When trying to decide what pots and pans you need for your kitchen, things can quickly become confusing. Whether it’s trying to figure out the difference between a saucepan and a pot or in this case the stock pot vs Dutch oven. As such you may be left scratching your head. Don’t worry though, we’ll soon clarify things for you.

Stock Pot Vs Dutch Oven– The Differences

Dutch ovens and stock pots are both pieces of kitchen equipment that can be used to cook a big batch of food. Often this will involve large quantities of liquid, however, this isn’t always the case. As such, to really clarify whether you’ll need a Dutch oven or stock pot it’s important to first break down what the differences are between the two of them.

What is a Dutch Oven?

Dutch ovens are incredibly versatile pieces of cooking equipment that can be used for a variety of different cooking techniques. These vary from slow cooking to deep frying to braising, with a large dutch oven even being used to make one-pot roasts. 

Additionally, unlike many other pots, Dutch ovens are heavy pots that are perfectly comfortable on a hob, in the oven or even on hot coals. The latter of which makes the dutch oven ideal for campfire cooking.

What Does a Dutch Oven Look Like?

A Dutch oven is essentially an oval or round shaped pot that is quite wide. Like many pots it will have tall sides, however, these will typically be shorter than those of a stock pot. Additionally, Dutch ovens will come with a lid which like the sides and base of the Dutch oven will be made of thicker and heavy materials.

Stock Pot Vs Dutch Oven - What's The Difference?

What Is a Dutch Oven Made of?

Most Dutch ovens will traditionally be made of cast iron with this practice going back to their invention in the seventeenth century. As such the term cast iron Dutch oven is as synonymous with this type of cookware as the words “cast iron” are for skillets.

The technique used for making a cast iron Dutch oven is to mould it in sand. This is a variation of a Dutch technique that used clay for the same purpose. From this process, the dense, durable and versatile piece of cookware that is the Dutch oven was born.

Whilst some other types of pots will have glass or transparent plastic lids, this isn’t the case with the Dutch oven. Instead, a cast iron Dutch oven will have a lid made from cast iron. The benefit of this is that heat will remain trapped within the Dutch oven for long periods of time. Additionally, the entire Dutch oven will heat up more evenly.

Other Materials

Aside from the more traditional and popular cast iron, some modern Dutch ovens will instead be made from stainless steel. A benefit of this is that stainless steel is lighter than cast iron, however, it is not quite as durable or heat resistant.

Additionally, there is a variant of the Dutch oven called the French oven. Whilst the core concept of the cast iron structure is the same, French ovens will have an enamel coating. The benefit being that unlike with cast iron, the enamel coating will not need preseasoning as it will act as a non-stick coating.

A French oven can also be known as an enameled Dutch oven, leading to some confusion. Fortunately, though, we’ve clarified the differences between a French and Dutch oven in a previous post.

What is a Stock Pot?

A stock pot is as the name suggests a pot initially created for making stock. Most stock pots will be very tall with high, straight sides, in addition to a thin base. 

These traits combined make stock pots ideal for the quick heating of larger quantities of liquid. As such they will be a convenient and quick pot choice when taking water to the boiling point and making homemade stock.

Aside from making stock, stock pots can also be used for many different cooking styles. Often a stock pot will be used for a cooking process requiring large amounts of liquid such as soup, boiling pasta and making large quantities of sauce.  

What Is a Stock Pot Made of?

It is crucially important that stock pots are both lightweight and capable of conducting heat well. This is because they are primarily used for heating large amounts of liquid which during the cooking process may need to be moved. As such a heavy and bulky pan won’t be practical in a lot of contexts.

With these requirements in mind, stock pot manufacturers will often make stainless steel aluminium stock pots. This is because the benefits of these metals are their lightweight along with their ability to quickly conduct heat evenly.

These materials can also be seen in the loose-fitting lid options for stock pots. These will either be metal lids or alternatively glass lids that are designed to be loose intentionally so steam can easily escape. The reason for this being that it helps to reduce sauces, soups and stocks cooked within.

