What is the best lightweight Dutch oven? Today I will offer you some alternatives.
It is a very fair question. Dutch ovens are traditionally made from cast iron. The problem as you know is that cast iron Dutch ovens tend to be very heavy. A 6 quart Dutch oven can weigh between 14 – 16 lbs on average…that is heavy…and it doesn’t even include the contents of the oven.
As you can imagine, this makes it a little difficult to handle. It may not even be the ability to lift it but handling with care becomes the issue. Cast iron gets very hot so you can imagine the care that you need to take especially when moving in and out of an oven. Finding the best lightweight Dutch oven can make your life a little easier.
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Who might want a lighter Dutch oven?
As we get older, we all get a little bit weaker. It is nature and there is little we can do. Some of us have spent most our lives using Dutch ovens so changing that is not an option. Finding the best lightweight Dutch oven is a solution.
Heavy cast iron is also an issue for those carrying injuries. For example, tendinitis in the wrist or issues with elbows mean that moving heavy things is a painful experience.
Possible solution…a smaller Dutch oven?
It really depends on your circumstances but the solution might be to just buy a smaller Dutch oven. Do you really need that 6-quart Dutch oven? Most people buy that size as it’s a great all-rounder…especially when roasting a chicken. It may well be easier to buy a small Dutch oven and find an alternative to the roast chicken.
Cast iron Dutch ovens are great for cooking. I can’t imagine using something else for most the things I do…so put in that position, this is an acceptable solution to me.
Lodge 3 Quart Dutch Oven
Product Name: Lodge EC3D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 3-Quart
Product Description: This Lodge 3 quart enameled Dutch oven is the smaller sibling of the Lodge 6 quart Dutch oven. Fantastic value for money, it has taken the Dutch market by storm. With the famous Lodge brand setting the standards, this Dutch oven is brings fantastic cooking performance, all at fantastic value.
The Lodge range of Dutch ovens were a real surprise in our Dutch oven tests and overall is our Best Dutch oven winner. All things considered, this Dutch oven balanced great cooking performance with fantastic value. This is a fantastic product that will not disappoint.
- Winner 2018 Best Dutch oven
- Fantastic cooking performance
- Tight fitting lid
- Good build quality
- Great value
- Fantastic color range
- Trusted American brand
- Made in China
- Interior staining
Lighter Cast iron Dutch ovens
We are increasingly seeing lighter cast iron Dutch ovens coming on the market. They tend to be from smaller brands offering something different. It is worth having a look at the following on Amazon;
Nordic Ware Pro Cast Traditions Dutch Oven – 6.5-Quart – 7 Pounds
Starfrit The Rock Dutch Oven – 4 Quart – 3.1 pounds
Alternatives to Cast iron…Aluminum Dutch ovens
There is an increasing move towards aluminum Dutch ovens for the benefits that they offer. Traditionally, Dutch ovens have been made from cast iron, but a new generation are made from aluminum.
There are advantages to this, as well as some disadvantages.
They are lightweight Dutch ovens weighing almost a third of their cast iron equivalent. That is a massive saving in weight. They also heat very quickly but that also means that they lose heat very quickly too. There is an increased possibility of hot spots and uneven heating.
However, they need very little care and maintenance and they will not crack or rust. Therefore, for some they are a very safe option.
This may be controversial to some but consider using an alternative material. I have reviewed the Calphalon Dutch oven below that is made from anodized aluminum. An obvious benefit is the weight, less than half the weight of a similar size of Dutch oven made from cast iron. Indeed, there was little difference in the performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the alternatives to Dutch ovens?
Ultimately, there is nothing that will replace a Dutch oven. They are unique in the qualities they have and the cooking performance and end results. You can however, try and replicate that performance using other cookware. For example, if you were making a beef stew, you could try and replicate the individual aspects. So, you could use a skillet to sear the meats and then transfer it to ceramic bake ware to complete in the oven. You could also use a pressure cooker or slow cooker too. If you do not want to get a Dutch oven, you need to get creative. I would always suggest getting one, the experience and final result are awesome.
Why are cast iron Dutch ovens so heavy?
It is because you need to use more of it. For example, if I compare it to steel, there is no difference in density between cast iron and steel. Anything that you make from cast iron needs to be thicker because cast iron has lower strength than steel. Therefore, to be strong, you need to use more cast iron hence the heavier cookware.
Is Lodge a good brand?
Lodge Cast Iron is a great American brand with great history. Their cookware is amazing hence why they are so popular. Their cast iron products are made in the US, however, their enameled Dutch ovens and Braisers are made in China. The reason is that there are no enameling facilities in the US so Lodge had little choice but to move that production overseas. Lodge do however have very tight monitoring of their overseas products so you can trust the quality and safety.
Where can I buy a Dutch oven?
The popularity of Dutch ovens means that they are available in lots of different places. People love to touch and feel the ovens before they buy. In most cases though, the best places to buy are online such as Amazon, where the pricing is much better.
What is a Dutch oven?
A Dutch oven is a cast iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. They are designed to keep the moisture within the oven, letting very little out. You can use them on a stovetop and transfer straight to the oven. This versatility makes them a dream in the kitchen as you can make so many dishes in them…stews, searing meats, baking, frying…lots of different things can be done.
What is the best Dutch oven brand?
The best brands are Le Creuset and Staub in the premium market. They are the highest quality products on the market. Generally, there are a few brands that are trusted and popular. Tramontina, Lodge, Marquette Castings and Cuisinart are just some that are available. There are other brands that do not focus on cast iron such as Calphalon. There is a price to suit all budgets. I recently put together an article on best dutch ovens under $100.
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Best Dutch Oven 2018 – 5 of The Best