Looking to buy a Dutch oven? Here's what you need to know before you shop.

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three dutch ovens on blue and green burst background
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

Shopping for the best Dutch oven can be a stressful task. But with the right one in your kitchen arsenal, you can bake bread, braise pot roast, and simmer soups like a pro. After all, the large pot, which is often made from cast iron, is designed to be as versatile as you are creative, and every home cook eventually finds the need to buy a Dutch oven.

But which size Dutch oven should you buy? And what brand is better: Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, or Tramontina? With plenty of options out there, it's difficult to know where to start.

To help you choose the best Dutch oven, we called on Allrecipes product tester (and Dutch oven expert) Rachel Johnson. Use this guide to buy the perfect Dutch oven for your kitchen, then start cooking with our favorite recipes.

12 Best Dutch Ovens of 2021 at a Glance:

How We Tested Each Dutch Oven

First, we rounded up top-rated Dutch ovens from popular brands like Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, Cuisinart, Tramontina, and AmazonBasics. Our selections included Dutch ovens made from enameled cast-iron, raw cast-iron, and stainless steel - and all ranged between 5 ½ and 7 quarts.

Next, Rachel prepared Chef John's Coq au Vin in each Dutch oven to gauge how they handled tasks like searing and braising meat, as well as their ability to conduct and retain heat. For each test, she considered these metrics:

  • Overall feel: How heavy is the Dutch oven? How well does it retain heat during and after cooking?
  • Durability: Does the surface scratch or chip easily?
  • Cleanup: Is it dishwasher safe?
  • Storage: Does it fit inside a cabinet? Or is it pretty enough to store on your stovetop?
  • Overall value: Is the Dutch oven worth the price point?

We also conducted a survey of the Allrecipes staff and editors to gauge personal experience with these Dutch ovens and others.

Below, find our picks for the best Dutch ovens of 2021 at every price. See one that you like? Simply click the link below each description to snag one for your own kitchen.

Best Dutch Oven: Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt.
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 5.5 qts.
  • Weight: 11 lbs.

"Sleek, beautiful, and envy-worthy," is how Rachel describes Le Creuset's Dutch oven. Despite the high price tag, the Le Creuset brand lives up to its reputation for quality, durability, and functionality. It's flawlessly enameled inside and out, heats evenly, sears food easily, and the lid fits nice and snug to seal in moisture during cooking. The 5 ½ quart size is perfect for storing on a counter or stovetop. Rachels says, "It's too stunning to store in your cabinet!"

Le Creuset Dutch ovens are technically dishwasher safe, but Rachel recommends washing it by hand to prevent chipping. The white enameled cooking surface of this Dutch shows light staining on the sides after cooking, but it cleans easily with a good soak and scrub. If you're looking for a top-of-the-line Dutch oven that also serves as a focal point in your kitchen, Le Creuset simply cannot be beat.

Buy it: Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven, $350; Amazon.com

Runner Up: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Deep Teal Enamel Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 6 qts.
  • Weight: 16 lbs.

You probably know Lodge for its quality cast iron skillets, but the Tennessee-based cookware company also makes a top-notch enameled cast iron Dutch oven. For a perfectly reasonable price point, this Dutch oven is well-crafted with beautiful porcelain enamel on the outside and a smooth, rounded surface on the inside. In fact, Rachel described this Dutch oven as "impressively sturdy" and "...able to last the test of time."

The bottom is slightly tapered, which helps bring liquids to a boil faster, but it may not heat as evenly. Rachel also noted the wide handles on the side make it easy to move this Dutch oven in and out of the oven. If you love the quality and versatility of Le Creuset but don't want to dish out several hundred dollars, Lodge will not disappoint.

Buy it: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $69; Amazon.com

Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Cast iron
  • Volume: 5 qts.
  • Weight: 14 lbs.

The Lodge Double Dutch Oven is tough, durable, and will last forever if cared for properly. Compared to an enameled cast iron surface, which is prone to chipping, cast iron can take a pretty serious beating. However, this isn't the most impressive feature of the Double Dutch Oven - the lid actually doubles as a skillet, giving you endless cooking options. The smaller size also makes this Dutch oven a great choice for baking no-knead breads. And because cast iron stands up to any heat source, this Double Dutch Oven is also a good pick for camping and cooking soups and stews over an open fire.

As with all cast iron cookware, this Dutch oven requires regular seasoning to maintain its sheen and nonstick ability. (Read more on Lodge's site.) If you're a cast iron purist looking to add a versatile and affordable Dutch oven to your repertoire, the Double Dutch Oven is a reliable bet.

