9 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Dutch Oven

Avoid these common mistakes to get the most out of your Dutch oven, and to keep your kitchen workhorse looking brand new.

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Step by step. Cooking homemade turkey chili for dinner.
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Cooking Over High Heat

Avoid heating a Dutch oven on high heat; you may scorch the finish. The benefit of cast iron is that it holds heat very well. Heating over medium is totally adequate. You can generally go even lower once the pot is warmed up. Try this method in these Dutch oven recipes.

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Overhead view of savory marinara, slow cooked all day in an enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven.
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Using Metal Utensils

Most Dutch ovens are made with enameled cast iron, which is wonderfully nonstick but can scratch. Avoid using metal utensils, which can scrape the finish. Instead, reach for silicone, plastic or wood.

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A close up shot of a casserole pot
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Scouring Stains

Enameled cast iron can get discolored with use. Instead of scouring it with steel wool or harsh detergents, which can damage the finish, go natural. Heat water and baking soda on the stovetop until boiling, and let cool. The stains should lift.

These are our favorite Dutch ovens on the market.

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Delicious braised chicken breast cooked in a Dutch oven resting on the stove top in a home kitchen.
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Heating Up Dry

The enamel can crack if heated when empty, so never set a dry cast-iron pan over a flame. Instead, pour in some fat, like oil or butter, to heat up along with the iron. Some liquid, like broth or even water, will also keep the surface safe.

Warm up with these Dutch oven recipes for winter.

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Dutch oven on a stove while cooking chicken noodle soup.
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Switching Temperatures Too Quickly

One of the best things about cast iron is that it can go from stovetop to tabletop to fridge. The trick is to go slowly. Rapidly changing temperatures can cause cracking. Don’t put a cold Dutch oven in a hot oven, for example: put it in a cold oven and preheat them together. Here’s why.

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whole roasted chicken in lemongrass and coconut milk, dutch oven

Putting the Plastic Handle in Oven

Dutch ovens are oven-safe, making them ideal for braising meat or baking bread. If you’re baking on high heat, beware: your pot is probably heatproof, but the knob on the lid often has a heat limit below 400º. Simply twist off the knob and bake without it, or use a metal knob.

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Close up of a freshly baked sourdough bread in a dutch oven
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Only Using It For Stews and Soups

Yes, your Dutch oven is the ideal vessel for cooking just about any cozy soup and stew. But did you know it can also bake a loaf of bread? Try this and these other unexpected Dutch oven recipes.

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Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire

Not Thinking Outside the Kitchen

Exciting news for campers: Dutch ovens don’t need to stay on the stovetop or in the oven. Almost all Dutch ovens can cook on a grill top or directly over a flame. Next time you go camping, make these Dutch oven recipes to make over a campfire.

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Putting It in the Dishwasher

Although many Dutch ovens say they can be put in the dishwasher, it’s best to wash them by hand. The dishwasher’s high heat and harsh atmosphere can wear away at the enameled finish. The best way to wash a Dutch oven is by hand in warm, soapy water and dry promptly.

Kelsey Dimberg
A former senior digital editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Chicago. Since 2010, she’s followed a gluten-free diet, and especially enjoys the challenge of baking sourdough bread and pizza dough. As a contributing writer for Taste of Home, she covers a broad range of topics but with a special emphasis on gluten-free cooking and baking. Outside of her gluten-free experiments in the kitchen, Kelsey is also the author of the thriller novel “Girl in the Rearview Mirror.”