The best Dutch ovens in 2023

There's never a bad time to add this multifunction cookware to your kitchen arsenal.

Best Overall

MadeIn Dutch Oven

MadeIn Dutch Oven

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Best For Camping

Misen Dutch Oven

Misen Dutch Oven

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Best Budget

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

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A Dutch oven is the home cook’s secret weapon. This single kitchen tool can fry, braise, bake, and even boil anything you throw into it—literally—on the stovetop and in the oven. This versatility is expected from a multi-function smart countertop appliance, but Dutch ovens are as analog as you can get. It says a lot that you can use one to bake a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, quickly clean out the bottom with a paper towel, then immediately begin making a homemade “Sunday Sauce” in the same pot. For a long time, two well-known French companies cornered the market, making them prohibitively expensive for beginners. This is no longer the case, and getting the best Dutch oven no longer requires waiting for a big birthday, wedding registry, or other major milestones—it just requires looking over our top picks for every occasion.

How we chose the best Dutch ovens

A Dutch oven is one of the kitchen tools you should buy once and use for the rest of your life, so longevity was top of mind as we conducted our research. The stigma around the cost is well warranted, but we wanted to ensure our recommendations covered the entire price spectrum—especially those trying to spend less than $100. More expensive ones may have slightly better overall performance in terms of cooking consistency. Still, those putting off picking up their first Dutch oven because of their notoriously high price tag shouldn’t be scared away. Maintenance is another factor we consider when diving into the Dutch oven world.

Traditionally, a Dutch oven was made out of raw cast iron, which was great for heat retention and even cooking but made cleaning them a bit of a chore. Cast iron is temperamental, and cooking the wrong food, waiting too long to clean it, or leaving it exposed to moisture could have disastrous consequences. Nobody wants to spend their Sunday afternoon cleaning rust off their cookware before re-seasoning it before its next use. To combat this, we’ve primarily recommended models with an enamel layer that has the same benefits as raw cast iron but can be cleaned with more traditional methods like soap and water without the risk of serious damage. Highlighting low-maintenance, highly-performant cookware was our main goal.

The best Dutch ovens: Reviews & Recommendations

The best Dutch oven for your needs will depend on what you want to cook, how many servings you want to make, and how fastidious you are about cleaning. Using the factors we discussed above and will discuss in greater depth later, we decided on the options below. Again, this is an analog kitchen tool, so your decision should be based on which option best serves your needs. There’s no wrong answer; we’ve identified your best picks based on weight, size, and cost.

Best overall: MadeIn Dutch Oven

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Specs

  • Weight: 13.69 pounds
  • Capacity: 5.5 Qt.
  • Maximum temperature: 580 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Enameled: Yes

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Adjustable knobs

Cons

  • Heavy

MadeIn is one of the few cookware makers that make good on the promise of direct-to-consumer companies disrupting industries with well-established companies who have ruled a category for decades. Its new Dutch oven is the perfect example. The 5.5-quart model is made in France, comes in an assortment of colors, has a replaceable knob—MadeIn offers a brass option if that best matches your aesthetic—and a lifetime warranty against defects. These are all the features you’d expect from the well-established makers, except MadeIn charges a lot less.

A Dutch oven is a simple kitchen tool by design. Still, MadeIn innovated by designing this one with bumps on the lid that trap steam, which eventually turns into water and falls back onto your food instead of sticking to the top or escaping. We’re recommending the standard 5.5-quart size, but MadeIn also offers a 7.5-quart oval-shaped one as well. The larger option has all the same features as its circular sibling but is better if you cook for a crowd.

It’s important to note that MadeIn’s Dutch Oven is a little heavier than our other enamel-coated recommendations, which means you’ll need to take a little extra care when moving it into and out of an oven. The difference isn’t that big, but you’ll certainly feel the extra couple of pounds if you braise a big hunk of meat (or two). That said, if you’re looking for a statement piece for your kitchen, MadeIn’s eye-catching, performant Dutch Oven is one to get.

Best enameled: Le Creuset Enameled Dutch Oven

Le Creuset Enameled Dutch Oven

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Specs

  • Weight: 5.5 Qt.
  • Capacity: 11.5 pounds
  • Maximum temperature: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Enameled: Yes

Pros

  • The classic choice
  • Wider, more ergonomic handles
  • Available in seven sizes

Cons

  • Price

No guide to the best Dutch ovens would be complete without mentioning Le Creuset (one of the two grande dames mentioned in the intro, alongside Staub). The French company’s colorful cookware is legendary thanks to its durability and uniform heat distribution, and its Dutch oven may well be the crown jewel of its collection. Le Cruset hasn’t changed much about its design over the past few decades—a true “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it attitude—so it’s free from modern advancements like a textured top lid. Instead, it’s this oven’s wide handles that help set it apart. The extra inch of space makes Le Cruset’s Dutch Oven easy to transport in and out of a convection toaster oven to a full-sized range when you have mitts on your hands.

