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Why You Need a Dutch Oven for Cold-Weather Cooking

Three images of recipes displayed in the article below including jalapeno cheddar bread by The Chunky Chef, Coq au Vin by RecipeTin Eats and Chicken Tetrazzini by Natasha's Kitchen.
The Chunky Chef/RecipeTin Eats/Natasha’s Kitchen

Have you ever heard of a Dutch oven? After reading this, you’ll want to add one to your kitchen collection immediately! This classic culinary workhorse will help you create some of the most satisfying stews, soups, or braises, and you won’t have to break the bank to buy one.

Those who are familiar with the Dutch oven likely think of brands like Le Creuset or Staub. Fortunately, though, there are many reliable (and more affordable) brands out there.

First, I’ll share why my Le Creuset Dutch oven is my absolute favorite cooking tool for fall and winter. If you love cooking, you would most likely benefit from owning one, too! So let’s take a look at why the Dutch oven is a kitchen necessity, a few brands we recommend, and finally, some of the delicious dishes you can make in this versatile piece of cookware.

Why Dutch Ovens Are the Best in Fall and Winter

An enameled Dutch oven filled with a hearty chili with rolls and all the chili fixings ont the side.
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.com

We all have that one piece of cookware we can’t live without, and if yours isn’t a Dutch oven, then I have to ask—do you own one?

Seriously, the versatile Dutch oven can do it all, and it really shines on cold days when you need a hot, homey meal to warm you up. Homemade meals made lovingly with just the right ingredients are always best when cooked in your shiny cast iron because it works on a stovetop or in an oven.

So whether you’re browning, braising, stewing, roasting, or even frying, a Dutch oven is your one-stop-shop for doing it all. If you ask us, that’s the best way to cook when it’s cold and you just need a hot meal.

This all-in-one cookware also has a classic appeal (enameled or non-enameled) and presents gorgeously as a centerpiece. It’ll look lovely on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table, or really at any get-together.

Speaking of enameled or non-enameled, let’s talk about what that means.

Enameled Cast Iron vs. Cast Iron

When selecting any cast-iron cookware, there are two main categories: enameled and non-enameled. The question isn’t so much which is better, but really which is best for you, and the type of cooking you do.

One of the very best parts of building a collection of reliable cookware is purchasing it over time, so, eventually, you’ll experience cooking with various types of cookware, depending on what you’re making.

Some of the main differences between the two are noticeable right away. A brightly colored exterior and tan interior mean it’s enameled, and a non-enameled cast-iron Dutch oven will boast a slightly textured, black exterior and interior.

The price points, heating, and nonstick properties, as well as the types of cooking you do, all make a difference. Be sure to check out our guide to help you decide which would be best for you.

The Dutch Ovens We Recommend

Two images of Dutch ovens: the left is by Le Creuset, and the right is by Lodge.
Le Creuset/Lodge

Again, there’s no need to break the bank for a reliable Dutch oven. Luckily, there are lots of brands you can choose from, at various price points for all.

After you’ve decided whether enameled or non-enameled is right for you, it’s time to learn more about each brand and which is best for you and your cooking style.

My Favorite: Le Creuset 5.5 Quart

I’m very passionate about cooking and love spending time in the kitchen, so splurging on top-notch brands is a no-brainer investment fit for my lifestyle. I adore my Le Creuset, and throughout the cold months in New England, I use it at least a couple of times per week.

Le Creuset is one of the most well-known enameled cast-iron brands. It’s known for its versatility and durability. The company has been building these heavy-duty pieces since the 1920’s, so it’s fair to say they know what they’re doing.

Best Budget Option: The Lodge 6 Quart

To get the same amount of oomph at a cheaper price, you can turn to another fantastic brand. Lodge creates excellent cast-iron cookware, in both enameled and non-enameled. I also have a non-enameled cast iron Dutch oven by Lodge, and I use it almost as often as our enameled Le Creuset.

This American-made brand is known for its quality craftsmanship, its gorgeous enameled Dutch ovens, and, especially, its unbeatable prices.

After you decide which Dutch oven to buy, it’s time to start cooking! Let’s look at some of the best fall and winter dishes to break in that new Dutch oven.

Coq au Vin

Two images of Coq Au Vin cooked in an enameled Dutch Oven by Dinner at the Zoo
RecipeTin Eats

Coq au Vin is a fabulous French dish that has “classical cuisine” written all over it! Chicken thighs and drumsticks will cook in the lusciously rich wine sauce filled with pearl onions, mushrooms, and garlic.

It’s best served over fluffy mashed potatoes, but make sure also to grab some warm crusty bread for sopping because I won’t allow even a smidge of that sauce to go to waste.

Corn Chowder

Two images displaying corn chowder made in an enameled Dutch oven by Once Upon a Chef.
Once Upon a Chef

Corn chowder is a much less fancy way to use that enameled Dutch oven, but no less tasty. Bell peppers and diced onion work in tandem to create an aromatic boost to this dish, while crunchy kernels sliced right off the cob give this chowder a genuine flair.

You’ll love the creamy, rich broth made with milk and chicken bouillon, but once you swirl in the sour cream, there’s no turning back.

Jalapeño Cheddar Dutch Oven Bread

Two images of Jalapeno cheddar bread made in a Dutch oven by The Chunky Chef.
The Chunky Chef

That’s right; your Dutch oven can turn sticky bread dough into a warm loaf you’ll fall in love with. Plus, it’s a no-knead recipe, so don’t freight about giving this one a try!

Plus, jalapeno and cheddar are a match made in heaven, especially when added to bread. If there is one reason to get a Dutch oven, it’s for making warm homemade loaves any time your heart desires.

Braised Short Ribs

Two images of braised short ribs cooked in a blue enameled Dutch oven by Dinner at the Zoo.
Dinner at the Zoo

Braising is one of the best ways to enjoy your Dutch oven. The actual prep is pretty minimal, but your oven and Dutch oven work unitedly to turn those pieces of beef into tender chunks of deliciousness.

This recipe calls for boneless or bone-in, but I almost always recommend bone-in, and this recipe is no exception. The bone naturally adds a depth of flavor to the meal, mainly because it’s braised using low temperatures and long cooking times.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Two images displaying Chicken Tetrazzini made by Natasha's Kitchen in a red Dutch Oven.
Natasha’s Kitchen

For something a bit less stew-like with no lack of comfort, you can always turn to a carb-filled dinner like this chicken tetrazzini! A creamy and cheesy baked pasta dish filled with juicy mushrooms and chunks of chicken breast make this one-of-a-kind Dutch oven dinner a crowd pleaser for all.

Butternut Squash Moroccan Stew

Two images displaying butternut squash chickpea Moroccan stew made by Ambitious Kitchen.
Ambitious Kitchen

If you are looking for something a bit more unique, turn to this hearty (and healthy) Moroccan stew filled with all the plant-based ingredients you’ll love. It’s a fantastic Meatless Monday option and especially shines when you pair it with warm naan bread.

Now that you know everything a Dutch oven can do for you, we’ve got one more sweet surprise: You can even use this trusty cookware to bake delicious desserts. It really can do it all!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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