For the modern kitchen, there’s an impressive range of high-tech devices, multitask cookers, and new innovative materials for cookware. Many people have heard of the traditional Dutch oven, but not everybody has one. Finding the best Dutch oven for your needs and budget, though, is not too difficult considering the range of colors, designs and sizes available.
These heavy-duty, caste iron and enameled pots are the true, original multitaskers of the home kitchen. Their non-stick, easy-to-clean, heat retentive qualities lend them easily to tasks such as braising, frying, stewing, slow cooking, steaming, bread making and even cultivating yogurt. Dutch oven cooking also requires less oil and low-heat, slow-cooking preserves nutrients better. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, then you might just be missing out on something.
How to Choose the Best Dutch Oven: Buying Guide
1. Bare Cast Iron Or Enamel Coated
Enameled: Most people prefer enameled Dutch ovens because they’re easier to clean and take care of, as well as coming in a wider variety of sizes and colors. You have to be careful though not to chip the enamel especially around the rim. It’s difficult to tell off-hand the quality and durability of the enamel, but manufacturing techniques advertised by the maker can help you.
Bare cast iron: Bare cast iron pots have no enamel coating and require special preparation—or seasoning—before you can use them. However, most come pre-seasoned, so you can generally use them straight out of the box. Some people feel the bare cast iron ovens impart a richer flavor to food over time, but these pots tend to be more suited for the outdoors and barbecues.
2. Weight and Portability
Dutch ovens are by nature heavy, especially the bigger ones. A lot of people forget to factor in the weight of the pot when filled with say a chunky stew—and with the lid on. Make sure you can handle the weight, and while gas cooktops aren’t a problem, you should not drag these pots across an electric glass smoothtop.
A 6 quart Dutch can weigh up to 12‒15 lbs, and a quart of water weighs an additional 2 lb—so that’s at least 24 lb or 10 kg to lift. The premium Le Creuset pots are as large as 15 quarts.
3. Handles and Lifting
Considering the potential weight of these pots and how hot they can get, you certainly need to be able to get a firm grip. Bigger pots require larger, more spacious handles for lifting. Make sure the handles are solid looking and wide enough for the size of the pot.
4. Lid and Insulation
The lid is key to a quality Dutch oven. It should be relatively heavy, should sit evenly and be tight fitting. Good Dutch ovens usually have dimples, nubs or ‘tears’ on the bottom surface of the lid. These help to redistribute the moisture and heat more evenly. Some lid knobs have to come off if you use them in your oven at very high temperatures—usually over 350 ℉—so always check the product description carefully. Quality knobs can go up to 450 ℉.
5. Size and Versatility
Dutch ovens, especially enameled ones, come in a wide variety of sizes ranges from 0.5 quart to 15 quart. 1 quart pot generally serves up a good single portion for one person, so for four people, a 4 quart is good. A 5 quart or 5.5 quart will give you a little extra for double helpings and leftovers.
In terms of affordability and versatility, the most popular sizes are between 6 to 8 quart. The 5.5 quart size is good for a small chicken roast, while 6 quart, although a little on the heavy side, gives you a little more versatility with the space, especially for bread. If you want to do large roasts, braising or frying of large portions of meat, you may want to consider 9 quarts and above.
Are Dutch Ovens Safe?
Modern-style Dutch ovens, coated in high-grade enamel, are perfectly safe and many are FDA-approved, if you’re worried about heavy metal or iron leaching. There is some discord, however, around the safety and efficacy of bare cast iron cookware. Why? Because according to official studies, a certain amount of iron will leach into the food. This is particularly true for pots not properly seasoned, or when used with acidic foods like tomatoes.For growing children, menstruating women, or those who are iron-deficient, this may not be such an issue. For adult men and menopausal women, however, iron accumulation in the body can be problematic. If you think regular use of bare cast iron is not for you, just stick to the enameled pots.
Reviews of The Best Dutch Oven To Buy in 2021
For the best Dutch ovens in 2021, we have the recognizable top brands and some strong newcomers too.
- Zelancio 6-qt Enamel Dutch Oven In Red — Best To Buy In 2021
- Lodge 5-qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven — Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- 360 Americraft Stainless Steel 6-qt Dutch Oven — Best Stainless Steel Dutch Oven
- Camp Chef Deluxe 9 1/3-qt Dutch Oven — Best Dutch Oven for Camping
- Tramontina Round Dutch Oven 7 & 4-qt Set — Best Value Dutch Oven
- Staub 1.5-qt Petite French Oven — Best Compact Dutch Oven
- Le Creuset Signature 9-qt Round In Cerise — Best Large Dutch Oven
Here are our top picks for the best Dutch ovens to buy in 2021:
1. 6-qt Zelancio Dutch Oven In Red —Best To Buy in 2021
The best Dutch oven to buy is not always the most popular. We feel it needs to be the best compromise of quality, design, affordability, and top customer ratings. Our top selection, the Zelancio, meets all of these requirements.
