Sometimes known as a “casserole”, dutch ovens have been around for a very long time and are a very useful piece of kitchen equipment that every home cook should have in their kitchen. They are usually made from enamelled cast iron which is an excellent material for heat retention and even heat distribution.
These qualities make the humble dutch oven an excellent resource for cooking foods that need to be cooked long and slow, like a brisket, giving the flavor time to develop and turning the meat into fall-apart, melt in your mouth pieces.
One of the handiest elements of a dutch oven is its ability to be used on both the stove top and in the oven.
So you can easily brown meat in it over the stove top and then transfer the whole dish into the oven. Or you can cook an entire dish like chili on the stove or a loaf of bread in the oven - they’re very useful and versatile!
Dutch ovens vary greatly in price, a top brand can command a price of close to $700! Many on the market are around $200-$300, and then there are those more reasonably priced, around the $50 mark.
So, which is the best dutch oven for the money? Is it worth spending more to get a better quality one? Or should you just buy an affordable/inexpensive dutch oven? Let’s find out!
Which Dutch Oven Should I Buy?
If you’ve got some money to spend or are looking for a good wedding gift idea, a Le Creuset dutch oven is a wise investment. While not really budget friendly, the brand name “Le Creuset” is the name most people think of when thinking about dutch ovens or casserole dishes.
Available in a huge range of colors and sizes, there’s something to suit everyone’s style and needs, but maybe not your budget. Depending on size, a Le Creuset casserole will set you back anywhere from $150 to $700!
While on the pricey side, it’s important to note that consumer tests of Le Creuset’s Signature Cast Iron Round Casserole indicate that this dutch oven performs its duties very well. It has large side handles making it easy to use and carry, and it has a good gap between the knob and the lid making it easy to manoeuvre the lid even when you’re wearing oven mitts.
It also browns meat evenly and is good at maintaining a low temperature over a long period of time.
Overall there is no doubt that this is the best dutch oven on the market but, is it worth the money?
Yes! We can’t not recommend this dutch oven, it really is good. So, if you have the funds available and cook a lot of slow cooked casseroles or stews or even bread, we’d highly recommend a Le Creuset dutch oven. Think of it as an investment piece that will last for many years and be a fantastic addition to your kitchen.
However, if you’re new to this kind of cast-iron cookware, don’t cook very often or just simply can’t afford the price of a Le Creuset casserole, there is another option for you…
Best Affordable Dutch Oven
Both of these dutch ovens come in at around the $50-60 mark, considerably cheaper than the Le Creuset.
While both of these options are easy to use and heat evenly, their overall performance is ranked lower than the Le Creuset as they don’t seem to be as durable. Chipping of the enamel and loss of “non stick” capabilities seem to be things that less expensive models struggle with in this market.
So, while a good option if you’re just starting out in cooking with a dutch oven - maybe you’re trying your hand at homemade sourdough bread - or if the budget just won’t allow it, these more affordable options will not be a long term investment like a Le Creuset would be.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide how much you would use a dutch oven, whether you can afford to invest some money in a long term piece of kitchen equipment or whether you’d rather just buy a cheaper option for now and see if you enjoy cooking this way.
Dutch Oven Buying Guide - Things To Look For When Choosing A Dutch Oven
What makes a good dutch oven and what should you look for when shopping for one?
Handles - You want handles that are large enough to hold comfortably even when wearing oven mitts. Dutch ovens are very heavy so it’s important that you are able to grip the handles well to easily maneuver it in and out of the oven.
Lid - You want the lid to fit properly, sitting tightly on top. This helps with the circular heating effect and will allow the moisture from the condensation to return to the dish.
Oven Safe Temperature - Generally speaking a dutch oven should be able to easily withstand temperatures of around 400℉ or 200℃ or possibly higher. You’ll want to check the maximum oven safe temperature recommended as some recipes, especially bread, might require higher temperatures than this.
Size - Dutch ovens come in many different sizes. The size you need will depend on what you are cooking, how many people you are cooking for and the size of your oven and stove top.
Whichever dutch oven you ultimately choose, we know you’re going to love all the slow cooked meats, chili, stews, casseroles and bread that you’ll be able to create with these versatile kitchen tools. Depending on your budget and needs, you can’t go wrong with the 3 options listed above, they really are the best dutch ovens for the money.