Reviews You Can Rely On

The 4 Best Dutch Ovens of 2023

We tested dutch ovens from Cuisinart, Staub, Le Creuset, Lodge, and more to find the best choice for your kitchen
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Best Dutch Oven of 2023
Credit: Maggie Nichols
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 14, 2023

After researching over 45 options, our kitchen experts purchased 10 of the best dutch ovens on the market. We've tested each side-by-side while cooking, boiling, and baking. We spent hours in the kitchen, creating soups, stews, and bread from scratch. We gauged bread browning, meat searing, and steam loss. We compared handles and lids and measured capacities. We tested their durability and the strength of their enamel by stirring with a metal spoon and dropping the lids on them. We nit-picked details of each model, scrutinizing them with critical eyes. While all of these will cook a big meal, a good dutch oven can last a lifetime, and we are here to help you find the perfect one for your kitchen.

The saturated marketplace can make finding quality cookware seem like an impossibility. That's why our kitchen testers do all the hard work for you. From top nonstick pans and our favorite microwaves to some of the best cast iron skillets, our thorough reviews can aid your search in finding the best cookware to suit your needs.

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $334 List
$295.97 at Amazon
$420 List
$369.95 at Amazon
$165 ListCheck Price at Amazon$80 List
$79.90 at Amazon
Overall Score
90
94
77
84
60
Star Rating
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Pros Sears and browns phenomenally, fantastic lid handle, comes in a huge variety of sizes, claims dishwasher safeImpressively light, fantastic ergonomic handles, tons of size options, claims dishwasher safeGreat handles, grill pan is a nice value add, great shape, good add-ons, claims "dishwasher compatible"Great shape, versatile, excellent handles, great lid knobMany useful sizes, solid and durable, good value, great size
Cons Handles could be wider, black interior obscures food, expensiveLid handle could be a better shape, expensiveExceptionally heavy, capacity smaller than advertised, chips a little too easily, limited sizing and availabilityOn the heavy side, very limited sizing availableRather small searing surface, heavier than average
Bottom Line A fantastic model for searing meats and browning breads, in a really cool looking potThe lightest dutch oven on the market that cooks and bakes absolutely everything with ease and graceA convenient shape with great add-ons, but a lower capacity than advertised and rather limited availabilityAn excellent high end model with a superb shape for just about everything and great usability at a lower-than-high-end priceA solid performer with good durability at a reasonable price, as long as you're not looking for a large searing surface
Rating Categories Staub 5.5-Quart Rou... Le Creuset Signatur... Misen Enameled Cast... Made in Cookware 5.... Lodge Enameled Cast...
Cooking Performance (40%) Sort Icon
9.5
9.5
9.0
9.0
6.0
Ease of Use (35%)
8.5
9.5
7.0
8.0
6.0
Maintenance (15%)
8.5
9.0
7.0
8.0
5.5
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
5.5
8.0
6.5
Specs Staub 5.5-Quart Rou... Le Creuset Signatur... Misen Enameled Cast... Made in Cookware 5.... Lodge Enameled Cast...
Total Weight (lb oz) 13 lb 1 oz 11 lb 8 oz 17 lb 4 oz 13 lb 12 oz 13 lb 9 oz
Searing Surface Diameter (inches) 8.9" 8.75" 9.25" 9" 7.75"
Advertised Capacity, Unit Tested (quarts) 5.5 qt 5.5 qt 7 qt 5.5 qt 6 qt
Measured Capacity (to the top) 5.5 qt 5.5 qt 6.5 qt 5.5 qt 6 qt
Oven Temperature Max 500 500 500 580 500
Pan Weight (lb oz) 8lb 6 oz 7 lb 15 oz 10 lb 13 oz 9 lb 9 oz 9 lb 11 oz
Lid Weight (lb oz) 4 lb 11 oz 3 lb 9 oz 6 lb 7 oz 4 lb 3 oz 3 lb 14 oz
Handle Opening Dimensions (W x D; inches) 2.6" x 0.9" 3.25" x 1.3" 3" x 1.25" 3.4" x 0.8" 3.75" x 0.9"
Knob Diameter 1.5" 2.25" 2.1" 2.25" 2.0"
Interior Color black white white white white
Interior Texture matte glossy glossy glossy glossy
Lid Texture, Underside dimpled (4 rings, 55 total bumps) smooth Smooth, flat dimpled (3 rings, 57 total small bumps) smooth
Available Sizes 12
(0.275 qt, 0.85 qt, 1.25 qt, 1.5 qt, 2.75 qt, 4 qt, 5 qt, 5.5 qt, 6 qt, 7 qt, 8.75 qt, 13.25 qt)
7
(2 qt, 3.5 qt, 4.5 qt, 5.5 qt, 7.25 qt, 9 qt, 13.25 qt
1
(7 quart)
1
(5.5 qt)
5
(1.5 qt, 3 qt, 4.5 qt, 6 qt, 7.5 qt)


