What Are The 3 Best Cast Iron Dutch Ovens In 2019?

Dutch ovens are one of the most popular cooking pots.

But with literally thousands of options available on the market, buyers are often confused. What are the differences between the widely discussed aluminum, steel or iron pots?

Who wins the eternal fight of aluminum or stainless steel vs cast iron dutch oven?

Just to help you make an informed decision, we’ll answer all these questions together. From the general concept to the current top rated products, with the best quality cast iron dutch ovens and best budget options, we’ll look at everything.

What is a cast iron dutch oven, and why would you need one?

Think of a dutch oven as a large heavy pot made of cast iron, with a heavy thick bottom and sides just the same. It features a tightly fitting lid, designed to lock in the moisture and flavor of the most delicious slow-cooked dishes.

Whether you want to slow-simmer a soup, brown some meat, tender lots of sweet vegetables or put together a finger-licking stew, this oven can be used in surprisingly many ways.

From 2-quart to over 8-quart, these pots are generous in size, but this choice will be your last concern once you take the plunge and do a little research on an online shop.

Take Amazon, for instance. One of the best places to shop for home and kitchen appliances, the platform is both extremely helpful and intimidating through its wide range of options. You know you will find in there everything you need. And that’s the problem – “everything” can sometimes be overwhelming so what should you do?

Look for cast iron dutch oven reviews and get valuable advice!

You get to choose by size, brands (from Lodge and Camp Chef to Sur La Table or Imperial Home), materials (cast iron or ceramic, aluminum or glass, stainless steel or copper) and different treatments applied from the factory (pre-seasoned, porcelain enameled, plain enamel coating) and so on. You don’t really know what all these mean, right? If your head is spinning, turn to reviews!

A great platform should provide you verified and useful information for the products it sells. With cast iron dutch ovens on Amazon, for instance, you can always surf products by the number of reviews and their ratings. Of course, there may be times when you are too busy to go through all those reviews by yourself.

Luckily, you have other resources that compile the most important facts, like our top 3 cast iron dutch ovens by quality. We’ve put together all the relevant data on the best products out there, presenting you the best 3 options. Since not all of them are so affordable and not all of them are designed for camping as well, we’d like to help you with one best budget dutch oven recommendation and one camping dutch oven recommendation as well.

But before we get there…

Why cast iron dutch oven is best?

These pots can also be made of anodized aluminum, enameled cast iron or just stainless steel. People often wonder about the particularities of this simple cast iron dutch oven vs aluminum dutch oven or cast iron dutch oven vs stainless steel dutch oven. What are the differences between these materials and why should you go for the simplest option of them all?

Both aluminum and stainless steel are appreciated as lightweight options, requiring minimal maintenance. The difference, however, is that an old-fashioned solid cast iron pot will last for years, as long as you take good care of it. Furthermore, it gets considerably hotter during cooking, it retains heat very well, for much longer than any other material, not to mention that you can use any metal instrument for stirring in.

Summing up all these benefits of cast iron dutch oven vs any other option out there, such a pot is always versatile, affordable, long-lasting and truly the best at browning and deep-frying, whatever you’re cooking! In a nutshell, cast iron has a great volumetric heating capacity and high emissivity. This means that once it gets hot, it stays that way and the heat will penetrate ingredients, cooking not just the part that comes close to the cooking surface, but also a great amount of the upper layers.

All these considered, are you ready to read on and decide which one deserves your investment?

The Top 3 Cast Iron Dutch Ovens By Quality

#1 Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Lodge L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned Cast iron Dutch Oven 

The L8DOL3 dutch oven from Lodge is the traditional cast iron that many people dream of, with the added benefit of coming pre-seasoned from the factory. Available for a surprisingly low price, it is also a best-seller on Amazon.

Why should this pre-seasoned cast iron pot be your first option in terms of quality? Read on and you will convince yourself!

Ideal for searing all kinds of meat and slow-cooking traditional stews, chili or rice, this cast iron dutch oven can be used both in the kitchen and outdoor. Sure, it doesn’t have the classic design of a camping oven, yet it can do a decent job if you really have no other option.

