Best Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

If you’re looking to braise meat tenderly, there’s no substitute for the best cast iron Dutch oven but what are they exactly?

A type of cast iron cookware made by the Dutch, Dutch ovens were named for this. Over the years, the English, French and Americans made improvements to the basic design. As small changes were made, so did the name. If you see cocottes, casseroles or French ovens, they all refer to the same fundamental Dutch oven.

Dutch ovens have very thick walls and the light is a tight fit. Although normally made from cast iron, much of this cookware is now made from ceramic or cast aluminum. Today our core focus will be on the cast iron variant.

10 Best Cast Iron Dutch Ovens - Reviews & Buying Guide

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Stainless Steel Knob and Loop Handles

1. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Stainless Steel Knob and Loop Handles

2 Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt., Cerise

2. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt., Cerise

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles, 5 qt

3. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles, 5 qt

STAUB Round Cocotte, 5.5 quart, Graphite Grey

4. STAUB Round Cocotte, 5.5 quart, Graphite Grey

Lodge 7 Quart Oval Enameled Dutch Oven. Classic Red Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

5. Lodge 7 Quart Oval Enameled Dutch Oven. Classic Red Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

6 Lodge Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven, Pre-Seasoned, 5-Quart

6. Lodge Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven, Pre-Seasoned, 5-Quart

7 Cuisinart CI755-30CR Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-1 2-Quart Oval Covered Casserole

7. Cuisinart CI755-30CR Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-1/2-Quart Oval Covered Casserole

Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte, 4 Qt, Black Matte

8. Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte, 4 Qt, Black Matte

Cuisinart Casserole Cast Iron, Light Blue, 7 quart

9. Cuisinart Casserole Cast Iron, Light Blue, 7 quart

Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, 6-Quart

10. Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, 6-Quart

Top 10 Best Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

1. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Stainless Steel Knob and Loop Handles

  • One Lodge 6 Quart Red Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • Features a stainless steel knob and loop handles for great control
  • Smooth glass surface won’t react to ingredients
  • Unparalleled heat retention and even heating
  • Use to marinate, refrigerate, cook, and serve
  • Great for induction cooktops

Lodge has a hard-won reputation for producing outstandingly durable cookware that looks great but doesn’t cost a fortune.

Bonded with porcelain enamel, this pot is super-simple to clean and you won’t get food sticking onto it however long you’re cooking for.

There’s a wide array of colorways to make a real statement in your kitchen and, if this 6-quart model doesn’t make the right fit for your kitchen, choose from a 5 other sizes to suit.

Measuring up at 13 ½ x 11 x 4 ¾ inches, this 6-quart pot is enough to rustle up dinner for a large family without eating up too much storage space.

Considering the price/performance ratio, brand heritage and optimum sizing, this Lodge gets our overall vote for best Dutch oven.

Things We Like

  • Spread of 12 vibrant colors to brighten up your kitchen
  • Porcelain enamel bonding for enhanced performance
  • Unbeatable heat retention and consistently even heating

Things We Dislike

  • Coating is not made in America as claimed

2. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt., Cerise

  • 45% larger handles that provide a sure grip, even with oven mitts
  • The superior heat distribution and retention of le creuset enameled cast iron
  • An advanced sand-colored interior enamel with even more resistance to wear
  • A larger composite knob that withstands temperatures up to 500ºF
  • Colorful, long-lasting exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking
  • The vitreous enamel surface is impermeable and therefore ideal for raw or cooked food storage, and for marinating with acidic ingredients such as wine.

If you’re looking for a cheap Dutch oven, move straight on since this is not for you. If, on the other hand you want to buy into Le Creuset’s stellar brand heritage and you appreciate the finer things in life, read on…

With an exceptional top temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, this pot can stand up to some heavy punishment. The enamel interior is highly resistant to wear and tear giving you a robust pot that should last you a lifetime.

And that lifespan does go some way to mitigate the ruthless price tag. We’re not here to convince you to buy anything you can’t afford, but if you do have a more fluid budget then you should consider this pot an investment not an expense.

Things We Like

  • 13 commanding colors to mesh with any kitchen décor
  • Oversized handles for improved grip
  • Capable of being heated at up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit

Things We Dislike

  • Eye-wateringly expensive

3. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles, 5 qt

  • One Lodge Pre-Seasoned 5 Quart Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven
  • Lid converts to a 10.25 Inch Skillet
  • Loop handles provide secure control
  • Unparalleled heat retention and even heating
  • Pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil
  • Use to sear, sauté, simmer, bake, broil, braise, roast, fry, or grill
  • Use in the oven, on the stove, on the grill, or over a campfire. Great for induction cooktops.

