How to Clean a Dutch Oven — Cast Iron vs. Enameled Cast Iron
Cleaning this kitchen essential is easier than you think.
A nice Dutch oven can be found on every wedding registry or in any well-equipped kitchen. These beloved cookware have deep interiors that can handle large cuts of meat and large quantities of liquids. They also have thick walls that retain heat beautifully.
Your fall and winter kitchen stockpile isn't complete without a Dutch oven — use it for stews, curries, chilis, or braising meat. A high-end Dutch oven can easily cost you a couple hundred dollars, but with proper care it will give you many decades of use. Learn how to clean a Dutch oven in a few easy steps.
Cast Iron vs. Enameled Cast Iron
There are two major types of Dutch ovens to be familiar with: cast iron and enameled cast iron. Both are made of cast iron, but an enameled cast iron Dutch oven is coated in a layer of hard, non-stick enamel. Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are easier to clean, do not require seasoning (more on that below), and come in more colors than cast iron.
However, cast iron Dutch ovens tend to be more durable and affordable. It's really up to personal preference which one you choose. We're going to teach you how to clean both.
Remember: if you're using a new cast iron Dutch oven for the first time, you must season it before you use it.
To do this, you'll need to coat the Dutch oven (both interior and exterior) in cooking oil, and place it in the oven for half an hour at 350 degrees F. Reapply the oil, and lower the temperature to about 200 degrees F, and put it in the oven for another hour. After an hour is up, leave it in the oven overnight, and rub it with a final coat of oil in the morning.
Your Dutch oven should have a black, glasslike finish once it's properly seasoned. Once you've seasoned your cast iron Dutch oven and put it to use, you'll need to know how to clean it.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Here's What You'll Need to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven:
- Wipe down your Dutch oven: Cast iron Dutch ovens require regular maintenance. After each use, you should wipe it down with a dry paper towel. You can also use a moist paper towel to wipe out any sticky residue. But be sure to dry it well.
- Bring water to a boil: Next, fill the Dutch oven with water so that any food residue that might be burned on is covered. Bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat and allow the water to loosen the residue.
- Scrub the interior: Once the water has cooled, use a brush scrubber ($11; Amazon.com) to scrub any residue. You may also use a chainmail-wrapped sponge ($20; Amazon.com) to remove stubborn bits of food. Dish soap is OK, too, but you may have to put a bit more work into your next layer of seasoning. After you've removed all the food, give it a rinse.
- Dry your Dutch oven: Use dry paper towels to wipe down your Dutch oven. To be extra sure it's dry, you can heat the oven over medium heat on the stove for 20 minutes.
- Give it a new coat of oil: Pour a small amount of cooking oil into the Dutch oven and rub it in using a paper towel. Wipe the excess away with a clean paper towel.
Related: Will Soap Really Ruin My Cast Iron?
How to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Here's What You'll Need to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven:
- Hot water
- Dish soap
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- Dish scrubber
- Dish towel or drying rack
While you don't have to season an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, you do have to be careful not to damage the enamel when you're cleaning it. Some enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are even safe for the dishwasher, but we'd recommend hand washing them to lengthen their lifespan.
- Soak your Dutch oven: After using your Dutch oven, allow it to cool, and fill it with hot water, dish soap, and two tablespoons of baking soda. Cover, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
- Scrape and scrub: Pour out the water and use a dish scrubber or sponge (just not steel wool), hot water, and dish soap to remove any residue.
- Use this paste for stubborn stains: If you've got some serious stains on your hands, make a paste of three parts baking soda and one part water. Use this paste to cover the stains. Put the lid on your Dutch oven, and leave it overnight. In the morning, scrub the stains with a dish scrubber, dish soap, and hot water.
- Final wash and rinse: Give your Dutch oven one last wash with dish soap and warm water, and then rinse it clean.
- Dry: Leave it in the drying rack to dry or simply use a dish towel.
Related: Browse our entire collection of Dutch Oven Recipes.