When it comes to classic cooking tools, you can’t get much more old-school than the Dutch oven. Everyone’s favorite pot may look simple from the outside—but it’s actually a kitchen game-changer. The Dutch oven can do it all: braise meat, bake bread, deep-fry chicken and make deliciously flavorful soups and stews. With proper care, a Dutch oven will last you a lifetime, says Malia Call, a culinary instructor based in Utah, “I will pass my Dutch oven on to my kids, and they can pass it on to future generations.” Cleaning your Dutch oven the right way will ensure you’re cooking up flavorful Dutch oven recipes (like these!) for many years to come.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Bare cast iron Dutch ovens don’t have a protective finish, and should be cleaned just like your cast iron skillet (a process which requires a little more effort than cleaning your other pans). Here’s how to clean an uncoated cast iron Dutch oven:
Step 1: Wash by Hand
Use a small amount of mild dish soap and a soft sponge to gently wash off any leftover food bits. Make sure that you’re not scrubbing too hard or using an abrasive sponge as it could remove the seasoning and open your Dutch oven up to rusting. Also—sorry, no dishwasher!
Step 2: Use a Plastic Scraper
For stuck-on food, fill the pot with a little water and simmer to loosen, then use a plastic scraper to remove the food after the pot has cooled. Then wash the pot in soapy water with a soft sponge. By the way, this is the cleaning tool we use to wash our cast iron pieces.
Step 3: Completely Dry
Dry the pot with a paper towel or cloth. Be careful not to leave any standing water in the pot (or leave the pot to soak), which can cause rust.
Step 4: Season Your Dutch Oven
Season the pot by rubbing a small amount of cooking oil or seasoning spray on the interior. Wipe with a paper towel to remove extra residue. If you see a spot of rust on your cast iron Dutch oven, or have noticed food sticking more than normal, you may want to fully reseason it. Take a look at our guide to seasoning a Dutch oven for the step-by-step instructions.
Step 5: Store
When not in use, keep your Dutch oven and lid in a dry area, like a cabinet or shelf away from the sink and stove. It’s best to keep the lid next to the Dutch oven, rather than on top of it, to allow for airflow.
How to Clean an Enamel Dutch Oven
An enamel Dutch oven is still made from cast iron, but features a nonstick and durable enamel finish. Cleaning enameled Dutch ovens are a bit easier, plus they come in all sorts of colors to brighten your kitchen. This is how to clean an enameled Dutch oven:
Step 1: Wash by Hand
Wash the pan with dish soap and a nylon or other non-abrasive brush or sponge. Never use abrasive cleaners or steel wool pads, which can scratch or damage the enamel.
Step 2: Overnight Soak
If your pot has stubborn food residue that won’t wash away easily, fill it with a little water and baking soda and let it soak overnight. This will loosen up the grime. Then gently scrub with soap and water.
Step 3: Bar Keepers Friend for Tough Stains
For really tough stains or food burns, try the always handy Bar Keepers Friend. Simply sprinkle the cleaning powder into the pot with a little bit of water and scrub. Then, wash and rinse as normal. Here are even more things you can clean with Bar Keepers Friend!
Now that you know how to clean your Dutch oven so it looks brand new, it’s time to get cooking! Here are some of our favorite Dutch oven recipes.