Buy it: Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven, $64; Amazon.com

Best Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Staub Round Cocotte

STAUB CAST IRON 5.5 QT, ROUND, COCOTTE, DARK BLUE
Credit: Zwilling
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 5.5 qts.
  • Weight: 12.5 lbs.

If you like the practice of cooking on black cast iron but prefer the nonstick capabilities of enamel, you've found your match in the Staub Round Cocotte. This editor-favorite Dutch oven has a textured matte black enamel interior that looks like the classic cast iron finish, but it's actually enamel, which makes this Dutch oven both a cinch to clean and dishwasher-safe if you want (but hand wash is recommended). Plus, it never needs seasoning.

Look under the lid for another special feature of this enameled cast iron Dutch oven: self-basting spikes. While your food cooks, condensation gathers on the lid, and the spikes direct it right back into your foods so it doesn't dry out. Because of its steel knob, this Dutch oven is safe at temps up to 500 degrees F. If you remove the lid, it's safe to use up to 900 degrees F, making it a great option for a campfire Dutch oven.

Buy it: Staub Round Cocotte, $360 (originally $514); Zwilling.com

Best Oval Dutch Oven: Great Jones The Dutchess

The Dutchess Great Jones
Credit: Great Jones
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 6 ¾ qts.
  • Weight: 15 lbs.

Sleek, sturdy, and very well-priced, The Dutchess is perfect for the young professional or newlywed looking to add a stylish, yet functional Dutch oven to their kitchen. Available in eight vibrant colors, The Dutchess boasts a gorgeous matte finish on the outside and a smooth off-white enameled surface on the inside. Plus, the six-quart size and oval shape is roomy enough for cooking a whole chicken, pork shoulder, or roast beef on the stovetop and in the oven.

Due to its shape, The Dutchess performs best on stove tops with gas burners. While this Dutch oven is heavy, Rachel appreciates the large, grippable handles on both sides. She also loves the thoughtful packaging, which includes recipe ideas, fun stickers, and more.

Buy it: Great Jones The Dutchess Dutch Oven, $155; GreatJonesGoods.com

Best Dutch Oven for Bread: Emile Henry Round Stewpot Dutch Oven

Emile Henry Flame Round Stewpot Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Volume: 4 L (4.2 qts.)
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs.

Emile Henry's signature ceramic material heats evenly and cuts down on hot spots (which would translate to tough, burned spots on any bread loaves you bake in it). But the real reason this is the best Dutch oven for bread is because it's a favorite of renowned bakers like Ken Forkish. The brand is well-known for their bread cloche, which isn't as versatile as a Dutch oven, but for the serious bread baker, it's a must-have.

If you don't want to devote the funds to one-dish piece of cookware, you'll be plenty happy that you can use this Emile Henry Dutch oven for your breads, and then turn around and use it for soups, braises, and more. A 4-quart Dutch oven is also the sweet spot for most no-knead bread recipes (and a good size for houses with fewer than two people). Larger ovens, those five quarts and above, may be too vast, which will limit your bread's ability to rise during the bake. The ceramic finish also makes this dishwasher-safe, but to avoid chips, you might prefer to hand wash.

Buy it: Emile Henry Round Stewpot Dutch Oven, $100; Amazon.com

Best Affordable Dutch Oven: AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 6 qts.
  • Weight: 13 lbs.

For under $50, Amazon's house brand Dutch oven is an absolute steal. It also retains heat exceptionally well (thanks to its ¼-thick walls) and kept the coq au vin that Rachel prepared steaming hot, even long after cooking.

She also appreciates its wide and sturdy handles, which make it very easy to lift with two hands. While some Amazon reviewers reported chipping after several uses, keep in mind that this Dutch oven is not dishwasher safe and should be hand washed to protect the coating. We also recommend avoiding stainless steel tools and using wooden or silicone tools instead to cook food.

Buy it: AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $47; Amazon.com

Also Great: Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven

Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron 6.5-Quart Covered Round Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 6 ½ qts.
  • Weight: 16 lbs.

For a similar price point, Rachel also recommends the Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven. At 6 ½ quarts and 16 pounds, it's larger and heavier than the AmazonBasics Dutch oven. One nice feature, however, are the tall walls that prevent liquids from spilling over the top. It's also attractive enough to display on your stove top.

Buy it: Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, $55; Amazon.com

Best Lightweight Dutch Oven: All-Clad Stainless Steel Dutch Oven

All-Clad Brushed 18/10 Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Volume: 5 ½ qts.
  • Weight: 7 lbs.

At just seven pounds, All-Clad's stainless steel Dutch oven is significantly lighter and easier to handle than enameled cast iron versions. While stainless steel doesn't retain heat as well as cast iron, it conducts heat quickly and evenly. During testing, Rachel found that this Dutch oven did the best job at searing chicken, and it also quickly brought the braising liquid to a boil before simmering.

