This definitive guide to the best Dutch ovens you can buy covers only what you need to know about the most flexible piece of cookware there is, including price, performance, red flags and more.
You could make the argument that a Dutch oven is the only pot you need in a kitchen. Its heavy, cast-iron build holds heat over long periods of cooking with extraordinary consistency. And it's a versatile piece of cookware that can easily go from the stove to the oven and back again. The bottom line: Dutch ovens can sear, bake, braise, stew and steam with the best of them. A regular home cook greatly benefits from having one. From brands like Lodge, Le Creuset, Staub and more, these are the best Dutch ovens you can buy and what to look for when shopping.
Best Overall Dutch OvenLodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Lodge Read More
Best Splurge Dutch OvenLe Creuset Round Dutch Oven Le Creuset Read More
Best Budget Dutch OvenEnameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Read More
Best Color Options for a Dutch OvenCuisinart 5.5-Quart Round Cuisinart Read More
Best Cast-Iron Dutch OvenCast Iron Dutch Oven Smithey Read More
What Size Dutch Oven Do I Need?
The standard-size Dutch oven — about 5.5 to 6 quarts — is large enough to cook most dishes for a family of four but not large enough to have problems with mobility. However, you can find a range of sizes, whether you're looking for a single-serving situation like Le Creuset's Mini Round Cocotte or a Dutch oven as big as you can get, like Staub's 13.25-quart Dutch Oven.
How to Clean a Dutch Oven
Most Dutch ovens are covered in an enamel coating that eliminates the need for seasoning, a necessary chore for other cast-iron cookware, like many cast-iron skillets. However, just because you have an enameled Dutch oven doesn't mean you'll want to throw it in the dishwasher (even if it claims to be dishwasher safe). These pieces still require gentle care, especially after they've spent hours on the stovetop or in an oven.
Basically, all you have to do is let it cool, soak it and then give it a good scrub, avoiding steel wool or any other tool that could scratch the enameling. For tougher spots you can use some baking soda and water, and don't forget to clean both the inside and outside of the pot. Pay attention to what the manufacturer's care instructions are, and your Dutch oven will surely last a long time.
How We Tested
As much as you can read about what makes a good Dutch oven, nothing will ever beat testing it out for yourself. Our testers have been using their Dutch ovens for as long as four years to as little as a few months, making everything from chili to peach crumble. Whether enameled, cast-iron or nonstick, we relied on them to observe how the coating of their Dutch oven wears over time and what upkeep it needed to look like new. You might want your Dutch oven to be light enough to maneuver easily around the kitchen or you may prefer the heft of classic cast iron. Either way, the Dutch ovens on this list are made to perform and they look pretty great too.
The Best Dutch Ovens You Can Buy Right Now
Lodge Cast-Iron Enameled Dutch Oven
- Available Sizes: 1.5-quart to 7.5-quart (5 sizes)
A good Dutch oven should work well in the moment and continue working well for decades. While we can't confirm whether it will hold up for decades yet, our tester's Lodge Dutch oven has had four years of heavy use with no sign of performance or material degradation.
The Lodge is our top pick because it successfully incorporates the thoughtfulness of ultra-premium options like Le Creuset at a wallet-friendly price. Lodge opted for a shorter and wider pot design, which allows for the edges of the base to be more rounded than its competitors, which makes stirring food around the sides easier with spoons of any size. This design also means it has more cooking surface than most of its competitors, which makes it among the very best at high-heat cooking, like browning chunks of beef for stew. Our tester can't speak to how the Dutch Oven performs cooking meat as he's vegan, but he noted it cooks chilis and stews to the perfect consistency. And while the pot is heavy, as all Dutch ovens are, it features the best handles in the game. They're long and wide and big enough to fit a good part of a gloved hand through. Its lid also fits as it should: tight, but not so tight that no moisture escapes.
Unlike Lodge's seasoned cast-iron cookware, the brand's Dutch oven is actually produced in China and not its Tennessee factories. But the performance of the product suggests this isn't an issue. Lodge marks the product on sale often, so the price will fluctuate, but it's typically about $80 for the standard 6-quart size. And for that price, it can't be beat.
Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven
- Available Sizes: 2-quart to 13.25-quart (7 sizes)
The brand that brought about the modern Dutch oven remains one of the best producers in the market. Its round Dutch ovens are slightly lighter than standard, which makes them easier to lug around the kitchen — especially when carrying dinner — and handle in the sink when cleaning. Like the Lodge pot, Le Creuset is wider than most Dutch ovens, and its edges are rounded so getting an angle on stuck-on pieces of food isn't an issue. Also like the Lodge, its side handles are big enough to grip with an oven mitt on, as is the knob on the lid. Its lid also fits perfectly, as it releases just enough moisture so that stews and braises become richer without evaporating the base liquids too quickly, resulting in richer flavors across the board.
Why pay three- to four-times the price of the Lodge? The Le Creuset brand is certainly more romantic. It remains one of the most-requested items on wedding registries and retains its Made-in-France status to this day. But it's the brand's long history of making this specific Dutch oven that earns it the most cred. There are many vintage Le Creuset pots from the '60s on eBay and Craigslist to this day, and that kind of realized longevity can't be argued with.
Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Available Sizes: 0.5-quart, 5-quart and 6-quart
I wasn't expecting to buy a Dutch oven the day I walked out of Target with this one by the brand Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, a collaboration with Fixer Uppers Chip and Joanna Gaines, but it's beautiful design and extremely reasonable price tag struck me. And it's held up nicely for the year or so since. It's oven safe up to 500 degrees and performs exceptionally well at baking. If you're looking for the vibrant color options of a Cuisinart or Le Creuset Dutch oven, then that's where this one falls short. It only comes in the white color pictured, but the good news is it cleans well and I haven't had any issues with staining. Plus, it has the normal look and feel of a cast-iron worth at least $100, but it's half that price. And its smallest size at 0.5 quarts is a great dupe for Le Creuset's Mini Round Cocotte but for $15 instead of $36.
Cuisinart Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
- Available Sizes: 3-quart, 5-quart and 7-quart
Cuisinart's well-made Dutch oven is neck-and-neck with the Lodge, our top pick. It's wider and shorter, like the Lodge, and its interior rim is even more rounded. However because its handle design is less spacious and the pot itself is much heavier than the Lodge, the whole thing is tougher to handle when full of food. It still offers strong value if you prefer the look (or colors) of it to the Lodge, but otherwise the Lodge is the superior product.
Smithey Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Available Sizes: 3.5-quart, 5.5-quart and 7.25-quart
While enameling is easier to clean, nothing beats the flavor and versatility of bare cast iron. Smithey, the maker of the best high-end cast-iron skillet you can buy, unsurprisingly makes an excellent Dutch oven. It does pack a hefty price tag, although still more than $100 shy of a Le Creuset. The brand also offers a smoother, more polished finish than other cast-iron cookware that will create a natural nonstick surface over time (with proper seasoning and cleaning), and its relatively thin, wide handles are easy to grasp. It heats evenly and thoroughly and can even withstand cooking outdoors, whether on a grill or over a fire.
Tramontina Round Dutch Oven
- Available Sizes: 0.75-quart, 3.5-quart, 5.5-quart and 6.5-quart
If money is tight, this Tramontina Dutch oven is what you want. It misses on some of the clever design tweaks present in the Lodge and Le Creuset ovens, but it makes up for it with a nice $70 price tag and adherence to the fundamentals of cast-iron Dutch oven cooking.
Its base is extra-heavy, which means it holds heat as well or better than Dutch ovens that cost five times more. Its lid, again, fits snugly, but allows some moisture to escape. Though the enamel coating didn't crack, craze or chip during testing, we can assume it's not applied as evenly or as well as Le Creuset or other premium options. This means it's especially important to avoid shocking the pot with dramatic temperature shifts or scraping the interior with metal utensils, both of which are the chief cause of enamel issues. Basically, use a wooden spoon and let the pot cool before you wash it in the sink.
Staub Cast-Iron Cocotte
- Available Sizes: 0.5-quart to 13.25-quart (7 sizes)
The second of the legendary French Dutch oven makers, Staub makes a product more specialized than Le Creuset, Lodge or the rest. Its differentiating features are its heft and the fit of its lid, both of which shape how to best use it. The lid is a much tighter fit than any other Dutch oven we've tested, which means moisture has a tougher time escaping, thus a stew will not thicken like it would in, say, a Le Creuset. That said, too much evaporation can lead to a braise scorching or a light soup becoming too dense. The Staub is also weightier than most Dutch ovens, which makes it especially suited for extra-long cooks when even, consistent heating is most valuable.
Our Place Perfect Pot
- Available Sizes: 2.5-quart (not oven safe) and 5.5-quart
Our Place's aptly named Perfect Pot — the sister of the brand's internet-famous Always Pan — is designed to replace eight pieces of cookware, including a Dutch oven. Unlike a traditional cast-iron Dutch oven, the Perfect Pot is made of aluminum and has a nonstick coating that is superior to any piece of nonstick cookware I've ever used. It's oven safe up to 425 degrees; and the only downside is it's recommended for stovetop use on medium to low heat, so it can take a little while to get started. It won't give you quite the same experience as cooking with a hefty cast iron, but it's a great multifunctional piece of cookware that will quickly earn its keep in your kitchen if you're low on space.