The 6 Best Dutch Ovens, According to Our Tests

The Staub Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte was the Best Overall winner in our tests.

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Best Dutch Ovens

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Dutch ovens are kitchen chameleons that can do anything from slow-cooking pork shoulder, simmering tomato sauce, baking a loaf of no-knead bread, or even handling stir-fries if you don't have a wok. To find the best Dutch ovens, we tested 24 models from big brands such as Le Creuset, Staub, and Lodge. Not all Dutch ovens are created equal, and there are certain things you might not realize you need to consider. We enlisted the expertise of Jim Lahey, James Beard Award Winning baker and cookbook author, who introduced the no-knead bread method to the masses that took the world by storm after being published by the New York Times in 2006. Home cooks who considered themselves ill-equipped for bread baking found a glimmer of hope in their Dutch ovens thanks to Lahey.

Why buy a Dutch oven? The tool offers incredible versatility for many recipes. Lahey admits he’s always been drawn to them. After his bread recipe shot him to national stardom, his name and Dutch oven cooking became familiar bedfellows. "It was another way of using this piece of equipment which may have been the less frequently used cooking tool in a kitchen because they're heavy," he says, "I have an affection for them because they're so pretty and they're old. The colors of the glazes are excellent, and even though they have a chip here and there, it's like a tool that you use that you have a relationship with." Lahey has an extensive collection and many opinions on what to look for when you buy one for your kitchen. We've boiled down the competition using his expertise, our own experience, and data from our lab tests to share the very best.

Best Overall

Staub Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte

4.8
Staub 5.5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven

Amazon

Pros: The performance and durability met the high expectations of the price point of this classic Dutch oven brand.

Cons: Testers reported slight sticking on a couple of chicken pieces, but everything could be lifted with a little extra force.

Staub's Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte won overall for many reasons. It performed well in our tests, perfectly getting deep brown caramelization on the chicken with a solid crisp and cooked rice. Testers found it easy to use and large enough to handle any task that requires a Dutch oven. They also found that given what buyers get in return, the price of the Staub is fair. "I love Staub because of the manufacturing and quality," says Lahey. "They're built like a tank." The brand’s pieces are so well constructed that testers barely saw a scratch on the exterior glaze from the durability test. Overall, it’s a superior product to its competitors in every way.

Price at time of publish: $464

  • Heat capacity: 900℉
  • Material: Cast iron
  • Weight: 12.9 lbs.

Best Value

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart Round Covered Casserole

5
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart Round Covered Casserole

Amazon

Pros: It feels like a much more expensive product until you see the price. 

Cons: The coating did chip slightly during our durability tests. 

The Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart Round Covered Casserole wins for the best value at $99. Testers expected the price point to be higher after blind tests, given the quality of its construction, which makes sense given Cuisinart’s popularity amongst chefs and home cooks. There was only slight chipping during durability tests, and it cooked rice "brilliantly," according to testers. It is well constructed, built to last, and beautiful, making it an excellent choice for a gift or starter kitchen.

Price at time of publish: $80

  • Heat capacity: 550℉
  • Material: Cast iron exterior with enamel interior
  • Weight: 8 lbs.

Best Splurge

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt.

4.5
Le Creuset 7.25 Quart Round Dutch Oven

Amazon

Pros: Testers find Le Creuset worth the cost for its heirloom quality and how well it performs.

Cons: Durability tests exposed some cast iron under the enameled surface. 

The Le Creuset 7.25-Quart Round Dutch Oven is a classic and is valued worldwide. Le Creuset is an aspirational brand for home cooking due to its heirloom quality and endless variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. While you can find Dutch ovens for half the price, as one tester said, "If I could only recommend one piece of cookware to someone serious about cooking, it would be this Dutch oven. I've cooked with my own for years, and I stand by its durability and versatility." They loved how easy it is to clean and that it is dishwasher-safe. 

Price at time of publish: $440

  • Heat capacity: 500°F
  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Weight: 13 lbs. 8 1/4 oz.

Best for Gifting

Smithey 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven

Smithey 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven

Smithey

Pros: The Smithey is pre-seasoned, easy to clean, and easily manages everything from braises to bread.

Cons: Its rustic appearance might not be for every kitchen style.