In addition to braises, soups, and sauces, All-Clad's Dutch oven would also be the perfect vessel for deep-frying. (Try Chef John's Buttermilk Fried Chicken!) It's also easy to clean, as it's dishwasher safe, but the surface is more susceptible to scratches. Either way, if you're willing to pay the higher price tag, the All-Clad brand is superior when it comes to quality and performance.

Buy it: All-Clad Stainless Steel Dutch Oven, $385; Amazon.com

Best Small Capacity Dutch Oven: Crock-Pot Artisan Round Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Crock-Pot Artisan Round Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Volume: 3 qts.
  • Weight: 9.1 lbs.

A 3-quart Dutch oven is certainly on the smaller side for family-sized stew recipes, but it's sized just right for sides, bread, even small batches of grains, like oatmeal, and soups. The Crock-Pot Dutch Oven also comes in attractive colors like this Pistachio, which would be beautiful left on a cabinet or displayed in shelves.

Many other Dutch ovens on this list come in capacities of 4 quarts or smaller, so if you have a favorite already, feel free to stick with them in the scaled-down version. But if you're looking to start small with your first Dutch oven, or you're downsizing your cookware and don't want to spend quite as much as you would for a Staub or Le Creuset, this top-rated Crock-Pot version is a good fit. The thick sides mimic more expensive brands, and the tall sides will keep your kitchen safe from splatters. Anything a larger more expensive Dutch oven can do, this one can do, too, just in smaller quantities.

Buy it: Crock-Pot Artisan Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $57 (originally $70); Amazon.com

Best Nonstick Dutch Oven: Calphalon Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven

Calphalon 1932451 Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven with Cover
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Volume: 7 qts.
  • Weight: 6 lbs.

Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are naturally nonstick (you may have to scrub a little to get them clean, from time to time), but if you prefer something lighter and flawlessly nonstick, you'll want this Calphalon Dutch oven. The classic hard-anodized aluminum body heats rapidly, and you don't have to worry about stuck-on bits of beef bourguignon or dried-on soup remnants. They'll slip right off in the sink, and the pot will be as good a new. With this size and weight (just six pounds), this might also be a great gift for a grandparent or family cook that makes big batches of everything but can't easily move the heavy cast iron options.

Buy it: Calphalon Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven, $55 (originally $65); Amazon.com

Best Dutch Oven for Camping: GSI Outdoor Aluminum Dutch Oven

GSI Outdoors Aluminum Dutch Oven
Credit: Amazon
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Volume: 5 qts.
  • Weight: 6 lbs.

Rachel really liked the Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven for camping because the uncoated cast iron pan comes with a lid that doubles as a skillet, which is ideal when you have only limited materials with you at a campsite. Additionally, the Lodge pot can take the heat of direct flames from a campfire. But if the idea of lugging around a 14-pound piece of cookware is not appealing to you, reach for this aluminum Dutch oven for camping instead.

At just six pounds, the cast aluminum pan will do anything a heavier cast iron pan will do, but you don't have to worry about about rust and seasoning when you're in the woods. The outdoors goods manufacturer behind this camping Dutch oven also makes a small 3-quart version if you're solo camping or just don't need such a large pot. With a wire for hanging and a lid with a limp for holding coals, this Dutch oven is better designed for fireside cooking than some of the others on this list.

Buy it: GSI Outdoor Aluminum Dutch Oven, $90; Amazon.com

Best Dutch Oven Shape

Dutch ovens can be round- or oval-shaped. An oval Dutch oven is great for cooking large cuts of meat like whole chicken and beef tenderloin. However, due to its shape, it may not fit on a coil stove or induction burner. A round Dutch oven is best for cooking stews, curries, and sauces-and it's ultimately more versatile because it will fit on any stovetop.

Best Dutch Oven Size

Dutch ovens come in a variety of sizes from one quart to 13 ½ quarts. So how do you know which size is best? While it ultimately depends on your recipe, a good rule of thumb for Dutch oven size is one quart per person. We suggest buying a slightly larger size than you think you'll need in case you want to double a recipe for leftovers. Here's a good reference point:

  • Under 6 quarts: 2 to 4 people
  • 6 to 8 quarts: 4 to 6 people
  • Over 8 quarts: 6 to 12 people

Rachel recommends buying a Dutch oven between 5 ½ and 7 quarts. "Anything in this range can comfortably handle most recipes for stews, braises, and more," she says.

Check out our complete Dutch oven recipe collection for more delicious and easy ideas.

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