You hear them at the entry to the kitchen. The groans. The moans. The endless shuffle of the walking fed! The aroma of their favorite Sunday meal reels them in. It might be a pot roast, roasted chicken, or your secret recipe passed down by good ole Nana. You’ve got the best Dutch oven you could find stewing these culinary vibes.
You reach in the oven and the only thing as good as that smell is the beautiful pot you cooked in. The crowd goes insane as drool flies everywhere! All because you found your oven here. This could be you, and this is the list to get you going!
Best Dutch Oven 2017 – Buyers Guide
|Brand||Interior Finish||Colors Selection||Size|
|Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven (Editors Choice)||Porcelain Enamel||11||4 1/2-9 qt|
|Staub 5 Quart Round Cocotte||Porcelain Enamel||12||4-7 qt|
|Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven||Porcelain Enamel||9||3-7 qt|
|Tramontina Enameled Cast Dutch Oven||Porcelain Enamel||2||5.5-7 qt|
|Emeril Lagasse Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Seasoned Cast Iron||1||6 qt|
|Lava Cast Iron Dutch Oven (Editors Choice)||Porcelain Enamel||5||4.25-10.5 qt|
|Marquette Castings Dutch Oven||Porcelain Enamel||3||6 qt|
|Calphalon Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven||Nonstick Aluminum||1||5-7 qt|
Nothing says I’m that chef like a Dutch oven. I mean c’mon a crock pot is cool for the inattentive cook, you know put your beef and potatoes in, throw in a pack of seasoning so you can get back to the latest episode of The Property Brothers. But not when you go Dutch baby! I can’t think of a single dish you can’t cook in one of these big cast iron beauties, and if you purchase wisely you have a pot that you can pass on to your kids complete with the wonderful memories of their favorite recipes.
So, what are we looking for in the perfect Dutch Oven? Well, perfect will be a relative term depending on your needs. Firstly, price is always a fair consideration. I’ve put together a list that touches every price point, with several contenders that hit all feature sets at a fair price point. Like most of us, I enjoy a piece of cookware that looks as good as it is functional, elevating and complimenting the pieces we already have.
We’re going to find everyone our readers a Dutch oven with an easy to clean nonstick interior surface. Next, we’ll find on with a durable cast iron base, preferably with a stylish finish…it’s important to style while cooking. And lastly, we’ll provide some a variety of price options we can all live with.
1. Le Creuset Dutch Oven – Best Dutch Oven Editors Choice
I had to create a new category based off this particular dutch oven. Made in France from premium enamel materials, the Le Creuset is a finely crafted piece of cookware available in 10 beautiful colors that will certainly compliment any kitchen decor. It is not a small item so make sure you have both adequate counter and cabinet space when considering purchase.
When I purchase cookware, I want it to be fairly easy to clean because…well…I’m lazy. The enamel interior of this Dutch oven is for all intents and purposes non-stick. I’m sure you’re reading a caveat into my words, and you’d be correct. With an enamel interior, you should be conscious of not over heating this oven, as it will not only cause food to stick, but will eventually damage the enamel. So proper heat and avoiding scrubbing the oven with abrasive cleaning materials will ensure a long life.
While Le Creuset Signature is coated in enamel the base material is cast iron. I should probably highlight that fact because this thing is heavy. Whether you choose the 5 ½ or the 7 ¼ version, you are in for a workout during meal prep. This is not a one-handed pot by any means which makes it a delight to cook with but a bear to move. The cast iron also gets extremely hot even at “low” temperatures, so it’s important to handle with care. A good pair of oven mitts is probably a good investment.
The quality of this dutch oven really shines at clean up. The staining that you get from cooking certain dishes just doesn’t seem to take hold in the Le Creuset like it does in cheaper brands. If you haven’t incinerated the meal you cooked in it, then a little bit of soapy water and a plastic scrubbing pad will quickly knock out any lingering food bits. This is an oven that if taken care of, you can have for years. They are durable without having cause to worry about light scratches or bumps. I have also not seen, nor read of anyone reporting the excessive pitting that occurs in other brands. This pitting shortens the life and effectiveness of the oven resulting in a shortened shelf life.