Honoring the best vintage American design, the Smithey Ironware 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven. This tool combines the durability of cast iron with a polished interior surface that only improves with time. Smithey is made in the U.S.A. and arrives pre-seasoned with pure grape seed oil so you can get to cooking immediately. “I’ve had the Smithey 5.5-Quart and 3.5-Quart for a few years now, and I’d never buy a different brand,” says F&W Senior Commerce Editor Megan Soll, “I’ve made incredible dishes with the 5.5-Quart and cleanup is a breeze. I also love the rustic look of the cookware.” When hitting the Smithey with a metal spoon, not a scratch appeared. It gets a great sear on chicken thighs and has consistent heat throughout the cooking surface. The brand also offers engravings for all its cast iron products, making it a special gift for serious cooks.

Price at time of publish: $295

  • Capacity: 986℉
  • Material: enameled cast iron
  • Weight: 14 lbs.

Best Cast Iron

Lodge 5-Quart Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven

5
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven - 7 Quart

Amazon

Pros: There is plenty of cooking surface area to brown three to four chicken thighs. 

Cons: The inside bottom did lose a bit of the seasoning, but no scratches or dents that would interfere with cooking.

Lodge's 7-Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven is amazingly durable. Testers reported no signs of damage from durability tests and noted that "Lodge never disappoints." The Dutch oven is beautifully constructed and super sturdy; you can tell it will last several lifetimes. It performed well in cooking rice and chicken thighs. It's an excellent price for something versatile, and a good addition to an existing Lodge cast iron skillet collection. "The only problem I have with Lodge is because it's an unfinished iron you can have a nice patina of carbon build up on the inside of it, which will flick away. And it can rust if you don't care for it properly," says Lahey. Lodge is a great Dutch oven option if you’re happy to care for your cast iron consistently.

Price at time of publish: $76

  • Heat capacity: 500℉
  • Material: Pre-seasoned cast iron exterior and interior
  • Weight: 13 lbs.
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven - 7 Quart

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Best Large

Great Jones The Dutchess

5
Great Jones The Dutchess

Great Jones

Pros: The Dutch oven performed well across all tests and feels much more expensive than its approachable price. 

Cons: Testers found they had to increase the heat for an even sear across the surface. 

Great Jones “The Dutchess” won the spot for the best large Dutch oven, but our testers found so much more they loved about it. "At $160, this is by far the best price I have ever seen for a great cast iron Dutch oven product. As a customer, culinarian, and student of life, it's love at first sight," said one tester. The Dutchess may have a dainty name, but it is a workhorse that withstood our durability test and made easy work of chicken thighs and cooking rice. Even though our tester made a mistake with the temperature during a test, there was no difference in the finished product making flexibility another selling point. 

Price at time of publish: $160

  • Heat capacity: 450℉
  • Material: Cast iron exterior with enamel interior
  • Weight: 15 lbs.
Great Jones The Dutchess

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Best Minimalist

Milo by Kana 5.5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

a white enameled cast iron dutch oven with a silver lid handle

Amazon

Pros: It is affordable for those looking for the performance of heritage brands without the high price tag.

Cons: We wish the handles were wider to make getting the dutch oven in and out of the oven easier.

The Milo by Kana Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is a minimalist beauty offered in sleek white enameled cast iron and other colors such as dusty pink or emerald green. It's affordable, and it also performed across all tests. The chicken thighs browned nicely, achieving good color, and they quickly released. Rice cooked to a perfectly fluffy and evenly soft consistency with no sticking. There was zero enamel chipping from our durability tests, and we're hard-pressed to find why this dutch oven isn’t a good buy save brand loyalty. The California-based company claims its dutch oven is non-toxic and it's also dishwasher friendly.

Price at time of publish: $145

  • Heat capacity: 500℉
  • Material: Recycled iron and enamel
  • Weight: 15 lbs.

Our Favorite

The Staub Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte performed the best in our testing and was our favorite Dutch oven overall, in case you were wondering if you should buy a Staub or Le Creuset.

The Tests

We put the Dutch ovens through the paces by executing cooking tests with dry and wet ingredients, browning and braising chicken thighs, and making rice. We also beat them up with a metal spoon to see if they scratched, dented, or got marked up to simulate regular household use. In other words, we did all the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is choose your favorite from our list.

