The Best Dutch Ovens for Any Budget | BuzzFeed Reviews
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The Best Dutch Ovens

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Bruntmor Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

$44

  • Hefty, yet easy to use and clean
  • Just big enough to get the job done
  • Self-basting lid
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Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Casserole

$86

  • Strong, durable, and easy to use
  • Excellent quality for the price
  • More surface area for searing
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Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven

$380

  • Storied French cookware brand
  • What all Dutch ovens aspire to be
  • Low-key luxury
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Pop quiz! What’s well-seasoned, heavy as heck, and the most versatile thing you can buy for your kitchen? The answer is a Dutch oven. Seriously, between frying, braising, searing, and stewing, no other cookware comes close. But which one is worthy of your time and dime? We tested a variety of Dutch ovens at every price point, judging each by weight, size, ease of cleaning, and overall cooking efficiency. What we discovered is that these multipurpose pots provide serious utility no matter the price, meaning you can find one for under $50 that’ll boost your kitchen cred or throw down hundreds for an heirloom piece built to last a lifetime.

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Bruntmor Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

Starting from $44

Where to buy

The Details

6.5-quart capacity

Weighs 15.9 pounds

Oven-safe up to 500°F

Self-basting lid

Stainless-steel knob

Available in four colors

What / Who It's Best For

  • Lovers of soups, stews, and braises
  • College students buying their first Dutch oven
  • Aspiring home chefs who want to cook more

Why We Love It

Look, you can drop upwards of $350 on a fancy-schmancy Dutch oven. Or you could spend a whole lot less for the Bruntmor enameled cast-iron Dutch oven which, at just under 16 pounds, sears and braises like a champ. This thing is reliable. It’s got all the hallmarks of a pot six times its price. And after whipping up enough meals to feed basically all of BuzzFeed’s employees and their mothers, the Bruntmor scored close to our mid-priced winner.

If this is a new cooking frontier, the first thing you need to know is that Dutch ovens are available in both traditional raw cast iron and enameled cast iron. This is especially true within the budget price range, with raw cast iron generally costing less than its enameled counterparts. While you can expect the same versatility from Dutch ovens constructed in either fashion, there are some important tradeoffs to know before making your decision.

Bruntmor Dutch Oven with hand picking it up by handle

Like we explained in our review for the best cast-iron pan, the main difference between raw and enameled cast iron is maintenance. Whereas enameled cast iron is ready to use out of the box, raw cast iron requires extra care, even though it often comes preseasoned. This is accomplished by “seasoning” the pan with a cooking fat (like vegetable oil), then baking the pan in the oven on high heat to bond everything together to create a protective coating. The seasoning also helps defend the pan from rust.

After washing, raw cast iron must be immediately dried (to prevent rust) and lightly oiled and heated through (to maintain its coating). It’s not much more work, but it’s still more work. On the flip side, enameled cookware is much easier to care for. Not only is it easier to clean, it also won’t chip as easily as raw cast iron.

Of course, enameled Dutch ovens also come in a variety of colors, as opposed to raw cast iron, which is typically black. It’s also worth noting that enameled Dutch ovens do not hold up to intense heat. That means raw cast iron is the only choice for campfire cookouts. If you’re buying strictly for home use, enameled is definitely the way to go.

Bruntmor Dutch oven self-basting lid

The first important feature that separates the Bruntmor from other Dutch ovens at this price point is hiding on the underside of the lid, where you’ll notice ridges instead of a flat surface. In Dutch-oven parlance, this is called a “self-basting” lid: those little protrusions are said to be crucial in collecting steam, so moisture can drip back down on whatever you’re cooking. Bruntmor borrows the lid construction from high-end French cookware maker Staub, but achieves nearly the same results at a fraction of the cost. Add in a tight seal that locks in heat, and we found that you can cook at a lower heat setting and still maintain a steady, rolling simmer.

At 6.5 quarts, this thing can feed six to eight guests with enough for seconds, or help couples prepare several days’ worth of meals in one shot. We recommend getting at least a five-quart Dutch oven for cooking main dishes — smaller Dutch ovens are better for cooking side dishes. The Bruntmor’s capacity is certainly overshadowed by both our $$ and $$$ winners, which means you won’t sacrifice a ton of space if you stay in the $ range.

