10 Dutch Oven Cooking Tips That’ll Make You a Better Cook

Updated: Feb. 25, 2022

Want to improve the results of your favorite Dutch oven recipes? Check out these Dutch oven cooking tips!

1 / 10
Beef Bourguignon in an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
rudisill/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Don’t Toss It in at Once

The real benefit of using a Dutch Oven (here are our favorites) as opposed to a slow cooker is its ability to create layers of flavors. Resist the urge to toss the meat and vegetables in at the same time as the liquid component. The dish will taste better if you sear these items in hot oil until they have some color first.

2 / 10
Ratatouille being cooked in a cast iron casserole Stewed dish French cooking
nobtis/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Trap the Steam

Some recipes call for boiling food uncovered, like making pasta or reducing a sauce. When braising meat in a Dutch oven, we always plop the lid on top, even if it’s only partially covered. The lid will trap the steam inside, keeping the braised food nice and tender as it cooks.

3 / 10
making chicken consomme soup in a pot
bonchan/Stock/Getty Images Plus

Cook with a Flavorful Liquid

Soups, stews, and braised dishes are all about creating concentrated flavors, so skip the water and use a flavored liquid instead. Feel free to incorporate wine into chicken dishes, beer into chili or use homemade chicken broth as the basis for your recipe.

4 / 10
A beautiful young blonde woman looks up, smiling proudly, as she holds a casserole dish next to the oven in her modern, elegant kitchen. Here's to cooking success!
RapidEye/Stock/Getty Images Plus

Don’t be Afraid of the Oven

One of the biggest benefits of cooking in a Dutch oven is that it can work on the stovetop or in the oven. Feel free to start long-simmered dishes on the stovetop. Once the liquid has come to a boil, transfer the Dutch oven to a 300° oven, where the dish can gently simmer until its finished.

Learn how to take care of your Dutch oven so you’ll have it forever.

5 / 10
Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Lid Lifter Top View
Angela Schmidt/Stock/Getty Images Plus

Use the Lid

The lid isn’t only used for covering the pot while the food cooks. Instead of dirtying up an extra dish, turn the lid upside down and use it hold your seared meat until it’s ready to return to the pot. You’ll have to wash the lid anyway, so you may as well!

Don’t make these Dutch oven cooking mistakes.

6 / 10
Freshly baked artisan bread in dutch oven.
MichellePatrickPhotographyLLC/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Bake Bread at Home

Commercial bread ovens use fancy steam injection to keep the inside of the loaf nice and moist while the outside crisps up. It turns out a Dutch oven creates a similar amount of steam! Place it on the middle rack and cover it with the lid while the oven is preheating. Then, turn out your dough and return the lid, baking a perfect loaf of bread. Here are more Dutch oven baking tips.

7 / 10
Broccoli florets being cooked in a steamer.
lucentius/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Cook Two Things at Once

Remember how we talked about how you can use a lid to trap steam inside your Dutch oven? Take advantage of that heat by cooking two things at once. Set up a steamer basket inside the Dutch oven and use it to steam vegetables above your braising meats or simmering soup.

8 / 10
Homemade Donuts and Donut Holes in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
rudisill/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Don’t Skip on the Oil

Your Dutch oven’s shiny, enameled surface might look nonstick, but it’s not as slick as you might think. Don’t skip the oil or butter when cooking in a Dutch oven, or your food might stick and burn to the bottom of the pot.

Wondering about the best type of cookware? We compared ceramic, nonstick, cast iron and glass to find the best.

9 / 10
Chicken Tortilla Soup (or Taco Soup) in a Dutch Oven
rudisill/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Take Advantage of How it Holds Heat

A Dutch oven will stay warm long after you remove it from the stovetop. Take advantage of those properties by using the pot as a serving vessel. It works the other way, too; fill the Dutch oven with ice water for about 10 minutes. Then, drain it and use it to keep cold dishes like potato salad colder.

Are you seasoning your Dutch oven correctly?

10 / 10
Flat lay. Red, white, and blue enameled cast iron covered dutch oven on a white background.
arinahabich/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Always Let it Cool

Pouring cold water into a hot frying pan can cause them to warp, but it’s even worse with a Dutch oven: The pan could crack in half! It’s much safer to let the pan cool down before attempting to clean it.