- Performance matches top-brands
- Stylish and elegant
- Large handles
- Oven proof to 500℉
- Not made locally
Quality and Performance
A noticeable feature of the Zelancio is its large, easy to grip handles and this is pretty essential for a big, heavy pot. This pot weighs 10 lbs or 4.5 kg when empty, so it’s actually a little lighter than typical high-end models. It also has condensation dimples on the bottom of the lid for better distribution of heat and moisture.
Users report excellent results even when compared to the Le Creuset benchmark. It braises well, stews, simmers and bakes perfect bread. Most of all, it’s super easy to clean and many are impressed with its high-quality enamel—which Zelancio attributes to its three-layered finishing. Customers also loved how nicely and securely packaged the item is.
A Modern, but Classic Look
For many, stylish design is an important criteria and we feel this Zelancio can find a place in any kitchen. The well-blended popular red color is eye-catching, yet not garish—which makes it more elegant and less gaudy than other popular models. The circular designs on the lid rim and top of the body are simple and not too busy.
The Zelancio color range is basic but sufficient, coming in polished shades of green, red, orange and teal. They are confidently noticeable, yet don’t scream for attention, but rather draw people in and make for a richer conversation.
While the price tag on top brands like Le Creuset or Staud is out of reach for many, a 6 quart Zelancio is often more competitively priced than other popular selling models. There is also an oval-shaped model, which for retails at $10 more and the oval red is some $30 extra! Oval pots are more difficult to forge than round ones.
The Zelancio 6-qt Dutch oven is very competitively priced and its blend of modern and classic will suit most kitchens. It performs well and the 6 quarts size is the most versatile of all.
2. Lodge 5-qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven — Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven
The competing models in this category are all very similar, but this particular Lodge model has one feature that sets it apart—the domed lid that makes it perfectly versatile for larger roasts, baking bread or doubling up as a searing pan.
- Dual function lid
- Excellent for breads
- Good for indoors and outdoors
- Made in the USA
- Only available in one size
Although a very mid-ranged size for a Dutch oven, the domed, dual function lid adds a little extra that is always appreciated in an ergonomic kitchen. Dome-shaped lids are also better at retaining heat and moisture.
Most people love how this oven bakes bread, especially sour-dough, and the extra height makes it all the more easier. Some people don’t like the factory seasoning and would rather do their own, but nowadays, it is difficult to buy a bare cast iron pot that hasn’t been pre-seasoned.
Although advertised as dishwasher-safe, it’s always better not to put bare cast iron in the dishwasher. Wash lightly with a non-course sponge, dry out in the oven and layer with some lard, or oil before storing. Lodge also assures that these models are made in the USA—their more popular enameled ovens are made in China.
3. 360 Americraft Induction Waterless Dutch Oven — Best Stainless Steel Dutch Oven
Truth be told, a stainless steel ‘Dutch oven’ is just a wannabe gate crasher at a fancy dress party. Dutch ovens are about low conductivity and high heat retention, however, this 360 Americraft compares well in a number of ways.
- Highest quality manufacturing
- Waterless, vapor technology
- High heat retention
- Made in the USA
- Not a classic Dutch oven
Slow heating isn’t a feature of this highly conductive pot, yet it’s much thicker than most other stainless steel varieties because it has a double aluminum inner-wrapping. Like a Dutch oven, operates best on low to medium heat, but is much more energy efficient. Its waterless vapor design traps natural juices inside and only a minimal amount of water or oil is needed.
The 360 Americraft is dishwasher-proof, EPA-certified, and proudly designed and manufactured in America. As with a Dutch oven, it’s an investment that will last you a lifetime, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. The sizes available are 4, 6, 8,12 and 16 quart sizes, but 6 and 8 quart sizes are the best.
4. Camp Chef Deluxe 9 ⅓-qtDutch Oven — Best Dutch Oven for Camping
When you go camping, you want equipment that is both functional and versatile– that is why we chose this Camp Chef cast iron pot over other popular brands. It has a dual function lid, a thermometer port and comes pre-seasoned.