Best Overall Dutch Oven


Le Creuset Signature Round


94
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance 9.5
  • Ease of Use 9.5
  • Maintenance 9.0
  • Durability 9.0
Searing Surface Diameter: 8.75 in | Total Weight: 11 lb 8 oz (5.5 quart)
REASONS TO BUY
Impressively lightweight
Ergonomic handles
Extremely durable
Tons of size options
Rated dishwasher safe
REASONS TO AVOID
Lid handle could be easier to grab
Very expensive

If you want the best all-around performing enameled dutch oven, then the Le Creuset Signature Round is the one. This cast iron pot is thinner and lighter than any other model on the market without sacrificing cooking ability. It maintains remarkably consistent temperatures and bakes, sauteés, and braises with ease. The shape of this smooth, sleek vessel combines the best of all attributes you could want — a wide flat bottom for searing, curved corners for ease of cleaning, and a lower weight for easier handling. The side handles of the Le Creuset are our favorite to hold, even before considering the pot's lower weight. It's outstandingly durable as well. None of our abuse phased the Le Creuset — and it's even rated safe to throw in the dishwasher.

We love just about everything about this impressive dutch oven. Though it carries a substantial price tag, it's one item that lives up to the hype. Our only very minor gripe is that the knob handle on the lid could be better. It's rather thick, with rounded edges, and with some thickly padded oven mitts, we felt the grip wasn't quite as good as it could be. But if you're looking for the One Dutch Oven To Rule Them All, the Le Creuset is it.

best overall dutch oven
We love just about every aspect of the Le Creuset.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Value for a High-End Dutch Oven


Made in Cookware Dutch Oven 5.5-Quart


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance 9.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Maintenance 8.0
  • Durability 8.0
Searing Surface Diameter: 9 in | Pan Weight: 13 lb 12 oz (5.5 quart)
REASONS TO BUY
Versatile shape
Great handles and lid knob
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
A bit heavy
Limited sizes available

Looking for high-end dutch oven performance that's not quite as expensive? The Made In 5.5 Quart is an excellent choice. Like famous brands, Le Creuset and Staub, this pot is made and enameled in France rather than China. It's low and wide, providing a large searing surface area. The handles and lid knob are a fantastic size and shape that is easy to grab, even with bulky oven mitts. It's easy to handwash even the toughest messes from its smoothly enameled surface. The Made In is rated oven safe up to 580°F — the highest of any in our lineup. It was hardly phased at all by our maltreatment of it. This impressive oven is nearly as good at everything as the top performers we tested, but for far less cash, making it a great value item.

