The Dutch oven is the OG slow cooker and possibly one of the most versatile yet under-utilized pieces of cookware in the kitchen. If you don’t yet have a Dutch oven, they’re an excellent investment. They’re last forever and can be used for multiple cooking applications, though they are most commonly used for slow-cooking and braising.
Before we dive into some of the best Dutch ovens you can buy, first a little history. The Dutch oven got its name thanks to the Dutch casting process of making anything out of cast iron. The cooking vessel, or oven, became any cast iron pot with a tight lid. As the technology spread across Europe, the different cuisines (mainly French) where the company Le Creuset gave birth to slight alterations like the cassadou, doufeu, and cocotte. These off-shoots of the classic Dutch oven had slight variations in their design based on the cooking technique and the dishes prepared.
Through the years, the Dutch oven has remained the same for the most part. The traditional design is a deep cast-iron pot (but now comes in an array of materials), coated with a colorful enamel with two handles. If your New Year’s resolution is to cook more delicious braised meats, stews, or casseroles the old-fashioned way, then you’re going to want to pick up one of these nine Dutch ovens.
We’re going to have to side with the masses on this one. We agree with the almost 20,000 reviewers on Amazon that this Dutch oven is hard to beat. Lodge, which is known for its premium cast iron cookware, has designed an excellent oven that’s more affordable than most on the market. The round design makes for even heating on both electric and gas stovetops. The thick, porcelain enamel won’t react with any ingredients and provide a terrific nonstick surface. It comes in ten vibrant colors that are sure to match any kitchen’s color scheme if you want to leave it out to display its beautiful design. Plus, it’s not too cumbersome to slide right into the fridge after your done cooking.
At first glance, there might not seem to be much difference between this Le Creuset Dutch oven and the Lodge. The truth is, there’s not. They’re both premium quality products; the main differences lie in the brand name and price. Le Creuset has been churning out the best Dutch ovens since their inception, so there’s no question they’ve perfected the art of enameled, cast-iron cookware. If you ask any professional chef which brand they’d choose for their kitchen, they’ll pick Le Creuset. They’ll last your lifetime and your grandchildren’s lifetime. Besides being a top-notch product, a big appeal for Le Crueset fanboys is their extensive line of matching cast-iron, enameled cookware. This didn’t make the number one spot because we just couldn’t justify the price over the Lodge’s value.
Maybe you’re the type of guy that enjoys the cold, sterile vibes of stainless steel. If so, this Calphlon Dutch oven is for you. The three-layer metal construction features a heavy-gauge aluminum core that distributes heat as evenly and effectively as cast iron. One advantage of this stainless steel oven is that you can run it through the dishwasher. However, one feature of a cast-iron Dutch oven that can’t be replicated in its steel counterpart is the heavy lid that fits snuggly to ensure no moisture is lost through steam evaporation.
In terms of value, Lodge wins again. This no-frills cast iron Dutch oven does the job as all of the other ones at a better price. It also has one unique feature that the other models don’t. If you happen to be using the pot to fry up some fish or chicken, you can use the lid on the burner next to it as a sauté pan. This Dutch oven clearly doesn’t come with a nonstick enamel coating. But, like with any cast-iron cookware, if properly seasoned, food sticking shouldn’t be an issue. Even though this Dutch oven says it’s pre-seasoned, it would be wise to take some time to season it further.
When it comes to cooking, there are two types of people. Those who cook large batches of food at once and eat the leftovers for days, and those who cook enough for one sitting. If you’re in the latter group, this Dutch oven is for you. Plus, if you’re cooking for one, you’ll still have leftovers. Sulives makes a quality Dutch oven at an affordable price. The ridged, concave lid follows the doufeu oven design. When cooking on a stovetop, putting ice on the lid promotes condensation to build on the cover’s underside. When the liquid drips back into the food, it’s said to result in even more flavorful stews and more tender braised meats. A unique feature of Sulives ads is a “water-drop design” under the lid to promote this reaction.
This Cuisinart, 7-quart Dutch oven is perfect for providing several days worth of leftovers. It’s hefty and does the job of any great Dutch oven. The oval shape can make for awkward stovetop cooking (especially if you have an electric range). But the large capacity and heavy lid make it great for slow-and-low braises in the oven. This model can easily fit a whole chicken, large pork butt, or mid-sized rib-roast.
This Overmont Camp Dutch oven is perfect for cooking up your day’s catch or big haul from the day’s hunt. This Dutch oven has the true doufeu design, featuring the recessed lid and legs. These rugged vessels were originally designed this way so they could be shoved right into the fire. Another function of the concave lid is that hot coals or embers can be placed on top of the oven, creating an oven effect in an open fire. This model comes with a stainless steel handle that allows it to be hung on a tripod for slow-and-low outdoor cooking. An added bonus is a lid-lifter to make for easier lid removal, then, just turn it over on top of the pot, and you’ve got a skillet for frying up bacon.
If you’re looking for a Dutch oven this large, you’ve probably got something special in mind, or it involves a lot of people. Whether you’re planning a fish-fry, shrimp-boil, or looking to make a massive batch of paella, this Bayou Classic 20-quart Dutch oven covers all the bases. It comes with a handy-dandy perforated basket that makes frying a breeze. But make sure you’ve got a sturdy set-up for this beast, as it comes in at 50 pounds, not including the food inside.
For some, when it comes to kitchen essentials, performance just isn’t enough. It has to look good too. Like Le Creuset, BK Cookware has an extensive line of kitchen cookware that can be paired in an array of colors. The difference is, BK’s cookware is enameled carbon steel, not cast iron. Their unique design makes them stand out amid many similar-looking brands. BK Cookware has been forging heirloom-quality Dutch ovens out of Germany since 1951. So, not only do they look great, they perform well too.
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