- Dual function lid
- Comes with a lid-lifter
- Sturdy legs
- Thermometer port
- Not locally made
This pot comes with standing legs and there are also legs on the lid, so it sits securely in embers and the lid doubles up as a searing or pizza pan. This lid was the feature most liked by happy campers, second to the thermometer port. A lid-lifter is also included, so there’s no need to worry about extra purchases.
Its comfortable 9.33 quart size can hold up to 5 chicken breasts and can cook bread for a small group. There are two additional sizes—a 6 quart pot and an extra large 12 quart one —depending on whether you are a loner or a crowd pleaser.
Some people thought the pre-seasoning was not so good, but the most dissatisfaction came from the fact it is made in China. Unfortunately, even makers such as Lodge are now making some of their products in China.
5. Tramontina Round 7-qt & 4-qt Dutch Oven Set — Best Value Dutch Oven
Although Dutch ovens can often be bought as part of a cast iron cooking set, it’s not so often that you can get a value price for two Dutch ovens together. The Brazilian maker Tramontina makes quality Dutch ovens and their matching set, although not exactly two for the price of one, is good value for money.
- Easy to clean
- Oven safe to 450℉
- Versatile sizes
- 7-qt pot pretty heavy
The 7 quart pot is a great size for braising meats, frying chicken as well as making full roasts, stews or bread. So, while you’re cooking up a storm in the 7 quart, the 4 quart pot can do sauces, vegetables, curries, or steam some rice. These pots also feature self-basting ridges on the bottom of the lid, and they come in teal, graded red, blue, gunmetal gray and slate gray.
Most of all, people love the color and shading of these pots, and find them very easy to clean. Also, users who tested the pots found that the heat was very uniformly distributed. There were, however, a number of reports of pots that arrived chipped or where the enamel came off after a few uses.
6. Staub Cast Iron 1.5-qt Petite French Oven — Best Compact Dutch Oven
The smallest Dutch oven you can easily find is a 1 quart. Staub does produce a mini 0.75 quart, however, the 1.5 quart is a lot more versatile and we chose this model because of its more vertical height.
- Unique, elegant, slender look
- Perfect for table serving
- Excellent for rice and quinoa
- The handles get very hot
This dainty Staub is very elegant and pretty, and loves to go straight onto your table. Not many ‘Dutch’ ovens have this unique French look! Its slender shape is also more suited to what people generally use these smaller ovens for: rice, sauces, oatmeal, small treats of mac and cheese, quinoa, vegetables, soups and reheats.
Staub’s craftsmanship is of a high-standard, and this model also has a signature Chistera drops on the lid. There are a number of colors available including dark blue, white and grey. If you require a wider and shorter mini Dutch oven, or something more affordable, we can recommend the Lodge 1.5 quart which only comes in red.
7. Le Creuset Signature 9-qt Round Dutch Oven — Best Large Dutch Oven
From small to large!If you want to do a decent sized roast, or cook for a large party of people, a 9 quart Dutch oven is a good choice. Le Creuset, more so than other manufacturers, specialize in these larger pots and name assures top quality.
- Superior quality and results
- Suitable for roasts
- Large meals and parties
- Comfortable handles
- Very heavy;
- A tad expensive
Despite the price tag, long term users especially are completely sold on the value and performance of this Le Creuset. Some key features are the sand colored interior which makes food staining less noticeable. Also, the handles are particularly large and comfortable, but you should not try to lift this pot with the lid on when it’s full. Although it’s also dishwasher-safe, it’s better to just lightly sponge after a good soaking.
This pot measures some 15.75 inches across the handles, has a diameter of 12.25 inches and is 7.75 inches high– so it squats firmly on a stove top or counter. If you prefer, they do have an oval, more elongated 9.5 quart model and a 13.25 quart round model in red only.
Top-rated Dutch Ovens Comparison Chart
Conversion aid: 1 US quart = 0.95 litres
|1.5 qt = 1.4 l||4 qt = 3.7 l||6 qt = 5.6 l||7 qt = 6.6 l||9 qt = 8.5 l|
|Model||Size Reviewed||Colors||Key Feature|
|Zelancio||6 qt||4 - teal, green, orange, red||3-layer enamel finish|
|Lodge||5 qt||1- cast iron black||Dual function lid|
|Americraft 360||9 qt||1- stainless stee||Waterless inductio|
|Camp Chef||9 ⅓ qt||1- cast iron black||Dual function lid|
|Tramontina set||4 & 7 qt||5 - teal, blue, graded red, gunmetal gray, slate||Oven-proof to 450℉|
|Staub||1.5 qt||3 - grenadine, dark blue, graphite gray||Slender, vertical shape|
|Le Creuset||9 qt||6 - cherry, flame, marine, Marseille blue, oyster, white||Highest quality and excellence|
Things People Often Ask About Dutch Ovens
Why Is A Dutch Oven Dutch?