But keep in mind: The smaller the capacity, the smaller the cooking surface. The Bruntmor lost a few points for a cooking surface that’s just over 11 inches in diameter. For stew, we ended up searing a pound of beef (cut into one-inch cubes) in two and a half batches, which added significant time to the recipe. On the positive side, the Bruntmor’s seven-inch walls are high enough to prevent food splatters. Wide handles also make the Bruntmor easier to transport than other Dutch ovens we tested, which all have small, ill-conceived grips.

Bruntmor Dutch Oven full view

If you’re really looking for a deal, our runner-up in the $ price range, the enameled cast-iron Dutch oven from AmazonBasics, lost to the Bruntmor by a surprisingly narrow margin. We preferred the Bruntmor for its size, heft, and heat conductivity; simply put, it browned and braised beef better.

No matter which of these Dutch ovens you choose, you’ll be able to whip up a wide range of grub that’s nearly as excellent as what you could make with models in higher price ranges. The key word here is nearly: overall cooking experience only got better as we moved up in price range and size, the latter being especially important for cooks who want to get the most versatility from the cookware they buy.

User Reviews

“This one is great—super heavy-duty and very durable. I've had it for a bit now and use it for everything—roasting meat in the oven, baking bread, sauteing and making soups on the stovetop. As long as you let it cool down before cleaning, you'll have no issues with chipping enamel. Scrub only with something relatively soft so you don't scratch it and it'll be almost nonstick. A soak and gentle sponging is all it takes to remove anything that does happen to stick, which is hardly anything. I've heated it as high as 465°F in the oven and had absolutely no problems at all with it.”
— collegestudent From Amazon
“I wish I hadn't waited so long to buy myself a Dutch oven. It's a very heavy pot but holds the heat so well that you can cook using much lower temperatures, which saves energy. The smooth enamel interior cleans up easily and the bumps on the underside of the lid help distribute condensation back down onto the food evenly. So far I've only used it on the stovetop. Can't wait to try out a recipe to use it in the oven.”
— M. Muller From Amazon
“Shipped fast and I'm very happy with the Dutch oven! Wish I would have ordered one sooner. This pot is very solid and cleans well. Made short ribs for the maiden voyage and they were amazing. Highly recommend! Great value!”
— tony medecke From Amazon

Bruntmor

Affordable excellence

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Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Casserole

Starting from $86

Where to buy

The Details

7-quart capacity

Weighs 17.4 pounds

Oven-safe up to 500°F

Stainless-steel knob

Available in three colors

What / Who It's Best For

  • Accomplished cooks who want next-level equipment
  • Chefs who consistently cook one-pot meals for groups
  • Meat lovers who need a larger cooking surface

Why We Love It

If you’re going to move up in price range, you may as well score a Dutch oven with more capacity, higher sides, and a larger surface area on which to cook. At least those were our thoughts, since the only way you’ll be able to leverage a Dutch oven for tasks like roasting a whole chicken is to reach for a pot with enough space inside for, well, a whole roasted chicken.

Those willing to spend a little more for a Dutch oven should opt for our $$ winner from Cuisinart. With seven quarts of space and enough interior surface to sear and stew a large roast, this Dutch oven may seem family-sized, but it’s worth it for anyone in search for a truly all-purpose pot. It’s perfect for pasta dishes, whether boiling it on your stovetop or baking it into casseroles in your oven. It’s also ideal for searing proteins and turning them into spectacular braises. And it’s just as useful for whipping up a pot of chicken soup with plenty of leftovers.

Cuisinart Dutch Oven full view

Coated in porcelain enamel on the interior and exterior, the Cuisinart weighs in at more than 18 pounds, so if you’re known to skip arm day (or have no idea what arm day is), the heft may be a dealbreaker. Still, we found that the pot’s wide handles ease the difficulty of transporting something that heavy from stovetop or oven to table. Pro tip: Since most Dutch ovens are made entirely from cast iron, remember to always handle them with a potholder. For added safety, place it on a trivet or wooden serving board to avoid damaging your countertop.

