The manufacturers of Dutch ovens have learned to adapt to the times, keeping the cast iron cookware relevant despite all the state-of-the-art products that have been produced in the 21st century.
The Dutch oven’s most redeeming quality is just how dynamic it is. There is very little food you cannot prepare in a Dutch oven but the real feather in its cap is the capacity to store food in a refrigerator.
Can a Dutch oven go in the refrigerator? Cast iron can be refrigerated, the Dutch oven can also be used in the freezer. Cast iron can withstand zero temperatures just as well as it can withstand extreme heat. All you have to do to use cast iron from hot to cold and vice versa is to allow it to achieve room temperature before switching between extremes.
Yes, a Dutch oven can go into a refrigerator but I would actually like to extend it beyond that. Not only can a Dutch oven go into a refrigerator but it is actually the best form of cookware available for this function on the market.
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What Is a Dutch Oven and What Can a Dutch Oven Do?
Among the defining features of a Dutch oven is the lid. All Dutch oven lids are heavy.
Heavy lids ensure a tight fit on the Dutch oven, which guarantees that the all-important moisture does not escape when cooking.
The result – all the food’s nutrients and flavors are locked in.
That is why Dutch ovens are the best cookware items available on the market for slow cooking, it is a cooking pot it retains heat better than anything else.
In addition to that, the heat in a Dutch oven is distributed more evenly than anything else, primarily because of the tight-fitting lid.
The tight-fitting lid on the Dutch oven also comes in rather handy when you use it to store food in the refrigerator.
Because of the Dutch oven’s outstanding conductive properties, it is also able to keep stored food really cold when you place it in the fridge. That is ultimately the desired outcome.
If you are somebody who likes preparing pasta dishes and desserts with your Dutch oven, you would have hit the jackpot here.
In addition to that, the Dutch oven is the perfect cookware item with which to store salads in the refrigerator.
Those items will take a lot longer to go off when stored in a refrigerator with a Dutch oven, than with most other food storage items on the market.
5 Vital Tips
1. Moving Dutch Oven to Refrigerator
Extreme temperature fluctuations of any kind tend to have an adverse impact more often than not. We see evidence of this with the human body and its immune system.
Any Formula One driver will tell you the same thing about the effect on tires on the race track.
Virtually nothing likes going from very hot to very cold within minutes or seconds.
Dutch ovens are also at risk in this regard. In the context of the Dutch oven, the phrase often bandied about is thermal shock. You will want to protect your Dutch oven from thermal shock.
Before you move your Dutch oven into a refrigerator you should ensure that it has cooled down sufficiently before storing food in the fridge.
Likewise, when you move a Dutch oven from a refrigerator to a stove or oven, similar precautions ought to be taken.
Any extreme temperature fluctuations experienced by your Dutch oven will have an adverse effect on the enamel coating inside and outside of your pot.
Not only is that likely to compromise the quality of the Dutch oven itself but it could also have an adverse impact on the food you have either prepared or stored.
Spoiled or contaminated food will also have an adverse effect on your health. There are plenty of reasons to err on the side of caution here.
2. Suggested Heat for Cooking With a Dutch Oven
The first port of call, when considering whether you are going to put your Dutch oven in a refrigerator or not should be to determine what heat you are going to cook your food at. It is a meaningful detail that is taken for granted far too often when using a Dutch oven.
You should remember that all Dutch ovens retain heat very well and can also cook food at exceedingly high temperatures.
For that reason, the experts will almost always advise that you cook with your Dutch oven at medium or low heat, especially after storing food in the refrigerator.
You will actually find that cooking at medium and low heats will likely produce the best food results anyway.
But beyond that, the heat at which you cook will determine how long you need to wait before you feel it is safe enough to put your Dutch oven into a refrigerator.
That should also be your guide when you take your Dutch oven out of the refrigerator and plan to put on a heat source again – whether that be a stove or regular oven.
When working in the opposite direction, so to speak, it would be prudent to cook at a very low heat and rather let the Dutch oven heat up very slowly.
If you do plan to cook at very high heat with your Dutch oven, most manufacturers advise that you only do that when you are boiling water or lowering consistency when cooking.
Beyond that, any notions that you will preheat your Dutch oven must be avoided.