We have very few complaints about the Made In. It's comparatively heavy among similar-sized models, but not so much that we notice it during use. Also, it's not rated as dishwasher safe. On that note, we advise against putting any dutch oven in the dishwasher. Even with models that are rated dishwasher safe, the detergent can potentially damage the enamel. If you're looking for a smaller or larger version, then you're out of luck. The Made In is currently only available in a 5.5-quart size (arguably the most versatile size for most people). There's so much it's great for, making its relatively lower cost (for a high-end vessel) even more enticing.

best value for a high-end dutch oven
This extra wide option from Made in performs well across the board but costs less than other high-end models.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best on a Tight Budget


Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven 6-Quart


60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance 6.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Maintenance 5.5
  • Durability 6.5
Searing Surface Diameter: 7.75 in | Pan Weight: 13 lb 9 oz (6 quart)
REASONS TO BUY
Solid and durable
Good value
Available in many sizes
Rated dishwasher safe (though not recommended)
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier than average
Rather small searing surface

The Lodge Enameled is the dutch oven we recommend if you want the best value on a smaller budget. This pot is seriously solid and impressively durable. It's a very functional shape for most things, from bread to stews, and comes in many sizes. Though Lodge recommends handwashing this pan whenever possible, they also rate it safe to throw in your dishwasher in a pinch (double-check your dishwashing fluid!).

It doesn't feel heavier than the rest, but the Lodge has an above-average weight. More of this mass is in the pot rather than the lid, which adds an extra pound or so (from average) when moving a full, steaming pot of stew from the stove to the table. If you often sear meats or veggies, it's important to note that the Lodge has one of the smallest searing surfaces of any model we reviewed. We read some user reviews of this model chipping but didn't experience this during our extensive (and abusive!) test period. (Some users also stated that Lodge is responsive to these complaints and replaced the damaged products, but we also can't vouch for this, as we never dealt with their customer service during our dutch oven testing.) If you're shopping on a strict budget, the Lodge showed no glaring weaknesses in our tests and is a solid all-around option.

dutch oven - best on a tight budget
Though it's not perfect, there's a lot we love about the Lodge's performance. Its low price is just icing on the cake.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best for Searing and Browning


Staub 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte


90
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance 9.5
  • Ease of Use 8.5
  • Maintenance 8.5
  • Durability 9.0
Searing Surface Diameter: 8.9 in | Pan Weight: 13 lb 1 oz (5.5 quart)
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent at searing meat and browning bread
Fantastic lid handle
Available in a ton of sizes
Rated dishwasher safe
REASONS TO AVOID
Handles could be wider
Black interior can obscure the view
Expensive

Do you enjoy extra crisp on the edges of your bacon and a nice brown bread crust? Then the Staub Round Cocotte is the dutch for you. The black interior of this seriously impressive vessel is far and away the best we've found for searing food quickly, easily, and practically perfectly. It has one of the largest searing surfaces among models we tested, further adding to how much we love browning with it. Bread baked in the Staub Cocotte came out with a wonderful deep brown crust. The small lid handle is a joy to use — our favorite of all the lids — as it has excellent edges that make it easy to grab with even the thickest folded-up kitchen towel. Staub rates this unit safe to stick in the dishwasher, and it's available in a wide array of sizes.

We have very few gripes about this terrific dutch oven. The pot handles could be a little wider, but they're still excellent in most situations. When using the Staub to sear meat and develop a fond, we found it hard to see the progress, making this a challenging pot for beginners. Additionally, it is one of the priciest models in our review and may not be worth the investment if you don't plan on using it regularly. Still, the Staub is exceptionally durable and an excellent choice for those looking for the best possible option for browning and searing food.

dutch oven - best for searing and browning
Bread baked in the Staub came out with a beautifully browned crust.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Good Value Option for Searing


Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron Round Casserole


56
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance 5.5
  • Ease of Use 5.5
  • Maintenance 7.0
  • Durability 4.0
Searing Surface Diameter: 8.5 in | Pan Weight: 12 lb 7 oz (5 quart)
REASONS TO BUY
Large searing surface for capacity
Versatile shape
Rated dishwasher safe
REASONS TO AVOID
Enamel chips easily
Messy boiling

Another solid choice for a dutch oven on a budget is the Cuisinart Chef's Classic. Its cylindrical shape offers a larger searing surface than many others its size and is a very versatile option for most uses. Though it didn't perform exceptionally in any of our tests, it does decently at almost everything we used it for, from baking to braising and sauteéing to searing. Cuisinart has also rated this model dishwasher safe, though we never had any issues getting even the most stuck-on messes off with a simple nylon scrub brush and some soapy water.