This is a versatile piece of cookware that you can pretty much use on any surface that makes fire. You’ll enjoy it’s perfectly enameled interior almost as much as you’ll enjoy the beautiful way it cooks most meals. It truly belongs at the top of the 2017 Best Dutch Oven Buyers Guide.
2. Staub 5 Qt Round Cocotte – 2017 Best Dutch Oven Runner Up
Wow. Let me tell you, the finish on the Staub Dutch oven is something to behold. The only way to describe it is like the difference between a Yukon Denali and an Escalade. They’re both SUV’s, but when you step inside, that is where the similarities end. Firstly, let me correct my description, because Staub’s oven is called a Cocotte. The one I used came in grenadine, and when in its presence you feel like you need to roll the “r” for proper pronunciation.
The shape is different from the other ovens I’ve had on hand. The bottom is flatter, which I’m sure would make even cooking on an electric range a joy (hate electric!). The color is like a glass of rich wine, and the inside is a deep black matte. The company says the finish creates a natural non-stick surface which doesn’t rust, and you don’t have to season it. And while all that may be true, it makes for an attractive and stunning contrast against the finishes of the contenders on this list.
All the caveats apply to this pot as well. While it’s safe up to 500 degrees, medium heat ensures the long life of this oven. Cleaning it was a breeze, using nothing more than a dish rag and some soap…it had to be that magic black inside! I really liked the basting spikes on the inside of the lid. Do they make the food taste better? I don’t know, I just know that this pot is on another level. I can talk about the presentation enough, and the few dishes I did cook seemed to finish faster. The seal between the pot and the lid has an almost suction feel when checking on cooking progress. This is pot for life. I’ve talked about Dutch ovens being heirloom…yeah well forget that…you can bury me with this bad boy.
3. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron – Best Cheap Dutch Oven Value
So I got my hands on the Lodge Dutch oven, and for the low price I really wasn’t expecting much. The Le Crueset has me kind of snobbish…you know, drinking my tea with my pinky out to the side. Right off the bat I noticed that this pot was not bad at all. The thing I liked about it was the rounded bottom of the Lodge which makes it very bottom heavy. For a “cheaper” branded oven the Lodge has impressive heat capacity of 500 degrees, and I bet that much of that is due to the thickness of the iron, particularly on the bottom. This thing stays hot for DAYS after cooking, I kid you not.
The finish on the Lodge Dutch oven is nice with a creamy enamel finish to the inside of the pot. They are made in China and frankly that was the biggest turn off for me. As a videographer I’ve had so many bad experiences with products produced and sold direct from China. Couple this with China’s poor reputation for cast iron pieces well…well you can see how the expectation bar could be set kind of low.
BUT, if your grandma was like mine and had a cabinet full of beautiful porcelain china plate ware, then you know that no one does enamel glazing better. So I put my faith in the Lodge to quality control their flagship pot and took the plunge. Hey, I spend more than the price of this oven in a week on lattes. I put the pot through it’s paces for a week braising everything in the house except my ten-year-old.
I even burned a batch of brussel sprouts roasting in lemon olive, oil and orange citrus balsamic vinaigrette on purpose…yeah on purpose, to test my major requirement which is ease of cleaning. The Lodge oven is stated as non-stick, and in fairness the burned dish would stress the Le Crueset. So it took a lot of work to clean the Lodge which was not surprising, but it also discolored the enamel finish. This was after three days of use. Food still taste great, but that luster is gone.
All in all I really like the Lodge. It’s a piece that will last you as long as you take care of it. Is it as good as the Le Crueset, no but it’s $300 cheaper.
4. Marquette Castings 6 qt. – Best Dutch Oven Under $100
I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the underdog. Rocky, Rudy, and mow Marquette. I actually found this company on Kickstarter of all places. Who knew that some brave soul we bold enough to crowdsource cookware? But here’s the proof, and at such a low price point why not give them a go?
