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You might be tempted to store a bulky Dutch oven in the back of a cabinet, but consider this heavyweight’s versatility: From stovetop to oven to your table, a Dutch oven can brown, boil, braise, and bake bread, even deep-fry.
Our test engineers put a selection of Dutch ovens through their paces in the lab, boiling water, browning meat, caramelizing scallops, simmering tomato sauce, and baking bread. They also recorded handle temperatures and evaluated ease of cleaning. Staffers gathered in our lab to weigh in on the moistness and tenderness of braised briskets, and the taste and texture of bread.
All the Dutch ovens we tested are round, similar in height (4.5 to 5 inches), and available in a variety of colors. Each pot holds 5 to 6 quarts—ideal for everyday cooking—and works on any type of stovetop, including induction. Prices range from $45 to $340.
Our tests found that any can do a fine job braising meat, and most can quickly bring 4 quarts of water to a near boil. Beyond that, we found significant differences.
The best one of all? The Le Creuset Signature 5.5-quart Dutch oven, which typically retails for more than $300. That’s a lot to spend on one pot, even if you assume you’ll use it for a lifetime. The good news is that the far-cheaper Lodge and Ayesha Curry Dutch ovens also earn high marks.
Here’s a look at the top five Dutch ovens in our tests. They appear in alphabetical (not rank) order. For all the details, see our Dutch oven ratings.
Ayesha Curry Covered Dutch Oven
CR’s take: The 6-quart Ayesha Curry Dutch oven is among the easiest to clean, garnering an Excellent rating in that test. But weighing in at 15 pounds, this Dutch oven is the heaviest of the group, while the cooking surface measures 7 inches in diameter.
Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven
CR’s take: The 5.5-quart Le Creuset Signature tops our ratings. It earns an Excellent rating in our browning tests—the only Dutch oven to do so—and is a cinch to clean. It weighs 12 pounds, less than most, and has an 8-inch cooking diameter. The loop handles are nice and wide.
Lodge Dutch Oven
CR’s take: With more than 120 years in the business, Lodge knows a thing or two about cast iron, and the Lodge 6-quart Dutch oven turns out bread that’s nicely browned and crispy, rating a Very Good in our bread-baking test. Cleanup is a breeze. Weighing in at 14 pounds, this Dutch oven has a 7-inch cooking surface diameter. Like the Le Creuset, the Lodge has wide loop handles.
CR’s take: The Staub Cocotte costs almost as much as the Le Creuset, and also holds 5.5 quarts. It earns a Very Good rating in our browning test, but the pot’s dark interior makes it trickier to see whether meat is browning and to tell just how clean the pot is after washing. It weighs 13 pounds, and the cooking surface is 8 inches in diameter.
Vremi Dutch Oven
CR’s take: The 6-quart Vremi Dutch oven is so-so in some tests, but when it comes to baking bread, it earns an Excellent rating, the best of this group. It weighs 14 pounds, and its cooking diameter is 8 inches. The side handles are small, and the warranty is short—just one year, while the others come with a lifetime or limited lifetime warranty. If you’re planning to transfer it to the oven, take note: This Dutch oven can withstand temperatures up to 450° F, but most others can handle higher heat.
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