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The 6 Best Dutch Ovens For Bread

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Baking bread in a Dutch oven results in beautifully-browned loaves with crisp, crackly crusts and airy centers. The best Dutch ovens for bread function like a compact oven, and though they appear basic in their design, not all Dutch ovens are created equal. Below are some things to keep in mind when purchasing the best Dutch ovens for bread baking.

To accommodate most recipes for a round boule loaf, look for a Dutch with a capacity between 5 and 7 quarts. Anything smaller and the loaf won’t have enough headspace to rise, and in larger pots, dough can spread out to create a flat versus lofty loaf.

Heavy, thick-walled Dutch ovens are best for bread-baking. Thick walls translate to better heat-retention, which is critical for getting even browning on your loaf. A Dutch oven of at least 10 pounds is ideal, and since this weight can make transporting it in and out of the oven a challenge, make sure it has handles for easy lifting.

Some Dutch ovens come with clear glass lids, but for the purposes of baking bread, you should avoid these. A solid lid with a heat-proof knob will provide maximum heat retention during baking. And speaking of heat, seek out a Dutch oven that is able to withstand high temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

The best Dutch ovens for bread below offer a range of options from aesthetics to price, but will all yield excellent, bakery-worthy loaves of bread at home.

1

The Best Investment Dutch Oven For Bread

Pros

  • The cool-touch knob on the lid may reduce the risk of burning yourself.
  • An heirloom-quality piece of cookware.

Cons

  • Price — you’re really paying for the Le Creuset name here.
  • At nearly 13 pounds, it’s quite heavy.

There’s no doubt that this Dutch oven from French cookware brand Le Creuset is an investment, but this is your best option if you don’t already own a Dutch oven and plan to do more than bake bread. When it comes to baking bread, specifically, the Le Creuset boasts some of the best heat retention out there. Weighing a hefty 12.7 pounds, this 5.5-quart option is the ideal size for making a range of bread recipes. The enamel exterior and sand-colored enamel interior are durable and non-reactive, guaranteeing years of dependable service. The stepped lid nests and seals tightly, keeping heat and steam inside for the best dough rise, crust-development, and browning. Most importantly for bread-baking, the pot, lid, and composite knob can all withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

One fan raved: "Le Creuset is expensive but worth it. I think things just taste better when they're made in this thing. Plus, it works great for making bread using the method in the book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey."

- Available colors: 10

2

The Runner Up

Pros

  • Requires no pre-seasoning
  • High quality cookware at a relatively low price point.

Cons

  • Does not have a cool-touch knob on the lid, so you’ll need to be careful when taking it out of a hot oven.
  • Slightly smaller than the Le Creuset dutch oven.

While not quite as lauded as the Le Creuset above, this enameled option from Cuisinart is perfect for any baker not looking to shell out hundreds of dollars for a Dutch oven to bake bread in. The enameled cast iron provides excellent heat distribution, and the porcelain interior is nonstick and easy to clean. It's safe to use on the stovetop, in the oven, and under the broiler, and has a 5-quart capacity.

Editors note: “I've been baking sourdough breads for over a decade, and this is the dutch oven I always use! Not only is it perfect for breads, it's also great for making soups, stews, and braises. I cannot recommend this highly enough.” — Carina Finn

One fan raved: "I love the size--It's about 8 inches diameter and 5 inches high. It's the perfect size for one loaf of no-knead bread at 450 degrees continually. The knobs and the finished have stayed on. it weights about 8 pounds so it's nice and heavy. The top pan cover is also nice and heavy to seal in the moisture for the bread.”

3

The Best Affordable Dutch Oven

Pros

  • Lid doubles as a 10 1/4-inch skillet
  • Solid construction made from a trusted cast iron cookware brand

Cons

  • Less aesthetically-pleasing than enameled cast iron Dutch ovens
  • At 5 quarts and 13 pounds, this is slightly smaller than the Le Crueset Dutch oven but just as heavy

For those with a smaller kitchen or a smaller budget, this pre-seasoned 5-quart Lodge double Dutch oven is hard to beat, especially if you’re looking to make more than just bread. This double Dutch oven can sear, broil, braise, roast, and fry foods like a champ, especially because the lid doubles as its own cast iron skillet, making this a two-for-one product that’s great for those low on storage space. For bread baking, this double Dutch oven can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lid traps moisture, creating loaves that are crusty on the outside yet tender on the inside.

