What you can’t do with a Dutch oven is hardly worth talking about. These lidded enameled cast iron pots fry, braise, roast, stew, slow-cook, simmer and even bake bread. They clean up easily, look good on your stove and even better on your table, and come in sizes from mini to downright massive. They’re one of the most long-lasting and versatile pieces of cookware you can buy, and a particular fall and winter workhorse.
So what’s the difference between a $400 Dutch oven and those you can buy for $50? Although many perform roughly similarly, they can vary in quality of materials, ease of use, heat conduction and longevity. It’s important to find one that warms up fast, browns well and is well-built enough to handle safely and won’t chip with normal use, whether it’s a relatively affordable model or an investment purchase you plan to use for years. The five Dutch ovens below have performed well in tests at Consumer Reports, America’s Test Kitchen, Wirecutter, Serious Eats and more ― as well as in our own kitchens.
(Although experts love 6-to-8-quart Dutch ovens for most things, many home cooks buy them in the 5-to-6-quart size, so we’ve priced the five brands below in that range. But keep in mind that if you have enough space on your stovetop and oven to accommodate them, you can often find larger-sized Dutch ovens for less. Here’s how to choose the right size for you.)
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Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven (5.5 quarts)
Material: Enameled cast iron Oven safe to: 500 degrees Care: Dishwasher safe, hand wash recommended Colors: At least 20 What's good: Le Creuset tops tests by Consumer Reports, America’s Test Kitchen, Wirecutter, and others, proving that although these Dutch ovens have become something of a fancy status symbol, they also just plain work the best (and they'll do so for generations). Produced in the same French factory since 1925, these heat quickly, brown foods really well, clean up easily and offer big, easy-to-grip handles on a relatively light body. Users also say they like the fact that interior enamel is light-colored, so you can well see what's going on with your sears. There's also the fact that Le Creuset offers a limited lifetime warranty and will send you a new one if yours is damaged during normal use. That they come in amazing colors and frequent special editions and collectibles is a bonus.
Material: Enameled cast iron Oven safe to: 500 degrees with lid, 900 degrees without Care: Dishwasher safe, hand wash recommended Colors: At least 10 What's good: Like Le Creuset, Staub's Dutch ovens are meant to last for decades -- and they cost nearly as much, too, with equally devoted fans. The most notable difference beyond pot and lid shape is that while Le Creuset's enameled interior is beige, Staub's is dark. The company says its matte black enamel helps ensure perfect browning, and Consumer Reports notes Staub does perform really well at this (along with excellent heating speed and great bread baking). Each lid has little spikes on the underside designed to re-circulate condensation back onto the food for moister meat and optimal basting (you may want to remove this lid when finishing off soups or stews). In its tests, Serious Eats recommends Staub alongside Le Creuset as the top options among heritage brands, noting Staub's bottom surface area is just a bit larger. The company's glossy finishes, which contain mineral pigments and glass powder, are especially beautiful.
Material: Enameled cast iron Oven safe to: 500 degrees Care: Hand wash only Colors: 26 What's good: Testers at Wirecutter recommend both the Lodge and Le Creuset, noting that the Lodge has a wider base and shorter sides than some other Dutch ovens. This allows steam to escape more easily, they said, producing a better sear and more concentrated flavors. (That the Lodge is relatively affordable helped their decision a lot, too.) Consumer Reports was especially impressed by how easy it is to clean the Lodge oven and how well it baked crusty bread, giving it the second-highest score of brands they tested, just behind Le Creuset.
Material: Enameled cast iron Oven safe to: 500 degrees Care: Dishwasher safe Colors: Red and blue What's good: Cook's Illustrated named the Cuisinart a "best buy" among medium-sized Dutch ovens, alongside its top pick -- you guessed it -- Le Creuset. Cooking in both was equally good, reviewers said, noting the Cuisinart has a slightly smaller capacity than its fancier French cousin -- though Serious Eats pointed out it still has a wider bottom surface area. For the price, though? It's tough to beat. Serious Eats named it a top budget pick alongside Martha Stewart. Get it from Amazon for $99.95 or from Target for $99.99.
Martha Stewart Collection Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven (6 quarts)
Material: Enameled cast iron Oven safe to: 500 degrees Care: Hand wash only Colors: 7 What's good: Martha's Dutch ovens closely resemble those from the more expensive heritage brands, with their Staub-like straight sides, shiny ombre finishes and a light interior like Le Creuset. The lid features interior concentric "condensation rings" intended to better circulate moisture, and Serious Eats, which named this a pick for best budget Dutch oven, was a fan of this pot's ample bottom surface area for browning. (We've had these in our own kitchen for several years and haven't experienced any chipping, staining or other issues.)
And if you want to take the next step or add to your enameled cast iron arsenal, the products below will help you master or expand your Dutch oven game, from adding grilling capabilities to nailing specialty foods and seasonal style to matching your personal aesthetic or keeping your pots looking good.
This is one of the most beautiful, versatile and space-saving pieces of cookware we've ever bought. The bottom portion braises, sears and simmers just like any other Staub Dutch oven (this one has a low-slung 3.37-quart capacity) and the lid doubles as a grill pan that makes beautiful crusty toast and grilled naan. You can also use it for burgers, seafood, vegetables -- whatever it is you can grill indoors.
Ugh, our hearts! This is just so cute. The four-quart size won't be the one you break out for a multi-family Thanksgiving meal, but it is perfect for so many fall soups, stews and dinners for two to four. It's part of Martha's limited-edition harvest collection.
This kit has everything you need to make sure your Dutch oven's finish stays in tip-top shape. It's got a biodegradable, dye-free, bleach-free cleaner, a nylon brush that won't damage enamel, a food scraper and some pot protectors that not only help you avoid chips, but will ensure moisture doesn't build up inside your pots in storage.
Sometimes you just want more bottom surface area for browning and braising large quantities or bigger cuts of meat. This 6.75-quart oven from Le Creuset is 12 inches in diameter but isn't so big you'll have to double your recipes.
One of the great things about a Dutch oven is that you can make whole meals without getting other pots and pans dirty. With an immersion blender, you can also blend velvety soups and creamy sauces right there in the pot without having to also wash a blender pitcher and parts. Braun's hand blender earned high marks in tests by Good Housekeeping and Wirecutter.
If your kitchen vibe is minimalist chic, you probably can't get more stylish than these enameled cast iron Dutch ovens designed by Dutch chef Sergio Herman. The interiors are dark and shiny and the lids have little nubs to redirect steam back into the pot.
Once you have an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, you might begin to wonder why you put up with the care and maintenance of regular cast iron, with its drama queen demands, seasoning needs and susceptibility to rust. Snatch up an enameled cast iron skillet while you're at it -- it's all of the same searing and heat goodness you get from regular cast iron skillets, but with much easier cleanup.
You can sous vide food in any large stock pot or vessel, but if you've only got room for one -- or your other pots are in use -- you should definitely sous vide in your Dutch oven. This best-selling cooker from Anova will even connect to your phone so you can keep an eye on your cooking from anywhere in range.
We haven't tried this oval Dutch oven from Walmart yet, but we're intrigued by its looks and the promising reviews (not to mention the price point). The interior is light enamel, and the exterior finish is super stylish black.
If holiday traditions are your thing, nail both the holiday and traditions part with this Santa-themed Dutch oven from Le Creuset's Noël collection (the snowflake braiser is pretty great, too). It'll be a gorgeous dinner centerpiece and something you can hand down to keep the tradition alive -- or give as a gift to someone who's starting their own.