Main benefits:

  • 5-quart capacity, pre-seasoned, ready to use out of the box;
  • 5 x 10.4 x 6 inches with lid / 12.5 x 10.3 +x 4.5 inches without lid and 13 pounds;
  • Decent price, free shipping, and lifetime warranty against defects;
  • Manufactured in U.S.A.

What makes this particular model a best seller? After all, it doesn’t have a glossy, shiny color, or the so much coveted porcelain layer that other models feature. It is a flat-bottom oven made of cast iron, with domed lid.  What’s in it for you and what potential flaws you should consider before ordering it?

On the plus side,

  • This cast iron dutch oven is seasoned in the factory, where an electrostatic spray system coats it with oil right before heating it inside a commercial oven at very high temperatures. The seasoning gets so deep into its pores that the effect would have been obtained at home after months of repeated seasoning!
  • The design is very convenient and flexible: thanks to its flat-bottom, the pot sits perfectly both on the stovetop and in the oven; the domed lid keeps the moisture inside and its cast handle spares you from the complications of other models, where the handle is usually fixed with screws that come loose in time. Also, the loop allows you to carry it around by simply using a pair of oven mitts!
  • Because of its pre-seasoning, cleaning and maintaining it is quite easy – you only need to wash it with some hot water and a nylon, stiff brush. While no detergents are necessary, you will have to dry it with a towel and simply spray a thin layer of vegetable oil on it while the pot is still warm, without having to heat it after that.
  • The rugged cast iron construction doesn’t just slowly heats up, but it also keeps the heat evenly, for a long time. Whether you want to try a slow-cook recipe or you’re just looking to keep your meal warm for longer, you will have no problem in doing so!

On the downside,

  • The porous structure of the cast iron makes room for some imperfections of the pre-seasoning treatment. Some readers complain that their brand new cast iron dutch oven isn’t perfectly sealed, coming with some rust traces right from the box! When this happens, cleaning the oven thoroughly and doing a few rounds of seasoning on your own might be the best approach.
  • Moreover, leaving some traces of moisture right after you wash it, when storing it in the cupboard, might cause new traces of rust to show up. That’s why you will always have to keep it perfectly dry after washing and, even though it is already seasoned, you will need to add a thin layer of oil on top of it.

The Lodge L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned Cast iron Dutch Oven comes, however, with an amazing price for the quality it provides!

While its seasoning might not be flawless, it sure helps those who use a cast iron pot for the first time and who are clueless on what seasoning implies. As long as your dutch oven looks spotless when you unpack it and you follow all the manufacturer’s maintenance indications, you should have a truly enjoyable experience while using it, for the years to come!

Our readers are convinced that it’s a best seller for the best reasons.

#2 Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Lodge Color EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

This enameled cast iron dutch oven is among the most popular products from Lodge. Available in many colors and dimensions, for a surprisingly decent price, it always worth considering – so read on if you want to discover its beast features and its potential flaws.

Lodge Color EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven in the Island Spice Red version features two coats of porcelain enamel. The manufacturer advertises it as ideal for cooking, marinating, freezing or refrigerating foods. It should work well on any gas, ceramic, electric or induction cooktop, but also in the oven.

Before delving into the promised pros & cons, let’s have a look at the general, more practical details:

  • 6-quart iron dutch oven with a double layer of glossy porcelain enamel;
  • 12 x 14 x 7 inches, 4 ½ inches deep and 10 ¾ inches in diameter, weighing 16 pounds;
  • Available for a very decent price (around $60 or so), with free shipping and lifetime warranty against defects, but only eligible for shipping inside the U.S.
  • Manufactured in China, by Lodge’s meticulous specifications.

Wondering what readers have to say about cooking with it?

On a first glance, it has the advantage of the enameled outer layer – many are reluctant to choosing simple cast iron pots because they will have to season them on a regular base. So not having to season this model, thanks to the porcelain, is a real turn on. Nevertheless, while the model is supposed to save you from this daunting task, it still puts some extra pressure when it comes to taking care of it.