A smaller pot from the ever-reliable Lodge is up next with this 5-quart cast iron model.

As well as serving as a rugged casserole pot, you’ll be able to use the lid as a makeshift skillet. We would point out you should check your package closely upon arrival since a few disgruntled customers reported receiving a regular lid instead.

Full seasoned for you with vegetable oil and no chemicals at all, you can get going straight out the box without standing on ceremony.

As with all cookware like this, you’ll get an incredibly even heat and you can use this pot for a broad spread of cooking applications.

Things We Like

  • Serves double duty with lid converting into a skillet
  • Seasoned with no chemicals or synthetics used
  • Even and consistent heat distribution

Things We Dislike

  • Some issues with customers not receiving the promised convertible lid

4. STAUB Round Cocotte, 5.5 quart, Graphite Grey

  • Made in France
  • Heavy weight, tight-fitting lid retains moisture, spikes on the lid create a rain-forest effect evenly returning juices back onto food
  • Oven safe up to 900F/482C without lid, Lids are oven safe up to 500F/260C
  • Nickel steel knob
  • Smooth enamel bottom works on all stovetops, including gas, electric, glass, ceramic, induction, and halogen

If you’ve got deep pockets and enjoy baking your own bread, this 5 ½-quart pot from Staub is the obvious choice.

Choose from 8 subtle color schemes and make a real statement in the kitchen while filling it with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread.

If the sizing doesn’t suit, there’s a huge variety of other capacities from a dinky 2 ¾-quart model through to a cavernous 13 ¼-quart range-topper.

The lid doesn’t just fit like a glove but comes with spikes enabling the juices to cascade back inside where they belong.

The enamel base is suitable for use on all types of cookers including induction.

Things We Like

  • Innovative spiked lid design helps the juices stay inside
  • Marvelous selection of pastel color schemes
  • Oven safe to 900 degrees Fahrenheit without the lid

Things We Dislike

  • Another extremely expensive pot

5. Lodge 7 Quart Oval Enameled Dutch Oven. Classic Red Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

  • Enamel Cast Iron made in China to Lodge specifications. All other Lodge Cast Iron Cookware made in USA
  • Porcelain enamel interior and exterior
  • Self-basting cover with handle traps in heat, moisture and nutrients
  • 7-Quart capacity
  • Stainless steel knob

This oval shaped pot finished in fire hydrant red or white gives you enough capacity for a larger family at fully 7 quarts.

A heavyweight piece of cookware, if you’re comfortable handling bulkier pots, this rugged classic from Lodge will reward you across the board.

Pop it in the oven to temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit which should be enough for most recipes you can conjure up. Made from cast iron with both interior and exterior coated with enamel, this casserole dish is crowned with a stainless steel knob.

For a durable and affordable addition to your kitchen, Lodge hits another home run here.

Things We Like

  • Inside and outside finished in porcelain enamel
  • Withstands temperatures to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Perfect for all applications including refrigerating and marinating

Things We Dislike

  • Extremely heavy so bear this in mind before committing to purchase

6. Lodge Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven, Pre-Seasoned, 5-Quart

  • 5-Quart Deep Camp Dutch Oven for campfire or fireplace cooking
  • Seasoned cast iron ready to use
  • Cast iron lid inverts for use as griddle
  • 10-inch diameter by 5-inch deep
  • Made in U.S.A

When you want to cook up some meat on your camping trip and you don’t want to fire up the BBQ, this Dutch oven makes a great alternative. Whether you want to sear, simmer, braise, bake or fry, you’re options are wide and results will be first class.

As with all these casserole dishes the lid fits tightly and heat is retained perfectly for consistent results every time even when you’re not at home in the kitchen.

This pan comes pre-seasoned so you won’t need to fuss around and you can hit the road ready to cook up a storm.

Things We Like

  • Perfect combination of small footprint and impressive capacity
  • Great pot for use on your camping trips
  • Seasoned and ready to roll straight out the box

Things We Dislike

  • Some complaints about seasoning flaking off

7. Cuisinart CI755-30CR Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-1/2-Quart Oval Covered Casserole

  • 5-Quart Deep Camp Dutch Oven for campfire or fireplace cooking
  • Seasoned cast iron ready to use
  • Cast iron lid inverts for use as griddle
  • 10-inch diameter by 5-inch deep
  • Made in U.S.A

This Cuisinart 5 ½-quart pot gives you capacity to cook for all the family without eating up too much space in the kitchen.

