The 3 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.


The Best Investment Dutch Oven For Bread

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


The Runner Up

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 use this very often in a 450-500º oven for bread making, and love it! It's heavy duty, and the red color is pretty. I make sure it's free of any spills before putting in the oven and it still looks brand new."


The Most Affordable

For substantially less than a Le Creuset, you can expect similar bread-baking performance in this enameled Dutch oven from Tramontina. Its heavy cast iron construction offers great heat distribution and retention, providing the best conditions for rising and browning on bread loaves. Weighing in at just under 12 pounds, the Tramontina comes with a durable porcelain enameled surface in a variety of colors. The lid fits securely on the pot to prevent heat and steam from escaping, and the solid cast, stainless steel knob is extra tall, making it easy to hold when wearing oven mitts. Many lower-cost enameled cast iron Dutch ovens have limited temperature ranges, but the Tramontina is oven safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a great option for most bread-baking recipes.

One fan raved: "We use ours all the time, but it's my favorite tool in the kitchen for baking fresh sourdough bread. They come out perfectly baked everytime."

- Available colors: 6