4 Best Dutch Ovens, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We braised, seared and boiled to find our favorite Dutch ovens.
Our Top Dutch Oven Picks
Tested by Beth Lipton, Amanda Neal and Vivian Chan for Food Network Kitchen
Maybe your grandma makes her famous roast in one of these big pots on Sundays, or perhaps you just see lots of recipes calling for a Dutch oven and you're curious. Either way, a Dutch oven is essential for any serious cook. This kitchen workhorse is a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, usually made from enameled cast iron, which you can use on the stove or in the oven — and once you’ve braised a roast or simmered a stew in one, you’ll never look back. We put several to the test to see which ones are worth the investment.
This story has been updated since it was originally published. We tested four new Dutch ovens using the same methods of our original test, and reviewed our criteria for the best picks. We stand by some of our original picks and have added new ones based on new perameters. Read on for our current list of top Dutch oven picks.
Things to Consider When Buying a Dutch Oven
Shape: Most classic Dutch ovens come in round and oval shapes. If you’ll use it mostly for soups, stews and standard-sized roasts, a round Dutch oven will suit you. If you plan to roast whole chickens, braise turkey legs or cook other large cuts of meat, an oval shape may work better for you. If you only have room for one oven, we feel a round Dutch oven is most versatile.
Slope of the Sides: In addition to oval or round, we also noticed the slope of the sides of the oven mattered in testing. A few ovens were designed with sides that sloped in a bit, which left a smaller base area for browning meat. We preferred ovens with straight sides, and all of our favorite ovens reflect that.
Color: In testing, we noticed the interior color of the Dutch ovens mattered. Most Dutch ovens have a cream-colored enamel-coated interior, however, we did test others with black and grey interiors. Darker colors made it harder to caramelize onions accurately and determine browning.
How We Tested
We purchased 14 popular, well-reviewed Dutch ovens. We evaluated their size and weight and any special features they offered (such as the self-basting lids). Then we put them through a series of tests: We heated 8 cups of water in each and noted how long it took to come to a boil. Then we caramelized an onion to find any hot spots and see how easily they came clean from handwashing. Finally, we cooked a 4-pound pot roast in each one, searing the meat on the stove, then braising in the oven. We dishwashed any that claimed to be dishwasher safe and handwashed the rest.
No big surprise that the company famous for its cast iron skillets has its enameled cast iron Dutch oven game down. We love this Lodge Dutch oven for most people because of its affordability, durability and quality cooking.
It has all the features you want: Oven safe up to 500 degrees F, 6-quart capacity and excellent heat retention. In our tests, the pot got super hot, super fast, and cooked evenly, without hot spots. Pot roast came out tender and luscious, and the pan cleaned up easily. It is dishwasher safe, though handwashing is recommended.
This is a workhorse of a Dutch oven that you can use often and un-gently; it’s tough enough to do the work and the moderate price tag means you won’t feel the need to baby it.
This is the pot you might think of first when someone says "Dutch oven," and no wonder: The classic, sturdy 5 1/2-quart Le Creuset works brilliantly, looks beautiful and cleans up in a flash. It comes in 24 colors, so there’s something for everyone.
The dome-shaped lid promotes heat and moisture circulation, yielding a perfect pot roast in our test. The pot gets very hot and stays that way, so for jobs like caramelizing onions, it’s a good idea not to walk away. But that also means your food will stay hot on the table (and cold as well; refrigerate a pasta salad in it overnight, then bring it to a barbecue, and your dish will keep it cool).
The manual says you can use the pot at any oven temperature (as long as you have a stainless steel knob; if you have the black phenolic knob, it’s safe up to 500 degrees F), and though the pot is dishwasher safe, the company recommends handwashing.
We love the classic round Le Creuset Dutch oven, but this newer pot is one worth investing in. If given a choice of only having one Le Creuset Dutch ovens we found the deep Dutch oven model to be more versatile than the classic. The price is a bit more affordable than the classic model, and the volume size is almost identical (a .25-qt difference). The talls sides prevented splatters when we deep fried chicken and retained liquids from long stews and braises. It still comes in an array of colors to find the perfect one to match your kitchen or personality.
The Instant Precision Dutch Oven is perfect for someone who has limited stovetop space, including those in apartments, or for large gatherings when you need additional burners. It’s also great for users who love to set it and forget it — you don’t have to worry about tinkering with the temperature while your food cooks for an extended period. Plus, if you’re already in the market for a well-made enameled cast-iron Dutch oven that’s both oven and stovetop-safe, you get that plus the electric base all in one product. We made stew, congee, and bread in this Dutch oven in addition to caramelizing onions and bringing water to a boil. The oven completed every task as well as we would expect from a classic Dutch oven, and we found it to be a convenient solution if you're short on oven space.