9 Pro Party Planners, Foodies, and Chefs on the Best Dutch Ovens
And the recipes they love to make in them.
Published Nov 12, 2021 5:00 PM
The leaves have changed colors, the temperatures have dropped, and the sun is setting at an earlier hour. As we find ourselves in the midst of fall and inching ever so closer to winter, what better time to reintroduce warm, cozy meals (or snacks and desserts!) to your repertoire? When it comes to making soups, stews, breads, meat, and even simple roasted vegetables, the Dutch oven is your kitchen’s MVP. This hefty piece of cookware can help you whip up a treat for many (Friendsgiving, anyone?) or the hearty one-pot dish you totally deserve after a long week. And while essentially used for the same thing, there are some that balance form and function better than the rest. We asked nine of our entertaining idols, from chefs to party planners, to share which of the best Dutch ovens put a smile on their faces—plus their favorite things to make in them.
- Best for pleasing a crowd: Staub Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
- Best for tight quarters: Dansk Kobenstyle Casserole
- Best for the penny saver: Lodge Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
- Best for doing it all: Our Place Perfect Pot
- Best for a stove statement: Great Jones The Dutchess
- Best for buffet dinners: Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven
Best for Pleasing a Crowd: Staub Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
Capacity: 7.25 quarts | Weight: 15 pounds | Shape: Oval
Why we chose it: This spacious staple will make the main course the star of your table.
Athena Calderone, chief entertainer at EyeSwoon, is in love with her roomy, 7.25-quart green cocotte by Staub. “The deeply saturated hue is very of the moment, but don’t be fooled by its beauty—it really is the workhorse of my kitchen,” she says. Staub is made to last; it’s resistant to scratching, chipping, and thermal shock thanks to three layers of glass powder and mineral pigments. Though it’s perfect for a holiday bird, Calderone prefers to tap hers for fish. “I start by roasting fennel and bright citrus on high heat, then add creamy white beans, fragrant herbs, and briny olives before dropping the temperature and adding cod filets,” she offers. “Slow roast for 35 minutes, and you’ll have the most full-flavor meal with a hearty veggie base.”
What we like:
- No additional seasoning necessary
Best for Tight Quarters: Dansk Kobenstyle Casserole
Capacity: 2 quarts | Weight: 3.8 pounds | Shape: Oval
Why we chose it: This modern update on the ’50s classic, designed by Jens Quistgaard, won’t fight other appliances for storage space.
Pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz rescued one of these 2-quart cherry red Dansk Dutch ovens from the curb right outside of her first New York City apartment. “It felt like a lucky sign,” she recalls. “Six years later I’m no longer in the loft and I have a place of my own—but I still use it. Because of its petite size, my Dansk is perfect for long-cooking everything from soupy black beans to spicy tomato sauce and makes just enough for one person—me!” Though the size is ideal for the solo cooker, the Denmark-made product is also a small-space solution for equally teeny stoves or a lack of storage (peep the lifted lid—it makes stacking simple and can even do double duty as a trivet on the table).
What we like:
- Comes in a range of cheerful colors
- Retro-inspired Scandinavian style
- Known to chip
Best for the Penny Saver: Lodge Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
Capacity: 5 quarts | Weight: 13 pounds | Shape: Round
Why we chose it: A wallet-friendly price point doesn’t have to mean low quality—maybe just a more utilitarian look.
“My Dutch oven is the classic Lodge cast-iron one,” shares Nikki Krecicki, founder of retail store Provisions. “It’s super-affordable and great for so many purposes”. Her favorite thing to prepare in it right now is sourdough bread. “There is nothing more satisfying than working the dough; being patient in the proofing process; and then having a hot, beautiful, golden loaf come out of the oven,” she says. Score this 5-quart maker, the perfect in-between size, for less than $50. Feel free to take your cooking adventures outside, too—experts recommend placing this Dutch oven on the grill or over an open fire.
What we like:
- Entry-level cost
- Made in the U.S.
- Colors increase the price
Best for Doing It All: Our Place Perfect Pot
Capacity: 5.5 quarts | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Shape: Round
Why we chose it: Kiss your cluttered kitchen goodbye with one pot that aims to replace several other pieces of cookware (even your spoon rest).
Thanks to its smart design, you can bake, boil, and braise (as well as seven other cooking methods) in the Perfect Pot, which is why tablescape artist Kirthanaa Naidu has been using it…a lot. And we can’t argue: Domino editors have been big fans of Our Place’s cool cookware for a while. Unlike the signature Always Pan, the Perfect Pot is oven-safe (up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit), making it the ideal companion piece to the brand’s all-in-one skillet. But the innovation doesn’t stop there—a pour spout, built-in strainer, and removable roasting rack really adds to the multipurpose narrative, and Naidu adds you can’t beat the joyful colors. “I recently made some Hainanese chicken rice in this pot, a comforting dish that reminds me of home, Malaysia,” shares Naidu. “To make this dish, chicken is poached with water, lots of ginger, and spring onions. Once cooked, the broth is used for the rice. I was excited to make this because of the roasting tray that slots perfectly into the pot. This allows me to poach the whole chicken without blistering its skin.”
What we like:
- Handles double as a spoon rest
- 30-day trial and free returns
- Constantly releasing new colors
- Only oven-safe up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Best for a Stove Statement: Great Jones The Dutchess
Capacity: 6.75 quarts | Weight: 15 pounds | Shape: Oval
Why we chose it: The talk of the town—everyone loves this pan for its versatility and pretty palette range.