Another big benefit to Le Cruset’s Enameled Dutch Oven is that the company offers sizes ranging from the diminutive 2 quarts to a massive 13.25-quart option. Whether you’re cooking for yourself or a crowd, Le Cruset has you covered. Similarly, Le Cruset’s Enameled Dutch Oven comes in a dozen colors—some colorways are exclusive to certain sizes—so you can find one that matches your kitchen’s aesthetic or personal preference. The only factor holding Le Cruset’s cookware back is its high-but-justifiable price tag. Yes, this model is worth every penny, but you’ll need to have enough pennies saved up.

If budget isn’t your primary concern, Le Cruset’s Enameled Dutch Oven can’t be topped.

Best cast iron: Smithey Dutch Oven

Smithey Dutch Oven

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Specs

  • Weight: 14 pounds
  • Capacity: 5.5 Qt.
  • Maximum temperature: N/A
  • Enameled: No

Pros

  • Beautifully crafted in the USA
  • Compatible with induction stoves
  • Ultra-durable

Cons

  • Requires care when cleaning
  • Weight
  • Price

A raw cast iron Dutch oven is more time-consuming to maintain, but what you get in fussiness is far outweighed by the boost in durability. Smithey’s Dutch Oven is a heavy, expensive cast iron Dutch oven, but those attributes are easy to forgive when you factor in its lifetime durability. Enamel ovens are easy to clean, but their coating can chip, crack, or wear down over extended use. That’s not true with raw cast iron cookware like Smithey’s Dutch Oven.

We review the cleaning instructions for raw and enamel ovens in our things to consider near the end of this article but suffice it to say you’ll need to take a little extra care to maintain the former. You’ll be fine baking bread or roasting meat and vegetables, but you shouldn’t use Smithey’s Dutch Oven to make boiled foods. These attributes aren’t exclusive to Smithey, they’re inherent to this cookware. Smithey counteracts this by finishing the inside of its oven with a non-stick coating that makes it easier to clean. It’s also made sure to make its Dutch oven compatible with every heat source, from a direct flame on a campsite to the latest induction cooktop.

If you understand these limitations of raw cast iron, Smithey’s 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven is in a class of its own in its category.

Best for camping: Misen Dutch Oven

Misen Dutch Oven

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Specs

  • Weight: 11.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 7 Qt.
  • Maximum temperature: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Enameled: Yes

Pros

  • Large size
  • Lid doubles as a grilling pan
  • Comes with a lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • May be too large for everyday use
  • Added size means extra weight

If you go camping, space is at a premium, so every piece of equipment you take has to pull its weight. Misen’s Dutch Oven is a two-in-one piece of cookware whose lid is a non-stick grill pan. This multifunction design, combined with the fact that this model has a 7-quart capacity, adds up to a Dutch oven that’s ideal for big cooking jobs. If you’re camping with a dozen people, nobody wants to wait for two batches of food to be ready. With Misen’s Dutch Oven, you can grill up hot dogs and hamburgers while using the pot to make chili. Of course, using the oven with the lid on will allow you to braise lots of meat at once or make a large portion of sauce.

The first thing you’ll notice when viewing Misen’s Dutch Oven is its dual-handle design. This is because the body and lid are designed to be used individually without compromising usability. It may be a little awkward to handle this dual-handle design when using the oven with the lid on, but you can get around this by turning the lid so both sets of handles aren’t on top of one another. This solution isn’t ideal, but it’ll work.

As expected, a 7-quart oven is heavier than the 5.5-quart models we’ve been recommending. The extra size and weight mean you’ll have to commit to cookware that’s great for campsite cooking but maybe a little too big for home use, depending on how many people are in your household. Conversely, the larger size will make meal prepping easier since you can cook more food at once.

Best budget: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

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Specs

  • Weight: 13.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 6 Qt.
  • Maximum temperature: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Enameled: Yes

Pros

  • Same size and features as more expensive Dutch ovens
  • Available in multiple sizes and colorways
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons

  • Harder to handle

One of the biggest knocks against Dutch ovens is their cost. Lodge, however, has thrown that argument completely out the window—the company offers a 6-quart U.S.-made enameled option for well under $100. The company also offers ovens in sizes ranging from 1.5 quarts to 7.5 quarts in 27 sizes—though some colorways are exclusive to certain sizes. The 6-quart model we’re recommending is available in 19 colors.

