7 Best Dutch Ovens of 2023, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We braised, seared and boiled to find our favorite Dutch ovens.
Our Top Dutch Oven Picks
- Best Overall: Le Creuset 5 1/2-Quart Round Dutch Oven
- Best Oval: Le Creuset Oval Dutch Oven
- Best Budget: Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot
- Best Value: Made In Dutch Oven
- Best for Deep Frying: Le Creuset Deep Dutch Oven
- Most Versatile: Staub Enameled Cast Iron Stackable 4-Piece Cookware Set
- Best Electric Dutch Oven: Instant Pot Dutch Oven
Tested by Beth Lipton, Laura Denby, Amanda Neal and Vivian Chan for Food Network Kitchen
Every serious home cook knows that a Dutch oven is an aspirational piece of cooking equipment. They come with a high price tag, but the best Dutch ovens are heavy-duty and durable enough to last for generations. Dutch ovens come in a variety of materials, like cast iron, ceramic or aluminum, and some of the best versions are enameled to create a nonstick surface. These large pieces of cookware are perfect for cooking large roasts, braising tough cuts of meat and even baking bread — so they’re totally versatile and completely worth the investment. If you’re looking to add a Dutch oven to your kitchen but don’t know where to start, first consider how much food you plan to cook and how often. If you plan to use it frequently, invest in a heavy duty product that’s made of a durable, yet easy-to-clean material like enameled cast iron.
In search of the best Dutch ovens available, we put a few of the leading models from major brands — like Le Creuset and Staub — through a series of real-world, culinary tests to determine their functionality, durability and overall quality. We tested both circular and oval models and evaluated each on how easy they are to use and clean, while paying special attention to the quality of food made in each one. If you’re looking to invest in a Dutch oven but aren’t sure where to start, read on for a few of our favorites.
This story has been updated since it was originally published. 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.
How We Tested
In search of the best Dutch ovens available, we put 21 of the leading models through a series of tests to determine overall functionality, durability, ease of use and value. To start, we examined each product, washed it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and boiled water. Boiling water in each pot helped us evaluate how quickly the pot conducted heat and how thoroughly it was dispersed. While some pots came to a rolling boil in about 11 minutes, others took over 25 minutes to heat up. Next, we caramelized onions in each pan to determine how sticky or nonstick the surface was. Caramelizing onions also helped us see if there were any hot or cool spots in the pan, and by laying the onions out in a flat layer, we could easily see which parts of the pot heated first. For example, some pots started to caramelize the onions in the center really quickly while leaving the onions on the outer ring raw or underdone, while others heated uniformly and cooked evenly throughout. Lastly, we braised a pot roast in each pot. Braising a large cut of meat helped us understand the functionality and capacity of each Dutch oven, while also shedding light on how efficiently heat and moisture remained in the oven.
When it comes to Dutch ovens, Le Creuset is the brand of choice for professional chefs and home cooks alike. It’s no secret that this celebrated piece of cookware is the industry standard, and we were pleased to see that its performance during our testing did not disappoint. 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.
The sturdy Dutch oven comes in a wide range of colors and six different sizes, ranging from 2.75 quarts to 15.5 quarts, and it’s made of enameled cast iron that’s dishwasher-safe. Better yet, the heavy-duty pot is safe to use on all cooktops—including electric and induction and it’s safe to use in the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
During our testing we loved that this pot has large loop handles that are easy to grab even with oven mitts on, and the heavy-duty lid is easy to place on or remove when necessary. Thanks to the oval shape, we had no trouble fitting a large cut of meat in—which means this pot would be perfect for roasting larger items like a whole chicken or baking a loaf of bread. Water heated up quickly and efficiently—it came to a rolling boil in just over 10 minutes. The onions caramelized fairly evenly, though due to the oval shape some of the onions in the outer corners were paler than the onions in the center. Overall, this is a sturdy and reliable Dutch oven that delivered near perfect results each time. The wide range of color and size options means it’s perfectly customizable, so there’s an option for anyone no matter the size of your household. Le Creuset’s Dutch ovens are a gorgeous piece of cookware that can go straight from the stovetop to a tabletop, and when treated properly, they’ll last for years to come.