The main shortcoming of the Cuisinart Chef's Classic is its enamel coating chips too easily. It didn't chip at all during our months of intensive use, but when we got to the durability testing, a few drops of the lid onto the pan from 4 inches up splintered off several large chunks of enamel. When we boiled water, this dutch oven readily spewed steaming droplets all over the stove and the counter around it. Considering these weaknesses, we feel this pan retails for more than we think it's worth. That said, we've also seen it frequently on sale, so if you can find it at a discount, the price and performance of the Cuisinart Chef's Classic can offer a solid value and versatile addition to your kitchen.

dutch oven - the shape of the cuisinart is a good one, though we ran into some...
The shape of the Cuisinart is a good one, though we ran into some pretty significant enamel chipping issues.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
94
Le Creuset Signature Round
Best Overall Dutch Oven
$420
Editors' Choice Award
90
Staub 5.5-Quart Round Cocotte
Best for Searing and Browning
$334
Top Pick Award
84
Made in Cookware Dutch Oven 5.5-Quart
Best Value for a High-End Dutch Oven
$199
Best Buy Award
77
Misen Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart
$165
60
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven 6-Quart
Best on a Tight Budget
$80
Best Buy Award
56
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron Round Casserole
Good Value Option for Searing
$100
49
Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Covered Round Dutch Oven, 5.5-Quart
$80
47
Uno Casa Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven 6-Quart
$63
41
Crock Pot Enameled Dutch Oven 5-Quart
$63
33
Amazon Basics Enameled Cast Iron Covered 6-Quart
$54

dutch oven - the differences between some dutch ovens can be very subtle so we...
The differences between some dutch ovens can be very subtle so we tested them all side-by-side to tease apart those minute distinctions.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Why You Should Trust Us


Over the years, we've researched over 45 of the best enameled dutch ovens on the market today. For this year's testing, we chose 10 of the best and most promising models and tested them side-by-side for months of feasting (and cleaning). We baked bread, seared meats, and stewed stews. We measured steam loss, handle sizes, and searing surfaces. We scrubbed messes, scraped them with metal spoons, and dropped the lids on each contender. After hundreds of tests, we developed an excellent understanding of how each one handles different situations.

Our intensive testing was broken down into four different metrics:
  • Cooking Performance (40% of overall score weight)
  • Ease of Use (35% weighting)
  • Maintenance (15% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)

This review is headed by Senior Review Editor, Maggie Nichols. Maggie and her husband are the hosts of nearly all gatherings for their family and friend group and spend countless hours in the kitchen prepping, cooking, and cleaning. Always looking for a way to improve the meal-prepping experience, they have continued to stay up to date, researching and purchasing the best key kitchen implements for the house. Maggie's background in scientific research gives her a critical eye for creating and executing rigorous testing designed to tease apart small differences and identify the limits of each product she investigates. She has been testing home goods and other products for GearLab since 2016.

Cleaning stuck on messes.
Cleaning stuck on messes.
Searing meat.
Searing meat.
Baking identical loaves of bread in identical conditions.
Baking identical loaves of bread in identical conditions.

