When my husband and I were gifted a Dutch oven as an engagement gift a couple of years ago, I knew it would be something we'd cherish for a lifetime — but I had no idea just how quickly we'd fall in love with it. There's a good reason why so many home cooks own one: It's easily the most versatile pot around.
Sure, it can do the usual things large pots can do like simmer a soup or boil pasta water, but where it shines is in the things you might not think to use it for when you first bring it home. Here are seven things you can make in a Dutch oven that really set it apart from every other pot and pan you have in your kitchen.
1. Beef Stew
The beauty of a Dutch oven is that its heavy surface can brown meat like a dream and then let it simmer slowly away at a low, even heat while it tenderizes and becomes melt-in-your-mouth good. So cooking a rich beef stew all day in it is a no-brainer.
Get a recipe: How To Make the Best Beef Stew from Scratch
2. Fried Chicken
The deep sides of a Dutch oven make frying at home a possibility since it reduces the risk of having hot oil spatter all over the kitchen. That's the only reason you need to finally give homemade fried chicken a try.
Get the recipe: How To Make Crispy, Juicy Fried Chicken
3. Pulled Pork
Brown a hefty pork shoulder in the Dutch oven and then transfer the pot to the oven to let it cook low and slow all afternoon. You'll be rewarded with meals for days — sandwiches, tacos, ragu, and more.
Get a recipe: How To Cook (and Shred) a Pork Shoulder for Pulled Pork
4. No-Knead Bread
A Dutch oven can do a whole lot more than cook meat to perfection. Since it can be heated to high temperatures and retain those high temperatures, it can bake a golden crusted loaf of bread that can rival those from your local bakery.
Get a recipe: How To Make No-Knead Bread
5. One-Pot Pasta
Instead of fussing with a pot to boil pasta and a pot to make the sauce, use your large Dutch oven to cook both. I think anyone could argue that less mess equals a tastier dinner.
Get a recipe: Clams and Linguine
Going back to how a Dutch oven is really good at retaining heat, you can forgo purchasing a yogurt maker and actually make awesome yogurt right inside the pot. With the lid on, a Dutch oven will keep the milk at a steady warm temperature, which is just what the bacteria needs to turn it into yogurt.
Get a recipe: How To Make Yogurt at Home
7. Roast Chicken
Not only can you roast a crispy-skinned, super-juicy bird in a Dutch oven, but you can also toss the sides in with it, like cubed butternut squash or potatoes, and cook the whole dinner in one pot.
Get a recipe: How To Cook a Whole Chicken Dinner in the Dutch Oven