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.