Amazon Basics 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Test

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Factors to Consider

Material

Dutch ovens often come in cast iron, enameled cast iron, or ceramic. Choosing which material you prefer will likely depend on how you intend to use it and its cost. Generally, enameled cast iron will be your best bet for the widest variety of applications.  It will maintain a steady heat for long, slow braises, go on any stovetop or in the oven, take high heat, and, when properly maintained, last a lifetime. Dutch ovens are often investment pieces, and the initial investment can be high. Cast iron Dutch ovens can give you many of the same benefits as enameled cookware but can be harder to maintain, as they are prone to rust when not properly cared for and seasoned. You should also not cook highly acidic foods, like tomatoes, in regular cast iron because small amounts of metal can leach into the food. Ceramic can be a good choice for a budget Dutch oven, especially for use in the oven, but it will have a different heat-tempering ability than one made of metal.

Shape

Dutch ovens come in round and oval varieties. While they are relatively interchangeable in terms of use, oval versions will better accommodate larger proteins like whole chickens, hams, or large roasts. The round shape will work well if you primarily want to make soups, stews, braises, and breads.

Size

Dutch ovens can be as small as one quart or as large as 16. Most recipes call for a 5 to 6-quart Dutch oven, so if you want to buy one, Lahey recommends a 6-quart is a safe bet. If you serve a crowd regularly, you might want a larger version. If you have tight storage, ovals can be easier to store.

Weight

Cast iron and enameled cast iron are heavy pots, even before they are full of food. If you find them heavy when empty, you may have difficulty maneuvering them once they are full. You can easily lift and move the empty pots, and if you have upper body strength or motor control issues, you may opt for a lighter ceramic Dutch oven.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is a Dutch oven used for?

    Dutch ovens can be used for anything from dry-roasting a pot roast, large-volume stir-fries for big crowds your wok can't handle, and, of course, simulating an oven to bake bread. You can also use one to deep fry because the sides are high enough to keep splattering oil where it should be.

  • What makes an excellent Dutch oven?

    Lahey prefers cast iron over ceramic because it is more durable and less sensitive to thermal shock. "I had an Emile Henry split down the middle one time, and I didn't know they made them that way because it looks so perfect," he says. Since thermal shock concerns high-heat cooking, Lahey recommends materials that can withstand higher heat. While he likes Lodge, his vintage Copco from Denmark is his favorite. He looks for pots with the kind of density or weight that provides good thermal transfer and a solid seal for heat retention.

  • How do you clean a Dutch oven?

    There are many ways to clean a Dutch oven. "I use hot, soapy water and a sponge, and I try not to abrade it, especially if there's any glass or glaze," he says. If there is any residue, Lahey wipes out the Dutch oven with a damp towel after it's cooled down. There's no need to sanitize something that was at 500°F."

What Didn't Make the List

Strong Contenders 

  • AmazonBasics 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($53 at Amazon)
  • Beautiful 6-Quart Enamel Dutch Oven by Drew Barrymore ($70 at Walmart)
  • Made In 5.5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($199 at Made In)
  • Calphalon Premier Hard-Anodized Nonstick 8.5-Quart Dutch Oven ($120 at Amazon)
  • Cuisinart Chef's Classic 7-Quart Round ($100 at Amazon)
  • Anolon Vesta Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($25 at Amazon)
  • KitchenAid Seasoned 6-Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($130 at Amazon)
  • Martha Stewart Collection Enameled Cast Iron Round 6-Quart Dutch Oven ($199 at Macy's)
  • Caraway Dutch Oven ($135 at Caraway)

Results Still Simmering 

  • Denby Cast Iron Round Covered Casserole ($122 at Amazon)
  • Bruntmor 5-Quart 2-in-1 Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($80 at Amazon)
  • Zwilling Spirit 3-ply-8-Quart Stainless Steel Ceramic Nonstick Stock Pot ($140 at Amazon)
  • Crock Pot Artisan 5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($54 at Amazon)
  • Demeyere Atlantis 9-Quart Stainless Steel Dutch Oven ($360 at Williams Sonoma)

Low Performers 

  • Emile Henry Sublime Performance Ceramic Dutch Oven - 7.5-Quart ($300 at Food 52)
  • Cooks Standard 6-Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot with Lid ($50 at Amazon)

Our Expertise

Jennifer Zyman is a Senior Commerce Writer for Food & Wine and a former restaurant critic with a culinary school degree and over 15 years of food writing experience. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater Atlanta, The Kitchn, Local Palate, National Geographic, Simply Recipes, Southern Living, and Thrillist. To write this story, she used her experience, research, and expertise from Jim Lahey, the owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, winner of the James Beard Foundation's award for Outstanding Baker, and a cookbook author many times over.

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