Lodge hasn’t made many compromises with its low-cost cookware, though its thin handles will make it harder to grip. These handles, combined with the oven’s wider size, mean you’ll need extra care when moving it around. This won’t be an issue once you get used to Lodge’s Enameled Dutch Oven but does make it a little less intuitive to use than some of our other recommendations.

If you’re just getting into cooking sauces or baking bread and don’t want to invest hugely in equipment, Lodge’s Enameled Dutch Oven is the best value by a longshot.

What to consider when shopping for Dutch ovens

Weight

A Dutch oven is typically made of raw cast iron, much heavier than stainless steel or ceramic cookware. This is especially noticeable when transferring it into and out of an oven while it’s full of food. Most of the models we recommend fall within the 11- to 16-pound range, so keep that in mind while deciding.

Capacity

A Dutch oven’s capacity, which is measured in quarts, determines how much food it’s able to hold at one time. The most common capacity is 5.5 Qt. (quarts), and many of our recommendations are available in that size. Some companies offer the same oven in smaller and larger sizes to accommodate different cooking needs, and we’ve noted that when appropriate.

Maximum temperature

One of the Dutch oven’s best features is the ability to use it on the stovetop and in the oven. Our recommendations can be used in an oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, so they’re all well suited for bread baking.

Enameled coating

Dutch ovens have traditionally been made out of raw cast iron, which is effective at cooking food but more temperamental and fussy to clean. Cooking acidic foods—think tomato sauce—can permanently damage a raw oven since the acidic nature of the food will interact poorly with the metal. You may end up with a sauce that has a slightly metallic taste, which isn’t ideal.

To combat this, Dutch oven makers began covering their raw cast iron models with a thick, enamel, non-stick coating that doesn’t hinder cooking performance but is much easier to work with and clean. Enamel-coated options can make acidic sauces or even boil water. Most of our recommendations have an enamel coating, though some continue to swear by the original non-treated version.

How should I clean my Dutch oven?

If you have a raw cast iron Dutch oven, cleaning will require a few steps. First, remove all food from your Dutch oven—this may require using a sponge, wooden spoon, or cast iron cleaning kit. Be sure not to use too much force, or you’ll risk wearing down the seasoning—a protective layer of oil—built up on your Dutch oven. If that happens, you must coat your Dutch oven with a thin layer of oil, then bake it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once all the food from your Dutch oven has been removed, you can use a sponge and a little bit of water to wipe the inside of it out. Quickly dry your Dutch oven with a paper towel, lightly grease the inside with a little bit of neutral oil, then put it on stove top until any water evaporates and no oil remains.

If you’re using an enamel Dutch oven, you can clean it out with some soap, water, and a sponge like you would any other kitchen tool. Just be sure not to put your Dutch oven in the dishwasher, as prolonged exposure to moisture and steam may damage it.

FAQs

Q: What material is best for a Dutch oven?

Most Dutch ovens are made out of cast iron, which takes a long time to heat up but can distribute that heat evenly and maintain a consistent temperature for long periods of time.

Q: What size Dutch oven is best for making bread?

This depends on the type and size of bread you’d like to make, but a 5.5-quart model will work perfectly for a round sourdough loaf.

Q: What is a Dutch oven used for?

A Dutch oven can sear, braise, bake, and fry foods on a countertop or in an oven. An enamel-coated one can also be used to boil water.

Q: Can I boil water in a Dutch oven?

This depends on whether the Dutch oven is made of raw cast iron or has an enamel coating. An enamel-coated one can also be used to boil water.

Q: Can I deep fry in a Dutch oven?

Yes, a Dutch oven can be used to fry foods.

Q: How much should a Dutch oven cost?

You can spend several hundred dollars, but our least expensive recommendation costs about $80.

Final thoughts on choosing the best Dutch ovens

If you cook at home regularly and have enough room for another kitchen tool, it’s hard to beat the performance, longevity, and sheer versatility of a Dutch oven. You can use the single pot for cooking an entire meal from start to finish, then you have a container to carry it in if you’re taking food to a friend’s home. Whether you’re an aspiring bread baker or want a simple tool to cook an entire roast chicken, this cookware is well worth the investment.

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Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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Brandt Ranj

Staff Writer, Commerce

Brandt Ranj is a commerce reporter at Popular Science. He writes about the latest and greatest gadgets, from headphones and TVs to chargers and cables. He splits his time between New York City, Long Island, and Croatia, carting test gear around the U.S. and the globe.