To avoid any additional trouble, you should also avoid heating an empty Dutch oven on the stove before cooking.
That will contribute to enamel damage, which will then be compounded by storage in the refrigerator.
All of this would again be to avoid causing any unnecessary damage to the enamel coating on the Dutch oven.
Cracked enamel will have a detrimental impact on the food you prepare because Dutch ovens are created with cast iron.
Cracked enamel can allow a considerable amount of that iron to leach into your food while cooking and that could ultimately have a negative impact on your health.
This might not be directly related to putting your Dutch oven in the refrigerator but trying to use wooden utensils as often as possible will help protect your enamel coating.
Again, damage to the enamel will only be compounded when you move your Dutch oven from a stove to the fridge or from the fridge back to the stove in the morning, after overnight storage.
3. Marinating Food in Your Dutch Oven
Storing food in the refrigerator with your Dutch oven also means having the capacity to marinate food in your Dutch oven overnight.
There is a significant drawback though, which centers around the aesthetics of the Dutch Oven.
Any marinate or soup that you leave in your Dutch oven before putting it in a refrigerator will more than likely stain.
Removing the stain could prove to be an enormous undertaking for some – depending on what food you stored in that Dutch oven and for how long.
The marinated food itself will not damage the enamel in your Dutch oven but if you are somebody who cares about what it looks like, marinating is something you might want to reconsider.
The one fear that some people do have is the acidic ingredients that come with the territory when marinating food. Something like wine would immediately come to mind.
Well, you can rest assured that this will not do any damage to the Dutch oven enamel coating either, granted that enamel has not already been chipped.
4. Storing Raw Food in Your Dutch Oven
Most Dutch oven manufacturers will also tell you that storing raw or cooked food is perfectly acceptable for your Dutch oven.
5. Can I Freeze My Dutch Oven?
There are some among you who are not just looking to store food in the refrigerator either.
Either because you want to store food for a long time or because you want to do some advanced food preparation, the need to store food in the deep freezer will also likely arise at some point.
Well, you can also rest assured that there will be no damage to your Dutch oven under these circumstances either.
Benefits of Using a Dutch Oven in a Refrigerator
Are there any benefits to leaving food in a Dutch oven in the refrigerator or freezer for an extended period of time?
Absolutely, we all know how wonderful particular dishes, like Lasagne, that always taste better once cooked, cooled then reheated.
So combined with the benefit of marinating dishes, pre-preparing, or storing already cooked dishes – these cooking pots really are wonderful all-rounders.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Le Creuset Go in the Refrigerator?
Le Creuset is a brand of Dutch oven and if you follow the “5 watch-outs” outlined above then yes you can use Le Creuset in the refrigerator.
Can Le Creuset Go From Fridge to Stove Top
Yes, Le Creuset can go from the refrigerator to a stovetop providing the oven and its ingredients have cooled down enough to prevent “Thermal Shock”.
Can You Put a Cast Iron Dutch Oven in the Refrigerator?
Yes, providing it is an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven it can go in the refrigerator.
Can You Leave Food in Cast Iron Overnight?
No, if the cast iron is seasoned or bare cast iron the iron could leach into the food, and/or the cookware will start rust. Yes if the cast iron cookware is coated with enamel as the enamel protects the food from leaching and the cast iron from rusting.
Final Thoughts – Can a Dutch Oven Go in the Refrigerator?
Any problems that might – or ever do – emerge under these circumstances are normally associated with an unseasoned or neglected Dutch oven.
They are seldom, although we are tempted to say never, associated with enameled or double-coated Dutch ovens. There is no cast-iron leaching into the food, there is no destruction to the enamel on the Dutch oven itself.
Another fear people might have is that of moisture seeping into the cast iron. Again, with the enamel coating, it is unlikely to ever happen. As a consequence, there will be no rust on your Dutch oven either.
When we reflect on this question, it is important to remind ourselves why we put food into the refrigerator. Refrigerating food helps slow down bacterial growth in that food.
That is to say, leaving it out on the counter – under any circumstances – is ultimately counter-productive.
Everything trumps leaving food out on the counter – including storing food in the refrigerator or freezer with a Dutch oven.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks