A Dutch oven is the true workhorse of any kitchen. These bad boys can make pots of soup or stew, saute vegetables, braise meat, and even bake a loaf of crusty bread. If your kitchen only has room for a single pot or pan, it should be a Dutch oven. But how do you choose which one? Not only do they range in price from $50 to $350, they range in quality too.
While most of them follow the same basic design—a deep, cast iron pot coated in nonstick enamel—the shape and construction make a huge difference in cooking experience. That’s why we tested the top Dutch ovens on the market. And, after putting each through its paces, concluded that the Staub Round Cocotte(available at Zwilling) is the one we want in our kitchens and would recommend to friends. If you're in the market for an affordable option, the Lodge 4.6-Quart Round Dutch Oven (available at Amazon) is our Best Value pick.
These are the best dutch ovens we tested, ranked in order:
Staub Round Cocotte Oven, 5.5-quart
Le Creuset 5.5-quart Round Dutch Oven
Lodge 4.6-quart Dutch Oven
Martha Stewart 6-quart Round Dutch Oven Casserole
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-quart Round Covered Casserole
Misen Dutch Oven
AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven 6-quart
Vermicular, 26 cm. pot
Ikea Senior - Casserole with Lid
Great Jones Dutchess
Staub Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte
As our overall winner, this Staub is an absolute favorite for anything and everything in the kitchen. The pot has a signature glossy finish, with a smooth-fitting lid adorned with self-basting divots. These little ceramic dots help condensation from the dish drip evenly back into pot, instead of pooling at the edges of the lid and streaming down in one line after removal.
The Staub produced a deeply flavorful broth, evenly roasted chicken pieces, and the tallest sourdough loaf of the bunch. Compared to our other pots, the Staub also remained fairly clean after multiple uses, with minimal stains and spots. The inside was also nicely nonstick, so any bits and pieces were easily removed with little scrubbing.
In our tests, the Staub Round Cocotte Oven narrowly beat out the well-known (and well-loved) Le Creuset. This mostly came down to the shape of the product, and how much better it fits on the stove and in the pantry. While a little heavier than some of the others, the fact that it can cook a substantial amount of food evenly without taking up too much stovetop space bumped this one all the way to the top.
A serious competitor to both Staub and Le Creuset at almost half the cost, the Lodge Dutch oven impressed us again with its durability and versatility. In almost every test, the colorful Lodge was with the top of the pack. However, it is much smaller than the others, resulting in certain issues like soggier chicken skin (as the pieces were all squished together), and a sourdough loaf that couldn’t form as naturally (since its sides would touch the pot edges and cook).
It's also lacking the self-basting divots that’s came in so handy on our top pick. But at this price point, this colorful model is absolutely still deserving of the Best Value title.
Hi, I'm Jenny! I'm a professional chef, writer, founder of a nonprofit community think tank called Studio ATAO, and cookbook author. I've tested everything from meat delivery services to pressure cookers for Reviewed. I tested new products for this roundup and retested our top picks from the original testing.
And I’m Bethany, an avid home cook who’s skeptical of more expensive products that seem to do the same thing as something half the price. Before I add anything more expensive than a spatula to my kitchen, I want it to be thoroughly vetted and to know it’s worth the cost.
Before testing, we dove into research mode. Our major evaluation measures were as follows: fast and even heating throughout the pot; a secure lid that’s easy to handle; and a nonstick surface that can brown meat while being easy to clean afterward.
We tested Dutch ovens that seemed to be highly rated everywhere, some newer models from direct-to-consumer brands, and a few less expensive options that walked the line between a great product and a great deal. We were also curious to find out if a higher price tag really did make for a better Dutch oven.
Our three tests for each Dutch oven tested its versatility for different cooking applications. First, a classic pho broth to see how deeply flavors would develop inside the pot. Second, a roasted chicken on a bed of mirepoix, assessing if the Dutch oven could appropriately cook both chicken and vegetables at the same time. And finally, a loaf of sourdough bread to test the heat retention of the pot as the bread springs from the initial burst of heat.
We took note of how easy it was to move each one, how well the ingredients fit, how each dish turned out, whether it was a pain to clean, how it fit on the stovetop, and how easy it was to store.
What You Should Know About Dutch Ovens
If you like to cook, a good Dutch oven is an essential tool for your kitchen. It’s usually made from seasoned cast-iron or ceramic, has thick walls, and includes a tight-fitting lid. These pots are excellent for browning meat and even better for making soups and stews or any recipes that require slow cooking because they distribute heat evenly during cooking. Dutch ovens can also tolerate high temperatures, so they can also be used for deep-frying, too.
Dutch ovens can be used on your stovetop and are oven-safe, but make sure it's been seasoned before its first use. Keep in mind these pots are hefty, so be careful when handling these while they're filled with hot food. Always look for a dutch oven with large handles for easy maneuvering. Investing in a Dutch oven is well worth your money, as most—especially cast-iron Dutch ovens—are built to last forever.
What Cooks Best in a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are extremely versatile and can be used for everything from soup to sourdough. A Dutch oven is also excellent for cooking meat, vegetable, or seafood stews. The versatility of a Dutch oven goes beyond your kitchen, as there are some cast-iron models that can be hung over a campfire for outdoor cooking.