So according to company lore, they use a near hand crafted approach to making their dutch ovens called investment casting. You can read more about it at their website if such things interest you. And while I’m intrigued about how they are made, I’m more interested in how the cook. First the appearance is very nice, I opted for the white color (blue & red are options as well). The pot is definitely light for a 6qt pot without feeling cheap. I like a pot that lets a man feel like a man in the kitchen. My wife tires of my incessant crying as she lends her strength to pull a fallen pot off of me.
I got busy with this bad girl, immediately cooking a Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin with Sausage dish courtesy of dietdoctor.com. I opted to sauté the vegetable and sausage individually in the pot. As you can tell from reading about the various pots, sautéing will test the enamel finish immediately by staining it. The Marquette pot simply chuckled at my folly with not a stain in sight. From there it was into the oven at 450 with no problem, except for the addictive deliciousness in the Dutch oven.
Honestly, this thing has no real weaknesses. Taking advantage of what has become top notch enamel casting in China, Marquette has designed a stellar pot. Couple that with the company’s scrappy attitude and you have a big-time contender in the Dutch ovens for less than $100 category. If this is your first foray into big pot cooking, then you may have stumbled onto a jewel in the Marquette. If they put the same focus on quality into future products, then I can see a huge following developing from culinary aficionados.
5. Tramontina Cast Iron Dutch Oven– Best Bargain Dutch Oven
Ok, I am late to the party but glad I made it, because this Tramontina Dutch Oven is no joke! What we have is another Chinese brand 5.5-quart pot available in two color; a beautiful blue, and a stunning red. The finish is incredible for a pot that costs far below the French brands. Was it as good as those famous brand French imports? There was only one way to see…with a big pot of stewed chicken.
This is a great meal to test a pot with, as the sugar, oil, and vinegar become very viscous as the dish cooks. I also wanted to see how the heat distribution was on this brand from a gas stove top, and I was not disappointed as the stew cooked beautifully. The chicken was super tender, and I wish I could say it was my culinary prowess that made it so.
As important as the outer aesthetics for me, is the quality of the nonstick enamel interior of any pot. As I mentioned this is a sticky meal, with the sugar and brown sugar caramelizing and coating the interior of the oven. I figured this is where Tramontina would fail and at the very least become permanently discolored. I was wrong. Soap and warm water were all I needed to remove the sticky remnants, and restore that pretty pearl finish.
There are however a couple of caveats. First you must really pay attention to the model you purchase. I’ve heard of variations in appearance when purchasing thru different vendors. Second, this is a heavy pot and you’re probably rolling your eyes, because every cast iron Dutch oven is heavy. While this is true, but this is the first one to cause my oven racks to bow. I didn’t worry about them collapsing, but it was not something I was used to seeing. Tramontina is a company with a lot of great products, our best portable ice maker review found that their quality extends to many product areas.
Got a hold of my first celebrity Dutch oven. Just the thought of an endorsed piece of cookware gets my cackles up. I figure that somethings gotta give in the quality department since most the pieces are made in China. Generally, I’ve had crap luck with “branded” cookware no matter whose name is no the box.
So, I’m not sure what made me even look at the Emeril Lagasse cast iron pot since it didn’t meet the enamel test. This thing is not attractive at all, unless you’re going for the campfire motif in your kitchen. Another immediate knock was the that it was pre-seasoned, which to me means I’ll have to re-season it at some point and totally destroys my ability to be lazy during clean up.
My friend begged me to include this pot, all but swearing it would change my life. I thought to myself what the hay, and put this black cauldron Dutch oven through its paces with a nice pot of chili. Even at low temperatures this thing gets hot, I meant it raised the ambient temperature of the kitchen substantially. My wife wanted to know who turned the heat up!
This explains the design of the pot and reinforced that it wasn’t ugly for no reason. Those huge handles are necessary to give you and your oven mitts some separation from the side of the pot, and top of the lid. The pot takes a while to cool down after use, but I admit cleaning it was not too difficult. I just didn’t like it’s appearance. I also would rather spend a little extra for the enamel, which ensures your pot is non-stick, and eliminates the need for seasoning. However this is the best dutch oven I’ve used that lacks the preferred enamel coating.