Choose from 3 commanding colors to brighten up your countertop and enjoy the twin benefits of a cast iron build with porcelain enamel to keep cleaning to a minimum. You can also slip this pot into the dishwasher.

The base of the pan works well with all types of cooker including induction and halogen stoves.

As with all Dutch ovens, heat retention and distribution are first-rate. You’ll get no leakage of flavors and no odor absorption.

Pop it in the oven or on the stovetop and cook up a wide range of recipes in fine style with this awesome pot from Cuisinart.

Things We Like

  • Ergonomic design with cast iron handles and oven-safe knob
  • Dishwasher-friendly so keep clean-up to a minimum
  • Porcelain with enamel interior for durability and ease of use

Things We Dislike

  • Some issues with enamel cracking over time

8. Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte, 4 Qt, Black Matte

  • Made in France
  • Heavy weight tight fitting lid retains moisture spikes on the lid create a rain forest effect evenly returning juices back onto food
  • Oven safe up to 900F/482C without lid Lids are oven safe up to 500F/260C
  • Nickel steel knob
  • Smooth enamel bottom works on all stovetops including gas electric glass ceramic induction and halogen
  • Unique interior matte texture results in exceptional browning

If you’re hunting for cheap cookware, Staub is not your best bet. If, however, you want commercial quality for your home kitchen and you don’t mind digging a bit deeper, this casserole dish is well worth the investment.

Do you regularly brown your dishes? If so, the matte finish inside gives you even better results than ever. The proprietary lid design sends all the juices dripping back inside

Without the lid, this pot can handle temperatures to a huge 900 degrees Fahrenheit with the lid safe to go in the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This should give you the latitude to cook pretty much anything you fancy.

Things We Like

  • Matte interior yields incredible results when browning
  • Heat-resistant to a staggering 900 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Spiked lid for moist and succulent meat every times with juices locked in

Things We Dislike

  • Costly as with all Staub cookware

9. Cuisinart Casserole Cast Iron, Light Blue, 7 quart

  • Cast iron construction provides superior heat retention and even heat distribution
  • Porcelain enamel exterior provides a strong, durable finish in rich colors complementing any kitchen décor; perfect for cooking, serving and entertaining
  • Porcelain enamel interior is ideal for cooking, its surface does not impart flavors or absorb odors
  • Safe for induction, halogen, glass/ceramic, gas and electric stove-tops
  • Oven and broiler safe

This elegant baby-blue casserole dish from Cuisinart comes with cast iron build and an enameled exterior for ease of cleaning and superb results on your plate.

At 7 quarts, you’ll get more than enough capacity to feed the whole family while it’s not so large as to take up too much storage space.

Suitable for use with any type of cooker including halogen and induction, you’ll be able to whip up your favorite stews and just sit back for all the flavors to come fully to the fore.

The only reported niggles with Cuisinart cookware concern the enamel having a tendency to chip so bear this in mind and handle with care.

Things We Like

  • Aesthetically pleasing while still understated
  • Dishwasher-friendly to keep clean-up fuss-free
  • Works on all cookers including induction

Things We Dislike

  • Enamel can chip over time so handle with care

10. Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, 6-Quart

  • The original Lodge Camp Dutch Oven does it all — and it’s been everywhere. A flanged lid holds hot coals and flips over for griddling, while the legs keep the oven at an ideal distance from hot coals. Includes Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101 cookbook.
  • PRE-SEASONED COOKWARE. A good seasoning makes all the difference. Lodge provides pre-seasoned cookware with no synthetic chemicals; just soy based vegetable oil. The more you use your iron, the better the seasoning becomes.
  • MADE IN THE USA. Lodge has been making cast iron cookware in South Pittsburg, Tennessee (pop. 3,300) since 1896. With over 120 years of experience, their cast iron is known for its high quality design, lifetime durability, and cooking versatility.

Another cast iron Dutch oven perfect for use on the trail or the campsite, this 6-quart variant gives you even more room to feed a hungry group.

Perfect for cooking over the campfire or for a broad spread of other applications, there’s no excuse to go hungry or hit the takeway when you’re camping.

This pot is seasoned already so you can pop it in the trunk of your car without any preparation and get cooking right away.

There’s a 1, 2 or 4-quart model in this range if you fancy something slightly smaller while still enjoying the same efficiency and consistency.

Things We Like

  • Generous capacity married to compact footprint
  • Pre-seasoned for your convenience
  • Cast iron made in the US

Things We Dislike

  • Some users report receiving cracked pots so check contents of package closely upon receipt

IV. How to Season, Wash and Preserve Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Cast iron Dutch ovens are, overall, pretty much maintenance-free.

