This $50 Pot Is a Dutch Oven and a Cast Iron Skillet — And Quite Possibly the Holy Grail of Cookware

published Nov 19, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Brilliantly hued enameled Dutch ovens get all the glory, but plain cast iron Dutch ovens are true kitchen workhorses. They’re cheap and rugged — no pricey enamel that might scratch or chip — and you can use them on any heat source, including the smoky flames of a campfire. Even if you treat them badly and lose all the shiny black seasoning, you can scrub them down and start over, year after year, generation after generation. 

But of all the rough-and-ready plain cast iron Dutch ovens out there, there’s one that’s a bit more ingenious than the rest because its lid doubles as a skillet. That’s right — it’s the two most useful forms of cast iron cookware combined into one. For anyone with limited space or a limited budget, the $50 Lodge 5-quart Double Dutch Oven offers a great solution.

While a regular Dutch oven has a knob on the lid, this particular model has a lid with handles on the side instead. And instead of being kind of pancake-like, it has tall sides. So, yes, you can use it as a lid, but you can also set it flat-side down on a burner and use it as a skillet. I was initially skeptical it would actually work. Would it be big enough? Deep enough? Is it just a gimmick? I had to try it out. 

The first thing I cooked in the lid/skillet were salmon fillets. The lid is 10 inches wide but has about 8 1/2 inches of cooking surface area, so getting four fillets in there was a tight squeeze. Still, it worked just fine. The skin turned out crisp and the fillets lifted off the surface without sticking. Next, I sautéed a bunch of kale with leeks and garlic. Even though the leafy greens were piled high, the skillet had enough depth to keep them contained until they wilted and collapsed.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Next, I used it to bake some no-knead sourdough bread. I usually bake round loaves in a black Staub, but sometimes it’s hard to score the tops because the walls of the pot get in the way. With the Double Dutch, I could use the lid as the base and the pot as the lid. This gave me better access for scoring and made it easier to transfer the dough from the work surface. The only trouble I found was that the handles are kind of small, and if you line them up, it makes it hard to grab the ones you need to remove the lid for the second half of the baking process. Instead, it works best to keep the handles offset from each other so they’re easier to grab. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

I also took my new pot(s) camping. Usually when people cook with cast iron Dutch ovens on a campfire, they use the kind that have little feet, so they are perched a bit above the coals. These pots usually have an indented lid as well, so you can put coals on top and really turn the pot into an oven. The Double Dutch doesn’t have feet, and the lid isn’t indented on top. But I nestled the pot on the coals all the same, and turned the lid upside down so the concave part was on top, perfect for holding a few coals. We steamed up some clams one night and made an apple cobbler the next. The Double Dutch worked perfectly. Of course, the outside was covered in soot, but it scrubbed right off. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

For the final test, I made a pork and green chile stew, and when the stew was done I used the lid to bake cornbread to go with it. What a treat to make two components of a meal and technically only get one piece of cookware dirty. The cornbread turned out great, with a good golden crust on the bottom. The cubed pork browned up perfectly and the deep sides of the pot (they’re 5 inches high) kept the grease splatters contained. I had to brown it in several batches, but the heaviness of the pot really retained the heat so each batch got good and brown without steaming into flabby grayness.

While cooking the stew, the lid retained the heat pretty well, but I noticed it let out more steam than my other Dutch oven, so more liquid evaporated. Afterward, I performed my usual boiling water test, bringing 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat and letting it boil for 10 minutes. The pot lost 2 cups of water, which is 1/2 to 1 cup more water loss than most other pots I’ve tested, and 1 1/2 cups more than Staub. But it’s on par with Le Creuset.

At 13 pounds, 6 ounces with the lid on, this is a pretty heavy-duty pot — heavier than my Le Creuset, but about the same weight as other cast iron Dutch ovens I’ve tested. However, those were all 6-quart pots and this one is 5 quarts.

All in all, this is a super-useful piece of cookware that works like a champ. For just $50! If your kitchen cupboards lack real estate, this two-in-one pot/skillet combo is the one thing you shouldn’t do without.