As I built my own collection of essential pots and pans, there was one I couldn’t wait to get: a Dutch oven. However, it quickly became clear these could run at least a couple hundred dollars. If you’d prefer something that won’t break the bank, there are still quality options that are more affordable. The best budget Dutch ovens come in the size and material that suits your cooking preferences. You’ll soon see this versatile pot earns its keep in the kitchen; the Dutch oven allows me to cook fearlessly, and I use it to braise, fry, sear, and to make soups, bread, even popcorn.
Traditional Dutch ovens are made of cast iron, a heavyweight material with thick walls and heavy lids for even cooking and superior heat retention. Cast iron is also versatile because it goes from stovetop to oven seamlessly, and those with enameled interiors are especially great because they’re nonreactive, won't require seasoning, and are easy to clean. Ceramic is another option that has the benefit of even heat distribution and is dishwasher safe, while being noticeably more lightweight. Although ceramic is also more fragile and prone to chips, its gentle properties make it a good choice for slow cooking and recipes with intense flavors. Regardless of the material you choose, wide handles are essential for a sturdy and comfortable grip on heavy Dutch ovens, and you’ll want to pick one with an ovenproof knob on its lid, too.
Dutch ovens come in a range of sizes; some as small as 1 to 2 quarts are cute for individual servings or 7 or more quarts can prepare enough for a crowd. For most people, a capacity of 5 to 7 quarts is the best Dutch oven size as it holds enough for four to six servings. One quart per person is a good rule of thumb when deciding how big to go. Keep in mind larger Dutch ovens get more expensive, too. While most of these large pots are round, oval Dutch ovens extend beyond the average stovetop burner and that added length may be preferable to accommodate large foods, like a leg of lamb.
While Le Creuset comes to mind as the gold standard for Dutch ovens, it's not the only game in town. These three picks below stand out in terms of quality and value — and they're all under $100.
1. The Overall Best Budget Dutch Oven
The best budget Dutch oven has an incredible 4.8-star rating with nearly 20,000 Amazon reviews, and it's made of enamel cast iron that's suitable for any cooktop surface, including induction, and wipes clean. It's also oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with its stainless steel knob. It's the clear top choice when shopping for an affordable Dutch oven, and reviewers commented on its durability and performance, including one shopper who reported they "used this thing easy 100x in the last year and the meals always come out incredible." Not only is this the best budget pick here, but Wirecutter rated it the best Dutch oven — period.
This pick also has wide and sturdy handles that are comfortable to hold (even with oven mitts) and the pot's curved base avoids trapping food in corners. That wide base with short walls also contributes to a great sear on cuts of meat. The 6-quart size is versatile and popular, but it's available in six sizes from 1.5 to 7.5 quarts and in 10 colors. This pick is dishwasher safe, but many reviewers recommended hand washing it to maintain its quality over time.
A helpful review: “Lodge is undeniably the best bang for your buck in cast iron, possibly in all of cookware. The enameled cast iron is no different. It’s heavy, holds heat beautifully. Since I bought mine I’ve used my 7qt Dutch oven for stews, soups, braises, and deep frying and it has performed perfectly every time. I’ve even used an immersion to purée soup in it, the enamel held up without showing so much as a scratch. Cleaning is a breeze, at most a little soak with some dish detergent and everything wipes clean. When you look at the prices of some of the other enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, you have to go to the $200+ range to have comparable performance to the Lodge Dutch Ovens. [...]”
2. The Best Oval-Shaped Dutch Oven
If you prefer an oval Dutch oven, this enamel cast iron pick's shape extends 4 inches wider than my first pick and holds up to 5.5 quarts. Boasting more than 2,700 reviews, you can use this highly rated Dutch oven on any cooktop surface, including induction. This pick withstands slightly less heat than my first pick at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and should only be washed by hand. Choose from red or two shades of blue.
A helpful review: “I bought this specifically for making sourdough. I chose the oval because I wanted the option to make either shape, round or batard. It's my first Dutch oven. I really wanted a Le Creuset but I didn't want to spend that much money so I chose this one after a lot of research. I have no complaints.”
3. The Best Ceramic Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens made in France can cost you a pretty penny, but this smaller one manages to be more budget-friendly. The high-resistant ceramic withstands the highest temperature of all picks: 930 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Dutch oven is compatible with all cooktops (with a diffuser plate for induction).
The 2.6-quart Dutch oven's ceramic construction is up to 30% lighter than cast iron, its interior is virtually nonstick, and it's safe to clean in your dishwasher. Note the side handles on this one aren't as wide as my top pick. The most popular French Dutch oven brand, Le Creuset, can be cost-prohibitive at $200-plus; Emile Henry is another solid French brand, and in this size and burgundy shade comes in under $100. This pick comes in other sizes that range from 4.2 to 7 quarts, but keep in mind the price increases with size.
A helpful review: “It is not enameled cast iron, but it is definitely a great buy, and actually a much lighter weight than cast iron cookware. I have both, and I love this Dutch oven. I have used it mostly to bake loaves of bread, but I have also made stews (Boeuf Bourguignon is one of my favorites), and it gets seasoned with time. Everything comes out of it smelling wonderful and tasting delicious. Definitely recommend it - good value for the price.”