The 6 best Dutch ovens of 2022: Le Creuset, Lodge, and more

2022-03-26 03:41:07 By : Mr. Chris Liu

The Dutch oven is a kitchen staple. These durable pots are workhorses in the kitchen and are most commonly used for soups, stews, braises, and baking bread. The heavy construction and tight fitting lids of a Dutch oven make for excellent heat and moisture retention, which is ideal for tender roast chicken, crispy golden loaves of bread, and anything slow-cooked to perfection.

Whether you're shopping for a starter Dutch oven or are looking for a piece of cookware that will last generations to come, we have a pot recommendation for you. Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding this iconic piece of cookware, or skip down to learn about our top picks.

In most cases, products labelled Dutch oven and cocotte are the same. A sauteuse, however will be shallower than a Dutch oven and feature a rounded bottom, according to Le Creuset. These are ideal for sauces, soups and stews, since the rounded edges makes it easier to whisk and stir. Dutch ovens often are often deeper with a flat cooking surface that's better for searing and browning meat and has more cooking area.

Not really. The reason why Dutch ovens made in France are marketed as the best is because of the quality control standards that companies like Le Creuset follow. It's also part of the reason why pots made in France are so expensive. Companies that are not manufacturing their cookware in France also have quality control standards, so what really matters is the actual quality of the cookware, not necessarily where it's made.

First things first, all enameled Dutch ovens are actually cast iron with an enamel coating. On this list, the Lodge, Le Creuset, and Great Jones Dutch ovens are enameled cast iron. The only one on this list that has uncoated, seasoned cast iron is the Camp Chef Dutch oven. Both types will give you superior heat retention, but there are a few differences.

The main differences between these two versions are their intended uses, the price ranges, and the care associated with each. Cast iron Dutch ovens tend to be cheaper than their enameled counterparts, but they require much more maintenance. Cast iron Dutch ovens need to be seasoned to keep them from getting sticky, and they can be prone to rusting if you don't thoroughly wash and dry them properly. These are great for searing and browning since they can get very hot, and some can even be used over an open fire for camping trips. Cast iron in general is not ideal for acidic foods though, since you may end up with a metallic taste.

Enameled Dutch ovens are often pricier, but require a little less upkeep. Some are dishwasher safe in a pinch, though it's usually recommended that you hand wash them. The inner enamel coating isn't porous in the way cast iron is, so cooking acidic and soupy foods will be a bit easier (and you won't have to worry about your pot taking on the flavor of whatever you're cooking). They're also decently nonstick and won't require any seasoning before use. Note that pots with enamel coatings need to be heated correctly — heating too enamel too high too fast can burn and stain the bottom of your pot and may ruin the finish.

What makes a Dutch oven a Dutch oven these days is a little bit up to interpretation. There are plenty of pots dubbed Dutch ovens that aren't made of cast iron, and we've seen some made of aluminum, stainless steel, and even ceramic.

The main things you'll want to look for in a Dutch oven is a tight-fitting lid, even heating, and a moderately low-walled design so that it's easy to turn, stir, and flip food. It's also important to note the interior color — if you're going to be doing a lot of searing and browning, a darker interior color is best since lighter colors tend to stain.

Dutch ovens can be quite expensive (some even run around $600 and up for large sizes), but this Lodge enameled Dutch oven is fantastic for the price. At just $89 for the six quart model, this is a great starter pot for anyone looking to get into enamel cookware. While it's made in China, Lodge has strict quality control, which you won't get with other budget Dutch ovens. It has a nice design, and the interior enamel mimics the creamy white color of Le Creuset's pots. The outer enamel is slightly lower quality than that of other brands, and may chip or crack if you hit it too hard against a surface or don't store it properly. You'll be able to avoid surface damage with careful handling and proper care.

During testing, we found the Lodge Dutch oven to be best at making soups, stews, braises and roasts. It has great heat retention and heats pretty evenly, so it would also be a great pick for bread baking. In terms of browning though, it can be a bit finicky (Fair warning: If you heat this pot too hot too fast, almost everything will stick to it. Low and slow is the name of the game with this one). This is a solid cooktop to tabletop pot, especially considering the wide handles which are roomy enough to use with pot holders for easy transport. 

A hefty 15 pound Dutch oven might seem more like special occasion cookware than everyday cookware for some folks. If splurging on a big, heavy, expensive pot just isn't for you, opt for the Caraway Dutch oven. At just 6.2 pounds, this Dutch oven is equally at home boiling pasta as it is making a hearty stew — and it won't break your back every time you want to pull it out. 

