Whether you’re braising meat, cooking up a stew, or frying a chicken, the
best cast iron Dutch ovens can handle just about anything. Dutch ovens can be utilized on both the stovetop and in the oven, and with or without their included lids, making their versatility nearly unrivaled. Cast iron Dutch ovens have superior heat distribution and heat retention, which means they should give you a nice, even, and efficient cook.
When picking out a cast iron Dutch oven, you’ll have to choose between a raw (aka non-enameled) version or a classic enameled one. Raw, non-enameled dutch ovens come with all the
benefits and inconveniences of most cast iron cookware. They have to be seasoned properly before you use them, but can become practically nonstick with proper maintenance. And maintenance, including cleaning, can be a little more time-consuming for non-enameled cast iron. Bare cast iron that’s not properly cared for can also rust or react badly with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice.
Enameled dutch ovens, on the other hand, might not be quite as nonstick as well-seasoned raw cast-iron
, but because they are made from cast iron coated in smooth enamel, they tend to release food easily. They’re low-maintenance to use (no seasoning required) and clean, and are not as prone to rusting as their non-enameled counterparts.
Dutch ovens come in different shapes (usually round or oval), sizes, and colors, so pick one that suits your needs and desires — as well as one that fits inside your oven. Dutch ovens tend to be pretty heavy, so make sure you get one that's comfortable for you to maneuver. If you’re seeking a Dutch oven to use while cooking outdoors, you might want to opt for a design with legs to prop it up over a campfire.
To help you out, I scoured Amazon to find the five
best cast iron Dutch ovens, which are backed by thousands of reviews by happy home cooks.
The Best Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven For Most Home Cooks
Lodge cast iron Dutch oven has all the basics features one could want from a Dutch oven: It is oven safe up to 500 degrees, has great heat distribution and retention, and boasts a porcelain enameled interior. At just under $100, it's certainly not cheap, but it's an investment in a piece you'll have for a very long time, and it's much more affordable than the coveted Le Creuset version. And since Lodge is a reputable brand that is adored by many, it's easy to put your trust in its quality. This Dutch oven has more than 8,500 reviews on Amazon and a 4.6-star rating overall, so it’s safe to say that reviewers love it.
The Dutch oven comes in a range of colors, including red, blue, and pumpkin, as well as a range of sizes, including 1.5-quart, 3-quart, 4.5-quart, 6-quart, and 7.5 quart. The 7.5-quart version of this pick weighs 18 pounds, making it a bit on the heavy side.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Oh my gosh, I wish I'd invested in one of these a long time ago. It is NOTHING like using regular pots. I don't have to turn my burners up as high, it heats so evenly, no hotspots, no burning, no cold centers. I went slow and low with my sauce today and it came out better than it has ever come out. Cleanup was a breeze and I was able to make a giant batch and freeze most of it after dinner. If you are like me and need an 'entry level' enameled cast iron, GET THIS. It was worth every penny."
A Cult-Favorite Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven That's Worth A Splurge
handcrafted Dutch oven from Le Creuset is the best of the best, and certainly deserving of its devoted cult following. And while this pick is undoubtably pricey, Amazon reviewers say it’s an investment that’s worth every single cent; they give this Dutch oven an impressive 4.7-star rating, championing it for its impeccably high quality. Not only does it have superior heat distribution and retention, it should also last pretty much forever. If you're going to own a single Dutch oven, this is it.
The 7.25-quart Dutch oven is loaded with features. The colorful, long-lasting exterior resists chipping and cracking, while the whole piece (including the large composite knob on the lid) can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees. Plus, built-in lid stabilizers provide a secure, no-slide fit. The large handles are easy to grip, even while wearing oven mitts, making transfers from the stovetop to the oven a breeze. On the inside of the Dutch oven, you’ll find a sand-color enamel.
This 7.25-quart Dutch oven weighs 13 pounds, which isn't bad for a Dutch oven of this size. Choose from a range of colors, including cherry, oyster, and meringue.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This beautiful, very versatile useful pot is what I've been waiting for my whole entire life. It cooks up like a perfect dream and cleans as if it's brand new. [...] I keep it at all times displayed on my stovetop in the kitchen displaying this most beautiful pot. I am so totally proud of my purchase! [...] This pot works so perfectly well. My only regret is not having purchased it many, many years ago."
The Best Non-Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
When adequately seasoned, the nonstick properties of this
cast iron non-enameled Lodge Dutch oven are hard to beatable; you’ll end up wondering how you ever made dinner without this kitchen essential.
If you're not in the mood to worry about chipping or scratching enamel, you'll be happy to know it's not a concern with raw cast iron, making this Lodge cast iron incredibly tough and hardy. Like most of the other Dutch ovens on this list, it heats food evenly and retains heat well, and it's safe in the oven up to 500 degrees.
As with all raw cast iron, you'll have to maintain this Lodge's seasoning. It comes pre-seasoned so you can use it right away, and the more you use it, the better it will get — so long as you
clean and care for it properly.
The 7-quart Dutch oven weighs about 15 pounds. This pick also comes in 2- or 5-quart sizes, in case those better fit your needs.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Seriously, this thing must be crafted by wizards! I've never been able to pack so much flavor in food. This pot is so amazing and I wish I had bought it sooner. High end restaurant quality food made right at home. [I've] only had a short period but have made such a vast array of things in it and they have all turned out amazing! Bread, short ribs and, meatballs and soup! It is amazing how much flavor this pot creates by cooking in it and how easy bread is to make. What is kneading? Who cares, because you don't need to do it anymore! If you've never cooked in a dutch oven, I highly recommend trying it. Buy this thing...it is worth every penny."
A Budget-Friendly Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Looking to give an enameled Dutch oven a try, but aren’t willing to dish out big bucks? This
cast iron Dutch oven from AmazonBasics is the perfect solution, as it’s a low-price option that’s still quite good.
The 6-quart pick boasts all of the features of a good Dutch oven. It has even heat distribution and retention, it’s easy to clean, and its loop side handles are easy to hold. Plus, the secure-fitting lid helps to trap in heat, moisture, and nutrients for consistently delicious results.
The downside of this option is that it’s only oven-safe up to 400 degrees (unlike the other picks which are safe up to 500 degrees), so just use a little extra caution while cooking. Despite this drawback, Amazon reviewers are still impressed by this Dutch oven. With a standout 4.6-star rating on the site and more than 4,000 reviews, users say that this entry-level pick certainly is worth a buy, especially considering the ultra-low price. If you love it, you can always splurge on a pricier Dutch oven in the future.
Choose from four colors (blue, green, red, or white) and different sizes, ranging from 4.3 quarts to 7.5 quarts. This 6-quart size weighs about 13 pounds
, while the 7.5-quart version is a fairly heavy 16.3 pounds. Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This is an excellent Dutch oven for the money. And handsome to boot. Which is nice since this needs to sit on top of my stove between meals. I think you could be proud of this pot especially for the price you paid. You can get a lot of meals big and small with this."
The Best Dutch Oven For Camping
Dutch oven from Lodge is designed with camping in mind. This 4-quart pick features a carrying handle, so you can easily bring it with you on your next trip, and legs, so that it can be easily used over coals or firewood . Amazon reviewers rave about the fact that they can use this single tool for cooking everything from breakfast to late-night desserts. The cast iron lid even inverts for use as a griddle, giving you even more cooking options.
The Dutch oven is non-enameled and comes pre-seasoned, though the more you season it and use it, the more nonstick it will become. It weighs around 12 pounds, which makes it excellent for car camping, but too heavy for backpacking.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "We have been thinking about getting a dutch oven for a year or so and after attending a day camp where our boys learned to cook in one, we decided it was time to purchase. We love our dutch oven. We made sure we seasoned it before camping so that our [biscuits] did not stick. We also made stew which came out delicious. This is a perfect size for a small family and helps to make what you wish while camping. I can't wait until next year when we can try out some more recipes." Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.