 13, 2021 at 2:45 pm
I just received a 4 qt Dutch oven – have used a Lodge larger one for years. Would LOVE some recipes for the small one.
Kelly DjalaliOctober 13, 2021 at 3:44 pm
Hello Stefanie, I like my 4-quart dutch oven because usually I am just cooking for two, so its size is perfect for paring down recipes to accommodate fewer people. Many of the Dutch oven recipes on the blog are made with my 4-quart. I had that one first, while only recently getting the larger 7-quart. One of my favorites from the blog is Cioppino, a rich tomato-based seafood stew from San Francisco. Another favorite is this Chicken Noodle Soup. If you peruse the blog searching under Dutch Oven, wherever you see the lavender Dansk Dutch oven, that’s a recipe for a 4-quart! Those recipes can get you started and I will have more on the way! Take care and thanks so much for stopping by! xo Kelly
Sally BurkeOctober 13, 2021 at 7:28 pm
My sister gave one to our mother about 45 years ago, she is no longer with us but my sister is still using the pot. I have had one for about 30 years, although I did wreck one by cooking jam in it as the sugar pitted the base. I was able to replace it thankfully when it happened to be on special. They certainly are expensive but worth every dollar. I have often thought about leaving it on the stove due to the weight, but I am still managing to lift it off the shelf in the pantry into the kitchen. Thankfully these old bones and muscles are still in pretty good condition lol… my other favourite pot which still gets regular use is a Bessemer which has three parts. I bought that before I was married in 1966, and yes, they are also expensive. Good quality with any cooking utensils pays off in the end.
Enjoy your day
Kelly DjalaliOctober 14, 2021 at 8:49 am
Hello Sally, It’s wonderful that your sister still has your Mother’s pot – 45 years! – that’s amazing! Your experience just goes to show how well worth the investment can be in a quality piece. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! Have a great day, xo Kelly