Versatile and sturdy, dutch ovens are a kitchen staple worth the investment
Lodge cast iron
The original cast iron dutch oven from Lodge may appear basic, but with a super-affordable price point and a tough as nails construction, this is the kind of pot that your grandmother probably used...and may have passed down to you, if you’re lucky. You can’t go wrong with this this option for resilience, durability and performance.
While many home cooks are hot on the quick pressure cooking buzz (think Instant Pot’s almost instant success), a tried and true alternative slows things down with proven results. We’re talking the dutch oven.
A good quality dutch oven will stand the test of time (and stovetops and ovens) and is humble, yet versatile. Dutch ovens have been a kitchen staple for both home cooks and chefs forever, and are marked by two crucial features that make them an essential tool. One, it must be sturdy, with a thick bottom and sides. This allows for long, slow braises without burning or sticking. Second, it must have a tight-fitting, oven-safe lid (and handle) so it can travel from cooktop to oven.
The combination of structure, design and secure lid allows for a pot that can do almost any task, from deep frying, to braising, simmering stews and pots of red beans, even bread baking.
We’ve chosen three stand-outs from the crowd as our favorites. With the right care and cleanup (always hand wash), these kitchen workhorses will last a lifetime.
All-Clad, a reliable leader in cookware of all types, has a unique spin on the classic dutch oven with their stainless steel “cocotte” version. With its rounded bottom and domed lid, this version is specially designed to hold in heat and moisture for maximum one-pot meal-ease.
$200 to $300
Many home cooks collect Le Creuset not only for their superior product, but for the wide variety of styles and colors. The leader in enameled cast iron cookware, their dutch oven requires no seasoning or preparation and has a smooth finish that “promotes caramelization,” resists staining and prevents sticking to make cleanup easy,” according to their manifesto. And did we mention color? This version of the classic dutch oven is available in 17 colors (!), from Flame orange to Marseille blue, Oyster gray, Palm green and more.
Proper Care and Cleaning
Enamelware scratches easily; scrub gently outside and in with a sturdy pad (never steel wool!). For tough bits, try an overnight soak in a hot bubble bath in the kitchen sink.
Cast iron should be cleaned with hot water and a firm pad. Never soak for any length of time in water, as it promotes rust. Dry completely with a soft cloth and re-season with a dab of vegetable oil and a paper towel.
Stainless should be cleaned with hot water and a non-abrasive cleaner, such as Bar Keepers Friend. Never soak, as it can cause deformities in the smooth surface.