If you’ve ever made a soup or stew, you’ve probably been instructed to cook in a Dutch Oven. Dutch ovens, also known as French ovens, are round, heavy pots usually made of cast iron or enameled cast iron. They have tight-fitting lids that create a warm, steamy environment for cooking soups, stews or braises. Their thickness and weight make them excellent conductors of heat so your food will cook evenly. Their tall sides make them perfect for roasts and even deep-frying.
Dutch ovens range in size from 2 to 13 quarts. They can be expensive — good ones can run upwards of $200 — but even with regular use, they generally outlast other cookware. Buy a less-expensive one to see how frequently you use it before making a big purchase.
If a recipe calls for a Dutch oven and you don’t have one, don’t worry. Use a heavy stock or soup pot in its place.