The root of the name is unclear—some suggest it comes from when Dutch cast iron techniques found their way over to England in the early 1700’s. The name could also have come from early Dutch settlers in the US peddling their cookware, or perhaps the origin derives from Dutch communities in Pennsylvania.
Le Creuset, the renowned French company, were the first to coat this black, crude-looking vessel in a more versatile and attractive enamel. These were declared ‘French ovens’, but by this time the Dutch part had already become stuck in the vernacular!
Why Is a Dutch Oven Called an Oven?
Well, technically, any hollowed-out cavern or chamber to which heat is applied can rightfully be called an oven. In the modern understanding of the word, these pots are so versatile, they can do anything you’d expect from a regular oven.
How Does a Dutch Oven Work?
The heavy air-tight lid retains heat and moisture, thus preserving flavor. Also, small dimples, nubs or self-basting grooves on the bottom of the lid help to collect and redistribute moisture and heat more evenly. The other key feature is the slow and low conductivity of the iron. This means that food will not be subjected to rapidly changing temperatures or heat loss, typical of more common cookware.
How Do I Clean Dutch Oven?
- Never use a coarse scourer and be careful not to scratch or chip an enameled Dutch oven.
- Cool down and soak in warm water before cleaning–never subject your pot to extreme temperature changes.
- For tough foods, burns or stains, add baking soda when soaking and sponge with a little soap.
- Do not soak a bare cast iron pot. When cooled, wipe out excess food with a paper towel and wash straight away under warm, running water. Don’t use soap because it will damage the seasoning.
- Gently dry your pot straight away. For bare cast iron, dry in an oven, and afterwards, lightly layer with large or organic oil.
- Store bare cast iron in a cupboard free from humidity. For enameled pots,don’t stack other pots on top, and place a large tea towel around the rim before resting the lid.
How Do I Season a Dutch Oven?
Proper seasoning of bare cast iron is necessary to prevent rust forming, and to create a safe, non-stick cooking surface.
- Lightly rinse your new pot and dry it out well.
- Coat with a grease-like shortening or an organic oil.
- Baking at 400 ℉ to 500 ℉ for an hour.
- If you bake at 350 ℉, as often recommended, the oil will not polymerize properly thus creating a sticky, rather than a non-stick surface.
- Over time, the coating on your pot will become darker and smoother, and this will impart a distinctive flavor to your food.
- If you want to remove old or bad seasoning, you have to use a furnace, a fireplace or the self-clean cycle of your oven to reach at least 800 ℉ or 425 ℃.
Best Dutch Oven Brands
LeCreuset– the creators of the enamel-coated Dutch oven. Founded in France in 1925, they make a wide range of top-end cookware and utensils including cast iron, enameled cookware, stoneware, and even silicone. There flagship large Dutch ovens are the benchmark against which all other brands are evaluated.
Staub – another French company specializing in enameled cookware as well as traditional cast iron and ceramics. They usually market their products as ‘French ovens’ or ‘cocottes’. Their leading cocottes were designed in 1974 and were the first brand to use nub or droplet designs on the base of the lid for a more even distribution of condensation.
Lodge – one of America’s oldest cookware and traditional cast iron makers. They have an extensive range of cast iron cookware, including their sought-after Dutch ovens, enamelware, stoneware, and carbon steel cooking implements. Lodge are the go-to brand for outdoors and camping cookware. They also have a nice collection of cookbooks.
Tramontina – this Brazilain company dates back to 1911. They manufacture a huge range of products across industries, but their US division is focused exclusively on kitchenware. They specialize in non-stick cookware, especially high grade improvements to aluminium. Their range includes anodized aluminum which is coated with stainless steel or ceramics.
Other names that might ring a bell are Chasseur, Better Chef, Martha Stewart Cookware, Calphalon, Camp Chef, Denby, and Cuisinart. There are also many newcomers such as Milo, Zelancio, Anolon, and Bruntmor.
We hope you found our buying guide and reviews of the best Dutch ovens in 2021 useful. If you have any experiences to share on any of these products, would like to point out something, or ask any questions, please use the comment box below. We are always here.