On the plus side,

  • The cast iron superbly distributes and retains heat;
  • The porcelain layer is easy to clean and non-reactive with foods;
  • The lid allows sealing the moisture in, making it ideal for low cooking stews or long braises;
  • The lid also perfectly fits the 11-inch Lodge color skillet;
  • It is suitable for glass top ranges, even though it should be handled with extra care to avoid scratching the glass.

On the downside,

  • The enamel outer layer seems to be the biggest concern through all the negative reviews of our readers;
  • Despite being dishwasher-safe, hand washing is recommended;
  • The dutch oven itself is oven-safe for up to 500-degree F, but the lid only to 400-degree F, which is a bit weird;
  • It is not suitable for microwave ovens, outdoor grills or open campfires and exposure to sudden changes in temperature should be avoided;

All in all, this Lodge Color EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven will bring you great value for a low price, provided you take proper care of it. Furthermore, it would allow you to experience much of the performance and quality of an expensive Le Creuset dutch oven, for a fraction of its cost. It is, after all, one of the most often sold and positively reviewed cast iron dutch ovens on Amazon!

#3 Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven –  Lodge L8DD3 Double Dutch Oven and Casserole

Very similar to the L8DOL3 model, this one comes with the advertised extra benefit of a multifunctional lid. Perfect for searing and sauteing, simmering or braising, baking, frying and roasting, the L8DD3 dutch oven from Lodge works well on various heat sources, from gas and electric to induction and ceramic-glass top stoves. Of course, the oven is yet another place where you can use this pre-seasoned cooking pot.

While the seller advertises it as suitable for grills and outdoor fires as well, you will notice that especially once heated, the oven will be quite difficult to handle and move from one place to another. Its handles aren’t very easy to pick and the weight doesn’t help much either.

Other than that, here’s what it has to offer:

  • 5-quart iron dutch oven and casserole, with skilled cover, pre-seasoned and ready to use out of the box;
  • 5 x 12 x12 inches, 10.25 inches diameter, 14.6 pounds;
  • Affordable price around $60 or so, with free shipping and lifetime warranty against defects included;

This model competes in price with our second best-rated option, the Lodge Color EC6D43 Enameled model. But just like our best-rated dutch oven, Lodge L8DOL3, it follows the traditional design of a pre-seasoned cast iron pot. What brings it to the third position, despite its multi-functional design provided by the skillet lid? Let us ponder the goods and the bads, and it should be obvious:

On the plus side,

  • It is made of cast iron and it comes pre-seasoned and ready-to-use;
  • It has ovenproof loop handles for easier handling;
  • The high dome lit increases capacity and can also be used as a skillet.

On the downside,

  • It costs considerably more than our top pick;
  • The pre-seasoning process can make the oven appear as if rusted, but the manufacturer suggests that the red shade will go off after 1 or 2 cooking sessions;
  • Despite being entirely made of cast iron and the manufacturer recommending it as suitable for outdoor cooking, it lacks the legs and the large handle that let you manipulate it easy even when very hot.
  • Exposing it to sudden temperature changes could make the oven crack.

To draw a conclusion, Lodge L8DD3 Double Dutch Oven and Casserole with Skillet Cover in its 5-Quart version is surprisingly similar with the best seller L8DOL3, but not nearly as popular. Its extra weight, the considerably higher price and the same need of pre-seasoning it just to get rid of the strange reddish shade of the outer layer of burned oil make users less willing to spend money on it. If you’re lured by the option of using the lid as a skillet, ask yourself if you don’t have better options in terms of iron cast skillets that you can buy individually!

Alternatives To The Top 3 Best Cast Iron Dutch Ovens By Quality

Now that we went through our top 3 picks based on features, price, and our readers’ opinions, the conclusion is more than obvious:

If you’re determined to have a cast iron dutch oven in your kitchen, we strongly feel that it should be a Lodge L8DOL3 model – simpler, lighter, with a better design, and a compromise option between kitchen and outdoor dutch ovens, for a price you simply cannot criticize!

