Published on 13 Sep 2023

What is a Dutch Oven? Why You Need One ASAP

Discover the secret to preparing delicious and healthy meals that will satisfy even the heartiest appetites! All you need is some know-how and a few essential tools. One of the most useful pieces of cookware is a Dutch oven – a versatile cooking pot that turns basic, nutritious ingredients into flavorful masterpieces.

Find out why a Dutch oven is a must-have, how to choose the perfect one, and get inspired by the incredible dishes you can create with it. Start cooking with confidence and elevate your culinary game today!

What is a Dutch Oven?

beef stew cooking in a large red pot

A Dutch oven is a heavy cooking pot with a tightly fitting lid. You can use it both on the stovetop and in the oven for a variety of dishes.

Dutch ovens are similar to standard stockpots. However, they typically have wider bottoms, shorter heights and thicker walls. They also have sturdy handles on each side, so you can keep the heavy pot balanced and steady when placing it in or taking it out of the oven or off the burner.

Apart from its cooking capabilities, a Dutch oven also serves as a tableware. They often come in pretty colors, so they are great for keeping food warm while serving.

Why Should You Get One?

outdoor camp dutch oven over a fire

Dutch ovens are best for browning, braising and simmering your favorite dishes. They’re ideal for making soups and stews, since you can put all the ingredients in the same pot. However, you can also use them to make great cobblers and fruity desserts, as well as for bread baking.

Whether you’re on a weight loss journey or simply aiming for a wholesome meal, Dutch ovens are ideal as they cook slowly, letting the flavors of simple ingredients shine. With their thick walls, Dutch ovens maintain a steady temperature, radiating heat so that the ingredients cook evenly. The tightly sealed lid helps retain flavors while cooking, without any evaporation.

If you’re camping or cooking over a fire, Dutch ovens allow you to prepare delicious meals wherever you go. However, it is recommended to avoid using enameled Dutch ovens over an open flame. Instead, opt for a non-coated, plain cast iron Dutch oven.

There are even outdoor or camp Dutch ovens, which feature three legs that elevate the pot for convenient coal placement. These Dutch ovens also come with a flat lid, specifically designed to hold coals and equipped with a wire for easy campfire suspension.

Types of Dutch Ovens

cast iron cookware pot with a chicken and veggie meal

When it comes to Dutch ovens, you have a variety of options to choose from. Chefs and seasoned cooks favor cast iron for its durability and heat retention, making it the classic choice. However, stainless steel and ceramic models have also gained popularity.

While cast iron warms up slowly, it keeps food cooking steadily due to its superior heat retention. Nowadays, people highly seek enamel-coated cast iron Dutch ovens. Not only do they add a pop of color to your kitchen, but they are also easier to clean and maintain compared to uncoated cast iron. Enameled Dutch ovens versions do not require seasoning, unlike other cast-iron pans.

Experienced cooks do not recommend using non-stick coated Dutch ovens because they do not produce the flavorful bits that form on the bottom of the pot.

When shopping for a Dutch oven, you’ll find that the standard size is 5.5 quarts. This is just right for making meals for a family of four. However, smaller options are available for smaller households, while larger ones are suitable for entertaining or cooking big batches for meal prep.

Choose the Dutch oven that suits your needs and enjoy the versatility and performance it brings to your cooking.

How to Use a Dutch Oven

dutch oven bread

One-Pot Meals

Dutch ovens are excellent for braising meat, a method of cooking that seals in juices and slowly heats them up. This process is especially helpful with tough cuts of meat and it’s an ideal way to caramelize onions or garlic before adding other ingredients.

Many are also oven safe. You can make, for instance, a whole chicken dinner by searing it in the Dutch oven on the stove and then putting it in the oven with potatoes and carrots. Beef and pork roasts come out of the Dutch oven juicy and flavorful.

Slow-Cooking Soups, Stews and More

Many stews and soups taste best when they cook slowly for hours, so these pots work well for preparing them. Chili, curry and many other dishes rely on those same conditions.

Baked Goods

You can also use the pot to heat and soften fruit like peaches or apples, then top them with dough and bake in the oven to make a cobbler. In a Dutch oven, bread bakes up crusty on the outside, soft inside.

What to Cook in a Dutch Oven

dutch oven chicken and veggies

The dietitians at Nutrisystem have given their approval to a few tasty and easy recipes that will help you get started with using a Dutch oven.

1. Dutch Oven French Onion Chicken and Potatoes

You can have Sunday dinner any day of the week with this family-friendly recipe. The chicken breast stays juicy and tender while the potatoes become crisp, and the onions caramelize and sweeten.

The whole meal comes out of the oven all at once, fragrant and delicious. You can prepare and finish it in less than an hour, and you only need to clean one pot when you’re done.

2. Dutch Oven Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Baking your own bread fills your home with the most comforting aroma and treats you and your family to the joys of bread fresh from the oven. This loaf contains lots of fiber to fill you up because it is made with whole wheat flour. A hint of honey gives it a lightly sweet taste.

The Dutch oven ensures that the bread bakes evenly and comes out with a nice chewy crust. It’s so easy and satisfying to bake, you may never buy packaged bread again.

3. Dutch Oven Creamy Winter Vegetable Soup

Warm up your kitchen and your body with this hearty soup. You make it with super-nutritious butternut squash along with seasonal root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and rutabaga. They all become tender and sweet as they simmer slowly in the Dutch oven.

Add pesto and herbs for a punch of flavor and a little milk to help make the soup creamy. Double the recipe and freeze the extra servings so you can enjoy them when you need a healthy, homemade lunch on a busy day.

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