Not Martha

everything I know about Dutch ovens

The Kitchen has a nice little round up of Dutch ovens. They cover Staub, Lodge, Le Creuset and the new ones from Calphalon.

These are the basic things I’ve learned about Dutch ovens in the last year:

– They are excellent at going from high heat on the stove to a lower heat in the oven (browning meat for a stew). They are also great for making rice, soups, stews and roasts. They are very good for slow cooking as they retain and spread heat well. They are also useful (but not necessary for) making no-knead bread. I’m finding am more likely to make foods like the above because I have the right cookware to do it. I even get excited to use my pot.

– Enameled cast iron is preferable to regular cast iron for instances where you’ll be cooking tomatoes or other acidic foods which can react and discolor in regular cast iron. In my case the ability to make Bolognese sauce was important to me.

– If a pot says enameled cast iron but has a black interior the interior is a matte black enamel, Staub ovens have this interior. Initially I wondered if the interior of these pots were raw cast iron, and I’ve seen this question asked a few places. Some Dutch ovens, including Le Creuset and the Mario Batali ones, have a glossy offwhite enamel on the interior, which makes it easy to see when cleaning but can show stains (I say wear them with pride).

– Le Creuset ovens have a black phenolic knob which is only good up to about 400 degrees in the oven. You can cover the know with foil to protect it from higher heats, such as if you were making the no-knead bread, or replace it with a stainless steel specialty knob or just a stainless steel cabinet knob. Some people use a few washers with a bolt and a nut. The Lodge, Staub and Mario Batali pots have stainless steel knobs, while the Calphalon has a built in handle. The phenolic knob doesn’t get hot when you’re using the pot on the stove top, so you can remove the lid to stir without grabbing a pot holder. I’m not sure if the stainless steel knobs or integrated knobs get hot when using the lid on a stove top. Anyone? The handles on my Chefmate get hot when it’s on the stove top, so I suspect the metal knobs would as well.

– A pot doesn’t have to be cast iron to be a Dutch oven, the Cook’s Illustrated article lists an All-Clad Stainless 8 Quart Stockpot as one of their favorite Dutch ovens, and a Calphalon One Infused Anodized Dutch Oven among the recommendations. But the enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are so pretty, yes?

– Some dutch ovens, such as Staub, have drip points under the lids that work as a self basting point when you are making a roast. The Le Creuset lids are generally smooth but I’ve read about a few with a basting spike.

– I’ve also seen them called French ovens.

– Also see what’s the deal with Dutch Ovens? at Apartment Therapy, and Kitchen Toolbox, Part 1 at Chocolate and Zucchini.

I bought the Chefmate pot from Target earlier this year* and I love it. This is the pot that Cook’s Illustrated rated as good as a Le Creuset in a recent review of Dutch Ovens (February 2007) and, sadly, doesn’t appear to be available anymore*. It is styled like a Le Creuset with a phenolic knob and a cream colored interior. I have used it for curries, soups and slow cooked pasta sauces. It’s a 4 or 5 quart pot and it’s a great size for a two person household, but sometimes I do think a larger pot would be more versatile. A lot of my kitchen accessories are orange, so perhaps there will be a larger Flame colored Le Creuset pot in my future. After using the Chefmate pot I’m absolutely sold on how easy it is to cook in a Dutch oven and with enameled cast iron and think the price is worth it. We’re thinking about getting an enameled cast iron frying pan as our next cookware purchase.

There are a few Dutch ovens the article in The Kitchen doesn’t mention but I’ve seen around and would be interested in learning more about. One is the Mario Batali 6 quart pot which got high marks in the Cook’s Illustrated article rating Dutch ovens (February 2007). This pot is wide and shallow, has a cream enamel interior and a stainless steel knob on the lid, and comes in some nice colors. The Emile Henry Dutch ovens are cute and on the expensive side, but it’s a trustworthy name. I’m not sure what the interior surface is like, it has an integrated knob, but they say you can put this pot over a flame while empty without hurting it.

A pot I see around a lot in department stores is the Innova 5 quart which is at the less expensive end of the spectrum. It has an integrated knob, I think this one has a black matte interior surface, and some of the reviews at Amazon seem troubling. I’ve also seen the Rachael Ray covered casserole dish at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The round dish is 3 and 1/2 quarts (which seems too small to me) and the 5 quart dish is oval, I’m not sure what the interior surface is like, looks like a phenolic knob. Another name that I’ve come across is Chasseur Dutch ovens. They look like Le Creuset, seem to be less expensive, but other than that I know nothing about them.

A set of enameled cast iron that is brought up from time to time but I’ve never read about anybody actually owning is the Senior series from Ikea. They are a reddish orange exterior with a matte black interior, the lid has drip points underneath and an integrated knob. What kept me from buying one was the size, the round pot is only three quarts and with such a narrow bottom I thought browning meat for stews might be a bit of trouble. The larger pot, five quarts, is oval and I really wanted a round pot. Does anybody have the Ikea enameled cast iron cookware? Does it work well?

