Best Dutch Oven

Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 1:22 pm.  What’s the best dutch oven? This workhorse of pots is excellent for baking bread, making hearty stews, authentic Italian dishes and more. We tried out 7 brands of dutch ovens, from cast iron models to enameled options. Yes, you can spend a small fortune on a dutch oven—but we wanted to find the best performers at prices that didn’t break the bank. Here are the best bets.

FYI: We’ve been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don’t take money or freebies from the brands we review—that keeps our work independent! We are 100% reader-supported . . . so thanks for reading this article!

Best Large Dutch Oven

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Stainless Steel Knob and Loop Handles, 6 Quart, Red

Great for bread baking
This stalwart in our kitchen is a versatile and consistent performer. Easy to clean (dishwasher safe), but you have to be careful not to chip the enamel.

Best Large Dutch Oven: Lodge EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6 Quart

Let’s talk Dutch ovens.

Dating back to the early 18th Century, these thick pots with lids have been workhorses in kitchens for 400 years. Why are they called Dutch ovens? Even though a British company cast the first iron cookware that resembles the modern Dutch oven, they used a method of casting iron perfected by artisans in the Netherlands. Voila! The Dutch oven.

We tried out several brands of Dutch ovens for this article, looking at overall performance and ease of cleaning. Yes, there are many expensive Dutch ovens out there  . . .  you can easily fork over a car payment for some brands.

But here’s a secret from a cook who’s used Dutch ovens for 20 years (that is, me): less expensive Dutch ovens perform just as well as the three-figure ones. The difference is durability and care.

IF you properly take care of an affordable Dutch oven like the affordable ones recommended in this article, a Dutch oven can last five or ten years. (Yes, the more pricey ones can last a lifetime). The take home message: it is more important how you care for your Dutch oven than its initial price tag.

Example: using metal utensils can scratch or chip most enamel Dutch oven. Tip: Dutch ovens lasts longer when used over low to medium heat with either water or oil.

Yes, there are Dutch ovens that can be used for bread baking and frying—these are rated for use up to 480 degrees. But don’t use a Dutch oven for baking bread if it isn’t designed for those temperatures!

There are two types of Dutch ovens: enameled and non-enameled. The latter, cast iron Dutch ovens, are sturdier and can be used at high temperature. But cast iron Dutch ovens requires more care: you must season, clean and store it in special ways.

When you see folks complain that their cast iron Dutch failed in recipes (baked goods stuck to the pan) or rusted, it’s not the pot’s fault  . . . it is the lack of proper care!

So, now that we’ve gone over Dutch oven basic, let’s talk recommendations. After trying out several brands, we think Lodge’s 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven (EC6D42) is the best large Dutch oven. Here’s why:

What We Liked

• Versitile, excellent performance.

• Great for bread making as it can be used up to 500 degrees.

• Easy to clean.

• Large capacity (6 quarts) great for family meals.

• Dishwasher safe but the maker recommends hand washing.

• Two side handles.

• 11 colors in case you don’t like red.

• Brand has excellent reputation (they’ve been around for 100+ years).

• Works on induction cooktops thanks to the oven’s flat bottom.

What Needs Work

• Not made in the USA. Unfortunately, this is true for most enameled Dutch ovens sold today.

• Heavy! This Dutch oven weighs about 15 lbs.

• Enamel coating can chip if you aren’t careful.

• Pan’s floor isn’t flat—the rounded bottom shape makes for less cooking surface.

Best Small Dutch Oven

AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 4.3-Quart, Green

Easy on the wallet!
If you are just cooking for one or two, this Dutch oven is a good place to start. Sturdy with two handles, we liked its overall performance. But hand wash only. And not for most bread baking.

Best Small Dutch Oven: AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 4.3 Quart

We love Dutch ovens, but they do have one big disadvantage: weight. Six quart Dutch ovens can tip the scales at 20 or more pounds (when filled with ingredients). That isn’t easy to lug around the kitchen.