Needless to say, best products don’t always come at the bets prices. So unless you’re constantly monitoring discounts and special offers on Amazon, having a best budget dutch oven recommendation will come in handy:

Best Budget Dutch Oven – Lodge L2SP3 Pre-Seasoned Cast iron Serving Pot

Enjoying all the benefits of a cast iron cooking pot, with the seasoning already covered by the manufacturer, for a decent price, is hard. But this L2SP3 model from Lodge, packed as a 2-quart serving pot, is a great deal. Aside from its small dimensions, almost everything else that there is to know about it goes on the plus side.

As a multi-functional cookware, the pot is perfect for all kinds of slow-cooking meals. Sear meat, deep fry your favorite snacks, bake bread or make the most delicious soups with it, in your kitchen or outside, at the campfire. Once the meal is ready, you can simply bring it to the table and serve from it.

Here’s what makes it our top recommendation for best budget cast iron dutch ovens:

  • 2-quart iron dutch oven, pre-seasoned, ready to use out of the box;
  • 54 x 9.84 x 8.66 inches the pot and 8 inches the iron cover, weighing together 7 pounds;
  • One of the best prices you can find for a pre-seasoned cast iron serving pot, with free shipping included;
  • Manufactured in the U.S.A.

If you’re not the type who cooks for an entire regiment, this pre-seasoned cast iron serving pot will prove quite handy. You can cook up to 2 quarts of food in it and take it from the stovetop to the tabletop. Not ready to eat just yet? No problem, the cast iron pot keeps your meal warm until you’re ready to enjoy it. And just like they say, it gets better with every new cooking session.

On the plus side,

 The price is always something to look at;

  • The small dimensions make it easier to handle, clean, and store;
  • The cast iron brings you all the benefits of a traditional dutch oven;
  • It is extremely versatile, allowing you to cook almost anything, almost everywhere – the only limitation is, like mentioned, the size of the pot.

On the downside,

  • If you cook for a big family, the 2-quart liquid capacity will be a turn off;
  • Even if it’s pre-seasoned, you might have to do a few extra rounds of seasoning by yourself, just to make sure you keep it in the best possible shape;
  • And if you cook with it outside, it won’t be easy to handle this small pot with your gloves on.

All in all, Lodge L2SP3 Pre-Seasoned Cast iron Serving Pot brings great value for the money, which is why is our top recommendation for best budget cast iron dutch ovens. Think of it as a compromise between a huge and relatively pricey dutch oven and a sturdy cast iron serving pot and you’ll know what to expect. Our readers generally have the same “complaints” about it as they do with any other dutch oven so if it’s not the size that matters to you, go for it!

Now that you know your best options and your budget option, don’t forget the different practical aspects. If you’re planning to camp and use your Dutch oven, better research for the best camping oven! You just need to keep a few aspects in mind, and you should be able to spot great options at ease:

How to choose from the many cast iron Dutch ovens for camping

While incredibly popular for cooking on stovetop or in the oven, cast iron dutch ovens for camping are even more appreciated. What’s the difference between these models and why should you have one for yourself?

These pots are also called chuckwagon or cowboy dutch ovens and they usually come with:

  • A wire bail handle, to give you more room for moving it from one place to another;
  • Three legs, to make it easier to put it on the ground or on top of the hot coals and still let the airflow underneath it;
  • A flat bottom with walls that are more concave and a rimmed lid, to let you put hot coals on top of the oven just as easy as underneath it.

Also, the rimmed lid can be used as a frying pan or a griddle, giving you more flexibility for camping cooking.

If you enjoy these outdoor activities, having your own dutch oven is a must. Opt for a cast iron model because it will always have more stability than aluminum or stainless steel ovens. The ideal capacity would be of 5-quart – it should be more than enough to even cook an entire chicken in it!

