Ah, cast iron cookers! So much confusion out there over what should be an easy question to find an answer for – can I or can’t I boil water in a Dutch oven?
Can you boil water in a Dutch oven? Yes, you can boil water in a seasoned cast iron Dutch oven as well as enamel cast iron Dutch ovens. There are a few things with both types of cooking pots that you should adhere to that will protect your cast iron Dutch oven and yourself.
Can You Boil Water in a Dutch Oven?
I believe the reason this simple question is so difficult to answer easily is because of the two different types of Dutch ovens.
Firstly, we have the traditional seasoned cast iron Dutch oven and then we have the “modern” cast iron Dutch oven which is coated in enamel.
Let’s identify the differences between both types of Dutch ovens – it will then become clear why it is such a difficult question to answer…
Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
Both types of Dutch ovens heat up slowly. The reason cast iron heats up so slowly is due to the thickness of the cast pot and remember the base is usually thicker than the walls and the lid.
Seasoned cast iron ovens can – with care – be used over most heat sources. Even the ultra-modern induction heating technology – due to it being made from metal.
I have read reports that you should not be boiling water or any type of liquid for long periods of time in a seasoned cast iron Dutch oven because the seasoning breaks down. You could then end up with food sticking to the inside of the oven and particles of seasoning flakes in your food.
This is certainly true – the seasoning will break down and you need to carry out the re-seasoning process to protect your Dutch oven – Not the end of the world…
To be clear in this instance we are talking about boiling water – a one-off or occasional occurrence. We are not talking about boiling soups, stews and the like at high temperatures constantly.
I would suggest that you boil your water – use it for the intended reason. Then when finished clean and dry as normal – all will be well…
Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Standard instructions when using an enamel-coated Dutch oven is to use the pot over low to medium heat for best results.
The reason we need to be careful with cast-iron coated in enamel is that there are two different types of materials involved. With heating extremes, both may not react in the same way at the same time – expand and contract.
For this reason, I avoid using enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch ovens on briquettes and open campfire flames as there is no easy way to gauge or control the heat. Along with the fact that it would not stay pretty for long…
We absolutely have more control of heat sources in a kitchen environment. If you do use an enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven over flames (gas) – keep the flame confined to the base of the oven only not licking up the sides of the oven.
Is It Safe to Boil Water in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven?
The safety of boiling water in a cast-iron Dutch oven hinges heavily on the person carrying out the task.
This involves three vital components:-
1. Following the manufacturer’s instructions as closely as possible
This really applies to the enamel coated cast iron cookers because they are more fragile than their raw seasoned cast iron cousin.
2. Do not heat pre-heat the pot
A cast-iron Dutch oven – even though very tuff – should not be pre-heated before adding anything – food or liquid. There is a chance that cracking and chipping can occur.
Add liquid or oil – heat up slowly then increase the heat as required.
3. Safety first while boiling water
By this I mean you must remember how heavy a cast iron pot is when fully laden. You need to be able to carry that pot of boiling water safely.
What is that saying ringing in my head – 43% of all injuries happen in the home?
How to Boil Water in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Fill your cast-iron oven with water, cover with the heavy lid.
- Start heat on low, increase to medium then to higher heat until the water is boiling.
- Use the water or introduce your ingredients.
- When it has boiled reduce heat or turn off.
- Clean and dry thoroughly.
Temperature to Boil Water
This is where the difference in the type of Dutch oven confuses the matter.
Manufacturers of some enamel Dutch ovens advise that the oven should not be heated above 97 degrees and water needs 100 degrees of heat to boil.
So start with water in the oven on low then increase slowly as outlined above until your water is boiling.
What Can I Do to Make Water Boil Faster in a Dutch Oven?
The simplest thing to do is to place the lid on the pot from the beginning.
Another tip that I learned years ago is to place a quart of water in the bottom of the cast iron oven and commence the boiling process.
Meanwhile, if you have one on hand – boil water in an electric kettle. When the quart of water has reached the boiling point you can then top up the oven with the boiled water.
Final Thoughts – Can You Boil Water in a Dutch Oven? Is It Safe To do So?
So we have established that you can boil water in a Dutch oven by adhering to the following;
- fill the oven
- start with low heat then turn the heat up as required
- keep in mind enamel precautions with flame (keep the flame on the base)
- extreme care to be taken when moving a heavy oven with boiling water
- do not let the water sit in the cast iron indefinitely
- to avoid rust forming – empty and dry thoroughly as soon as possible
Enjoy your Dutch oven and use it to its full potential.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Boil Water in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven?
Yes, you can boil water in this brand of a Dutch oven.
The Le Creuset website says:- “High heat temperatures should only be used for boiling water for vegetables or pasta, or for reducing the consistency of stocks or sauces.”
How to Use a Dutch Oven on Stove Top
As with anything new learning to use a Dutch oven on a stovetop will take a little practice. This is mainly because of the heat retention of the cast-iron. If the pot becomes too hot it will take a little while to cool down. You will also encounter sticking or worse cracking if you put cold ingredients into a hot Dutch oven.
In simple terms follow these steps:
- make sure you have all ingredients chopped, diced and measured
- place liquid water or oil in the bottom of the Dutch oven
- add ingredients that you need to saute’ or brown
- lastly, add your other ingredients and liquid
- raise the heat slightly until simmering
- lower heat cover with the lid and simmer for the required period
Any good recipe will have the instructions for you just remember that Dutch ovens get hot hot hot…
For a little more understanding of Dutch ovens and using them on stovetops check out my article here…