Of the entertaining pros we asked, three listed the Dutchess as their go-to Dutch oven for home cooking. “At home or in the lab, I’m currently loving the versatility of the Great Jones Dutchess 6.75-quart Dutch oven,” shares Pierre Serrao (aka Chef P), one-fourth of the Ghetto Gastro founding crew. “When I’m getting busy in the kitchen, I will typically use it for different things. I’m either frying plantains, making whole roasted heads of cauliflower, or preparing eggplant Parmesan. You can even get the perfect concon (crispy part of the rice at the bottom of the pot) when making coconut rice just by adding a little honey and olive oil to the water while it is cooking.”
And though he prefers the all-black look, others admire the Broccoli and the Taffy (Jessica Young, founder of Bubble, particularly loves the macaron pink pick for baking super-easy Hella bread pudding). Not sure which to choose? Give the brand’s color quiz a try. “I’ve owned a few Dutch ovens in my life—some name brand and some generic. Right now my favorite is the yellow one gifted to me by Great Jones,” offers Kia Damon, culinary director at Cherry Bombe. “I christened it by making a braised chuck with onions. I love it because it’s a bit lighter than my other Dutch ovens, which is good for my carpal tunnel, but it still yields great—no pun intended—results.”
What we like:
- Can be engraved
- Gray interior (makes stains less noticeable!)
- Matte finish
Best for Buffet Dinners: Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven
Capacity: 7.25 quarts | Weight: 15.2 pounds | Shape: Round
Why we chose it: Iconic glossy colors (a collection that only keeps growing) make it the darling of dinner parties.
Depending on how they plan to set the table, both Olivia Muniak (founder of La Cura) and Chris Hessney (creative director of Hessney & Co.) often reach for their Le Creuset for dishing out dinner in style. “I exclusively cook out of cast-iron pots and pans at home because of the superior heat distribution. And the enameled surface is easy to cook with and clean afterward,” explains Muniak. “I love Le Creuset for its bold colors; I have an array in blues and turquoise.” And at Crate & Barrel, there are plenty of fun, exclusive colors to choose from, like a light blue chambray and purple fig, complete with a brass lid that you can’t get elsewhere.
What we like:
- Metal utensil–friendly
- Cool-to-the-touch knob
- 15-plus finishes
- Handwashing preferred (though still dishwasher-safe)
Our Shopping Checklist
Material: Dutch ovens are historically all cast iron—a material that needs routine seasoning to keep rust at bay—but the modern-day cocotte (the French term for a Dutch oven) often features the popular addition of an enamel or ceramic interior coating. This glossy finish, favored by the top French brands, has become well known for its good looks and durability. For example, Le Creuset’s coating in particular is designed to ward off odors and stains, resist chips and scratches, and make it impervious to acid and alkali basics.
Size: Dutch ovens aren’t always huge. Go with a size that best suits your daily cooking needs. For Chef P, the larger the better, as it’s the perfect vessel for party-size meals or leftovers. If, like him, you have a penchant for hosting (or are the cook in your household), you’ll want something at least 5 quarts in size to satisfy four to five hungry eaters. It’s also the just-right midsize starter option, offers Muniak, though she owns a variety of sizes. She’ll make everything from Bolognese to harissa roasted chicken in hers, but most days when she’s cooking for one, she prefers her 3.5-quart vessel instead.
Design: “Aesthetics play a role in everything I do, from my prep in the kitchen to enjoying a beautiful meal with family and friends,” says Muniak. “A well-chosen Dutch oven that matches your home and kitchen style seamlessly goes from stove to table, adding a rustic and elegant touch to your meal’s presentation.” This is particularly important if, like Hessney, you plan to keep your Dutch oven out on display all year long. Muniak has found that Le Creuset has a tendency to stain more easily on the outside compared to Staub, but it isn’t as easy to clean on the inside as the former, which is why she has both for various uses.
Q: Why are some Dutch ovens so heavy?
Typically this number depends on size and material (cast iron is a heavy metal, after all). Dutch ovens range widely in weight—this list alone shows some can be as light as 3 pounds or as heavy as 16. If mobility is a concern, stick to a smaller size or a brand that’s lighter in weight, which may even be a Dutch oven alternative.
Q: What can I make in a Dutch oven?
It’s really up to you! Traditionally, a Dutch oven has been used for slow-cooked meals like casseroles, but it doesn’t have to be reserved for coq au vin and beef Bourguignon alone. Try out everyday, easy recipes like pasta, or skip the bread pan and bake all kinds of loafs—Muniak even uses hers for creations as simple as popcorn and rice or just to reheat a meal on the fly. Of course, she knows the Dutch oven was made with soups and hearty sauces in mind, but adds that “the Dutch oven is the best piece of equipment because I can make the whole dish in one pan. I can sweat the aromatics (onions, garlic, herbs), brown the meat, and slow cook or roast all in one.”
Q: Can I put a Dutch oven in the dishwasher?
It may not be the answer you were hoping for, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Though there are plenty of products listed as dishwasher-safe, we believe the best way to keep your all-in-one pot looking brand-new is to wash it with soap and water by hand.
How We Chose These Products
We asked cool chefs, caterers, and tablescape designers which Dutch oven brands they cook with at home. They vary in size, color, and material, and we rounded up their favorite pieces and the recipes they love to make in them.
The Last Word
The best Dutch oven is the one you’ll use the most. Don’t let it collect dust while waiting for the right moment to break it out—take a cue from the entertaining experts we spoke with and integrate yours into everyday meal prep. Most view a Dutch oven as an investment item, but there are price points to suit just about any budget. The best of the best will last you for years to come (if your grandma hasn’t given you hers first).
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