What you can’t do with a Dutch oven is hardly worth talking about. These lidded enameled cast iron pots fry, braise, roast, stew, slow-cook, simmer and even bake bread. They clean up easily, look good on your stove and even better on your table, and come in sizes from mini to downright massive. They’re one of the most long-lasting and versatile pieces of cookware you can buy, and a particular fall and winter workhorse.
So what’s the difference between a $400 Dutch oven and those you can buy for $50? Although many perform roughly similarly, they can vary in quality of materials, ease of use, heat conduction and longevity. It’s important to find one that warms up fast, browns well and is well-built enough to handle safely and won’t chip with normal use, whether it’s a relatively affordable model or an investment purchase you plan to use for years. The five Dutch ovens below have performed well in tests at Consumer Reports, America’s Test Kitchen, Wirecutter, Serious Eats and more ― as well as in our own kitchens.
(Although experts love 6-to-8-quart Dutch ovens for most things, many home cooks buy them in the 5-to-6-quart size, so we’ve priced the five brands below in that range. But keep in mind that if you have enough space on your stovetop and oven to accommodate them, you can often find larger-sized Dutch ovens for less. Here’s how to choose the right size for you.)
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Now that you’ve picked out a great Dutch oven, check out these recipes you can make in your new pot.
And if you want to take the next step or add to your enameled cast iron arsenal, the products below will help you master or expand your Dutch oven game, from adding grilling capabilities to nailing specialty foods and seasonal style to matching your personal aesthetic or keeping your pots looking good.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.