Analysis and Test Results


Each dutch oven's overall score provides a basic idea of how well it performed compared to the others in our testing. Suppose certain aspects of use interest you more than others; keep reading — in the following sections. In that case, we break down our tests and highlight the best models for specific uses and attributes.

dutch oven - the difference in baking identical loaves of bread in identical...
The difference in baking identical loaves of bread in identical conditions in a Dutch oven with a white interior (left) and one with a black interior (right).
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Value


Every one of the dutch ovens we tested can cook things — they all passed the basic functionality test. But what makes a dutch oven great, are the details. Its shape, handles, and durability are at the top of the list. The Lodge 5.5 Quart offers exceptional value for most people. It's easy to use, remarkably durable, and a great size, all for a pretty reasonable price. Even the Cuisinart offers pretty solid value, though it's far easier to chip and (typically) more expensive than the Lodge. If you're looking for the next step up in dutch ovens, the Made In brings high-end performance, functionality, and durability to the table for a far lower price than the top brands.

dutch oven - if you use your dutch oven frequently, it&#039;s worth investing in a...
If you use your dutch oven frequently, it's worth investing in a good one.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Cooking Performance


We tested each model's cooking and baking performance over various tests. We baked the same loaf of bread under the same conditions in every one, comparing the color, crust, and texture of each loaf. We cooked the same chicken recipe in all contenders, comparing their ability to sear, sauté vegetables, and braise in the oven. We tested how much water each model loses over the same period of boiling. We also cooked and baked ad-lib recipes in each one to get a feel for their versatility as a kitchen tool.


Every single dutch oven we tested is capable of cooking a meal and having that meal turn out pretty much as you'd expect. The variations we found are subtle, but if you use your dutch oven frequently, you'll appreciate the little nuances. There are distinctions when it comes to baking as well, as two of the models we tested — the Amazon Basics and Tramontina — are not rated to withstand the oven temperatures required for baking a basic loaf of bread. Typical bread recipes have you set the oven around 450°F, but even most commercial ovens (including convection ovens) regularly vary 50-100° from their setting. If you want to bake in your dutch oven, we recommend getting one with at least a 500°F oven-safe temperature limit, which most have — aside from the Amazon Basics and Tramontina, which cap out at 400°F and 450°F, respectively. We still baked bread at 450° in both ovens and didn't have any major issues, but we don't have confidence in their longevity if we were to keep doing that repeatedly. We also read numerous reports of high oven temperatures ruining these two models, from cracking and chipping the enamel to creating cracks in their cast iron bodies.

dutch oven - baking bread in a wide dutch oven, like the made in, is easy. a...
Baking bread in a wide dutch oven, like the Made In, is easy. A white interior keeps the crust lighter overall (under identical baking conditions).
Credit: Maggie Nichols

During our side-by-side testing of identical recipes, all of the dutch ovens we tested were able to sear chicken, sauté vegetables, and braise a dish in the oven to completion. If this is the cooking style you're planning for your dutch oven, carefully consider your intended model's shape and available cooking space on the bottom of the pan. Dutch ovens with larger flat bottoms offer more surface area to sear food. More rounded corners and edges — like those of the Amazon Basics, Lodge, and Uno Casa — means less surface area, which translates to either searing in smaller batches or living with a lower quality sear as you shuffle ingredients around. Very wide dutch ovens, like the Misen and Made In will naturally have more surface area on their bottoms. We found that the Staub Cocotte and the Le Creuset Signature Round sear better than the rest, living up to their hype. The Staub's black interior browns meats, vegetables, and bread slightly faster than a white interior.

dutch oven - making a roux from the fond of some sausage in the staub.
Making a roux from the fond of some sausage in the Staub.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Many dutch ovens have dozens of small spikes or bumps on the undersides of their lids, meant to be drip points for condensation to collect and re-enter your food more evenly during cooking. Despite braising identical recipes in the oven, we didn't notice any difference in food moisture between those that have lid bumps and those that don't. Since that failed to demonstrate any variability, we tested the water retention of every model through our boiling test, designed to identify differences experienced over long braising periods. At the end of this test, the gap in water retention between the best and worst performers was less than 3%. Instead, we discovered a wide variety of how much each pot splatters while it's boiling with the lid on. All four higher-end models we tested (Le Creuset, Staub, Made In, and Misen) suffered next to no leakage or splattering and simply released a stream of steam. All the other dutch ovens we tested exhibit a fair bit of splattering, though none worse than the Uno Casa, which soaked our kitchen with its extremely messy 3-foot spray radius (again, with the lid on). The Lodge and Amazon Basics put out just a moderate amount of splatter in their immediate vicinity, while the Crock Pot, Tramontina, and Cuisinart created fairly sizeable messes and let large amounts of boiling liquid pool on their handles.

