This article was last updated on October 15th, 2020
You would be surprised how many people ask me “what can you actually do with a dutch oven?” My shocked response is always “what can’t you do with a Dutch oven!”
What can you actually do with a Dutch oven? You can fry, simmer, stew, roast, bake, serve and store. Some of the dishes you can prepare inside a Dutch oven are fried bacon and eggs, slow-cook casseroles and stews, roast sides of meat along with vegetables, risottos, ethnic recipes, desserts and of course bake.
These are just a few ways to use a Dutch oven read on to get the full picture of what these underrated cooking pots can do for you…
What Can You Do With A Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven can replace any or all cooking appliances one would purchase for the kitchen. Including crock pots, air fryers even your conventional oven.
It is probably campers and outdoor enthusiast’s favorite cooking pot to use because you can throw everything in turn on the heat and have a delicious hearty meal every time.
We now have available to us enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens for use inside the home. These ovens not only perform the same tasks as their centuries-old outdoor coal cooking pot cousin they also look fantastic.
Don’t forget there are two types of Dutch ovens available to produce awesome healthy meals today.
The enameled ones for cooking indoors and the traditional seasoned cast-iron Dutch oven which has been used outdoors for centries but with care can also be used in your kitchen.
When most of us think of Dutch ovens we automatically think of hearty slow-cooked dishes where the meat falls apart as soon as the fork hits it. But there are so many other types of recipes you can cook in a Dutch oven.
Just for fun let’s break it down into mealtimes…
Oats, yogurt, scrambled eggs, omelet, fried bacon, sausages, hash, breakfast pizza, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, breakfast burritos
Morning or Afternoon Tea
Morning coffee cake, carrot cake, pumpkin pie cake
Risotto, nachos, sloppy joes, soup, frittata, quiche, jambalaya
Roasts, ribs, chicken, beef mushroom and red wine stew, Irish lamb stew, chili, lasagna, pizza, enchilada, seared salmon, meatloaf
Cobblers, lava cake, pineapple upsidedown cake
Buttermilk, cornbread, dumplings, fry bread, no-knead bread, biscuits, scones, raisin bread
Brownies, smores bars, angel food candy, cookies
7 Rules to Follow When Using a Dutch Oven
1. Inspect Your Dutch Oven
Regardless of whether you will be using a seasoned cast-iron Dutch oven or an enamel Dutch oven, you need to ensure that it is good condition.
You can do this by checking the condition of the oven itself, its handle, the lid as well as the lids loop handle. You are looking for cracks, chipping, warping, and the condition of the seasoning or enamel.
The weight of the lid is what holds the steam inside your Dutch oven so it should fit correctly. It will not do so if it or the oven is warped.
Checking the condition of your oven not only upon purchase of the oven but regularly will keep you safe and the Dutch oven in great working condition.
2. Seasoning and Cleaning Your Dutch Oven
When unboxing a new Dutch oven it should be treated the same as you would anything new clean it before use and season if necessary.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Even though most cast-iron Dutch ovens are pre-seasoned by manufacturers these days this usually is only a light protective coating. This protects the item from moisture which in turn could cause corrosion and rust while in transit and storage so when you open the box it looks shiny, new and ready to use.
If you want more information about seasoning a new Dutch oven before its first use check out my article here
Enamel Dutch Oven
Sometimes our purchases are not perfect when we buy them. Make sure enamel is not compromised by this I meal no chips, splinters or cracks. As with the seasoned cast-iron oven look for warping and that the lid fits tightly to keep the steam inside the oven.
Wash with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly.
Compromised Dutch Oven
If you find a fault it is totally up to you, of course, but if you find anything wrong with your new Dutch oven I would consider returning it for a new one.
If you have been given a pre-loved Dutch oven lucky you. As with new check it out so you know what you are using. Remember these little workhorses get hot.
Using the correct utensils when cooking food with Dutch ovens is very important. You need to consider the following for both seasoned cast-iron ovens and enamel ovens:-
Safety is always at the forefront for me. Dutch ovens get HOT. It does not matter whether you are cooking outdoors or indoors these pots retain heat. They also become heavy when they are laden with food.
You also need to consider the handles sometimes, depending upon the Dutch oven, the handles can make it very difficult to carry with mitted hands.
You will need a good quality pair of oven mitts, lid lifter, Trivett or outdoor camp table.
Damaging The Dutch Oven
Utensils to be used inside a Dutch oven vary between seasoned cast-iron and enamel as well. Utensils that are wooden or bamboo are the best for enamel. Seasoned cast iron is a little more forgiving and you could possibly with care use metal utensils. When choosing something different make sure that they can withstand the extreme heat from the cast iron. As they will stick and melt.
When cleaning you should stick to nylon pads, scourers, and brushes, when used carefully you will not damage your Dutch oven.
Before you go crazy and buy every “Dutch Oven Accessory” known to man I have an article listing the utensiles and accessories that you actually need when using a Dutch oven. See that article here.
Also cruise around this site for cleaning, reseasoning and storage methods to protect your oven.
4. Choosing the Correct Heat Source
To determine which heat source is the right one for your Dutch oven and your recipe you first need to identify what type of oven you will be using.
