To be considered an excellent cook, you need to be able to have a certain versatility in the kitchen that allows you to make a wide array of different meals. In order to do that, you need to be able to reach in your arsenal of cookware and pull out the correct tool to complete the task at hand.
Here’s the short version: I like the Le Crueset Dutch Oven.
One of these all-important tools (although it may not seem so important at times) is the cast iron Dutch Oven. Cast iron has been one of the go-to cooking surfaces for centuries because it is relatively easy to produce, the materials it is made from seemingly last forever, and it has tremendous heat distributive properties.
As incredible as cast iron is, when enameled cast iron hit the market, the game was changed forever. Now you no longer had to season your pots and pans before using them. Your food never got stuck on the sides and bottom of the pot. And best of all, you could finally wash your pots without worrying about rust if you didn’t dry them all the way.
Today, any time a recipe calls for you to cook your meals in a dutch oven, they are most likely talking about an enameled cast iron dutch oven. It has become increasingly evident that any chef (home or professional) simply has to have one of these tools.
What to look for in a dutch oven
The first thing you want to do when searching for one of these is to make sure it can withstand extraordinarily high levels of heat. You should also make sure that you get one that doesn’t crack easily (enamel can crack if it isn’t of a very high quality).
Lastly, you want to make sure that you get the size that fits your needs. These pots are very expensive. Merely getting the biggest size you can find will make you waste hundreds of dollars. At the same time, you want to make sure you get one large enough to bake dishes that feed the entire family.
To make your buying experience a little bit easier, I have put together a list of enameled cast iron dutch ovens that are worthy of purchasing and will be in your arsenal for years to come.
Best Budget Dutch Oven: Cuisinart CI670-30CR Chef’s Classic
Are you looking for a cast iron dutch oven that has plenty of space to cook party size dishes, but cannot afford to pay for a premium brand? This dutch oven is just that. It is a 7 quart round dutch oven with the lid included. The porcelain exterior is strong enough to withstand very high levels of heat, and the interior is just as durable.
It has wide handles for easy handling when taking it in and out of the oven. It is strong enough to withstand high temperatures (up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) for an extended period without experiencing cracks in the pot.
This is definitely a very good item that will last you quite some time, and for the money you can get these at, it is practically a steal. Find this dutch oven here at Amazon.
The biggest issue we’ve seen with these is that while the pot itself is rated for temperatures of up to 400 degrees, the lid cannot withstand heat more than 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This is mostly due to the plastic handle on the lid. You can work around this by taking the lid off and wrapping foil tightly around the top.
Best Small Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Le Creuset Signature 1-Quart
If you have been around chef’s – or anybody who knows about cookware – then you are familiar with this brand, and you probably know that they always come highly recommended by the professionals. This 1 quart pot will cost you some money, but it has an infinite amount of benefits.
To start, it can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is with the lid still on. The handles are 45% larger, a big deal on this very small pot, and the pot itself has impeccable heat distribution.
This 1 quart Le Creuset dutch oven is perfect for kettle soup, or single serve casseroles, even if 1 quart is more than 1 serving size. Also, Le Creuset backs their products with a lifetime warranty, making this pot that will last you a lifetime. Sound good to you? Find it here.
Best Overall Dutch Oven: Staub Cast Iron Shallow Wide Cocotte
There are 2 major players in the cast iron business – Le Creuset, and Staub. Staub is a company that throws their full support into the products they make, and if anything goes wrong with any of your purchases, then they will send you a replacement free of charge.
This pot is a heavy duty pot that is capable of withstanding a staggering 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the epitome of high quality. The nickel steel knob on the lid allows you to put the entire pot (lid and all) in oven temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. You could set this directly inside of a fire if you wanted to.
The smooth enamel bottom on the pot makes it perfectly versatile, working on any stovetop surface to include induction and halogen surfaces.
There is a reason this pot made the overall best-enameled cast iron dutch oven list, being able to withstand nearly 1000 degrees of scorching heat is unheard of, even with cast iron.
Add to it the durability of the pot, and the fact that Staub backs their products for life, and you have a recipe for greatness. If you are looking for the best of the best, the Staub Dutch Oven is it.
Wrap – Up
Cooking with cast iron has a host of benefits. It is extremely durable, can withstand unbelievably high temperatures, and it has superior heat distribution.
Each of these dutch ovens is worth the asking price in my opinion. But if you want the one that is going to perform the best, be the most versatile, and most durable, then your only option is to buy the Staub.
- Serious Eats Forum – I need advice re: a cast iron enamel dutch oven
- Virtual Weber Bulletin Board – Best enameled cast iron dutch oven?