If you need a little help, here’s our top pick on this chapter:

Best Camping Dutch Oven – Lodge L10DCO3 Deep Camp Dutch Oven

As the manufacturer advertises it, this portable “camp stove” does it all. It has a more than decent capacity, it is made of sturdy cast iron that retains heat, and it has the perfect design that allows you to handle the pot with ease and enjoy its stability no matter where you place it. It’s main features are, as it follows:

  • 5-quart deep camp dutch oven made of cast iron, seasoned and ready to use;
  • 10-inch in diameter and 5-inch in depth, with 13 pounds weight;
  • Convenient price given its dimensions and seasoning, and lifetime warranty against defects;
  • Manufactured in U.S.A. and available for delivery in some other countries outside U.S.A.

Based on all the goods and the bads that we have spotted, but mostly inspired by our active readers, we’ve picked this L10DCO3 model from Lodge as our top recommendation for camping. Let’s have a look at it and help you see what makes it suitable for outside, improvised cooking:

On the plus side,

  • The design is perfect for cooking on open fire: you have a tight-fitting lid that keeps all the flavors inside; the small legs enhance stability, letting the air circulating when you place it on coals; and the loop handle is perfect for easy pick and handling;
  • The cast iron is a great material, that stores heat slowly but keeps it for hours, and the black color is very practical since the soot will build up on the outside;
  • The size is more than generous, allowing you to cook a consistent amount of food and the lid can be inverted and used separately, as a griddle;
  • It comes pre-seasoned, which takes a lot of the initial pressure of having to do a seasoning by the book, just to keep it in good shape.

On the downside,

  • The pre-seasoning alone is not necessarily enough to enjoy that smooth finish for a long time, so it is best if you can do a few rounds of seasoning by yourself – as you have probably noticed this is a common problem with Lodge’s cheaper models of cast iron dutch ovens…
  • Some users complained that their ordered products had lids that didn’t fit quite well, but they asked for a replacement and they had it changed.

To draw a conclusion, this Lodge L10DCO3 Deep Camp Dutch Oven is one of the best camping cast iron pots we’ve found on Amazon. Aside from its special design, meant to help you accommodate the different conditions of outdoor cooking, it features pretty much all the benefits of a regular dutch oven. And just like with all the other models previously reviewed, should you be unhappy with the initial delivery, always make use of their replacement and guarantee policies and you should be just fine.

What should you know about cast iron Dutch oven care?

The biggest concern of potential buyers is this seasoning need. Just to make it clear, seasoning is about creating a thin layer of polymerized oil on the surface of the cast iron. For those worried about what this means, polymerized oil is a type of oil broken down into a substance that resembles with plastic and that bonds to the metal surface. In this way, the iron gets covered with a thin but sturdy layer that prevents the contact with acidic ingredients, while offering some incredible non-stick properties.

Here’s HOW to season a cast iron dutch oven:

  • You need – a stiff brush or a rough sponge, some clean paper towels, a bit of vegetable oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • You must – clean your oven right after you finished cooking in it, while it is still warm and any residues will wipe out easily, without having to heavily scratch it.

Here are the steps:

  1. Begin by rapidly washing it with hot water and the brush or sponge. If there are residues on its bottom or walls, make a scrub from salt and water and you should remove it easily.
  2. Once washed, make sure it gets completely dry – you either rub it with paper towels or put it in the heated oven.
  3. Once dried, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil on the inside. Pour the oil and use a paper towel to spread it evenly. Heat the pan to a smoking point, take it off, let it cool, and repeat up to 4-6 times.
  4. After that, simply store it in a dry place until the next time you use it.

As a final piece of advice, always clean it right after you finished cooking and never let it stay wet in the pantry!

Your Go-To Resource To Shop For Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Now that we went through all the basics of choosing, using and taking care of a cast iron dutch oven, from the best, sometimes pricey, options to the more affordable ones, you should be able to make an informed decision. With the products available on Amazon, you don’t only get amazing feedback from real users, but also a great customer support, detailed product descriptions and tempting discounts. So go ahead, shop online for what may be the best investment in terms of cooking appliances!

Your cast iron pot will give you the most delicious, comfort foods and last through years. Doesn’t your family deserve such a treat?

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Lodge L8DOL3 Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Author Rating
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