Dutch ovens are one of the most versatile cooking wares. They can be used to make a variety of dishes, including soups, bread, stews, roasts, etc. Every item cooked in a Dutch oven has a peculiar taste, due to the slow cooking technique used in the preparation. There are different types of Dutch ovens available in the market, for different usages. You need to make sure that you know why you are going to buy a Dutch oven and where you are going to use it. If it is the first time you are looking into these cooking utensils, you may not be sure of how to select one or ensure that the product is of a high quality. In order to help you choose a great Dutch oven for yourself, I have devised this buying guide, with tips and recommendations, to save you time in research and help you with the selection procedure.
Lodge L8DOL3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven
and ready to use
Friendly price range
Fits on top of stove or inside an oven
Camp Chef Deluxe 10IN Dutch Oven
Durable and easy to maintain
Small and easy to transport
Fits 5 quarts in the cooking pot and 1.8 quarts in the lid
The doubles as a serving plate and is also fitted with three small legs
Seasoned cast iron
Check the temperature of the food without removing the lid
Priced quite moderately
Texsport Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Capacity of 4 quarts
Tight fitting lid
Wire handle allows you to carry the oven
needs some coating on
Good mid-range product
Not a high-end Dutch oven
Cabela’s Outfitter Series™ Cast-Iron Tri-Leg Dutch Oven
High-capacity and overall good build quality
Different size options, starting at 10 inches, holding up to 6 quarts, up to an impressive 16 inches and 12 quarts capacity
Pre-seasoned and ready to use
Thermometer slot that’s fitted on the lid
Fairly priced for the features and quality
Very positive customer feedback
How To Choose The Best Dutch Oven
In this section, I am going to go over some of the most important steps for purchasing a high quality Dutch oven.
Knowing The Types Of Dutch Ovens
As mentioned in the introduction, there are Dutch ovens made for different purposes. Mainly, these purposes can be divided into domestic usage and outdoor usage. So, the first step in getting a Dutch oven is to know which type you want and for what usage.
Outdoor Dutch Oven: Usually outdoor purposed Dutch ovens have a different structure from the in-house purposed versions. They have a tri legged base for standing and allowing fire/coal to breathe underneath. There is also a tight fitting lid, with a specially designed edge for setting charcoal and clearing the ash.
Kitchen Dutch Oven: This type of Dutch oven has been designed to be used indoors i.e. over stoves and in ovens. Due to no legs present under the base, this kind of Dutch oven can easily be used in the kitchen. The utensil has no external rim, unlike the above mentioned version, and comes with a domed lid.
Usually, most buyers only need a Dutch oven for a single purpose. However, if you want to use your Dutch oven indoors as well as outdoors, you may look at some accessories on offer to let you use your domestic Dutch oven while camping as well.
Create a Budget
It should not be a surprise that before you hit the market, you must be aware of your spending power. Dutch ovens come in all sizes and qualities. They are usually an investment for a long term and hence it helps in getting one which best fits your budget. After you select your budget, you can easily shortlist the ovens and ignore those that are out of your reach. Of course, the budget must be decided after you are sure about the type of the oven you want. This will cut down the decision timing and make the whole selection process a lot easier.
Understand The Materials Used For Making The Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are casted from iron, aluminum or an enameled metal. Other types come in ceramic bodies as well. As a buyer, you need to know which Dutch oven you need to fulfill your cooking requirements optimally.
Cast iron: This is probably the most popular material for a Dutch oven. However, the cast iron is vulnerable to rusting and must be maintained properly. This is done by seasoning the oven regularly. Moreover, it has to be washed using water only as soap will cause the iron to oxidize (rust). The great thing about cast iron is that it can tolerate high temperatures (as much as 2700 F). This makes it great for outdoor uses, where you need to cook over direct fire, without much control over the temperature.
Aluminum: Aluminum Dutch oven is getting popular due to its rust resistant property and lighter weight. The lighter weight allows it to be carried conveniently when you going for camping. The metal can tolerate heat for up to 1200 F, but can possible start melting near a high temperature. Cleaning an aluminum Dutch oven is simpler, with soap and water required for scraping and rinsing.
Enameled cast iron: This type of Dutch oven heats quickly, but is not adaptable to high temperatures and will start breaking. It is nonstick and does not require regular seasoning, however doing so will increase its life. The material is perfect for using with acidic ingredients.
The different types of materials have different durability, life and performance. A cast iron Dutch oven or an enameled cast iron one should be preferred over the aluminum version, due to a higher quality and heat resistance in general.
Decide On The Size And The Shape Of The Oven
Dutch oven comes in various sizes and shapes. While you may think that it is best to get the largest possible size, purchasable by your budget, the fact is that you also need to think about the weight factor of the oven. Large Dutch ovens are very heavy and may not even fit the normal sinks in the kitchen. Moving such an oven might require two people and carrying on for outdoor cooking can be a hassle. This is why you need to consider a size you would really need, instead of being tempted to get one as large as possible. A 5.5 quarts size is recommended for most households as it can accommodate food for two to four people. The size can cook all kinds of food include, ribs, roasts, shanks, chicken, etc.
Shape wise, you have options to pick from either a round body or an oval body. Since most ovens are designed for rounded utensils, it can be difficult to use an oval Dutch oven in your kitchen oven. However, an oval Dutch oven can generally hold longer meat cuts, without you needing to overlap.
A recommended buy for an average household should be a round 5.5 quarts Dutch oven.
If you are going to use the Dutch oven for cooking food for large parties, than you have to go for a larger Dutch oven. Usually a seven quarts oven is fine for 7 – 10 people. However, you need to look at factors such as the weight and the portability when cooking for such large groups, especially if you are going to carry out the cooking outside.
Apart from the properties like the dimensions, material and shape of the Dutch oven, you must also look for some
other standard features. One of these is a tight and a heavy lid. This will secure your food and prevent it from going dry. Similarly, you must opt for a product which has tall sides to prevent any sauce or liquid to spill out during the browning process. This is especially needed when cooking large quantities of food. If you looking for maximum convenience, you should also look for a Dutch oven which comes with a handle or a knob. This is really needed if you are planning to cook outside and need to transport the food from the fire area to the table.
Tips For Dutch Oven Buyers
Dutch oven gets passed across generations. This is due to its high durability and tolerance. However, unless you maintain your Dutch oven properly, there is always a concern of it losing its performance or even chipping / cracking with time (enameled type).
- You should always season your utensil. If it is enameled cast iron, you may not go through the seasoning extensively, however for the metallic types, seasoning will help prevent rust.
- Avoid putting your Dutch oven through a quick temperature change. This will weaken the structure of the Dutch oven and can even cause chipping, in the case of the enameled type.
- Avoid hitting the rim of the Dutch oven for clearing leftover food as it will weaken the structure.
- Do not use sharp metallic spoons to scrape food from the metallic Dutch oven as it will leave marking and spoil the seasoning.
- Do not heat an empty Dutch oven on high temperatures. Aluminum type may result in a distorted shape, while the enameled type may get cracked.
Summary of the Best Dutch Oven Reviews
Shopping for a Dutch oven can be time consuming and even exhausting. With this buying guide, I am sure you now have a better idea of how to shortlist and eventually select the best Dutch oven for yourself. If you are looking for a place to start searching for a Dutch oven, I would recommend you to start from the comprehensive Dutch oven reviews on my website. In these reviews I have covered all the top Dutch ovens in the market, from reliable manufacturers and with positive feedbacks from a majority of their buyers.