Dutch ovens and pressure cookers are two pieces of kitchenware that have been around for ages. They both make cooking meals easier and more convenient; however, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Which of them should you go with right now?
A Dutch oven is a versatile enamel-coated cast iron pot that can be used for a wide range of cooking needs, including slow cooking, roasting, boiling, frying, and soup making. On the other hand, a pressure cooker is designed to only cook foods quickly using high-pressure steam.
In this article, you’ll learn more about both options as we take a closer look at how they work and their pros and cons.
What Are Dutch Ovens and How Do They Work?
Dutch ovens are cylindrical cast iron pots coated in enamel. As the name implies, they were developed by the Dutch.
They are also known by other names such as Cocottes, French ovens, and casserole dishes.
The Dutch oven comes with a tight-fitting lid and is almost completely non-stick when seasoned correctly.
You can cook with the pot on top of a stove or inside an oven without any fuss. With the cast iron material used in a Dutch oven, radiant heat is distributed evenly, touching all sides of the food you’re cooking.
The tight-fitting lid also ensures better moisture retention in the meals.
The nature of the Dutch oven makes it versatile. Therefore, it can be used to cook a wide range of meals via a wide range of methods.
Apart from cooking stews and soups, you can also use a Dutch oven pot for roasting, frying, and bread-making.
You may be surprised to see bread-making as one of the uses of a Dutch oven, but it is possible to bake bread and many other types of baking with this pot.
Steam is an important part of the baking process, and the tight-fitting lid means that the pot can retain steam; thus, ensuring the yeast will work.
Pros of Dutch Ovens
In this section, we’ll analyze the advantages of using Dutch ovens.
- Dutch oven pots are versatile. As you’ve seen above, you can use a Dutch oven for baking, frying, and roasting. You can also use them to make casseroles. This is in addition to conventional uses such as soups and stew-making. The ability to retain moisture adds to its versatility.
- They work on the stove and in the oven. This saves you time, energy, and money as you don’t need to get separate cookware for baking and cooking. You’ll also spend less time cleaning.
- Cleaning Dutch ovens is easy. The enamel-coating and the cast iron means that the pots are virtually non-stick. Food particles, therefore, wash off easily.
- They ensure thorough cooking. Since the pots are designed to deliver radiant heat evenly, you can be sure of evenly cooked meals that won’t burn on the sides or in the center.
- They are long-lasting. The hard-wearing nature of the materials used in making Dutch oven pots means that they can last for many years if you take good care of them.
Cons of Dutch Ovens
Here are the disadvantages of using Dutch ovens:
- They can be expensive. The cost of the most affordable Dutch ovens in the market, such as Lodge’s option, can buy a set of generic cooking pots. However, this disadvantage is offset by their versatility and durability.
- Cooking times can be fairly long. Thorough cooking is one of the advantages of Dutch ovens, but it also means that meals can take longer to cook when compared to other options.
- They require a hands-on approach. Unlike other cookware that will allow you to cook foods even when you are at work, you can’t leave a Dutch oven pot unattended for long.
What Are Pressure Cookers and How Do They Work?
Electric Pressure Cooker
Stove Top Pressure Cooker
Pressure cookers are an air-tight type of cookware that cooks foods quickly due to the steam pressure that builds up inside the pot when they are in use.
There are two types of pressure cookers: electric pressure cookers, and stovetop cookers.
Both types work on the same principles.
The pressure exerted by any pressure cookers is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).
One area where electric pressure cookers differ from stove options is that they come with a variable heat setting with PSI ranging from 6 to 15.
However, many of them don’t often hit that top barrier, which means that they won’t cook meals as quickly as the stovetop options.
To cook with a pressure cooker, add some water to it before turning on the switch (for electric models) or putting it on the stove.
The cooker will take the water to boiling temperature and beyond—up to 250°F (121°C), building pressures of up to 15 PSI in some models. This causes the food to be cooked quickly.
Pressure cookers come with a valve that regularly opens to release steam and pressure while it’s working. This keeps the food at an even temperature until it’s done.
Apart from ensuring that foods cook faster, using a pressure cooker is also an excellent way to tenderize tough foods. So, when you need to cook thick cuts of meat very fast, you can rely on the high-pressure environment in a cooker like this to quickly get the job done.
Pros of Pressure Cookers
Consider these notable pros regarding the use of pressure cookers:
- They cook food very quickly. This makes them the best cookware to use when you need to quickly cook meats, grains, and other types of tough foods.
- They retain moisture and nutrients in food. The high-steam, air-tight environment means that pressure cooks can retain moisture in any food you are cooking. This combination also ensures that the food being cooked doesn’t lose its nutrients, especially when compared to plain boiling.
- They can be versatile. The ability to regulate the heat in electric pressure cookers means that you can cook a wider range of meals with them.
Cons of Pressure Cookers
Let’s check out the disadvantages of using a pressure cooker below:
- They make overcooking easy. Since it’s difficult to know the exact length of time to cook certain foods, it is easy to overcook food when using a pressure cooker. You might begin to learn ballpark estimates for cook times, after a while, but in the early days, it’s a bit of a trial and error.
- It isn’t easy to check on the food. This is also a reason why people overcook food with pressure cookers. These kitchen wares are designed to stay closed until they are done cooking, so to check on food while still in the process is difficult. Some stovetops allow you to release the pressure and open the cooker midway manually, but this can be time-consuming.
- Cooking can still take time. This is especially true with electric pressure cookers, where you’ll need to wait 10-30 minutes for it to preheat. After the food is cooked, you also have to wait for the pressure to release, which can take another 30 minutes if you buy a model without a quick-release function or mechanisms to relieve the pressure manually.
Which One Should You Choose?
Ideally, it would be best if you had a pressure cooker and a Dutch oven in your kitchen as they all serve different purposes.
However, if you must get only one, think about the kind of meals you cook most of the time.
If you cook recipes that don’t require pressure cooking, a Dutch oven will often be a better investment as you can cook almost anything with it.
On the other hand, pressure cookers are best if you want to spend as little time cooking.
This article gives you a number of other cookware alternatives if you do not have or do not want to purchase a pressure cooker – check it out here.
Conclusion – Dutch Ovens Vs Pressure Cookers
Dutch ovens and pressure cookers both have their advantages and disadvantages. Still, unless you cook foods that will take a lot of time to cook with other kitchenware regularly, a Dutch oven will almost always be a better investment.
There are many pressure cookers in the market, promising multiple functions that render Dutch ovens redundant on paper. However, any avid users of both types of kitchenware will tell you that it’s a good idea to keep the functions separate.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks
• Wikipedia: Dutch Oven
• Wikipedia: PSI