dutch oven - no dutch oven seals completely, but some splatter more during...
No dutch oven seals completely, but some splatter more during boiling than others. The Le Creuset (pictured) is one of the cleanest models at a high boil that we tested.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Ease of Use


To assess each dutch oven's ease of use, we started with the handles. We measured their size and assessed their functionality. We picked each pot up empty and full, with and without pot holders. We also weighed every pot and its lid to evaluate what you get for the significant heft of a cast iron pan.


All dutch oven handles and lid knobs will get hot, even when cooking exclusively on the stovetop (rather than the oven). With that in mind, we tried picking them up with various oven mitts, silicone grips, and kitchen towels. Overall, larger handles that stick out further are easier to grab. The Le Creuset takes the cake, though, with handles that are just the right size and curved perfectly to fit into your hands. The Made In handles are also great, with plenty of purchase area to grasp. The handles of the Misen aren't quite as elegant, but they're oversized and easy to hold onto. When evaluating lid handles, we found the ideal combination of characteristics is a knob that sticks up reasonably far from the lid and when viewed in cross-section, appears to be a T-shaped rather than a cone. We found the diameter of the knob to matter a lot less than we had expected. The Staub lid is our favorite, with the best-shaped lid handle of any contender. It has the smallest diameter but is also the tallest and has a very thin disc at the top, which provides excellent angles for the perfect grip, with even a hastily balled-up kitchen towel.

dutch oven - the oversized handles of the misen may not be elegant but they are...
The oversized handles of the Misen may not be elegant but they are easy to use.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

One complaint we read a lot about dutch ovens is just how heavy they are. And that's true — even the lightest model we tested in this 5-7 quart review is 11.5 pounds with its lid (the heaviest is over 17 pounds!). If you're not ready to handle a very heavy pot filled with very heavy food, then no dutch oven is the right choice. Even if you're on board with this extra weight, we found large differences in how they feel during use and full of food. The worst offender is the 17 lb 4 oz Misen, which feels like a beast — and only actually fits 6.5 quarts, despite its claim of a 7-quart capacity. On the other hand, Le Creuset boasts that they make the lightest cast iron on the market. We found it easy to feel this difference while moving the full Le Creuset from the oven to the range. It is the lightest pan (with and without its lid) that we tested and the only one where we truly felt a significant difference.

dutch oven - all dutch ovens are heavy. but with the right-sized handles and a...
All dutch ovens are heavy. But with the right-sized handles and a helpfully shaped lid knob, like on the Uno Casa, they can be manageable.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Maintenance


The largest part of testing the upkeep of every dutch oven involved cleaning them by hand after cooking stuck-on meals in them. We cleaned them with a brush, a scrubby pad, and dish soap. We considered their interior shape and if that made them harder or easier to clean. We also combed through every set of directions — in the box or online — that we could find to read the fine print of what cleaning recommendations they come with.


