This is a question you may have about one of the most popular types of cookware today. The answer is a resounding yes! The good news is whether you have an uncoated cast-iron dutch oven or an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, you can use it on the stovetop or in any conventional oven.
You can also put a stainless steel Dutch oven in the oven as long as the handles and lid are oven-proof. Check your manual or contact the manufacturer to find out how much heat it can handle.
I love the fact that I can use any of mine in the oven, either with or without the lids. These pieces are durable, and they always deliver delicious results.
There are many times when I start out cooking something on the stove top. Then after I add all of the ingredients and stir, I can pop the lid on the Dutch oven and stick it in the oven.
If I have to leave the house, I can even turn off the oven with confidence that it will maintain the heat inside the pot. In fact, it’s almost like having a slow cooker.
There are so many things to love about Dutch oven cooking. I’ve experimented with a variety of foods, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by how well they do. They’re real workhorses.
Since every single piece of cookware is different, I want to share some other things I’ve learned about this wonderful cookware. Hopefully, this information will help you in your cooking journey.
What You Should Know About Dutch Ovens
Dutch ovens have made cooking so much easier for me. I’ve never been a chef, but I’ve been a home cook since my preteen years. That’s more than half a century. And over the past decade, they have played a vital role in my kitchen.
You’ll see that I mention several types of Dutch ovens, from enameled and traditional cast iron versions to stainless steel. All of these tools have their place in the kitchen.
Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
I’ve always enjoyed using cast iron cookware because it’s durable, it holds the heat for long periods of time, and it lasts for many generations.
In fact, I know quite a few people who have had the same Dutch oven or skillet passed down from their grandparents and parents.
I’ll never forget my great-grandmother’s humongous cast iron skillet that was sort of a cross between a frying pan and a Dutch oven. Some people call that an “everyday pan” or an “always pan.”
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In addition to a set of iron skillets in a variety of sizes, I have a large Lodge Dutch oven with enamel coating as well as what I call a hybrid or “always” pan with an enamel finish. The smaller one is actually a Lodge cast iron casserole.
Both have been in my kitchen for a long time because they’re so handy and easy to use.
Don’t ever ask me to give any of them up because the best Dutch ovens are the ones you need for your favorite recipes.
This Dutch oven pasta and meatballs recipe is a family favorite. I love the fact that it’s easy to make. And since the Dutch oven is coated with enamel, it’s easy to clean up.
Stainless Steel Option
My husband came into our marriage with a stainless steel Dutch oven. That’s surprising, given the fact that he doesn’t cook. I think his mother must have slipped it into his adulting stash, hoping he’d use it.
Needless to say, I was super excited to have this brand new Dutch oven that had never been used. Although I usually cook with my enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, I still use it once in a while.
It’s actually perfect for cooking pasta when you’re preparing a meal for a crowd. I also boil large numbers of eggs in it.
When You Want to Buy a New Dutch Oven
There are quite a few different brands to choose from. And from what I can tell, most of them are very good.
My daughters both have Le Creuset Dutch ovens. This is a brand that focuses on quality, durability, versatility, and beauty.
I chose the Lodge cast iron version because it was more economical yet it’s still very pretty and just as durable. I didn’t see a big difference between how they cook the food. Also, all of my other iron skillets are made by Lodge, and I’ve been very happy with them.
Lodge is also an American company, which is a nice bonus. If you go to their website, you can learn the benefits of cooking with all types of cast iron. You’ll also see a nice variety of Lodge Dutch ovens so you can pick the type that works for you.
I’ve also heard good things from friends who have Staub Dutch ovens. They’re attractive, durable, and cook foods evenly.
I love the fact that most companies offer a variety of colors of enamel cookware. Since I leave my shallow pan on top of the stove most of the time, I chose red because that’s my accent color in the kitchen.
Considerations When Buying a Dutch Oven
Here are some things to consider when you purchase a new Dutch oven:
- Enamel vs. bare cast iron
- Size of Dutch Oven
- Type of stovetop or heat source
- Cleaning recommendations
- Size of Dutch Oven
Most of the time, I cook meals for just my husband and me. However, I like to have leftovers, so I wanted a Dutch oven that will make at least 4 servings of whatever I put in there.
For example, this pork sausage and rice skillet dinner was plenty of food for several servings. We had enough for leftovers the next day as well as some to freeze for later. This was actually cooked in the always pan, but I still see it as a shallow Dutch oven.
My standard size Dutch oven is perfect for stews, soups, chili, gumbo, and large amounts of sauce. I don’t use it as often, but I’m always thankful that I have it when I need it.
