Dutch ovens are a genius piece of cookware that doesn’t get nearly enough praise.
A Dutch oven is a wide-bottomed, heavy cooking pot with a tight fitting lid and looped handles on either side. But if you look beyond these cosmetic features, you will see that a Dutch oven is also a hard worker. This capable cookware is a one-pot wonder that is perfect for low cooking, slow cooking, high heat, and even barbecuing.
The next time you’re in the kitchen, start brainstorming ways to do your Dutch oven justice. Start with these five brilliant uses.
Using your dutch oven to make slow-cooked dishes like stew and soup is a no-brainer. This dish is perfect for low and slow cooking because its thick walls maintain heat and trap in moisture. However, it would be wrong to assume that this cooking technique must be confined to the stovetop or oven.
Dutch ovens deserve a place on your grill. These are heavy-duty pans that don’t usually need to be treated delicately. Take it camping with you and place it over the fire or use it at your next backyard barbecue.
To use your Dutch oven on the grill, place the ingredients of a soup or stew in the dish and haul it outside to a grill pre-heated to medium-low. Leave the lid cracked slightly to add a smoky flavor to your meal. You can grill more vegetables or proteins and add them to the pot for even more depth of flavor.
Using your dutch oven to braise meat just makes sense.
Dutch ovens can heat a dish evenly for hours, but they can also withstand extremely high heat. Enameled ceramic and cast iron Dutch ovens are usually safe to heat to between 400 and 450 degrees, and some non-enameled Dutch ovens can safely be heated beyond 500 degrees (check the product details for your dish to be sure).
You can braise just about any cut of inexpensive meat in the Dutch oven, and it’ll come out juicy and tender. Try a simple braised beef or an authentic carnitas recipe.
Dutch ovens are often resistant to staining and scratching, so don’t be shy about searing or even charring ingredients right on the bottom.
If you’re not a meat eater, try braising eggplant or poblanos in your Dutch oven. Sear the vegetables over high heat on the stove, then add broth, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, or another liquid to the pot and turn the heat to low.
Calling all oven cooks: if you haven’t tried your Dutch oven to whip up home-cooked bread yet, you’re missing out.
During the bread-making craze of early 2020, many home cooks found out that Dutch ovens make it easy to create artisan loaves. You don’t need fancy uni-purpose equipment to get that coveted oven spring.
Just preheat your oven with the Dutch oven inside to as hot as it’ll go. After at least 30 minutes, remove the pot carefully and place your loaf of bread inside, scoring the bread if needed. Put the lid back on, the Dutch oven back in, and try to resist the temptation to pull the pot out early when the smell of fresh bread fills your kitchen and makes your home smell like a bakery.
You can make pizza in a Dutch oven using a similar technique. Line the pre-heated cooking pot with parchment paper and put the pizza dough inside, leaving the lid off. Dock the dough and add your toppings, and bake as you normally would.
4. One-Pot Meals
Doesn’t it sound nice to be able to use one pot for all of the cooking on busy nights? Dutch ovens are up to this challenge. A meal doesn’t have to take a long time or require multiple dishes to taste great.
Don’t forget that Dutch ovens have many uses. They can boil, simmer, braise, steam, poach, roast, and more. To get the most out of your Dutch oven, challenge it to a one-pot meal.
Casseroles are a great place to start, but think beyond this. Try cooking an elaborate pasta dish in its own sauce, making a curry from start to finish, or cooking a rice dish like Cajun Dirty Rice one ingredient at time.
By getting the timing right, you can make just about anything in one pot, and that cooking pot should be your trusty Dutch oven.
Dutch ovens are easy to clean, so the one dish you will have to do after dinner will take no time at all. And if there are leftovers, you can pop the whole pot right into the fridge with the lid on to preserve them for a few days. Most Dutch ovens are refrigerator safe or even freezer safe (just don’t transfer a steaming hot pot to a cold environment).
5. Roasting and Poaching
Last but certainly not least, an incredible way to use your Dutch oven—that everyone should try at least once—is to cook chicken. A whole chicken.
Some people use their Dutch oven to poach their chicken, or cook it by submerging it in water, and other people swear by roasting their chicken in a Dutch oven. You can roast a chicken in a Dutch oven by putting it first in a hot oven to develop a golden brown skin, then lowering the heat until the chicken is heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Roast it on a bed of vegetables for a balanced, wholesome meal.
All this to say that Dutch ovens should never be relegated to the back of a cabinet only to be brought out when you need to make soup. Get creative with how you use your Dutch oven, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much it can really do.