5 Great Dutch Ovens: And 10 Recipes to Put Them to Work

Dutch Ovens 2011

When it comes to fall cooking, the Dutch oven is the workhorse of the kitchen. What is a Dutch oven? It is any large, heavy pot that is suitable for stovetop or oven use. But most people really mean the extra-heavy cast iron, enameled pots typified by Le Creuset and Staub. These hard-working pots are the perfect tool for slow-simmered soups and braises, as well as a few other favorite fall meals.

Read on for our look at five excellent cast iron Dutch ovens, in a variety of price points, and a roundup of 10 recipes to put your own big pot to work. From chicken braised in milk and garlic, to spiced apple butter, to homemade no-knead bread with a shatteringly crisp crust, each of these shows off what a Dutch oven can do.

Pin it button big

What Is a Dutch oven?

A Dutch oven is any large, heavy pot that is suitable for stovetop or oven use. So your deep 7-quart stockpot could be a Dutch oven, as long as it has an oven-safe lid and can go straight to the oven from the stove.

But when talking about Dutch ovens, most people really mean the extra-heavy cast iron, enameled pots typified by Le Creuset and Staub. These hard-working pots are the corner piece of the fall and winter kitchen, ideal for slow-simmered soups and braises, as well as other favorite hearty meals.

5 Great Dutch Ovens

Here's a look at a few different Dutch ovens. I personally own several of these and use them constantly. What's your favorite size or brand of Dutch oven? Got any tips? Share them below!

1. Le Creuset 3.5-Quart Wide Oval French Oven, $130 at Chef's Catalog — Many people buy enormous Dutch ovens, and while the big ones have their place, I love my modestly-sized Le Creuset even more. Its extra-wide base lets me brown meat right in the pot, then add tomatoes or broth to make a normal-sized batch of soup or stew. Read more about why I like this pan here.

2. Lodge 6-Quart Lodge Color Enamel Dutch Oven, $50 at Amazon — But if you want a larger pot, Lodge's terrific prices and quality just can't be beat. A 6-quart size is good for soups, stews, braises, breads, and more, and this particular pot is a great deal.

3. Paula Deen Signature 5-qt. Covered Oval Casserole, $50 at Target — Here's something a little off the beaten track: A Dutch oven from the queen of the South herself, Paula Deen. I included this one because of its low price and its interesting styling. Let's face it — most Dutch ovens look more or less the same, apart from their color and some minor styling differences. This pot is rather beautiful, and good for the oven-to-table work that most Dutch ovens perform.

4. Staub 4 1/4-quart Oval Dutch Ovens, $160 at Cutlery and More — I enjoy my oval Dutch oven quite a lot; I think the shape is a little more elegant, and it also cradles a roast chicken perfectly. I have a Staub Dutch oven, which is by far the most pricey piece of cookware in my cupboard, but honestly it's worth every penny. Cleans up beautifully, works hard, looks good.

5. Calphalon Enamel Cast Iron 8 Quart Dutch Oven, $139 at Amazon — If you are in the market for a really, really big Dutch oven, then the price on this 8 quart pot from Calphalon is a fine deal. Calphalon makes affordable Dutch ovens, and their service is supposed to be good too.

Some Dutch oven shopping tips:
Cast Iron Cookware: Enameled or Bare - A store guide for shopping for cast iron cookware.
• Also remember: Check TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross for good deals on off-brand (and name brand) Dutch ovens. It's a great place to pick up something for less.
• Also check Amazon around the holidays; there are often deep discounts then.
• And finally: Remember that any heavy pot with a lid can act as a Dutch oven. I often make no-knead bread in a stainless steel, oven-safe pot, instead of my cast iron Dutch ovens. Just make sure the pot is oven-safe and as heavy as possible.

Any other tips for buying a high-quality, inexpensive Dutch oven?

Pin it button big

10 Recipes to Put a Dutch Oven to Work

Here are 10 favorite recipes for Dutch ovens. Soups, stews, no-knead bread, and more.

TOP ROW
• 1 Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions - Vegan, gluten-free, and totally delicious.
• 2 Rich and Meaty Lamb Ragù - Maybe my favorite use for my Dutch oven.
• 3 How To Cook (and Shred) a Pork Shoulder - Another meaty, slow-cooked way to put a Dutch oven to work.
• 4 Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyère - Chicken, gooey cheese, French onion soup style.
• 5 Chinese No Clay-Pot Chicken with Soy & Ginger - Rice, chicken, scallions, ginger and more — all in one pot.

BOTTOM ROW
• 6 Tuscan Bread & Tomato Soup (Ribollita) - Vegetarian and hearty. My favorite fall soup (I made a pot last night in fact).
• 7 Chicken in Coconut Milk - Based on Jamie Oliver's ridiculously good chicken with lemon and milk. Best chicken ever.
• 8 One-Pot Pasta e Fagioli - Bean and Pasta Stew - Easily made vegan or vegetarian, and hearty and filling. A great make-ahead meal.
• 9 How to Make Apple Butter - The Dutch oven is the perfect tool for slow-cooked apple butter. It's apple season! (Lots of DIY recipes are best made in the Dutch oven; yogurt works well too.)
• 10 No-Knead Bread in a Hurry - What you've been waiting for — bread made in a Dutch oven. Really amazing loaf of bread, baked by you with virtually no effort. It's a classic for a reason. Also check out these posts: How to Make No-Knead Bread and 20 Tips, Tricks, & Ideas for No-Knead Bread.

What's your favorite thing to cook in a Dutch oven?

(Images: Dutch oven images via: Chef's Catalog, Amazon, Target, Cutlery and More, Amazon. See linked recipes for full recipe image credits.)

44 Comments