If you own any of the Dutch ovens mentioned about and either do or do not recommend them I’d love to hear about it. Is the drip basting spike on the inside of a lid worth seeking out?

update, March 26th: I thought they were gone for good, but on Sunday I spotted two enameled cast iron pots at my Target (Southcenter Mall, Seattle, for the locals). So, if you wanted one but couldn’t find one earlier there is still hope.

* It seems to go in and out of stock on the website, though it’s mostly been out of stock lately and I fear might be gone for good.

· comments [72] · 03-23-2007 · categories:food ·

72 responses so far ↓

  • 1 glenn // Feb 6, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Lodge non enamel cast iron ovens are made in the US…the enamel ware is unfortunately imported from China. If you really want a great dutch oven, search out a Griswold. They are no longer produced, but can be found on E-bay and such. By the way the “dimpling or ringed areas” on the inside of a dutch oven lid on a good Dutch Oven is very important. They catch the vapors that rise from the oven and drip them back into the food not down the side of the pot as a non dimpled lit would do.

  • 2 Michelle // Feb 20, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Finding this site was so helpful. Thanks a bunch. Now I am an informed shopper. I will look for rings in the lid and am thinking of either lodge or Chefmate. Will check out a Griswald too.

  • 3 Joyce // Apr 3, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Love a cookbook called ‘Glorious One Pot Meals’, however all recipes call for oven temps of 450. Found a pot bigger than the recipes call for at JCPenney – it was great, but the handled melted. I’m having a tough time finding a 2 qt. with a handle that will withstand the 450 temp. Thanks for all the good advice though – this site has been really helpful.

  • 4 TIM BELLOWS // Aug 27, 2009 at 4:07 pm


    doesn’t anyone make a 2 quart enameled ditch oven or simple enameled pot?
    3 quarts is huge – and heavy.

    Any advice/tips appreciated!!!

    With goodwill,
    TPB, MFA

  • 5 megan // Aug 27, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Hello Tim, Le Creuset makes 2 quart pots, nice and small and round. I’ve also heard that people have had success using the removable ceramic insert from crock pots with the crock pot lid. You can sometimes find unused crock pots at resale shops, a nice inexpensive option.

  • 6 Rita in NJ // Sep 14, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Can anyone tell me about the Technique brand ceramic dutch ovens? I saw them at Home Goods and are failry inexpensive ($19.00) and very light compared to teh cast iron counterparts, but can you put them on a stove top as well as in the oven?

    Any advice would be welcome.

  • 7 serena // Jan 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    this post’s really useful thank you! I found a dutch oven at Ross for 40 bucks when originally it’s 150 (brand = chantal). it says it can handle up to 375 degrees, I am only using it to make simple soup and such, you think this is decent enough? or should I return it and get a Lodge from target?
    any suggestions is greatly appreciated!

  • 8 megan // Jan 17, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Serena – Use the one from Ross! My Target pot has stood up to everything so far, I think yours will serve you well.

  • 9 Alison // Jan 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I came on here searching for info about Chantal dutch ovens. I received one as a gift from my mom two years ago, and have loved it. I have cared for it beautifully, and have been VERY careful with it….med to low heat, no soaking, no sharp utensils, no dishwasher, etc… While making pot roast this afternoon, the bottom chipped away. Anyone know why? I’m VERY upset.

  • 10 megan // Jan 24, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Alison – I’m afraid I don’t know anything about Chantal ovens. I encourage you to write to the manufacturer to see if they will replace it.

    Anybody have any experience with Chantal ovens chipping?

  • 11 EM // Feb 8, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Does anyone have any expirience with the Costco Kirkland 6qt Dutch Oven? Thanks!

  • 12 Rick // Apr 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    The Costco stores in northern California have a varying stock of enameled Dutch ovens. Most of the time they carry none, occasionally the Kirkland product will appear, occasionally even LC (in a bright lime green!!) has been offered.

    Sorry, no experience actually using them — by the time I get to the store they are invariably sold out.

    Today I bought a Martha Stewart round 7 qt. at Macy’s on sale for $69. But while shopping, I saw a gorgeous oval 6 qt. Staub. It was $199, but I am tempted to return Martha and splurge on the Staub.

  • 13 Jodi // Sep 6, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I just was gifted the 7 qt martha stewart dutch oven and have no idea what to cook in it!! Does anyone have any good recipes?? TY!

  • 14 Pamela // Mar 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I have been using the Senior brand oval dutch oven from Ikea for several years now and I love it. It’s my favorite piece of cookware and I use it all the time on the stove for soups and stews and in the oven for roasts, etc. It’s the discontinued green color which has been replaced now with blue here in Portland.

