Whether you own a Dutch oven or not, chances are you’ve probably heard of them since Dutch ovens are all the rage these days. However, the price points of Dutch ovens can indeed get quite high, which often get people wondering if they are worth the investment.
Isn’t a Dutch oven just another large pot? Well, not exactly. Today, we’ll try to resolve the mystery of Dutch ovens once and for all.
So, let’s start by answering the question straight away. Why are Dutch ovens so expensive?
The short answer: Dutch ovens get quite expensive when high-quality materials are used to make them. Dutch ovens are fairly thick which is necessary in order to let them absorb heat, and they are also supposed to last for many years.
A large amount of quality cast iron is needed to make them, and the enamel coating also needs to be top-notch if you want a durable Dutch oven.
On the other hand, not every Dutch oven is actually that expensive. Just like with anything else on the market, you’ll find a whole range of products at different prices.
However, investing in a high-quality Dutch oven is certainly worth it. So, to understand what really makes up the price of a Dutch oven, we’ll have to start at the beginning – we’ll explain what exactly a Dutch oven is, what are they made of, and what are the important features that need to be considered.
Table of Contents
What Is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch Oven is basically a large cooking pot with thick walls and a matching lid. These pots have a long history – they were originally used to cook food over, under, or near hot coals – this is why they are still called “ovens”.
These pots have existed for centuries in various different cultures and going by different names, but the principle has always been the same. A Dutch oven needs to have thick walls made of a material that retains heat really well, so it can allow for the food to cook slowly and evenly on any heat source.
For the same reason, the lid of a dutch oven is also always heavy and tight-fitting. The lid really needs to fit perfectly here, because this allows for the heat and flavors to remain trapped inside the pot.
These old-school Dutch ovens used to have short legs at the bottom and/or a long handle at the top, which would allow you to hang the pot over a fire. Modern Dutch ovens, on the other hand, are made to be used on the stovetop and in the oven.
Hence, they don’t have legs, but they might have various types of coating that make clean up easier (we’ll go over that in a bit).
Even though many people still consider cast iron Dutch ovens the originals and the best options, there are some other options available on the market today. So let’s go over all of the options available to see what are their pros and cons.
Types of Dutch Ovens
Uncoated Cast Iron Dutch Oven
With cast iron Dutch ovens, you can basically go two ways – enamel-coated cast iron, or cast iron without any coatings. While the enameled cast iron Dutch ovens definitely have their advantages, there is nothing wrong with uncoated cast iron Dutch ovens.
Both types are made the same way, featuring a thick layer of cast iron which retains heat and distributes it evenly across the pot. The main difference between these two is in the way they need to be cleaned and maintained.
You might have heard that uncoated cast iron is difficult to clean. While this is not technically true, at least in our opinion, caring for cast iron does involve a specific routine.
These pots need to be seasoned, and they should never be washed with soap. The bottom line is, if you decide to try your hand with plain cast iron, you can actually find some nice options that won’t break the bank, like the Lodge 7-Quart Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven, for example. (See here)
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
As we have already mentioned, enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are the same thing as the plain cast iron versions, only with the addition of the enamel coating. These are the beautiful, colorful pots you’ve probably seen someone’s grandmother use.
But they are amazing too. The thing with these pots is that you really want the enamel to be top-notch. Get a cheap enameled Dutch oven, and the enamel coating will start cracking and chipping off in no time.
The best of the best and a timeless classic is definitely the Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Dutch Oven (See here). The Le Creuset Dutch oven features a high-quality enamel coating that is amazingly durable and comes in a range of colors.
It’s true, they are quite expensive, but they are definitely worth the price as the investment will pay off over the years. However, for those on a budget, Lodge does make a cheaper version.
Aluminum, Ceramic Non-Stick, and Other Materials
Finally, modern Dutch ovens can really be made of any material. You can find some made of stainless steel with or without an aluminum core, aluminum Dutch ovens with a non-stick coating, and probably some other options.
While these pots will basically do the trick, they cannot compare with the magic of a cast iron Dutch oven, since stainless steel and aluminum don’t have the same heat retention properties that cast iron has.
So, why are Dutch ovens so expensive? Simply because of the amount of material and craftsmanship that goes into making one of these babies.
However, as we can show you, even though a good Dutch oven is definitely worth the investment, this doesn’t mean you have to go all out in order to afford a Dutch oven.