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.