  • 15 Katie // Sep 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    It looks as if I am going to get a cuisenart 4 qt Dutch oven. It was part of a rebate offer. I am waiting for it now. You wouldnt happen to have some recipes to share for cooking in this Dutch oven would you? I have only used Cast Iron Dutch Ovens camping and am not sure if it works the same.

  • 16 Bill // Oct 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Just left Macy’s to return the recalled 5.5 qt Dutch Oven. I do not have or ever had a receipt as it was a gift given four years ago. Macy’s told me they would only refund the lowest price they ever sold for. Maybe my math is a little off, but (IF) all 930,000 items sold are returned and say half of them are returned minus the receipt and only receive the LOWEST price ever offered, Macys will come out smelling like a rose (Or a skunk) depending on your opinion. If even 20 percent of the items were returned and had paid full retail or just more than the (Lowest Price) that’s a nice profit margin for Macy’s. My son told us he paid cash and it was around $50.00 and I returned it for a whopping $19.00. To make matters worse, Macy’s will only give you a store gift card. Right at the moment, Macy’s is the last place I want to spend my dollar.
    So it puts a black eye on the Martha Stewart’s brand and Macy’s. Who can you trust?

  • 17 gina // Oct 22, 2011 at 6:12 am

    I have been in bed with a back ache for the last two days and shopping online for Staub and other prospects has become my obsession. I like to buy a series of items in all the same color. I like the uniform look. I am really drawn to the dark grays and black but there are several to choose from and I am worried they will be discontinued down the line. I am thinking maybe to get the traditional black for it is most likely to stay a consistent fixture to the Staub line. I am thinking to start with a big oval because I can put a longer roast or chicken in with a similar shape opposed to a round. I have a 8 quart LC in blue and really love cooking dilled blanquette de veal stew, soups, risotto, Bolognese … well everything in it. I only wish it was a different color it is discolored on the cream bottom and we use bar keepers friend to clean it but still discolored. That is okay… Looking forward I do like the idea of the Stuab black bottom. So plan is 8 + quart oval, then next a large round…. any suggestions? I don’t want small for me mini sizes don’t fit my style of cooking. What can I say I am Italian and even if I were cooking for 2 – a standard recipe is for 6-8. I make a little extra and freeze it or bring dinner to my neighbor. Share the love! lol! I wish I could find a sale, outlet or something to help me finalize this quest with a great deal!

  • 18 Jean // Jan 18, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for all the info! I’m ready to shop now and will come back and comment when I’m done.

  • 19 K.J. // Jan 4, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Recently Cooks Illustrated ranked the Tramontina dutch oven as a best buy, I received a 6 quart one recently and I love it. $40 at Sams. Very heavy, with an off white interior and metal knob on the lid. Best roast chicken ever!

  • 20 Pot Lover // Sep 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    My Lodge has really held up over the past few years. I make so many delicious meals in it. Really makes casseroles a breeze!

  • 21 Sylvia // Aug 24, 2015 at 12:22 am

    I recently bought the Staub 26cm (5 qt?) pot in Dark Blue to match my range cooker. I have owned a LC fpr 20 years but the orange didnt now match! I have made jam so far in the Staub and am not as keen as I was before I bought it. Love the colour but – I find the s/s knob gets VERY hot on the stove. The dimples on the lid I find annoying as when I lift the lid I forget and water goes all over the cooker. Duh. The lid is very heavy and the base, being also majolique slides over the burners. So all in all, if LC had made it in the Dark Blue I may have gone for that instead. The jury is still out. PS. being aged 66 am aware of the weight and one day will have to abandon it for something lighter. Just a thought…..

  • 22 Barbara // Jun 6, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I have several pieces of Lodge Cast Iron Skillets and a Grill Pan and love them all. I was looking for a cast iron dutch oven but read that it should be an enameled on for cooking tomato sauce dishes because of the acid. I did not want to have to pay postage on an online purchase so I kept looking at all the local department, big box, and kitchen stores but could not find one reasonably prices (the prices varied way too much which was a deciding factor not to purchase at one of those stores. i really wanted Lodge because it is an American company. One day when I was in Ross they had a 3 quart and a 6 quart covered enameled dutch oven by Mario Batalli and it was in my price range so I snatched it up so fast! I was in heaven! I have used it so many times and would not be without it. Most of my friends have purchased a crock-pot/slow cooker but I refused to do so because I prefer not to use an electric appliance that can catch fire or stop working in the middle of a recipe that leaves your meal uncooked when you were counting on it for dinner. Besides where I live my kitchen is not large enough for a slow cooker and the dutch oven. Since you can brown meat and cook it in the save pot with the dutch oven and you cannot in a slow cooker, I will stick with my dutch oven.

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