Types of Dutch Ovens

Dutch Oven Casserole Dishes

Modern Dutch ovens have looped handles on the side of the dish and an enamel coating.
Modern Dutch ovens have looped handles on the side of the dish and an enamel coating. | Source

Dutch vs. French Ovens

Several companies have dubbed their product a "French Oven." These ovens are identical to the Dutch ovens, but are simply made by French manufacturers. Le Creuset and Le Chasseur are well-known French producers of this style of casserole dish.

The History of Dutch Ovens

In the 1700's, the Dutch had perfected the process of casting brass containers in dry sand molds - this process resulted in smooth, sturdy vessels. A man by the name of Abraham Darby traveled to Holland to observe this process, and returned to England to improve on the process. Shortly thereafter, Darby started shipping his patented cast iron cookware to the new colonies in America. The name "Dutch Oven" most likely comes from the process of casting the pots in a dry sand mold, invented by the Dutch.

Other possibilities for the origin of the cookware come from those who sold and used the pots. They were often used by the Pennsylvania Dutch, and may have obtained the name from association with the Pennsylvania Dutch population.

Very early Dutch ovens had legs for standing over a fire. A recessed lid and legs allowed food to be baked inside the oven with dry heat, as opposed to boiling food in water. Once cast iron stoves became common, the legs and recessed lid were no longer needed. The ovens were redesigned to have a flat bottom and domed lid.

Modern Dutch ovens are usually made from cast iron and coated in porcelain enamel, though the pots can be made from other materials (cast aluminum or ceramic). Cast iron distributes heat evenly and is considered the best material for these ovens.


Cooking in a Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven Uses

This type of cookware is extremely versatile. Dutch ovens are extremely good for:

  1. Roasting chicken
  2. Casseroles
  3. Baking bread
  4. Cooking roasts
  5. Stews
  6. Cobblers

Dutch Oven Manufacturers

Manufacturer
Oven Style
Material
Griswold
Traditional loop handle Dutch oven.
Cast iron
Lodge
Traditional loop handle Dutch oven.
Cast iron - some enameled pots available.
Le Creuset
"French" oven - modern with side loop handles.
Enamel coated cast iron

Lodge Dutch Oven

Lodge EC4D33 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 4.5-Quart, Caribbean Blue
Lodge EC4D33 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 4.5-Quart, Caribbean Blue

This enamel coated Dutch Oven by Lodge comes in many different colors and does not require the seasoning of a raw cast-iron pot.

 

Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

A cast iron Dutch oven, cooking a delicious meal.
A cast iron Dutch oven, cooking a delicious meal. | Source

Cast Iron or Enamel?

The traditional ovens are made from cast iron. These pots are very heavy, sturdy, and unlikely to break. Some claim a metallic flavor is imparted to the food, and prefer the porcelain coated ovens. Which type is best?

Cast Iron Pros:

  • Food can be deep-fried in cast iron ovens.
  • Properly seasoned cast iron will become non-stick.
  • Extremely durable, will last for decades (or centuries).

Cast Iron Cons:

  • Must be seasoned properly.
  • Must be hand washed with hot water and a brush (no soap).
  • May rust if not properly cared for.
  • May impart a rancid taste if not oiled and stored appropriately.
  • May impart a metallic taste if not seasoned properly.

Enamel Pros:

  • Can be washed with soap and water, or even in the dishwasher.
  • Does not need to be seasoned; no special maintenance is required.
  • Available in many colors and designs.

Enamel Cons:

  • The enamel may chip or break over time.
  • Food cannot be deep-fried in an enamel oven.


How to Season a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

How to Season a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Seasoning cast iron cookware is not the same thing as cooking in cast iron - the pot must be coated in the right type of oil over a period of time to prevent rust and to create a non-stick surface. The best oils for seasoning iron pots are high in Omega-3 fats, like alpha-linoleic acid (ALA's). These oils have a high level of polyunsaturated fats, which produce a hard polymer on the surface of the pot.

Animal fat (lard from pigs) was the original type of fat used to season iron, but pigs are now fed lower-quality food on industrial lots, which lowers the amount of Omega-3 fats in the lard. Animal fats are more likely to become rancid, so they should be avoided.

A good alternative is flax seed oil, which is high in Omega-3's. Olive oil may also be used to season cast iron cookware.To season a cast iron pot, simply:

  1. Coat a thin layer of oil on the cast iron.
  2. Wipe it off (some will remain in the pores of the pan). The pan should appear dry.
  3. Turn it upside down in a cold oven and bake it at 450°F for an hour once the oven reaches the set temperature.
  4. Turn the oven off and let the pan cool in the oven for about 2 hours.
  5. Repeat this process at least six more times.

Removing Stains from Enamel Ovens

Sometimes an enamel Dutch (or "French") oven will become stained. Removing the stains is simple, though care must be taken not to dull the surface. Make a cleaning solution by mixing 1 gallon of hot water, 1 cup bleach, and 3 tablespoons of baking soda. Submerge the enamel plated dish and check the pot every 10 minutes. If it is left in the solution too long, it may dull the finish.

Some stains may never completely disappear. Once the stain is either gone or greatly diminished, remove the pot from the cleaning solution and rinse under cold water. Dry the dish and apply a light coat of oil, if desired.

More by this Author


Comments 12 comments

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

It sounds like the cast iron Dutch oven might be more difficult to maintain. I can't imagine having to season it seven times in a row! I've never owned a Dutch oven but it would be fun to learn how to use one. Excellent hub and a lot of good information. -K


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Thanks for this interesting info, Leah. I seriously want to buy a Dutch oven right now. For me, an enamel Dutch oven is probably a better choice since I don't usually deep-fry food. Plus, I like that it can be cleaned in a dishwasher. Scrubbing pots and pans isn't my forte! lol


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

I love them - they are so versatile and make a great roast chicken! I hope you get one, Om - they make so many great colors (I like the enamel ones personally - though a cast iron one would make more sense for those who bring them camping).


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Seasoning cast iron takes a bit of work - you could skimp on a few steps or apply a thicker layer of oil, but then you risk rust (too little oil) or rancid flavor (too much oil). They're great casserole dishes in the kitchen, krsharp05, but I have to admit I prefer the enameled ones!


Riverfish24 profile image

Riverfish24 4 years ago from United States

Super cool hub topic and well researched hub! Interesting stuff!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Dutch ovens are found throughout US history, Riverfish, which I think is fascinating! Martha Washington had one!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

You have some really great information in here Leah. I have always wanted a Dutch oven but just haven't made the purchase. I didn't realize that the cast iron ones needed to be seasoned. I think the ease of the enamel ones sound good to me but if we ever take up camping more regularly I may have to purchase a cast iron one.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

They vary considerably in cost, Cara - and are worth it if you make a lot of casserole type dishes. I far prefer the enamel type, but we don't camp often. To be honest, when we camp we have a tendency to eat dinner out!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Dutch ovens are very versatile. Mine is cast iron and I love it. Thanks for a great article about this historic kitchen helper.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

That cast iron Dutch oven should last a lifetime! They really should be on everyone's kitchen tool list, Hyphenbird. I absolutely love ours!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

There's nothing like having a good dutch oven to cook those family favorites. Thanks for your information on this cookware and how to care for them .


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

I haven't used mine in a couple of weeks, teaches12345, because it has been so very hot and I can't bear to think of making a casserole. I can't wait for fall to roll around so I can make some roast chicken or some pumpkin bread in mine!

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