Occasionally, Aldi has special deals on kitchen cookware. I picked up a 2-quart Dutch oven a while back, and that piece sure has come in handy. It’s their own brand, and so far it’s performing very well.
I’ve also seen several different brands of Dutch ovens at Home Goods. They’re typically discounted quite a bit, so that’s a good place to check before you plunk down your hard-earned money.
Enamel vs. Bare Cast Iron
I see the advantages of both enamel and plain cast iron cookware. You can get Dutch ovens in either finish.
Traditional cast iron is typically less expensive than the enameled version. Just keep in mind that this is cookware that can practically last forever, so consider the cost per use.
Enamel-coated cast iron doesn’t conduct heat as well as the traditional case iron. However, enamel may offer a more even distribution of heat.
You’ll want to avoid cooking highly acidic foods in regular cast iron. The metal might react with the food. If you want to cook something acidic, such as a red-based sauce, enamel is a better bet.
Type of Heat Source or Stovetop
The best heat source for bare cast iron is direct heat or an open flame. That’s why so many campers bring cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens for cooking soups, stews, or whatever they catch.
A dutch oven is perfect for cooking over hot coals or an open campfire. Any cast iron Dutch oven can handle high temperatures.
I have a smooth-top stove. Unfortunately, it’s not the ideal surface for using cast iron because it might scratch. I still use all of my cast iron cookware on the stovetop. But you best believe I’m super careful.
When I cook on top of the stove, I prefer to use medium heat. However, it can handle a very hot oven, so it’s perfect for baking.
My uncoated iron skillets are all well seasoned. I initially scrubbed all of them with steel wool and soapy water. Then I coated the bottoms of them with vegetable oil. Please keep in mind that I only do this with uncoated skillets. I have directions for enamel coated iron cookware below.
After that, I stuck them in the oven on low temperatures so the pans would soak up the oil. Eventually, well seasoned cast iron becomes mostly nonstick.
Now, after I cook a meal in my plain iron cookware, I wash it with warm soapy water. Then I dry it as much as possible with an absorbent towel before I season it with more oil. After that, I stick it back in the oven on a lower temperature to allow more evaporation of any water that’s left on the surface.
Enamel is different. I would never scratch an enamel-coated version of cast iron with steel wool or any type of abrasive pad. It’s actually very easy to clean, even when you burn something on the bottom of the Dutch oven.
I fill the bottom of the pan with soapy water and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes or until the food loosens up. Then I use a nylon scrub brush or sponge that’s designed for nonstick cookware to scrub the enameled Dutch oven.
Clean a stainless steel Dutch oven as you would any other piece of stainless steel cookware. I usually clean the bottom of the pot the same way I would clean my enamel coated cast iron.
Dutch Oven Recipes
In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, there are so many different dishes you can bake in either a standard cast iron or enamel coated version.
Make this roasted turkey tenderloin in your Dutch oven. That’s what I do when I roast a large turkey breast for a bigger crowd.
This loaded baked potato casserole is amazing when you bake it in a Dutch oven. I love the fact that you can take it from the oven and put it in the center of the table. It’s all about presentation. And an enameled cast iron dutch oven is pretty enough to do that.
Next time you want a loaf of fresh-baked bread, make this yummy Dutch oven bread from Taste of Home. You’ll want to make it often.
Many foods that you cook in your slow cooker are just as good in a Dutch oven. Try this black and white chili.
You can also cook this wonderful slow cooker lasagna in whatever size you need for the number of people you’re serving. Put the lid on it and allow it to cook slowly at about 325˚ F for 3 to 4 hours.
Dutch Ovens – Versatile Cookware
This is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you can own. If you have one in your kitchen, you’ll find yourself reaching for it oven.
A good Dutch oven can cook everything from soups and casseroles to baked bread. You may discover a new way to cook your favorite dish.
Start by picking up the size you think you’ll use the most often. I prefer a combination of smaller and larger sizes since I cook for different numbers of people.
Look at the different brands and decide what style you like. I think all of them are aesthetically pleasing, but you may have a stronger preference.
Both the traditional and the enamel coated versions do well with metal utensils. So you don’t have to limit yourself to silicone spatulas and spoons.
It’s a great cooking vessel for baking, roasting, making one-pot meals, and slow cooking. Get a smaller 2-quart Dutch oven if you’re cooking for two. And pick up one that holds 6 quarts for a larger family.
Regardless of the material, size, brand, and color you choose, it’s a durable pot that will become one of your favorite kitchen workhorses. You’ll be able to make delicious meals that the whole family will love.