Are you on the fence about whether or not you need an enameled dutch oven? Let me push you over the edge and tell you all the reasons you want one!
Enameled dutch ovens are versatile addition to your cookware collection. The enamel offers non-stick properties while the cast iron gives you a durable base. Whether you are looking to whip up easy one pot meals or fancy French creations, these are the perfect pot for the job.
After some discussion on my Facebook page, it seems dutch ovens are a topic of interest for you guys. Some of you are wondering if you should have one, some have one and want some ideas as to what to do with it.
Luckily I love dutch ovens, so I am here to help you. I am hoping to share more dutch oven recipes with you in the coming months, but first let me tell you what I love about these cast iron wonders.
Do I really need a dutch oven?
Well need is a strong word for it. But you definitely want one don’t you?
Enameled dutch ovens are a thing of beauty. There are so many great colors to choose from, it is hard to not be drawn in by their good looks.
Luckily these pretty pots are super versatile as well, so you will not regret taking one home. You can braise, stew, fry, poach, slow cook, bake enjoy delicious food in them for the rest of your life!
What is a dutch oven good for?
So many things! The versatility of a dutch oven (or French oven as some people can the enameled version) is amazing.
The thick bottoms and walls are great at both conducting and retaining heat. The usually deep sides make them perfect for handling larger cuts of meat or quarts of broth.
Those deep sides and heat retention properties also make them a great vessel for frying. They also make for perfect low and slow cooking conditions for making things like stews, chilis and braises.
Because enameled dutch ovens are created to be able to go on the stove or in the oven, they are great for recipes that request the meat to be browned before being transferred to the constant all encompassing heat of the oven.
They are also fabulous for one pot meals. Again you can brown the meat in the pan first and then fill it up with the other ingredients and let it do it’s thing. No need for extra pans.
Dutch ovens are also perfect for making crusty artisnal bread. You preheat the dutch oven before placing the dough inside.
The hot pot and the heavy lid helps to trap some steam inside. That gives you that crackly blistered crust and soft interior that begs you to take a bite.
Of course there is the ease of cleanup as well. The dutch oven gives you all of the benefits of cooking with cast iron without the finicky clean up.
Cast iron that isn’t coated needs to be somewhat carefully cared for. It needs to be seasoned and maintained.
Enameled cast iron takes the worry away. It can be soaped up, soaked, scrubbed without worry of rust.
Like any good cast iron cookware, it can last forever. You can literally pass these beauties down through the generations. With a little love and care your dutch oven may someday be your kid’s dutch oven!
What is the best dutch oven to buy?
It may not surprise you to know I have a small collection of dutch ovens. In fact, what was designed as a linen closet in my home is now a place to store my dutch ovens and sprinkle stash.
I have a variety of sizes, shapes and brands. So I will tell you a bit about what I like about each.
If you are looking to get your first dutch oven and you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend starting with a 5-7 quart size. That is big enough to cook most recipes and easily feed a family of 4-6.
You can get them smaller, but you may feel slightly limited by the volume. You can also find dutch ovens that are much larger, but due to the weight of the pot itself and the ingredients inside you may not be able to lift it!
My first enameled cast iron pot I owned is actually a saucier. Though the shape isn’t typical of a dutch oven, it meets most of the qualifications of one and started my love affair.
While the actual brand I own doesn’t seem to be available anymore, it looks very similar to this 3 quart cast iron saucier. The sloping sides make it perfect for whipping up puddings, thick sauces and risotto.
There are no hard corners for anything to get stuck in and you spoon or whisk just glides around the whole pot. The thick cast iron is perfect for holding a steady low to medium heat that may be required for delicate sauces and is also perfect for making reductions.
I was lucky enough to be gifted an oval dutch oven for a wedding gift. It is similar in size and shape to the one pictured, but that is also not the exact brand.
I don’t see the brand I have for sale any more. Which is not terrible. Of all of the dutch ovens I have, this one is the most discolored both on the outside and inside of the pot.
Though that is partially a product of the use it has received, I also have to think the enamel is not as good as some of the other brands.
I still use the piece quite a bit and the coloring doesn’t seem to affect it at all. It just isn’t as pretty as the others.
I have read that using bar keepers friend will help take the spots off, so I need to give that a go. I have it, it’s just a matter of deciding to use the elbow grease to do it!
From there my love and collection grew with the addition of a Lodge 6 quart enameled dutch oven. Then later I also purchased what Lodge calls a 3.6 quart cast iron casserole, but it is similar to the shape most brands call a braiser.
Both are absolutely fabulous cookware. I love that you get the quality brand name recognition of Lodge for a very affordable price point.
These beauties are almost always available for purchase for under $100. I have had both for several years and I can see myself still using them in several decades, so that is money well spent.
The Lodge line of cast iron also features sloping edges, so there are no hard corners for food to get stuck and burned in. The insides are cream colored, so you can easily monitor the color of your food.
When I purchased mine, there were a limited number of colors available. Recently they have been adding more colors to the line and they are definitely worth checking out.
Last year Swiss Diamond sent me a beautiful 6.9 quart dutch oven. Mine is red, but their sapphire blue like the one pictured is also beautiful.
I love my Swiss Diamond cookware, so it is fun to have piece of their cast iron as well. The sides on this pot are more straight up and down than the Lodge, giving you the full real estate on the flat bottom.
The inside is black instead of cream, setting it apart from the rest of my collection. However it is still a nice high quality enamel coating, not bare cast iron.
The handles are nice and large, allowing you to grab them with oven mitts on. And the top has small stalactites on it to allow the steam to collect and return to the pot as water droplets. They call this the “rainforest effect.”
Swiss Diamond prices come in towards the mid-range of the enameled cast iron. Depending on the sale and where you are purchasing them they tend to run in the $100-$200 range.
The queen mother of my collection is a 7.25 quart Le Creuset dutch oven in Caribbean. I had been pining over the Le Creuset line for years and finally treated myself to one.
Le Creuset features a huge line of colors, sizes and shapes of enameled cast iron. Their history, brand recognition and reputation is hard to beat.
Of course that history, brand recognition and quality does come at a price. This size of pot sets you back about $350.
Many cooks proudly display their beautiful pots though. So if you look at it as both an investment in lifelong cookware and kitchen art, it feels like a steel.
To be honest though, this is the pot I use the least. Not because I don’t love it ( I absolutely do!) Actually it is because I love it so much and I want it to stay super pretty, so I tend to reach for the other and save this one for “special.”
It is kind of silly, I know. I wanted this dang pot for so long and finally got it just to not use it as much as I should. It’s a process and I’m working on it!