The Best Dutch Ovens for Every Budget

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First making its appearance on home hearths during colonial times, Dutch ovens have been a kitchen staple for centuries. And while slow cookers and trendy multitaskers like Instant Pots have skyrocketed up the short list of kitchen must-haves for many, Dutch ovens are non-negotiable for some — and for good reason, the versatility this piece of cookware offers can't be beat.

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While they're certainly known for their excellent heat retention, the magic of the Dutch oven lies in its shape: short and wide. Typically, dutch ovens are wide enough to sear meats and deep enough for braising. Beyond searing and braising meats, these heavy-duty pots are great for a host of dishes and cooking styles. Whether you're slow cooking, sautéing, baking bread, or simmering soups and stews, a dutch oven is an excellent kitchen helper. Moreover, most Dutch ovens are oven-safe, so they move from stovetop to oven seamlessly.

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The Evolution Of The Classic Dutch Oven

Designed to cook meals on the hearth floor, the classic Dutch oven had short legs and rimmed lids to accommodate hot coals. And this design worked for a long time. (We're guessing home decor was pretty low on the list of priorities for colonial women.)

In 1925, however, the French company we all know and love, Le Creuset, overhauled the design of the cast iron pot, creating the Dutch oven we're familiar with today. To begin with, Le Creuset added a domed lid and removed the legs (which were probably superfluous as stoves became increasingly popular). But the piece de resistance for the new dutch oven was probably the enamel coating. Not only did this ingenious addition protect the raw cast iron from rusting and make it easier to clean, but the enamel interior provides a wonderful nonstick cooking surface that doesn't require pre-seasoning.

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While some home cooks are fine with a pricier purchase for a kitchen workhorse like a Dutch oven, the price tag can be a little off-putting for others. And we get it; a pot that costs cost $300 can be a hard sell. So, we did a little digging and cooked up a list of the best dutch ovens for every style and budget.

Pros

  • Incredible selection of sizes and colors
  • Excellent heat retention and even heating
  • Exceptional quality
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit

Cons

  • Steep price point

Le Creuset is synonymous with the term "dutch oven," and considering that the company has been in business since 1925, it's easy to see why. From 2-quart standard round dutch ovens to 5-quart deep dutch ovens and from a Harry potter-themed cast iron pot to a dutch oven with a gold knob, the permutations of designs, sizes, and colors are bananas.

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Beyond aesthetics, Le Creuset's staying power is largely due to its exceptional quality and performance. These dutch ovens are known for their superb heat retention and distribution. The exterior of the Le Creuset Dutch oven resists chipping and cracking, while the interior is designed to resist dulling and staining. Even more attractive to some, Le Creuset's Dutch ovens are dishwasher safe (although a hand wash is recommended). Moreover, they're incredibly durable, so much so that they come with a lifetime warranty.

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One of the only downsides to Le Creuset's dutch oven assortment is probably its hefty price point. These bad boys start at $220 — understandably, that could be a bit steep for budget-conscious shoppers and occasional home cooks.

Pros

  • Heats evenly
  • Oven safe to 500+ degrees Fahrenheit
  • Budget-friendly
  • Pre-seasoned
  • Two pots in one

Cons

  • Hand wash only
  • No top handle

Founded in 1896, Lodge has been manufacturing high-quality cookware for more than a century. Probably most well-known for its cast-iron skillets, Lodge also offers a non-enameled 5-quart dutch oven which is a great budget option as far as dutch ovens go. This dutch oven comes pre-seasoned, which is great for novices, but the best part may be that you're essentially getting two pots for a mind-blowing $50 — the lid is also a frying pan. The Lodge Dutch oven is raw cast iron, so it heats up evenly with no tricky hot spots. While there are plenty of pros, the one con may be that there is no top handle, so oven mitts are a must when handling this one.

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Pros

  • Great selection of colors and sizes
  • Reasonably priced
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Even heat distribution

Cons

  • Potential quality concerns

Cuisinart is a household name for kitchen accessories and appliances, so it comes as no surprise that the brand also offers a cast-iron Dutch oven. With the porcelain-enameled exterior, the Cuisinart Dutch oven comes in a wide variety of colors like many of the other entries, but more importantly, it heats up evenly and retains heat well. While this dutch oven cooks just as well as some pricier options, it's worth noting that some reviewers have indicated that chipping and cracking enamel could be an issue. Cuisinart's dutch oven is induction stovetop compatible, oven-safe, and dishwasher safe, making clean-up a breeze.

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Pros

  • Large handles
  • Wider bottom
  • Great performance
  • Oven-safe up to 900 degrees (pot only)
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Dark interior
  • Pricey
  • Heavy

Staub Dutch ovens run neck and neck with Le Creuset price points, but there are some subtle differences that could make or break your decision. First, the Staub dutch oven has a matte black interior with traces of quartz. And while that combo is less likely to show food stains and may offer better heat conduction, it also makes it more difficult to access your progress (this could be a much bigger issue for inexperienced cooks). Second, the Staub dutch oven has a slightly larger bottom than other dutch ovens with the same capacity, ultimately giving you more space for searing and browning.

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In terms of performance, the Staub cast iron dutch oven cooks just as well as other dutch ovens; it heats evenly and retains heat efficiently. It is worth noting that this dutch oven comes in at over 16 pounds which is slightly heavier than others in the category. But while it may be heavier, it has larger side handles for ease of use.

Pros

  • Large bottom/size
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Large bottom/size

While product descriptions will indicate that their signature oval shape is perfect for a whole chicken, the generous size could present a bit of a problem when it comes to overall functionality. Sure, the dutchess from Great Jones may have a larger bottom than traditional round dutch ovens, but a problem may arise when you try to use the duchess on a stovetop. It would more than likely extend beyond standard stove burners, ultimately leading to hot spots and uneven cooking. That said, the Dutchess can move seamlessly from stovetop to oven to table, so the pros and cons or a large surface area are entirely up to your personal preference. It's oven-safe up to 500 degrees and dishwasher friendly.

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