As with our other winners, the Cuisinart features a light interior that allows better visibility, so you can see meat caramelize (hello, Maillard reaction!) or butter brown. Meanwhile, the lid creates a tight seal to keep food piping hot even when cooking at low heat and features an ergonomic handle that’s easy to grip with an oven mitt. Plus, the whole thing is easy to clean, requiring nothing more than a quick wipedown with a nonabrasive cloth or sponge.

Cuisinart Dutch Oven slightly ajar

If you’re looking for a lightweight option in this price range that’s also enjoyable to cook with, the Milo Dutch oven gets honorable mention for its sleek, minimalist look. While Milo’s capacity is only 5.5 quarts, the fact that it weighs just under 11 pounds could make it a more favorable choice for cooks looking for something easier to lift. However, the Milo lost points because of its smaller handles and because the lid was not as tight-fitting as the Cuisinart’s, with an imperfect seal that occasionally spat out steam. Again, not a major dealbreaker, but ultimately enough for us to give the Milo runner-up status in our $$ price range.

The Cuisinart’s specs simply outmatched every other Dutch oven under $100. Its 13-inch-diameter surface and 7-quart capacity allow you to cook larger batches (to entertain more guests or have more leftovers) and sear more meat at once, and its wide-grip handles and tight-fitting lid with easy-to-hold knob make it a great choice for cooks at any skill level.

User Reviews

“I was a tried and true fan of Le Creuset products, but after reading a review about this line of Cuisinart enameled pots, I thought I'd try one out. I was astounded by the excellent quality for the price compared to the Le Creuset products I'm used to. Cleanup after several uses is still easy; all the browned bits from cooking easily come off the porcelain and it still looks brand new. Glad I tried this out. I will be adding more sizes to my collection soon.”
— Kevin T From Amazon
“Wonderful product, bought to replace a Le Creuset of similar size which was damaged after more than 20 years of use. This Cuisinart performed as well at a third of the price. Loving this classic dutch oven.”
— John M Neuding From Amazon
“I couldn’t pass up purchasing this Dutch oven after watching the review on America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country, especially since the sale price was 5 times less than the pricey French model. Cast iron has great heat retention. To test it out, I made moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew that cooks the shrimp and cod after the stew is removed from the heat. Great results. This thing is relatively heavy, durable, and built to last. I can tell this was designed by someone who spent time in a kitchen by the nice wide handles, perfect for oven mitts or hot pads. The lid knob and handles are not heat-resistant. Cleanup is easy thanks to the enamel coating, though the 7-quart size takes up the entire dish rack.”
— farmboyWI From Amazon

Cuisinart

All-purpose all-star

Where to buy

$86 at Amazon
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Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven

Starting from $380

Where to buy

The Details

7.25 quart capacity

Weighs 14.6 pounds

Ergonomic, easy-grip handles

Oven-safe up to 500°F

Built-in lid stabilizers for secure, no-slide fit

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who answer to “Chef”
  • Home cooks with Michelin-star dreams
  • Anyone looking for a memorable wedding gift

Why We Love It

For those who want to elicit envy from in-the-know home cooks and just about every chef in chef whites, the Le Creuset signature round enameled Dutch oven will do just that. Julia Child. Ever heard of her? Yeah, she used one. Even before Child’s day, Le Creuset was known as the crème de la crème of this particular kind of culinary equipment, with few challengers in sight. The 7.25-quart model falls right in the middle of what they offer for Dutch ovens, and it will yield between seven and eight servings, depending on what you make.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven lid view

When testing Dutch ovens across all price points, we created a rating system based on a total of 100 points over nine categories. This Le Creuset scored an impressive 99, losing one point on “ease of cleaning” because it needed just a bit more effort to bring it back to pristine form. The size is perfect for everyone, from ambitious couples honing their culinary chops, to families who rely on large one-pot meals (and leftovers) to avoid kitchen burnout.

