Best Dutch Oven 2018 – 5 of The Best

The Best Dutch Oven. Fact.

The magic of a Dutch oven…tested by making a beef stew.

Probably the most glorious piece of kitchen cookware there is. They are simply amazing. You can do most cooking tasks in them from cooking stews to searing meat, baking bread to frying. It pretty much does it all. They are robust and if looked after, can last generations. Buying a Dutch oven is not something you regret.

We tested ten Dutch ovens, all in a mid-range of between 5 – 6 quarts. Further details below on how we tested.

We give our verdict on the best Dutch oven alongside the contenders…which one will you choose?

The Contenders

Lodge Color 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Lodge Color 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-QuartCuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French OvenLe Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven

Staub Round CocotteStaub Round Cocotte

Le Creuset Heritage Round DoufeuTramontina 6.5-Quart Covered Round Dutch Oven

Tramontina 6.5-Quart Covered Round Dutch Oven


The Best Dutch Oven

Lodge Color 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Best Dutch Oven

View more pictures

View Latest Price on Amazon

Pros

  • Price
  • Fantastic cooking results
  • Bigger handles than the rest we tested
  • Curved shape means food does not get stuck in corners
  • Shorter sides and wider means better searing performance
  • Easy to clean
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Interior prone to staining
  • Smaller surface area for larger cuts of meat
  • Enamel marks with metal utensils

I had a low expectation about the Lodge before I began using it. This was based entirely on the price…it was the cheapest Dutch oven I was testing…the cheapest by a long way. How could this possibly compete with the higher priced ones. Surely it couldn’t…there must be a reason why some are 6 times more expensive?

I was wrong. This is a fantastic Dutch oven. No if’s…no buts.

Let’s talk about the construction as I’m sure you will be wondering how something so cheap fares so well against the more expensive competitors.

You have nothing to worry about, it is strong, heavy, robust and complete with a nice finish. The shape bows out slightly in the middle which means that food will not get stuck in the crevices. This does reduce the surface area of the base though so if you are searing large cuts of meat, it is a consideration.

The lid fits as well as you would expect and comes with a metal knob. Obviously, this means it gets hot in the oven but it’s not a deal breaker. The handles were large and easy to move wearing oven gloves.

The interior is stone colored and will stain depending on what you cook. Again, this is the same for most enamel Dutch ovens and nothing really to be concerned about. You can clean them almost back to new using various techniques.

Let’s get to the cooking. The oven heated quickly and consistently, the searing and browning of the meat was done beautifully. Exactly the same as a much more expensive version. The end result was a beautiful beef stew that was thick and succulent.

If you are new to Dutch oven cooking or you know that you will not be using it frequently, it makes little sense to invest in a very expensive one. The Lodge cast iron Dutch oven is perfect for you and at a price that won’t make your eyes water.

With thousands of positive reviews online, we are not alone at marveling at its performance and price.

I have no hesitation in recommending the Lodge Dutch oven.

View Latest Price on Amazon

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart

Best Dutch Oven

View more pictures

View Latest Price on Amazon

Pros

  • Seared beautifully
  • The end result was fantastic, a beautiful tasty stew
  • Decent size handle
  • Oven safe to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Cons

  • Inconsistent simmering, had to stir infrequently
  • Tendency to stain inside
  • Enamel coloring dulled using dishwasher
  • Exposed cast iron rim

Out of all the Dutch ovens we tested, the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart came out joint top alongside the Lodge version on sheer taste alone. The Beef stew we made was an absolute dream…tender, thick and tasty. Wonderful.

The build quality was good, everything was done well. I liked the shape too, no creases for the food to stick in. The lid fitted very well too. The handle was a decent size so posed no problems with oven gloves.

Unfortunately, as good as the food was, it didn’t quite merit first place. The simmering was inconsistent which meant that we had to stir it. Its not a deal breaker but not an ideal for a Dutch oven.

The other issue I found was the dulling of the enamel color in the dishwasher. They are dishwasher proof according to the manufacturer. However, its clear that this is not recommended. If you want to keep the luster, hand wash only. The exposed iron on the rim is something to keep an eye on, make sure it is dried properly to avoid rust.

View Latest Price on Amazon

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven

Best Dutch Oven

View more pictures

View Latest Price on Amazon

Pros

  • Beautiful construction
  • Tight fitting lid
  • Not as heavy as some others
  • Heat proof lid handle
  • Great cooking performance
  • Premium brand that holds value
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Expensive compared to others delivering similar performance
  • Stone colored Interior prone to staining
  • Enamel marks easily with metal utensils

Before I started this best Dutch oven test, I fully expected the Le Creuset to come out on top. It made sense that they would win. They had too.

Le Creuset has a long history, bringing the Dutch or as they prefer, French oven to the market. They brought one pot cooking to the mass market.