It is not a bad pot, in fact it looks like a young guy’s pot. It would serve a single person well who is not concerned about cookware looks. It would also make an awesome travel companion for outdoor outings. I can imagine it functions extremely well on an open flame like a camp fire.
7. Lava Signature Dutch Oven – The Staub Killer?!
Well I felt as if I was running out of contenders, when suddenly Lava Signature erupted into my life. See what I did there? Huh? Huh? Well I was ready to be let down, my nose slowly curling to its up in the air snobbish position. Another Chinese pot? Wrong, this company is out of Turkey, and there is little to no information on them anywhere. They claim that their pot is triple coated in porcelain enamel. I don’t doubt them as I recall the beautiful tile work that comes from that part of the world, I begin to get a little bit excited.
In fact, this puppy really reminds me of the Staub pot. It has a flat bottom and a black enamel interior, and it’s about a whole lot cheaper. The outside has a rich colorful finish. I try something I’ve not done in any test, and fry some chicken. I’m on a LCHF diet so I bread half the chicken with pork rinds, and the other half with pumpkin seed flour. The pot heats the oil super-fast and the chicken cooks in no time. I should have cooked something a little more challenging, since cleanup was a breeze.
One thing to note with this pot is that the lip of the Dutch oven is coated with enamel. This is not common, and I almost had a heart attack when I lost my grip on the lid and clunked it on the pot. No harm no foul, but it isn’t a mistake I think should be repeated. Aside from that incident, this thing is a contender. As with all porcelain enameled pots, use your non-metal utensils, and your non-abrasive cleaning accessories for maintenance. The black enamel would make it difficult to see if there is damage from neglect of care.
Look out French guys, this is the little pot from Turkey that could…for a whole lot less money. And the orange spice color is sexy enough for me to want to hang on to it. By far the 2017 best dutch oven manufactured in China in terms of aesthetics.
Calphalon. Hmm where to begin. Well this is a brand of cookware I like to term early in life. You pick it up, and think it’s great thanks to it super reasonable pricing. Even their “higher” end cookware is in the el cheapo category. As cheap as this pot is, I figured this Calphalon Dutch Oven would be hit or miss. In one of those rare weeks where I didn’t have much of a culinary desire, I may have let this pot off the hook easy.
The look of the pot is super basic with a generic black finish and a nonstick stainless interior. The lid is glass which I’m really not fond of for a Dutch oven, but hey it’s suuuppperrr cheap! The dutch oven is durable up to 450 degrees, which is the lowest heat metric I’ve seen to this point. BUT, I can’t remember the last time I’ve cooked anything at 500 degrees.
I decided to cook some spaghetti sauce, with the intention to cook everything in this pot. Browned the meat no problem, and sautéed the onions and bell peppers like a champ. At 7qts. This thing feels like 20 on the stove, and it was an inadvertent encouragement to fix way more sauce than I intended. My family sends it’s sarcastic thanks to Calphalon for a life time of leftover ‘ghetti.
The pot cleans up nicely, but I’ll be damned if there weren’t some scratches in the bottom of this brand-new oven. This is where getting what you paid for comes into play, and while you’re wondering, I only used non-metal utensils while using the pot. Also the pot comes with a huge disclaimer that warns you to only wash it by hand. I’ve seen the results of those forgetful enough to place this pot in a dishwasher, and let’s just say the pain on this thing ain’t stayin’ put.
Another definite plus in favor of this pot is its weight. I can’t think of one Dutch oven on this list that I’ve been able to sling around the kitchen with one hand. The weight of the pot is a double-edged sword due to it’s thin walls. I was able to actually bend the side below the lip of pot. Is this a deal breaker? Meh, it’s a pot not a Faberge egg, and if it doesn’t have some scuffs during its lifetime, then you probably weren’t cooking!
Not a bad pot, not a great pot, and even in it’s price range there are better pots. This is not the best dutch oven even among lower tier ovens.