How to Choose the Right Size Dutch Oven
Because Dutch ovens are bulky, choosing the right size for your kitchen can be difficult. Dutch ovens range in size from 1/4 of a quart to 13 quarts. To decide which to buy, consider how many people you’re cooking for.
For one or two people, a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven will usually do the trick. A household of four will want a 5- to 7-quart Dutch oven, which is the usual size range. If you’re cooking for a large family, a party, or a holiday meal, you may want to consider a Dutch oven larger than 7 quarts, just don’t forget to make sure it fits in your oven!
Ceramic or Cast-Iron?
There are benefits and drawbacks to both cast-iron and ceramic Dutch ovens. Cast-iron without an enamel coating can become rusty after repeated use. An enamel coating on a cast-iron Dutch oven will make it easy to clean and rust-free.
Ceramic Dutch ovens are more visually pleasing but are prone to nicks and cracks with heavy use. Even the most thorough scrubbing won't return your ceramic model to its original condition once it has become stained. However, the staining won't affect its ability to cook your food.
Other Dutch Ovens We Tested
Le Creuset 5.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven
Le Creuset and Staub fought a mighty battle for to top spot, but the honorable Le Creuset was bested by its fellow French competitor. The Le Creuset—beloved among cooks and kitchen scholars—makes a perfect meal every time. It also offers large handles, which are ideal for moving the pot from the stove to the oven and back, from your stove to the table, or from your house to your friend’s place.
However, its size means that if you’re dealing with tight stove space or want to get multiple dishes going at once, you might run into some problems. This Dutch oven is gorgeous and produces consistently delicious food, but its size means it'll always need to be the star of the show.
AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart
We're pretty sure Amazon took cues from other top-performing brands in order to produce this eerily familiar model. The similarities in look to the Martha Stewart and Cuisinart were startling. That said, it didn’t perform quite as well.
From picking up mysterious black marks on the outside after cooking bread to the handles instantly becoming too hot to touch on the stove, this product could use a few more years to mature. We'd call it a solid bargain buy for someone who isn’t sure if they’re ever going to use their Dutch oven.
This Cuisinart is a solid Dutch oven. The flat sides offer a wide sauteeing base for onions and garlic, and the simple construction means you can’t really go wrong. That said, it just didn’t perform as well in our tests. A few black spots on the bottom of the bread, a bit tougher to clean off the soup, and meat that wasn’t quite perfect knocked it down a few spots in our list.
The Misen Dutch oven is designed quite cleverly with a lid that doubles as a grill pan. This proved useful to sear chicken for a crisp skin before transferring it into the pot to fully roast. However, the lid was also detracted from the overall score because it didn’t fit as tightly as others and made handling the pot more awkward. This was most annoying in scenarios like baking bread, where the pot is heated to 500°F so you want to be extra careful when handling.
You can also opt for a regular lid with a knob at the center—although that version will not self-baste like the grill lid—or a silicone lid, which works without issue but is also inconvenient to remove since it hugs the pot so tightly.
Martha Stewart Collection Enameled Cast Iron 6-Quart Round Dutch Oven
Other than a few hotspots on the bottom of the bread where it burned and handles that immediately got too hot to touch while it was on the stove, the Martha Stewart Dutch oven performed admirably in our tests. The chicken was tender, the soup cooked up great. We also loved the large lid handle, which made removing the lid easy even when it was just out of the oven.
Vermicular is a Japanese cast-iron company specializing in beautifully made pots like this one. The Vermicular Dutch oven is quite attractive and does have the self-basting dots we like, but it also managed to stain quite severely after just one use.
Additionally, while its lid has a top knob, it also has two handles, which makes the entire pot more awkward to handle (much like the Misen).
While we weren't too impressed with the performance of the Ikea Senior, we were impressed with the price point. While affordable, we found that the oblong shape caused food in the center to cook more rapidly—or in the case of the soup, cling to the bottom and make a mess for scraping off.
Similarly, the inner coating didn’t lend itself to cleaning as well as the others, and the outer coating tended to pick up dust in the oven that needed to be thoroughly scrubbed. It also chipped immediately, so it might not be something you keep around for long, but could be a good piece of cookware for a cabin or second home.
The Great Jones 6.75-quart Dutch oven was the largest one we tested, and one of two in an oval shape (as opposed to a round). The main issue we ran into was precisely due to this—since most stovetops are circular, we found this pot to heat less evenly than the others, resulting in oddly cooked chicken and sourdough bread.
It also lacked a few key features we found useful in the other models, namely the self-basting divots, and a smoothly sealing lid. Whether it was due to the textured, matte finish of the entire pot’s outside or just a function of the pot’s grooves, the lid would make a particularly grating sound when slid on to cover the pot.
Bethany is a freelance contributor for Reviewed. An avid home baker and aspiring home cook, she reviews and writes mostly about kitchen gadgets (with the occasional fitness review thrown in). Her specialty might be fancy desserts, but she's never met a batch-cooked dinner recipe she didn't like.
Outside of her work for Reviewed, Bethany is a content creator working on clean energy and climate change at a regional non-profit and runs a tabletop game at her local comic book shop.
Jenny is a professional chef, author and speaker specializing in interdisciplinary storytelling fusing food with social good. She leads a nonprofit named Studio ATAO and runs her own culinary consulting business. Her food and work has been featured in outlets such as Food Network, Oxygen TV, Eater, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, among others. Her full biography, food portfolio, and bylines can be found here.
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