Compared to our $$ winner, you get an additional half-pint of capacity, so you’ll be able to cook an ever bigger bird and more soup or stew than you’d be able to do in the Cuisinart. Still, if you’re spending more than $300, you need more reason than that to invest in one of these iconic pieces.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven with hand lifting lid

The perfection of the Le Creuset Dutch oven lies in its fine details: the nuances of feel, look, and a quality of food that outshone every competitor (save for its oval 5-quart counterpart, which made equally delicious braised beef but lost points because its shape is not as conducive to cooking on round burners, which most people own). Le Creuset originated enameled cast-iron cookware over a century ago, and the original foundry still produces its legendary wares. With over a dozen colors to choose from, you can find something to suit the aesthetic of any kitchen.

Perhaps it’s the hefty price tag, or maybe it’s the renowned brand and its history, but cooking with a Le Creuset Dutch oven is a positively different experience than using anything else. It seems that every detail is accounted for with the utmost quality in mind, from the fit of the lid and the grip of its knob handle to the sand-colored interior surface’s extra durability and superior heat conductivity, which makes browning meat evenly a quick, simple process. Not a hint of steam escaped from beneath the lid of the Le Creuset we tested, and unlike other Dutch ovens’ lid handles that felt difficult to lift while wearing an oven mitt, this model’s lid had a knob that felt glued to your grip even in a thick potholder.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven hand picking up

As far as cooking performance goes, this one easily bested the competition. Meat developed a beautiful brown sear faster in the Le Creuset than in any other models we tested, taking just a few minutes per side. Stock also came came to a boil quicker than expected, even over a medium-low flame, thanks to seemingly better heat conductivity and better distribution. When cooking down a stew, we noticed very little loss of liquid over the two hours. Anything that stuck to the sides while we we away easily came off with a rubber spatula every time we opened the lid, something that did not happen as easily in other models.

If you truly want the best Dutch oven money can buy, believe the hype. You need a Le Creuset. Consider this a statement piece that is also the epitome of function, as it works on gas, electric, halogen, induction, and ceramic stovetops as well as in the oven or on the outdoor grill up to 500°F. Plus, it’s extremely lightweight for such high-quality cast-iron cookware, with the 7.25-quart Dutch oven weighing in at just 12.8 pounds, more than three pounds less than our $ winner (which is only six quarts).  

Yes, we’re well aware that spending over $300 sounds painful. But keep in mind: you’ll only feel it once! After that, you (and maybe even your kids) will have the absolute best Dutch oven to provide you a lifetime of culinary joy.

User Reviews

“I have cooked several meals in my Le Creuset now and I so love it. There is no comparison between cooking with a regular Dutch oven and a Le Creuset. Not only because it is so easy to clean but it heats the items evenly, and browns food perfectly. I have two pieces now and I plan on adding more. I do recommend this larger size, as I have cooked whole chickens, other large meals, AND small items also.”
— The Tam'ster From Amazon
“Can’t say enough about these... just love them. They are pricey, but in my opinion everything I have gotten from Le Creuset has been worth it. They are pieces that you hand down to your grandchildren. They are made well, cook well, and look beautiful. And, as a bonus, you don't need to have tons of pans, pots, and cookware if you're using these. Just a few essentials are all you need due to the quality.”
— Olga Loinfeisk From Amazon
“My wife has wanted this for years to add to her cast-iron collection. However, because there are so many other brand names out there at a fraction of the price, we could never justify the cost. We have purchased and used other French ovens. While they did a commendable job, my wife still felt that, based on her research, the Le Creuset was the best choice among French/Dutch ovens. She was right. I recently purchased it for her. She made a pot roast as her first dish in her new 7 1/4-quart Le Creuset French oven and was amazed at how easy it was to sear and slow roast the meat and vegetables. An added bonus: during cleanup she ran hot water in the pan, placed a small amount of dish liquid in the water and let it soak. She was prepared to let the pot soak overnight. Amazingly, she found that she was able to clean the pot within minutes, using only a sponge. This pot is money well spent.”
— Rod From Amazon

Le Creuset

Doesn't get any better

Where to buy

$380 at Amazon
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