I wasn’t disappointed. The performance was great. The beef seared well on the stone colored enamel. It was easy to see how brown it was getting. After adding the vegetables and seasoning, I transferred to the oven. The result was as I expected, perfectly cooked. It also kept the most amount of moisture in the oven, testament to it’s perfectly fitting lid.

In terms of construction, it was exactly as I expected. Perfect. Not only was it beautiful to look at, it was perfectly made. There was not a single thing I could point at and say they could have done this better. It’s almost like a piece of art.

The reason why it didn’t win was nothing to do with the construction or the cooking performance. It was simply the price.

If budget is not an issue, get a Le Creuset. They are wonderful. If budget is a consideration, you can achieve similar results using much cheaper Dutch ovens. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

View Latest Price on Amazon


Pros

  • Great design with premium construction
  • Tight fitting lid
  • Even heat distribution
  • Great cooking performance
  • Premium brand that holds value
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Black interior makes it hard to judge the browning process
  • Self-basting lid…does it really work?

This is the first time I have cooked with a Staub and I wasn’t disappointed. The price was…it was expensive to match the Le Creuset. However, it didn’t disappoint.

The meat browned evenly and nicely, although it involved some guesswork as it was difficult to judge against the black interior. As expected, the stew came out fantastically well and it lost very little moisture.

One of the main selling points by Staub is the self-basting lid. If it worked then great but I can’t say that it made any difference to this dish. Obviously for roasting chicken it may make a real difference but I will wait and see.

I have to say that this was my favorite Dutch oven when it came to style. It is wonderful to look at. The shiny exterior with the black interior.

Staub say their enamel coating is free from cadmium and lead which delivers better heat resistance. It is also enameled on the exterior base which means you can use this safely on glass stoves. On the inside, it is black so difficult to see what is going on. The inside contains traces of quartz which is said to deliver additional heat resistance and a rougher surface. This should mean that it browns better than a smooth surface.

Overall though, it performed marginally better than the Le Creuset but for the same reason, I could not recommend it. It’s too expensive for what it does.

View Latest Price on Amazon


Tramontina 6.5-Quart Covered Round Dutch Oven

Best Dutch Oven

View more pictures

View Latest Price on Amazon

Pros

  • Great price
  • Decent cooking performance
  • Safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Coated with PFOA and PTFE-free porcelain enamel
  • Warranty in line with the market

Cons

  • Browning more difficult
  • Size dimensions make larger cuts of meat difficult
  • Not dishwasher safe

Everything was good about the Tramontina. It browned evenly and cooked well. Everything was good. It just wasn’t outstanding at anything in particular.

When compared to the Lodge where it competes in price, it just lacked a little in comparison. For that reason, I would go with the Lodge version. That is not to say that this isn’t a decent Dutch oven. It is.

Construction wise, it was decently built and reassuringly heavy. It browned, as they all did, nicely. The beef was tender and the sauce thicker than it should be. This due to the higher moisture loss as a result of the lid not being as tight.

What was odd about this was the dimensions. This was much taller than the rest with a lower internal surface area. This made browning more difficult and it would pose an issue with larger cuts of meat.

All in all, it’s a decent Dutch oven but I would recommend the Lodge version over this.

View Latest Price on Amazon


How I tested the Best Dutch oven

I wanted to make sure I really got a flavor of their performance. The real selling point of a Dutch oven is the way you can move it from stove-top to oven.

So, what better…and tastier way to test all these pots than with a fantastic beef stew. The beef was seared on the stovetop and then moved to the oven to braise.

I monitored a number of factors to evaluate how they did.

  1. How well they seared the beef

To sear meat well, it needs to brown evenly. This means I need the Dutch oven to heat evenly all around without any hot spots. The heat retention plays an important part here.

  1. Braising performance

I looked at how well the oven braised. I looked at how well the moisture was retained in the pan. With the beef, I looked at how tender it was and whether it had dried to any degree. I measured the liquid in the pot to judge the amount lost.

  1. The handle ergonomics

These pans are heavy and they can get very hot. The question is how easy are they to handle with oven gloves?

  1. The Lids

The lids serve an important function. They retain the heat and moisture within the pan. They therefore need to be tight fitting. The lid handle or knob also needs to be easy to use with oven gloves.

  1. Cleaning

All the Dutch ovens we tested were enamel. Therefore, all should be relatively easy to clean…in theory anyway.

Best Dutch Ovens rated


Verdict

The best Dutch oven was a process designed to find a winner based on a number of factors. We did not have a preference to the best Dutch oven. We did not favor one over the other. The best Dutch oven title was awarded based on the tests we conducted. This is not a slight on the other products, they too were fantastic in their own ways and their owners can be pleased with their selection. Our best dutch oven went to Lodge and in our view, Lodge deserved the title based on the factors we considered.


Citations

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*