And if you are only cooking for one or two people, 6-quart Dutch ovens are overkill (unless you want leftovers!). If a smaller Dutch oven better fits your cooking needs, we’d recommend AmazonBasics Enamel Cast Iron Covered Dutch oven. This 4.3-quart Dutch oven weighs about a third less than the 6 quart Lodge model we recommend above!

Here’s more:

What We Liked

 Twin handles.

• Safe for use on a stove top.

• Good at cooking basic dishes like soups and stews.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Not for bread baking. This Dutch oven can only be used up to 400 degrees. Most bread recipes require an oven set at 450 degrees.

• Chipping. The enamel on this Dutch oven easily chips. That’s true for most enameled Dutch ovens, but this one is especially fragile. If you treat it like glass and never use metal utensils, it should be fine.

• Not made in the USA.

• Hand wash only.

Best For Bread Making

Tramontina 80131/037DS Enameled Cast Iron Covered Round Dutch Oven, 5.5-Quart, Majolica Red

Would make an excellent gift
We’d recommend this Dutch oven for bread enthusiasts—it can handle recipes that require temperatures up to 450 degrees. Great performance, but hand wash only.

Best For Bread Making: Tramontina 80131/037DS Enameled Cast Iron Covered Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 Quart

Bread making is probably one of the most popular uses for Dutch ovens today—but many Dutch ovens don’t work well for this purpose.

Why? Yeast-based bread recipes often call for oven temperatures of 450 degrees. Many affordable Dutch ovens can only be used at 400 degrees or less.

If you plan to bake bread (in addition to all the typical Dutch oven uses like roasts, braised meats, and soups), we’d recommend Tramontina’s 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven (model 80131/037DS). Here’s why:

What We Liked

• Oven safe up to 450 degrees.

• Handles make it easy to lift.

• Nice gift idea. This sharp looking Dutch oven would make a great wedding gift.

• Large capacity yet relatively lightweight (12 pounds).

What Needs Work

• Hand wash only.

• Rim must be seasoned. That’s because it is exposed cast iron (the rest of the pot is enameled). This requires special care. If you don’t treat it, it can rust.

• Enamel can chip easily.

• Not made in the USA.

Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Lodge 5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Pre-Seasoned Pot with Lid and Dual Loop Handle

Doesn’t chip or peal
This excellent Dutch oven can make both roasts and bread. We love the even heat and caramelization of meats. Very durable, but requires care and seasoning.

Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Lodge 5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Enameled Dutch ovens are great for their no-stick performance and easy of cleaning. So why would you want a non-enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

First, durability.

Cast iron Dutch ovens like the Lodge model we recommend in this article can survive nuclear war . . . if you care for it properly. You can’t say the same for enameled Dutch ovens, which can chip and peel easily. You have to treat those ovens with kid gloves—and even then they probably still will only last 5 or 10 years.

Want to use metal utensils? You can only do this safely in a cast iron Dutch oven.

Finally, as head chef here, I think cast iron Dutch ovens caramelize meats better than their enameled cousins.

Here’s more on this recommendation:

What We Liked

• Pre-seasoned. You can use this straight out of the box—no initial oiling required.

• Made in USA.

• Heats evenly. 

• Great for braised meats and roasts. That’s because the cast iron helps caramelize meats.

• DURABLE! This thing won’t chip or peel . . . because it is cast iron!

• Great for bread making. You can use this Dutch oven up to 500 degrees.

What Needs Work

• Rust! If you don’t properly care for this pot, it can and will rust. Cast iron Dutch ovens like this must be washed and immediately dried, then coated very lightly with a small amount of canola or corn oil. Then it must be stored in a dry place.

• Hand wash only. 

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported.

Photo credit: Becca Tapert, Unsplash

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here's another key point: we don't take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no "partnerships." Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet

BabyBargains.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and its related sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.