Stock Pot Vs Dutch Oven - What's The Difference?

What Size Stock Pot Do I Need?

Stock pots range heavily in both width and height with the average home cooking options ranging from four quarts to twenty quarts. However, stock pots can easily be bigger with many stock pots used commercially ranging from thirty-six to one hundred quarts in capacity.

In most home cooking contexts though, anything more than twenty quarts will likely be excessive. With that in mind, however, you may be wondering what size stock pot you need for different types of meal prep. 

Don’t worry, we’ll go through the best size options for some of the most common stock pot recipes.

The Right Size Stock Pot For Pasta/Spaghetti

When cooking pasta or spaghetti for either yourself or an average family a six-quart stock pot will be ideal. However, if you’re cooking for a slightly larger group then using an eight-quart stock pot may be a better option.

Either way though, it is recommended that you use a pasta pot insert in order to more efficiently and easily drain the water from the pasta.

The Right Size Stock Pot For Soup

When making soup a smaller stock pot is necessary. Typically this will be a four-quart stock pot. However, if making a particularly large batch then a six-quart stock pot may be necessary instead.

When making soup in a stock pot, however, it’s best to use a pan with a heavy-duty bottom. This is because on a simmer the soup lower in the pan may burn if exposed to too much heat.

The Right Size Stock Pot For Bone Broth

If using something along the lines of a chicken for your bone broth then an eight-quart stock pot should be perfectly suitable. However, for a bit more versatility a twelve-quart stock pot is advised. The reason for this is that the larger stock pot will be useful for larger bones such as duck along with beef and pork shank bones.

Additionally, the twelve-quart stock pot should come in very handy for other uses as well. For example, it can be used for boiling lobster or ears of corn

The Right Size Stock Pot For Canning

When canning the produce of your stock pot using twelve-quart stock pots is recommended if doing so in smaller batches. 

However, if planning something of a larger scale then using a twenty-quart stock pot will work better. This is because twenty-quart stock pots will be able to accommodate a canning rack. Therefore making the process simpler and more efficient.

The Right Size Stock Pot For Brewing

Typically, homebrewing recipes for beer will result in approximately five gallons of beer. However, significantly more liquid, along with the other ingredients will be required in order to end up with such a result.

As a result of this, the containers needed for homebrewing tend to be quite large. Due to this, if using stock pots for this purpose you should opt for something between thirty-two quarts and forty quarts. However, the specific size required will depend heavily on the recipe you intend on following.  

Stock Pot Vs Dutch Oven– Can You Use them Interchangeably

There is a large amount of crossover in how stock pots and Dutch ovens are used in the kitchen. For example, both Dutch ovens and stock pots are often used for making soups. As such many people will wonder if they can be used completely interchangeably, therefore eliminating the need for both.

Stock Pot Vs Dutch Oven - What's The Difference?

Using A Dutch Oven In Place Of A Stock Pot

In the vast majority of cases everything stock pots can do, can also be easily done in a dutch oven. If following recipes, you’ll have to take into account the rate of time it takes for Dutch ovens to heat up. 

However, once they have reached the desired temperature, they will be able to maintain this heat for a lot longer. This is because of the cast iron Dutch ovens are made of, which allows them to withstand high heat and trap it within the pot.

However, a word of caution surrounding cast iron Dutch ovens is that they are not the best for highly acidic foods. This is because these will cause the non-stick layer created from pre-seasoning can often be eroded by these foods. 

This isn’t to say that they can’t be used for foods such as tomatoes for example though. Just that extra maintenance will be required if you do choose to do so. However, this can be somewhat sidestepped if you use a French oven instead, as the enamel will not react to acidic foods in the same manner.

Additionally, whilst they can be used for recipes and cooking methods requiring lots of liquid, Dutch ovens may not be the best option. This is because whilst they can nearly perfectly replicate the effects of stock pots, they can also be more than double the weight. This becomes a problem when trying to move them as when full of liquid Dutch ovens are incredibly heavy.

