There’s no better way to make stews, soups, braises, chili, pasta sauce or chicken and dumplings than with a Dutch oven. For centuries, cast iron Dutch ovens like Calphalon®, Le Creuset and more have been the mainstay of family cooking. Today, you’ll still find Dutch ovens in iron, but enamel Dutch ovens and those made of ceramic, hard anodized aluminum or stainless steel have gained followers. Choosing between the materials will help you to decide which Dutch oven is best for you.
Unlike a slow cooker or crockpot, using a cast iron Dutch oven lets you sear or brown your meat in the same pot you’ll cook it in, keeping the flavors with your food and making clean up easier. Where a crockpot traps all of the moisture with the cooking food, a Dutch oven allows evaporation, so pasta sauces, soups and stews grow thick without becoming watery.
Classic cast iron Dutch ovens must be fully seasoned before using it with any acidic food. This is the primary difference between enamel Dutch ovens and those of cast iron. Enamel can be used without pretreatment. Ceramic Dutch ovens and those made of stainless steel or aluminum are also lighter in weight than iron or enamel. Here, too, there is no need to season before use.