3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Dutch Oven

Used correctly, a Dutch oven can turn just about any ordinary wild game recipe into a flavorful and delicious meal

Cast Iron on Table Display
Dutch ovens aren’t just for soups and stews. You can use one to bake bread, create a desert, or make the best campfire baked beans you’ve ever had in your life.Lodge

Other than perhaps the Crock-Pot, a Dutch oven is the most important cookware in a game chef’s kitchen. However, you can’t throw a Crock-Pot into a fire like you can a Dutch Oven and come out with anything but a molten mess. Dutch ovens are suited for an open flame or bed of hot coals, and from tenderizing venison shoulder to baking cherry cobbler, a cast-iron Dutch oven is about as foolproof as cooking wild game gets. Here’s what to look for.

Cast Iron

Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven
A properly seasoned Dutch oven makes cooking about as easy as it can get.Amazon

Properly seasoned and maintained, a solid cast-iron Dutch oven only gets better with age. Some versions come unseasoned, while others are pre-treated at the factory. But either way, they are almost indestructible. A light rinse with mildly soapy water and a wipe with vegetable oil is all it takes to get a lifetime of service out of a cast-iron Dutch oven. If you plan to do a lot of cooking over an open fire, consider a cast-iron model with legs as it is easier to shovel coals underneath for even cooking.

Enamel Coated

Blue AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven
Enameled cast iron does a good job of retaining heat.Amazon

Dutch ovens work like a regular oven by setting up internal convection currents. Enameled cast iron is particularly good at heat retention and distribution. It's classy looks will appeal to even to most refined home chef, and the knobs on enameled cookware usually are made of a better insulating material than the one-piece cast-iron handles, which can burn an incautious cook.

Aluminum

Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware
Not all Dutch ovens are made of iron.Amazon

A Dutch oven does not have to me made of cast-iron. Contemporary, non-stick models are made of anodized aluminum with non-stick coatings that make cleaning up a breeze. Wash and rinse by hand, or just pop it in the dishwasher. Aluminum Dutch-ovens are lighter than cast iron and also offer the option of transparent lids with heat-resistant handles.