Essential Tools

The Dutch Ovens Cooking Pros Swear By

For soup, stock, bread, and even cake.

March  7, 2022
Photo by MJ Kroeger

The 7 1/4-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven that my mom gifted me for my wedding shower has a permanent home on my stovetop. The meringue color is incredibly beautiful, and I regularly reach for it to make my late grandmother’s meatballs and sauce; I trust that they’ll come out just right every time.

A Dutch oven is one of the most essential pieces of cookware any home cook or professional chef can have in their kitchen arsenal. If you’re looking to add one to your kitchenware collection but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We asked home cooks, chefs, cookbook authors, bloggers, and recipe developers for their favorite Dutch ovens, and unsurprisingly, they all had similar sentiments.

Take a look at the Dutch ovens our pros love the most, below.

1. Staub Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $309.99+

Photo by Julia Gartland

The most popular pick among our experts, Staub’s Dutch oven is a workhorse that’s designed to last a lifetime. The pots are resistant to rust, chips, and cracks, and the internal coating is pre-seasoned and non-stick. Unlike other enameled cookware, Staub’s black matte interior contains traces of quartz, making it heat-resistant up to 500 degrees and slightly textured for better browning. All this and it’s still dishwasher safe? Sign us up.

Tieghan Gerard, cookbook author and founder of Half Baked Harvest is loyal to Staub and loves the brand’s cast iron Dutch oven. “I find my recipes turn out best when using cast iron,” she says. “I like that Staub carries enamel coated cast iron for easy cleanup.” Her favorite recipes to make in her Dutch oven are roasted tomato soup and cranberry pot roast.

Matt Broussard, chef at Spiceology, agrees. "Staub makes my all-time favorite Dutch oven. It’s not only heavier and feels sturdier, but it also has a really efficient design. I love how the inside of the lid is dotted with raised bumps to effectively distribute moisture.” Broussard adds that the tall lip around the perimeter of the oven’s lid is the perfect height to corral a few ice cubes while baking bread, too.

The 5.5-quart version is also the favorite of the home cook, recipe developer, and cookbook author Jeanine Donofrio of Love and Lemons. “It sits perched on my stovetop at all times because I use it daily to make soups, stews, pasta, and even sourdough bread,” she says of her graphite-colored pot. “It’s fun to cook with since it conducts heat so well, and I love how easy it cleans with just soap and water.”

2. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $93.25+ $64.90+

Photo by Wayfair

This porcelain and enamel-finished cast iron Dutch oven is considerably more affordable than others, but cooks just as well as its counterparts. It has large loop handles that are easy to grab onto, especially when the oven filled to the brim and super heavy, as well as a more defined, sloped base that makes it easier to stir ingredients and prevents burning or sticking. Lodge’s design also incorporates shorter walls and a wider cooking surface for a great sear on steaks.

Chef Ryan Smith of Lazy Susan Tapas Bar in Macon, Georgia prefers the Lodge cast iron Dutch oven because it seals in the juiciness of anything he tosses in. “We currently have three braised items on Lazy Susan’s menu, including whole rabbits and broccoli rabe, and this Dutch oven cooks without losing moisture every time. All of my cast irons are Lodge because they're durable and dependable."

Elysia Cartlidge, a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger at Haute & Healthy Living loves hers because it has substantial handles, an easy-to-clean finish, and a more affordable price tag. “It’s the perfect versatile kitchen tool that can cook everything from soups and stews to pasta sauces and breads.”

3. Le Creuset 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven, $400

Photo by Ty Mecham

Le Creuset makes the type of cookware that I’d want to pass down to my future kids. The durable coating, surprisingly lightweight feel (for something so large and made out of iron), and heirloom design all come into play for plenty of chefs.

“I love my Le Creuset Dutch oven,” says Jessica Gershman, home chef and founder of The Zen Mommy lifestyle app. “I use it all the time when making family meals, it’s a classic for a reason.” Gershman adds that the pots are as beautiful as they are versatile and reliable, and that they help her create meals her whole family loves. “Everything from soups, stocks, and sauces to one pot meals; it does it all!”

“We have two favorite Dutch oven brands we use all the time—Le Creuset and Lodge,” says Jenny Park, recipe developer and one-half of Spoon Fork Bacon. “Both brands are extremely high-quality, and we (Jenny’s co-author, Teri Lyn Fisher) also love that both are enamel coated for easy clean up, chip resistant, and will last for a very long time.” For Park and Fisher, Le Creuset is the more timeless, elegant option with endless colors (their favorites are white and meringue), but Lodge's price point is “a lot more palatable."

4. Amazon Basics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, $42.02+

Photo by Amazon

The unexpected ringer of the group, the Amazon Basics Dutch Oven is, of course, made by Amazon. It’s more affordable than the others listed here and has plenty of five-star reviews from home cooks who are pleased with its ability to heat and cook evenly, and like that it rivals the design and quality of its more expensive peers.

“The versatility of the Dutch oven makes it one of my favorite kitchen tools,” says Kylie Lato, founder and writer behind Midwest Foodie. “I've used the Amazon Basics 6-Quart Dutch Oven for years and absolutely love it.” Lato adds that it’s held up well, and some of her favorite recipes to make in her Dutch oven include vegan lentil stew, braised short ribs, and a one-pot beer cheese soup. “My Dutch oven gets used at least once a week in my kitchen.”


Now that we know which Dutch ovens to choose from, let’s get a bit more granular about everyone’s favorite piece of kitchenware.

What Is a Dutch Oven?

Not actually an oven, these oversized pots are typically made out of stainless steel with a heavy bottom, or cast iron that’s coated in enamel or left bare. The large size means so you can quickly sear meats, while the tight-fitting lids help lock in steam and moisture, cooking dishes evenly over several hours (hello, fall-off-the-bone short ribs and lamb stew). Dutch ovens can also transition seamlessly from stovetop to oven for braising large cuts of meat or heaping piles of vegetables.

What Is a Dutch Oven Used for?

Dutch ovens are often used for big batches of chili, soup, stew, or stock, but they’re equally great for deep frying donuts, making a loaf of no-knead bread, roasting whole birds, making mashed potatoes, and even baking a cake. Dutch ovens are also the perfect size and heft for taking a tough, inexpensive cut of meat, like a pork shoulder, and cooking it at a low temperature with wine or stock. Some Dutch ovens might be expensive, but you can truly get your money’s worth. And if you need more ideas, we've got all the best recipes over here.

What Size Dutch Oven Do You Need?

Dutch ovens come in a large range of sizes for different households and cooking needs, but anything below four quarts isn’t going to give you enough room to get a great sear on a chuck roast, or make enough lentil soup for a week’s lunch—no matter how few people you need to serve. If you host often and want your Dutch oven to come in handy for occasions where you’ll be cooking a whole bird, something in the 9-quart range (and oval shaped) might make more sense. A happy medium would be somewhere in the 5- to 7 1/2 -quart range.

Have a favorite Dutch oven? Let us know below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Cracker March 20, 2022
Once I was down to cooking just for myself, my large Le Cruezet sat unused. I gave it to a sweet neighbor & continue w my Staub 24. I like the idea of passing it on & love my Staub!
Tucker &. March 19, 2022
I’ve got a Lodge 7 quart which is a workhorse when cooking for a crowd, a Le Creuset 4 quart which is wonderful, and a wonderful old cast iron 4 quart that was covered with rust and resurrected. Each perform beautifully. If you’re on a budget go with Lodge. If not go with what makes you happy. They all work. But, buyer beware…don’t buy a knockoff at TJ Maxx or other chains,,,or Amazon. They ARE knockoffs. Examine them closeLY. Just buy what you can afford. Spoken from a kitchen elder statesperson. 😉😎
Janet M. March 19, 2022
I have a 4 qt Staub--perfect for my family of 2. I also am in love with the heavy glass lid, see through, of course. I use it both on the stove top and in the oven. I would suggest that anyone's favorite is largely dependent on size. I would have loved a 7-8 quart model back in the days when I was cooking for 5, 3 of whom were active teens, but now the 4 qt is a pot made in Heaven
TinaI March 18, 2022
I love my LeCrueset 7 quart Dutch oven. I use it for so many things, even bread, although its a little too big. I do think its a pain to clean though. Mine doesn’t look like new, that’s for sure. I’m considering getting a 5 quart for sourdough bread making. Lodge is sure looking good with that price point.
Kim S. March 17, 2022
I learned the value of a cast iron Dutch oven in my camping family. The tight-fitting, flat lid of an back-country version of this valuable pot allows it to be buried completely in the embers of a woodfire for a slow roast or steam-bake. While a separate meal is cooked quickly over open flame or the campsite/fireplace is heated, the slow-method stew, beans, bread or cobbler can be prepared for a separate course or meal using the same fuel source.
Liz S. March 7, 2022
I have a 3 quart Lodge cast iron enameled Dutch Oven that has been my workhorse for years: 1 person household ... bread, roasts, stews, and anything braised. I have been buying Staub pieces as they come on sale and recently added a 5 quart with glass lid Dutch oven (turmeric color which I LOVE). I have used the 5 quart for larger bread bakes, chile rellenos (shallow fry), various tomato sauces in larger batches ... and find the 5 quart a great size for my needs. I seriously love the Staub pieces that I have. They are substantial and beautiful. The Lodge is very good, but I do see the difference in weight and build. BUT, when you look at price point ... boy, hard to beat Lodge for function, life and even beautify if you take care of it!
Liz S. March 8, 2022
"beauty" :(

And a short caveat on the Lodge. Maybe it is the age of mine, but I did replace the top knob with a le Creuset knob when I started baking bread at 500F in the Lodge. The Lodge knob was not rated for that temp ... it might be now, I have not checked.
Liz S. March 19, 2022
I just saw @JanetM comment and checked and realized my Turmeric Staub with glass lid is 4 quart, not 5 ... doh! At any rate, just enough larger than than my Lodge for normal Boule, etc.
Tucker &. March 19, 2022
Thick layer of aluminum foil wrapped around the knob solves that problem.