Using A Stock Pot In Place Of A Dutch Oven

Replacing Dutch ovens with stock pots on the other hand isn’t something that can be done to the same level. This is because whilst Dutch ovens are oven safe and usable outdoors, the same isn’t true for stock pots.

However, for cooking on a stovetop, stock pots are often a better option than Dutch ovens. This is because they are lighter, making them more convenient and easy to move. Additionally though, whilst they don’t retain heat as well as Dutch ovens, they will reach a high heat much more quickly meaning that your cooking time will be reduced.

If replacing a Dutch oven for slow cooking or brazing, however, you’re best off using something like a crock pot instead. This is because, unlike Dutch ovens, most stock pots aren’t necessarily oven safe. 

In addition, even the ones that are can’t be used at high-temperature settings. However, the upside is that the heat conductive nature of stock pots means that they won’t necessarily take too much longer than over slow cooking methods. However, you will likely have to check the stock pot more frequently to avoid uneven cooking.

Dutch Oven vs Stock Pot – Comparison Table

Stock PotDutch Oven
Construction/MaterialsAluminium and Stainless steelCast iron or Stainless steel 
Weight (5.5-quart version)5 Pounds12 Pounds
UseStocks, soups, broths and saucesSlow cooking
Oven SafetyNo (mostly)Yes
Heat ConductionHeats up quicklyHeats up slowly
Heat RetentionLoses Heat QuicklyLoses Heat Slowly
VersatilityLiquid heavy focus and stovetop onlyStovetop and oven compatible. Can be used for most purposes, even bread baking
StorageConveniently stacks with other potsNot easily stacked
PriceCheaperMore Expensive
Can It Deep Fry?Not ideal but possiblePerfectly suitable

Dutch Ovens Vs Stock Pots – Conclusion

There is some crossover in how a Dutch oven and stock pot can be used. Ultimately, however, they are very different pieces of cookware intended for very distinct purposes. 

Dutch ovens for instance are intended to be versatile workhorses that can be used in all sorts of cooking methods both indoors and outdoors. These can range from brazing to slow cooking and even many roles fulfilled by a stock pot. However, the bulky weight makes Dutch ovens less than ideal for cooking with a large volume of liquid.

Meanwhile, whilst they have other uses, stock pots are intended mainly for cooking large batches of liquid heavy food, particularly on a hob. Whilst this specialisation may be limiting for some, the specialised nature of their design makes them by far the superior choice for making dishes such broths, stocks, soups, sauces, etc. 

FAQs 

Can I use a stock pot instead of a Dutch oven?

For certain cooking techniques, a stock pot can be used in place of a Dutch oven. Making soups, stocks, sauces or broths on a hob will be easier in a stock pot as that is what they’re designed for. Meanwhile, you can also deep fry in a stock pot although the results will likely not be as successful as in a Dutch oven. Outside of these cooking techniques though it is not recommended to use a stock pot in place of a Dutch oven.

Is a Dutch oven better than a regular pot?

In many circumstances a Dutch oven can perfectly fulfil the requirements of multiple different types of pot, this is because it can be used for brazing to bread baking and everything in between. However, for recipes using large amounts of liquid, a Dutch oven will likely be unwieldy due to being significantly heavier than most other types of pot.

Why is cooking in a Dutch oven better?

The advantages of cooking in a Dutch oven are quite numerous. For example, the cast iron frame and lid will distribute heat evenly and help trap it within the pot. Additionally, Dutch ovens are incredibly durable and versatile meaning they can be used on a stove, in the oven or even on hot coals.

What can I use instead of a Dutch oven to bake bread?

To bake bread, instead of a Dutch oven you can use any large pot such as a casserole pot or indeed any other oven-safe cookware which is large and deep enough. Ideally, a specialised bread pan can be used as they are intended for baking bread in the oven. 

Can I use a stock pot in the oven?

In the majority of cases, stock pots should not be used in the oven. This is because they are designed to be lightweight to allow a cook to carry large amounts of liquid without much difficulty. However, the trade-off for this is that in most contexts the materials they are made of such as aluminium won’t have great resistance.