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The Best Dutch Ovens for Every Budget

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The Best Dutch Ovens for Every Budget

Let’s start with the bad news: The best Dutch oven is going to set you back a bit. The good news? There are excellent options at a range of price points, so “a bit” is subjective. If you have your sights set on a glossy, hefty, gloriously serious piece of cookware from Le Creuset or Staub, by all means. After all, the Dutch ovens from these prestige brands are beloved by our test kitchen team for everything from browning and braising meat to gently simmering stock to deep-frying. But a solidly constructed workhorse from Lodge is nothing to sniff at—in fact, we’d recommend it to most home cooks. The heritage American brand makes cast-iron Dutch ovens with enamel finishes that stand up to the top-tier brands in our product tests time and time again. If you’re looking for an option somewhere in between in terms of price point, we’ve got you covered with models from two of our favorite direct-to-consumer brands. Whichever pot you pick, you’ll end up with a beautiful stovetop- and oven-safe piece of cookware that’s sure to become your new best friend in the kitchen.

But before we tackle all things brand and budget, let’s address the two questions you’re probably asking off the bat: Which size and shape should you opt for when buying a Dutch oven?

What size Dutch oven is best?

The ideal size Dutch oven for most people is between 5 and 6 quarts. A 5-quart pot fits a sourdough boule perfectly, and at 5.5-quarts and above, you can fit a standard-size chicken inside to make stock. Smaller than that, and you’re not giving yourself sufficient room to brown meat or enough depth to simmer stock or beans. Worried about sacrificing room in your kitchen cabinets? You’ll be happy to know a 6-quart Dutch oven from Lodge measures just 10.75-inches across in diameter—a way smaller footprint than, say, your pellet ice maker.

What shape should I buy?

As you scroll down, you’ll notice that every one of these best cast-iron Dutch ovens we’re recommending, from the 5-quart through the big boy 7.25-quart, is round. We’ve found that while oval-shaped Dutch ovens are nice for roasting oblong cuts of meat in the oven, they can easily lead to uneven cooking on the stovetop, unless they’re large enough to stretch over two burners. So if you’re choosing only one to purchase, swing for a round Dutch oven to get the most out of your shiny new cookware.

The Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Dutch Oven: Lodge

The 6-quart Lodge enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is our top pick for the majority of home cooks. The sturdy loop handles are wide enough to grip even while wearing clunky oven mitts, and the pot itself has the ideal bottom-to-side ratio: roomy enough for browning meat, with sides high enough to contain sauce splashes and soup. The sloped edges along the base mean you can get to the very corners of the pot with a silicone spatula. It’s heavy, of course, but not atrociously so compared to other brands we’ve tested.

But the best thing about the Lodge Dutch oven? The price tag. Eighty bucks will get you a well-made piece of cast-iron cookware that lasts and lasts. That enamel coating is durable enough to stand up to plenty of scrubbing. It doesn’t chip or fade, nor does it go gritty. In fact, a well-cared for Lodge Dutch oven can almost work as a nonstick pan for years. —L.J.