Dutch ovens are an expensive piece of cookware, which means a lot of beginners or occasional users probably won’t want to spend the extra money. If you’re looking to experiment with cooking in a Dutch oven without investing too much, the Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot is a great alternative. It comes in six soft colors and one size—5.5 quarts—along with a bamboo spatula and a silicone gripper that’s great for removing the lid and holding the loop handles. Made from enameled cast iron, the pot comes pre-seasoned and is naturally nonstick, and it’s compatible with all cooktops, including induction. It’s oven and broiler safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but the material is not safe to use in the dishwasher, so it must be washed by hand.
Our testers loved using this pan and were impressed at the overall value for the price. It heats up quickly and efficiently, and the soft colors means it looks just as good on the stovetop as it does on the tabletop. We found the surface to be nonstick and were impressed at how evenly the onions caramelized from the center to the outer rim. This pan delivered a moist and tender pot roast, and we had no trouble washing it by hand after the fact. If you’re looking for a versatile piece of cookware at an affordable price, this is a reliable and impressive option.
Made In is known for making professional-quality cookware, and this Dutch oven is no different. Made from enameled cast iron, this versatile pot is meant for braising, deep-frying, baking, or roasting, and does each task perfectly. We were thrilled to see that it excelled in our testing process. It heated up quickly and brought water to a rolling boil in just 13 minutes, and it was easy to clean by hand. The oval shape means that it can accommodate larger cuts of meat, and the extra space in the corners of the pan are perfect for adding in extra vegetables too. We were impressed to see that unlike the Le Creuset, this pan heated extremely evenly throughout—we noticed that the onions in the outer corners caramelized at about the same time as the onions in the center, meaning heat transferred throughout the pot evenly and consistently. Considering its efficient performance and affordable price point, this oval-shaped pot is a great value for the price. Keep in mind that it only comes in one size and four colors.
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.
Dutch ovens are already a versatile piece of cooking equipment, but if you’re looking to get even more out of your purchase, look to the Staub Stackable 4-piece Set. This genius collection of cookware includes a 5-quart Dutch oven, 3.5-quart braiser, a grill pan and a universal lid, all conveniently stacked on top of each other to streamline storage and cut down on clutter. All made from enameled cast iron, each piece is dishwasher-safe and safe to use in the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes in seven classic and vibrant colors like cherry, sage and sapphire.
The cookware performed exceptionally well in all of our tests—water came to a boil quickly and efficiently, and the textured handles made it easy to pick up and transfer from stovetop to oven. The universal lid features a textured inner surface, which is strategically designed to create a rainforest effect. That means moisture returns to the pot without escaping in the form of steam, so the pot roast we cooked was tender and moist throughout. We love that the braising pan and grill pan add an extra layer of versatility without taking up extra space in the cabinets. That means you can sear meat to perfection while braising a large pot of vegetables simultaneously on the stovetop, then (once cleaned) stack them together to store for future use. Though this is one of the most expensive options on our list, it’s truly a versatile set of multiple pieces, each of which performed exceptionally well in all of our tests.
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.
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.
Size: Dutch ovens are usually measured in quarts, and they typically range in size from 3 quarts to 8 quarts. The best size for you will depend on what type of foods you plan to cook and how often. If you’re looking to braise a few chicken thighs for a small dinner, a petite Dutch oven — like a 3-quart — would be sufficient. If you’re looking to roast a whole chicken with accompanying vegetables, you’ll want a larger pot. Generally, a medium-sized option—like a 5 or 6-quart Dutch oven is a good choice for most home cooks. Remember that larger isn’t always better. Dutch ovens are heavy pieces of cookware, and the larger your pot is the heavier it will be.
Material: Dutch ovens come in a variety of materials like cast iron, aluminum and ceramic. The material of the Dutch oven you choose will relate directly to how easy it is to use and clean. Many are made of enameled cast iron, the cast iron heats thoroughly and consistently, and the enameled surface is perfectly nonstick, so nothing gets stuck to the surface. Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are also easy to clean, and we had no problem cleaning them throughout our testing process. Alternatively, cast iron Dutch ovens that aren’t enameled don’t have a nonstick surface. Both of these options are heavy-duty and durable, but non-enameled cast iron pots can be more difficult to clean.
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.
Price: Dutch ovens are an expensive piece of cookware, so price is a major factor to consider when selecting the best pot for you. If you’re looking to invest in a heritage piece of cookware that will last for generations, consider a more expensive option from reputable brands like Le Creuset and Staub. Though on the more expensive end, these brands offer a variety of sizes, shapes and colors—all of which have stood the test of time both in professional and home kitchens alike.
Alternatively, if you’re a beginner or someone looking to experiment with a Dutch oven, opt for a more budget-friendly choice like the Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot.