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What Is a Dutch Oven?

All about the original slow cooker.

By Izzy Johnson
Nov 8, 2022
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Just like there’s no such thing as an all-purpose Knife, there’s no one pan that can do it all either. A Dutch Oven, however, is equivalent to a Chef Knife—it’s a multipurpose piece of Cookware and there are endless reasons why you should have one in your kitchen.

Here, we’ll discuss what Dutch Ovens are traditionally used for, the different materials they can be made of, and what makes ours unique. Follow along to find out all you need to know about this versatile piece.

What’s a Dutch Oven Used For?

what's a dutch oven used for

A Dutch Oven is a heavy-duty pot that is designed for low and slow cooking. Part of its versatility is due to its high walls, exceptional heat retention, and substantial depth. Because of its cast iron core, the Dutch Oven heats up quickly and retains that heat, allowing you to get a good sear on proteins. This is why it’s one of the most popular vessels for braising, and also ideal for building flavor in stews or chili.

You can use a Dutch Oven for deep frying because the walls not only retain heat, but keep the oil splatter to a minimum. It’s large enough to submerge batches of chicken wings or donuts in hot oil without overcrowding the pan.

Our Dutch Oven is also great for baking loaves of homemade bread. It’s deep enough for the dough to have room to rise in the oven, and our signature Cloud Cover Lid allows moisture to be evenly distributed for a perfectly crispy crust.

What are Dutch Ovens Made Of?

Dutch Ovens are typically made of cast iron but they come in two varieties—unfinished or Enameled Cast Iron. An unfinished cast iron Dutch Oven resembles a cast iron skillet, with the entire body made of pure cast iron. It can be used for many recipes, but will need to be seasoned before its first use. Also, similar to Carbon Steel, you cannot use acidic ingredients like lemon, tomato, vinegar, or wine when cooking with these pots because they will damage the seasoning.

Enameled Cast Iron has the same cast iron core but is finished with an enamel coating. This provides it with the same high heat capabilities as its unfinished counterpart, but with the added benefits of a smooth cooking surface. You also don’t need to season Enameled Cast Iron before its first use. This Dutch Oven is slightly more versatile as it’s non-reactive and can be cleaned using a variety of methods from simple soap and water to a Ceramic Cleaner.

What Sizes Do Dutch Ovens Come In?

dutch oven antique white

Dutch Ovens are traditionally either circular or oval-shaped and come in a range in sizes from two to nine quarts. For home cooks, you want a pot that can fit a loaf of bread, braised short ribs for four, or a large batch of soup. While oval Dutch Ovens are great for oven braising or roasting a whole chicken, the circular option is the most popular size as it’s easy to stir and comfortably fits all burners.

Ready to Shop?

Three colorful enameled cast iron Dutch ovens with lids, in red, white, and blue, arranged diagonally.

Now that you know all about Dutch Ovens, it’s time to purchase one for yourself. Our Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven was a labor of love many years in the making. We partnered with artisans in Northeastern France who have been producing Cookware for over a century. We start with a cast iron core that’s then sent up the road to be hand-enameled to give it a smooth exterior and interior.

Our 5.5QT Dutch Oven has a classic circular shape with a customizable metal knob. It’s oven-safe up to 580F and is compatible with all stoves, including induction cooktops. To help ensure the juiciest braises, we engineered a unique Cloud Cover Lid that redistributes moisture back into the pot as it cooks. This piece of heirloom quality Cookware is even beautiful enough to serve from and if cared for properly, can last for years to come.

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