That said, there are a few things you need to consider in order to get the best performance and lifespan from your new investment.

Before anything at all, you need to think about seasoning your pot. Properly cared for, a casserole dish can last for generations and seasoning is central to an extended life.

Seasoning a Dutch Oven

A growing number of this cookware comes pre-seasoned and there’s an easy way to check for this…

Make sure there’s a black patina which indicates proper seasoning. If this is missing, food can stick to the surface spoiling your recipe and causing undue problems cleaning up afterward. If there’s no patina in place or your pot doesn’t come pre-seasoned, you’ll need to deal with the layer of wax put there to ensure you receive your pot with no rust.

Place some foil on a baking sheet. Pop this onto the bottom rack of your oven and set the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lie the Dutch oven face down on the sheet and the wax will drip off onto the sheet.

Repeat this process to remove wax from the lid.

When you notice some smoke coming from your Dutch oven, it’s ready for seasoning.

First, though, remove your pot and lid from the oven and wash it thoroughly then dry it completely.

Next, check there are no cracks or irregularities that have occurred in transit or during casting.

By seasoning the cast iron, you can separate the metal from the food so you won’t get that acrid taint seeping in and ruining your culinary creation.

Beyond this, without a layer of oil, your pan will be prone to rusting out.

The most commonly touted oil is vegetable oil but this can actually go rancid over time. A superior choice is extra virgin olive oil.

Whichever oil you choose, the process of seasoning is straightforward…

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soak a rag with your oil of choice then rub it thoroughly over all surfaces of your Dutch oven
  • Pop the pan into the oven, again face down as when removing the wax
  • Leave the pot in the oven for an hour. You might notice some smoking but this is to be expected. If the smoking stops before an hour is up, you can remove the pot
  • You should repeat this process with 3 layers of oil. Don’t be tempted to skip this stage as it’s well worth the little time and effort it takes

Properly seasoned, your pan should be black throughout.

Washing a Dutch Oven

Some Dutch ovens are dishwasher-friendly but many call for cleaning by hand. Luckily, this is not tough.

One of the advantages of seasoning your pot is that very little grime and debris should stick to the pan in the first place.

When you’ve finished cooking, add some water to the pan and remove any large pieces of food.

Heat up your pan a little then, once it’s cooled slightly, use a plastic spatula and scrape away any excess food. Do not use soap as this will break down your seasoning undoing all that hard work.

Dry out the pan completely and you’re good to go.

Preserving a Dutch Oven

As long as you take the trouble to season your Dutch oven and clean it without being tempted to use soap, there’s precious little maintenance required.

Store away from moisture and stuff some paper towels between the pot and lid to prevent rusting and help keep the oil from turning rancid.

We’ll tail off with 5 of the most frequently asked questions about this classic cookware…

V. Cast Iron Dutch Oven FAQs

1) What is a Dutch oven?

Essentially, any cast iron pan with a tight-fitting lid qualifies as a Dutch oven. Since these cast iron pots were produced predominantly by the Dutch until the 1800s, this name has stuck.

2) Is a Dutch oven essential or merely useful?

Since you can always improvise in the kitchen, it’s hard to consider any cookware absolutely essential. That said, you can certainly get impeccable results that are hard to achieve without one of these versatile pieces of kit. From roasting and stewing to frying and baking, you can perform an astonishing range of applications with the best Dutch oven. From the stovetop to the oven with minimal clean-up required, you won’t be disappointed if you invest in one of these remarkable pots.

3) Are Dutch ovens good for cooking healthy food?

As with any cookware, what you put in is key to healthy cooking. Using the wrong ingredients, there’s nothing inherently healthy about using a Dutch oven. With fresh and nutritious ingredients, though, you’ll get all the vitamins and nutrients retained inside during the process of slow cooking. When finished with enamel, you’ll get a far safer non-stick pan than using conventional and artificial non-stick alternatives. These can end up becoming toxic at high temperatures, not the case with a Dutch oven.

4) What can you cook in a Dutch oven?

The easy answer is almost anything. You’ll be able to cook through a huge band of temperatures giving you incredible freedom. You can roast meat or vegetables, bake bread, make stews and casseroles as well as fry or braise. There’s really very little you can’t cook in a Dutch oven.

5) Are Dutch ovens dishwasher-safe?

Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are fine to go in the dishwasher. Having said that, we’d advise you clean them by hand as above. If your pan does not come with an enamel coating, you should definitely not use a dishwasher for cleaning. You’ll end up stripping the seasoning and the pan is highly likely to rust.

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