One fan raved: “I use this primarily to bake bread, and I love it! It's great construction, and I love the fact that the lid is also a skillet. When I use it to bake bread, I flip it upside down and bake the bread on the skillet lid. It makes it easier to remove the loaf after baking, and it lets the steam out right away so I get a nice rustic crust!”

4

The Natural Clay Dutch Oven

Pros

  • The best option for producing bakery-worthy steam.
  • Safe to use in the microwave as well as the oven

Cons

  • The lid doesn’t have a handle, so it may be harder to use for those with mobility issues.
  • Only the bottom of the interior is glazed, which could make cleanup more difficult.

Made from all natural clay, this Eurita by Reston Lloyd roaster produces bakery-like steam as you bake your bread, because you’re meant to soak the lid in water before use, and the loose fitting lid allows some steam to escape, creating crave-worthy loaves. Like the Le Crueset and other Dutch ovens on this list, this pot is safe to use in ovens up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, so long as you start the process in a cold oven. This 4 quart roaster isn’t just meant for making breads and is also an excellent vessel for meats and stews.

One fan raved: “After looking a multiple options for Dutch oven bread baking, I ended up with this one. Some are super expensive. This one heats up very well, bread bakes nicely. I haven't tried baking/cooking anything else in this, but I'm sure it would be a great cooker. I [lined] with parchment, but glazed bottom would have to clean up easily.”

5

The French Bread Cloche

Pros

  • You can proof and bake your bread in the same vessel.
  • The most lightweight option at around 6 pounds.

Cons

  • Since the bottom is relatively shallow, this one isn’t as good for roasting or braising.
  • Can only handle loves made with up to 3 cups of flour.

Slightly different than a traditional Dutch oven, this French bread cloche has a large, round top that sits on a flat base with rounded edges. According to the manufacturer Emile Henry, it is specially designed to create the right interior humidity for bread baking, which can help to ensure a crispy crust. This cloche is made from clay, and can be put directly into a 500 degree Fahrenheit oven from the freezer, so you could proof and store the dough in it if you needed to. It is the perfect size for creating loaves that are made with three cups of flour, although you could also experiment with smaller loaves too.

One fan raved: “Professional baker here, and I've never baked better bread at home. This thing is a complete game-changer. I can't speak well enough of this cloche. Just stop reading and add this to your cart! Fun feature: after baking, the red enamel turns a dark oxblood shade. This returns to the candy apple red after cooling, so you know when it's safe to handle with bare hands by sight.”

- Available colors: 2

6

The Best For Oval Loaves

Pros

  • A great option for oval-shaped loaves, and the lid has two handles for easy use.
  • Has a silicone liner for easy cleaning and removal.

Cons

  • Might be a bit harder to store due to the unconventional shape.
  • Not as versatile for non-bread uses.

Looking to make a non-circular loaf? Check out this LoafNest Dutch oven, which has a longer, oval shape. It’s made from cast iron and includes a silicone liner, which is perforated and nonstick to help you remove your cooked loaf when it’s done. This Dutch oven has a large top that matches the bottom, and both have convenient side handles to make it easier to handle when hot. LoafNext also includes a simple, no knead recipe with the order that’s especially helpful for first-time bakers.

One fan raved: “I held my breath before adding this pan to my cart but now that I've used it several times, I'd do it again and again. I had some concerns about the liner but after contacting the company we found out that it is supposed to last for 3000 to 5000 uses. The bread comes out cleanly from the pan and every inch of the exterior is crunchy and beautiful. I've made hundreds (if not thousands) of loaves of bread but never felt I had the skill to attempt artisan quality bread. But, there is no skill required with the LoafNest, it creates perfect artisan bread time after time.”