This article was last updated on October 31st, 2020
While there is an element of nostalgia that comes with using the Dutch oven – which is enhanced by the retro colors that have become such a prominent feature of the modern product – it is the capacity of the Dutch oven to retain heat and cook slowly that captures the imagination of most people who still purchase them.
Who Invented the Dutch Oven? While the answer to this question hinges heavily on what you mean by “invented”, the person who probably has the strongest claim to inventing the Dutch Oven is British industrialist Abraham Darby.
Why Are Dutch Ovens so Popular? The ease of preparing a meal all in one-pot, compactness, sturdiness, and the ability to use this little pot on various heat sources, with care. Just to name a few.
Who Invented the Dutch Oven?
Darby is responsible for two critical developments in what has now become the long history of the Dutch oven.
Firstly, in the early 18th century Darby and business partner James Thomas became the first people to cast iron cookware, through considerable trial and error.
Cast-iron pots have become the most defining feature of the modern Dutch oven, although not all of them are made from cast-iron. So, that is the first of the two major developments.
The second of those major developments have to do with who had the initial rights to carry out this process of molding cast-iron for cookware.
The roots of the Dutch oven can be traced back to the Netherlands, well before Darby decided it would be more prudent to Cast iron cookware.
However, the Dutch were using molds made of sand to produce their finely finished cookware products.
Darby, being the industrialist that he was decided that casting iron would be quicker and cheaper.
So, when he mastered the art of casting iron, Darby then secured a patent for the casting of iron in the sand, in 1707. That is the second critical development in the long and colorful history of the Dutch oven – obtaining the patent for the process.
So, while Darby’s process is definitely derived from what the Dutch had been doing for many years before that, the Englishman is at the very least a principal player in the development of the modern Dutch oven. Much of the credit belongs to him.
Recipe Dutch Oven Slow-cooked Beef Stew
Why Do People Prefer Dutch Oven Cooking?
We are not sure how much thought Darby or even his Dutch counterparts put into this when they pursued cast-iron cooking but you will be amazed by the extent of the benefit that comes with using a Dutch oven, especially in the 21st century.
1. Heat Retention
If you have been in a restaurant – or any other eatery for that matter – you probably would have noticed that there is always that one customer who complains about the food not being hot enough. Not only does cold food normally taste disgusting but it is also a tad detrimental to your digestive processes.
When you cook with a Dutch oven, you can be sure that the food will remain hot when served to friends and family.
The Dutch oven is therefore good for maintaining healthy personal relations, if and when you have been designated as the resident cook or host. That is because it retains heat well.
2. Even Cooking
When you are cooking, you also want the heat in the pot you are using to spread evenly. The Dutch oven, by virtue of its design, allows you to do just that and more.
That even spread of heat when cooking is then enhanced by the capacity of the Dutch oven to cook meals slowly. Slow cooking allows you to cook some of the tougher cuts of meat until they are perfectly tender.
The Dutch oven is perfect for those among you who like cooking stews and hearty soups. With the Dutch oven, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to go wrong when cooking, even if you are a beginner.
Nobody talks about the lid of a Dutch oven enough, even though they should. Not only is it able to store coals on it, for those among you who still cook like that but it is also a heavy lid.
A heavy lid on a pot will ensure that nutrition and flavor are locked into that pot while cooking. That lid also helps with heat retention.
4. Camp Cooking
Dutch ovens were a prominent feature among the travel items used by the Voortrekkers in South Africa and the Drovers in Australia. Both groups of people were effectively migrants who spent days, weeks and months on the road.
Those travels were conducted both on horseback and on foot and overnight stops were inevitable. When traveling, under those circumstances, it does become quite critical that one moves with equipment that is suitable for the journey.
Firstly, Dutch ovens are the most suitable pots to use when cooking in front of or on fire. Invariably, fires would have been the only suitable cooking method for Voortrekkers and Drovers during that period. That is the first factor.
The second factor is durability. Cast-iron cookware is built to last. Look, if there is a long fall, the oven will break.
However, in the main, a Dutch oven has been built to resist cracking and chipping on the outside, while there will be minimal staining on the inside of the pot. So, that there is little to no evidence of cooking over a sustained period of time.
Such is the extent of this durability that Dutch ovens being passed down from generation to generation have become a common practice for families around the world.
So valued is the cast-iron cookware, that it has even featured prominently in wills and testaments. Daughters and granddaughters are normally the ones to benefit from this practice.
When the Dutch Oven first became popular for domestic use, it had been envisaged that the product would be used on and in front of fires. However, the world has moved on since then, as other cooking options have emerged.
Among those cooking options are electricity, induction, gas and radiation cooking. Then there is also the small matter of cooking in an oven and even on a grill. The modern Dutch Oven can cope with all of that and more.
For example, you can clean the Dutch Oven in the dishwasher. It is a versatile product to have and that is why so many people who cook, choose to purchase Dutch Ovens over any other pot on the market.
7. Easy Care and Maintenance
The modern Dutch oven is coated with enamel both on the inside and on the outside. There is nothing more frustrating than scrubbing a conventional pot to try and remove burn marks and stains.
The Dutch oven eliminates both problems for you. Cleaning a pot will never be easier for you, regardless of how badly you might have got the heat wrong while cooking.
8. Decor Friendly
The makers of Dutch ovens are a colorful bunch and that personality shows in the enamel coatings for the outside of the pots that they make. The products purchased in shops are normally bright and inviting.
The Dutch oven is something to show off to your friends who have come over for dinner and perhaps even exciting for those children who resist dinner invites.
At some point in our lives, we will all encounter that one child that does not want to eat, especially when in the middle of a TV show or video game. For them, dinner time means war and the presence of colorful Dutch ovens can bring forth peace at mealtimes.
For some people, it is not just about cooking but rather it is about making a house a home. What better way than to fill your home with the aromas of freshly cooked food.
Dutch Oven Greenhorns
Some people might never have used a Dutch oven, not because it is an inferior product or anything like that but rather because they just do not enjoy cooking. Some just do not want to try something new to them and continue with their own inherited methods of food preparation.
Final Thoughts About Who Invented the Dutch Oven and Why Are They so Popular?
The Dutch oven is a beautifully designed cooking pot, easy on the eye and versatile in almost every way imaginable. It is easy to handle, easy to clean and can quite literally last for generations if you are intent on having that happen.
Even the modern Dutch oven has a somewhat retro feel to it, which enhances that feeling of nostalgia when cooking with one.
Cooking and everything associated with cooking should make a person feel good. When you cook with a Dutch oven you will undoubtedly feel good.
When serving with a Dutch oven you will feel good and when packing the Dutch oven away in the kitchen you will also feel good.
If you have not yet tried Dutch oven cooking and decide to give it a go – I am certain you will fall in love with the luscious dishes you will be serving in no time.
Dutch oven uses – What is a Dutch oven used for? Check out my article here
Dutch oven material – Check out my article which explains what dutch ovens are made of here
Why are Dutch oven so expensive? See my article here
Wikipedia – Abraham Darby I,
Merriam Webster – Dutch Oven