During testing, Caraway's Dutch oven really wowed us with its nonstick surface. We were able to sear meats and even fry an egg with no sticking and minimal oil. Because this pot is so nonstick, you might miss out on building flavor through frond (browned stuck-on bits that can be turned into a sauce or deglazed to use in soups, stews, and braises) but it will be much easier to clean than other options. The aluminum and ceramic construction is also easier to maintain than enameled cast iron.

One thing to note is that this pot is not cast iron or enameled cast iron like many other traditional Dutch ovens. Instead, it features an aluminum core with a ceramic nonstick coating. You'll definitely miss some of the heat retention of the heavy duty Dutch ovens (which often make better bread), but this pot is nearly as versatile as a traditional Dutch oven, is more nonstick than most options, and it makes more sense for everyday use. There's also a whole set of matching cookware, including a frying pan, a sauté pan, and a saucepan if you want to go all in on Caraway.

Many of the popular Dutch oven brands are best if you purchase the six-quart size, but if you're only cooking for one or two, that will likely be too large. The Dutch Baby is the best Dutch oven for apartment dwellers or small families — it's stylish, decently nonstick, easy to clean, and can sear, braise, and bake like a champ.

This 3.5 quart pot has a beautiful gray enameled interior that is perfect for searing and sautéing, and during testing, food easily released from the bottom and sides. If you do have any stuck-on bits after searing or browning, this pot can easily be deglazed with a bit of liquid, which loosens stuck-on food and works well to build up flavors for soups, stews, and sauces (a completely nonstick pot won't allow you to build up flavor in this way). It comes in four cheery colors that will brighten up any kitchen, though we're partial to the mustard yellow. 

If the Dutch Baby is too small for your household, Great Jones also makes a bigger Dutch oven, The Dutchess, which comes in a 6.75 quart capacity.

Enameled Dutch ovens are known to be a little bit tricky when it comes to heat. If you heat them too high too fast, the interior can become discolored or even ruined. If all that sounds intimidating, the Instant Pot Dutch Oven will handle the heat level for you, so you can make delicious soups, stews, and more without worrying about messing up an expensive Dutch oven.

This Dutch Oven is situated inside a heating element, much like a traditional Crock Pot. Where it differs though, is that it features an oven and stove safe enameled cast iron inner pot, plus a heavy cast iron lid that locks heat in. The removable pot means you can start out with Instant Pot doing the cooking for you, then graduate to the stove or oven once you get the hang of things. You'll be also be able to choose from four functions: Braise, slow cook, sear/sauté, and keep warm.

The inner pot and lid are technically dishwasher-safe if you prioritize easy cleanup, but note that most experts recommend hand washing Dutch ovens to keep them looking their best. 

There's a reason why so many grandmas have vintage Le Creuset Dutch ovens in their kitchens. These heirloom-quality pots are made in France under extremely strict quality control regulations, which is why they last lifetimes. The cult-favorite Le Creuset enameled Dutch ovens have a lifetime warranty and a no-flaw guarantee, so you're promised a perfect piece of cookware every time (which helps justify the cost a bit). If you're looking for a pot that you can pass down to your kids, this is it. 

Le Creuset Dutch Ovens come in bold, bright colors and feature a creamy beige enameled interior, which makes it easy to check on cooking progress (but does have a tendency to stain). This Dutch oven is ideal for tender roast meats and golden brown bread since the heavy, tight-fitting lid ensures top notch heat and moisture retention. It comes in a huge variety of sizes and shapes too, so whether you're cooking for big family meals or just for yourself, there's a Le Creuset pot for you. The smallest pots are two quarts and start at $250, while the largest are 13.5 quarts and usually cost a little over $600. 

While a Le Creuset Dutch oven is definitely an investment piece, it does come with more than just quality craftsmanship. As an added bonus, these Dutch ovens are also so beautiful that they double as servingware and stovetop decor.

If you're looking to make a hearty pot of chili or a cozy cobbler in the great outdoors, the Camp Chef cast iron Dutch oven is the pot for you. Not every Dutch oven can be used over an open fire, but this seasoned cast iron pot is durable enough for that and can even be covered in hot coals for campfire baking. 

This seasoned cast iron Dutch oven comes with a thermometer notch to monitor cooking as well as a lid lifter that can pick up the loop lid handle or the bail handle when they're hot. As an added bonus, the lid can be flipped over and used as a griddle or grill pan, so use the pot to make a cozy batch of soup on the first night of your campout, then whip up bacon, eggs, or pancakes the next morning. 

Camp Chef's Dutch ovens come in four different sizes ranging from four to 12 quarts, and each is pre-seasoned so you can get cooking immediately. These pots are often measured in inches on product pages, so be sure to double check the quart measurement before you add to cart.