Overall, every enamel dutch oven will clean up in a very similar, fairly easy way. The enamel helps food not to stick but is not a non-stick layer like Teflon™. Over years of use, a golden patina will often develop. Most enameled dutch oven manufacturers recommend that the best maintenance routines to prolong the life of your vessel include only handwashing your pot, using just a nylon brush and mild soap, never using steel wool, avoiding metal utensils, and steering clear of citrus-based cleaners.

dutch oven - even if your new dutch oven says it can handle the dishwasher, it&#039;s...
Even if your new dutch oven says it can handle the dishwasher, it's never recommended and can leave permanent damage to the enamel.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Some dutch ovens claim to be safe to stick in the dishwasher and to use metal utensils in. However, if you do decide to put your dishwasher-safe dutch oven in the dishwasher, we recommend ensuring your chosen dishwashing liquid or pods do not have any citrus-based products in them. Using too harsh of soaps can dull and damage your oven's enamel and shorten its life. Of the models we tested, the Lodge, Cuisinart, Misen, Staub, and Le Creuset all list that they are dishwasher compatible — and they also all recommend that you only ever hand wash them.

dutch oven - longevity bonus! we have had this particular lodge dutch oven for...
Longevity Bonus! We have had this particular Lodge dutch oven for about a decade and it still works flawlessly.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Durability


The exact iron composition and thickness of most of these dutch ovens are closely guarded pieces of proprietary information, and the enameling process is difficult, detailed, and done in very few areas of the world (France and China). We carefully scrutinized every aspect of these pans during and after our months of extensive cooking and cleaning. We noted the oven-safe temperature limitations they all come with. And we pushed them to see how much abuse they could take through punishing tests you should never do at home, like stirring with a metal spoon (even when told not to), dropping the lids onto their corresponding pots, and sliding them across the counter to crash into other pans. We noted which ones lost chunks of enamel and which remained unphased.


In this metric, we found some of the biggest differences between the many models we tested. Even though none of our tests can span years of cooking, baking, cleaning, sliding, dropping, carting around, and storing, there are clear differences in the strength of each dutch oven's enamel. While cast iron can be used as a cooking surface, chipped edges of enamel may continue to chip during repeated use, flaking little chunks of enamel into your food. Additionally, the exposed iron underneath can rust. If your dutch oven chips on its cooking surface, most manufacturers recommend replacing it.

dutch oven - several of the models we tested, including the tramontina pictured...
Several of the models we tested, including the Tramontina pictured here, developed chips in the enamel.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

None of the dutch ovens showed visible signs of wear from stirring with a metal spoon or pushing them into the edges of other, shorter pans with exposed edges. The only test that illuminated differences was dropping the lids back onto each pan from a short height (which is easy to do by accident if the knob is too hot or your hot pad is a bit slippery; we unintentionally did it on more than one occasion). The three models enameled in France — Made In, Staub, and Le Creuset — showed no evidence that we had let gravity crash their lids onto them repeatedly. The Lodge and Uno Casa proved themselves the next best. Neither of these chipped and had just a few minute specs of debris in their bottoms after our abuse.

Lasting the Years
Our lead tester has personally owned the Lodge 5.5 Quart for about ten years, using it around once or twice a month to cook, sear, and bake various recipes. Over this expanse of time, it has sustained just one very small chip near the interior rim, that we only noticed during scrutiny for this review.

The Amazon Basics left a few more crumbs but lost points for its exceptionally low oven temperature rating of just 400°F. The Misen lost one large chip on the inside lip during our lid smashing. While the Crock Pot resisted too much damage from dropping its lid, it sustained a large chip on one handle during our testing — and we can't even pinpoint what it was from. Both the Cuisinart and the Tramontina sustained significant damage to their enamel, losing sizeable chunks of enamel around the edges of their lids and the top of the interior rim of their pots.

dutch oven - from baking to braising and searing to sauteeing, the right dutch...
From baking to braising and searing to sauteeing, the right dutch oven, like the Misen, can do it all.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Conclusion


The right dutch oven can transform the way you cook and affect the ease and enjoyment you experience while preparing meals. We did our best to push every model we tested to the brink of its capabilities to help you understand which one is the right choice for your kitchen. Whether you bake bread and make stews several times a week or only bust out the cast iron during the holidays, there's a dutch oven that fits your needs perfectly.

Maggie Nichols