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Dutch ovens are a kitchen essential, and for years the go-to brand was Le Creuset. The brand's cast-iron-enameled Dutch ovens are known for its bright colors, heat retention and ease of cleaning, along with the shocking price tag. (Their biggest model can cost you well over $400!) But these days, there are quite a few colorful dupes for the high-end brand that cost a fraction of the price.
What should someone look for in a Dutch oven?
The number one thing you should think about when buying a Dutch oven is the size you will need. “Think about what you want to make in it and how many people you have to feed. If you are cooking for a family of four, I recommend a seven-quart, which will give you room for more portions,” said Carlo.
Outside of size, you’re also going to want to consider what the Dutch oven is made of and what type of lid it has. Carlo explained, “While it might be tempting to go for lightweight stainless steel with a non-stick coating, it won't hold up to the test of time. You want a heavy cast-iron pot with an enamel coating on the inside that won't react to acidic foods. Cast iron holds heat and conducts it evenly, something you will need for a long braise or roast. It should also have handles wide enough to hold the pot with oven mitts on.”
Carlo also mentioned that you should avoid anything with a glass lid. Lids for Dutch ovens should be heavy and fit tightly to trap steam. The knob on the lid should also be oven-safe and fit securely.
In terms of looks, Carlo said to find something that fits your personal style and color preferences. “These pots can go straight from the oven or stovetop onto your table. Pick something you'll be proud to show off and even pass on, as they will last forever if taken care of properly,” she said.
What are some of your favorite things to cook in a Dutch oven?
“I cook for two people and have two sizes: a 3.5-quart and a five-quart. The smaller one is perfect for preparations where I want to reign in my use of liquids. I use it for deep frying because I can use less oil. I use it for pasta because the less water you use, the faster it comes to a boil. I also use it for soups, rice dishes, sauces and bean stews,” she explained. Carlo also said that she uses her Dutch ovens for soda bread, pot roasts, carnitas, searing large cuts of meat and roasting whole chicken.
Top-rated (and affordable) Dutch ovens
We love the creamy white make of this Dutch oven from Magnolia. Coming in at just under $50, the five-quart oven is perfect for smaller families who don’t need as many portions of a dish to feed everyone.
This Dutch oven from Chantal is a pretty ocean blue color that makes a statement in any kitchen. The piece disperses and retains heat well, and has a scratch-proof enamel coating.
For those who can’t get enough of the Pioneer Woman and her down-home meals, why not make some of your own in her brand of Dutch ovens. This one is covered in a pretty floral pattern and is oven-safe up to 500 degrees.
The Cuisinart cast-iron casserole is on the more expensive side, but still worth it for those who cook regularly and want a reliable Dutch oven. The piece comes with a tight-fitting lid and is one of the only Dutch ovens to come with a coated lid knob.
Crock-Pot has been a beloved kitchen brand for decades, and there are many people who swear by their Dutch oven. It comes in a dozen colors to match your kitchen's aesthetic and works on gas, electric, ceramic and induction cooktops. It also has over 3,000 verified five-star reviews on Amazon.
Lodge Cast Iron is known for their pots and pans that are able to stand up to just about anything. Their enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is particularly beloved by cooks around the world for even heating and easy clean-up after you’re done with dinner. The six-quart version comes in nine colors including red, blue and spruce.
Food Network’s line of cookware is typically worth the splurge, but especially so with this Dutch oven. The seven-quart version is great for larger families, or for those who regularly cook things like pot roast or whole chickens. Its bright red color also works as a vibrant focal point for your kitchen.
With its matte paint job and skinny handles, The Dutchess is a modernly unique take on the classic Dutch oven. Its oval shape allows more food to brown on the bottom surface without overcrowding the pan, while its uncommon gray interior helps hide pesky stains.
Martha Stewart is the queen of everything home and lifestyle, which means we had to include one of her famous Dutch ovens. This eight-quart model is on the pricier side, but still less than a Le Creuset of a smaller size. (It also doesn't hurt that it's currently on sale for 50% off.)
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