Enamel cast-iron Dutch oven
Enamel cast-iron Dutch ovens are for use inside the house. This is because the enamel firstly would not wear well if exposed to briquettes or campfire flame. Secondly, it would probably melt, chip, crack and warp due to exposure to the extreme temperature it would be exposed to.
So use your enamel oven on the appropriate heat source as instructed by the manufacturer. Generally, you will be able to use it on most stove or cooktops and in your conventional oven.
Related article about using a Dutch oven in a conventional oven here
Traditional cast-iron Dutch oven
These are raw iron cooking pots that need to be seasoned. Firstly to protect the oven from the elements which induce rust. Secondly, this seasoning builds up a natural barrier between the iron and the food to stop it from sticking to the inside of the oven while cooking.
This is the Dutch oven you can use for outdoor cooking and camp cooking. By using a formula you place required amount briquettes or coals underneath the oven as well as on the inverted lid to achieve the required temperature for cooking various meals.
5. Choose the Right Recipe
We all have our favorite recipes or recipes that the family wants over and over again.
These are the meals you can prepare in your sleep. Whenever I try “a new way of eating” (Diet) one of the first things I look at is how can I convert this recipe for my Dutch oven so the family will eat it.
I have found if you approach cooking with a new appliance in much the same way you are more inclined to stick with it. After you achieve success with favorite dishes you can move onto using the Dutch oven in the many ways that are possible.
When you are ready to really experiment with Dutch oven cooking I have written an article about the cookbooks I use.
You can see the article here
There are over thirty to choose from and they cover every dish you can imagine – even your family favorites…
6. Preparation Before Cooking
Cooking in a Dutch oven is pretty much the one-pot experience. Some recipes could require you to saute ingredients like onions or garlic or brown the meat before adding other ingredients.
I always without exception have every ingredient cut, chopped and measured out ready to go. Preparing in this way allows you to get going on the whole cooking process without heating up the oven doing a little. Or turning the heat off or moving the oven away from the heat source to go off and prepare the next addition.
So for me, it is always as easy as the five steps below…
- Cut, chop, dice, measure
- Saute, brown or simmer
- Add other ingredients
- Add liquid
- Cook dish as per recipe requirements either stovetop, oven or stovetop then oven
7. The Clean Up
My pro tip for cleaning your Dutch oven after cooking is to tackle it as soon as possible.
The reason is simple the food does not have time to dry out and adhere to the pot.
Seasoned Dutch Oven
After every use, I simply use water cold, warm or hot whatever is required. A nylon pad, scourer or brush again whatever is required – an elbow grease. If food is stuck on you can fill, boil water and use an appropriate tool to assist the particles to separate from the iron.
Dry the oven immediately with a towel, you can lightly season if required then store away from humidity.
Enameled Dutch Oven
Much the same as a seasoned oven but you can use soapy water. Just remember that the (usually light) enamel requires you to be delicate. It is the same as seasoned cast-iron it needs to be treated with care so your it will perform at its best for a very long time.
Click on the articles below for more assistance with general cleaning and stubborn cleaning of your Dutch oven.
My Favorite Recipes
Of course, I have the go-to easy recipes that I can make in my sleep just like everyone else.
The two recipes below are the ones that I use regularly to accompany almost all the dishes I prepare.
How to cook rice in a Dutch oven – you can see the way I make my no fail fluffy Dutch oven rice here
Dutch oven bread – the recipe I use is here
You can also find an indepth article about why bread is great when prepared in a cast iron Dutch oven here
My Two Favorite Dutch Ovens
When sharing my love of Dutch ovens I often get asked what is my favorite Dutch oven and why. Both of these fabulous cooking pots offer different ways to prepare meals.
Click on either image to be taken to Amazon to see them for yourself…
Seasoned Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
The seasoned Dutch oven is rustic and brings images of the outdoors relaxing – wanting food that will fill the hungry hole induced by fresh air and exercise. So here is my favorite a Lodge deep camp oven with legs.
The image above of Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven is an 8 Quart version of mine, I have a well used and loved 12-quart camp oven.
I have an article here for a Lodge camp Dutch oven with legs – lots of great information about camp ovens as well.
Enamel Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
An enamel Dutch oven, for me, conjures up images of home – comfort, routine, regular meals, experimenting with new recipes, entertaining family and friends.
This Le Creuset of America Signature Oval Dutch Oven in this fantastic Indigo color is one of my all-time favorites.
Fits all the classic stews, soups, casseroles and also does the large cuts of meat as the meat on the bone can sit comfortably in the full-length oval shape. You can even do a large chicken or turkey if the oven is big enough.
Final Thoughts – What Can You Actually Do With a Dutch Oven | 7 Rules to Follow
I am certain when you choose your recipe and apply “the 7 rules to follow” you will be eating delicious meals prepared by this awesome cooking pot in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dutch Oven Uses?
I am constantly answering this question so I prepared an article which covers the uses of a Dutch oven – here
How to Use a Dutch Oven
I have covered how to use a Dutch oven in my article here which explains all you need to know about using a Dutch oven on your campfire.