How to Use a Dutch Oven in Step-by-Step Instructions

how to use a dutch oven

Dutch ovens genuinely are the unsung heroes of the kitchen. In fact, they are good in the great outdoors as well. And that's why it's so important to learn how to use a Dutch oven.

Because of their unique construction and features, It are considered to be an essential part of any kitchen. For example, It provides constant, uniform, multi-directional radiant heat to the food being prepared.

Additionally, with their tight-fitting lids, moisture remains trapped inside, eliminating the possibility of dry, overcooked food when used properly.

Dutch Oven Uses

cooked apple pie

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Because of their design and even distribution of heat, These are ideal for a variety of cooking styles. That is why it is so important to learn how to use a Dutch oven properly.

For example, Dutch ovens are perfect for four kinds of food preparation.

  • Bread - The radiant heat created by Dutch ovens operates similarly to that oven stone-hearth bread and pizza ovens. It is also retain moisture and steam, which helps create a nice crispy crust.
  • Casseroles - Dutch ovens are perfect for making one-pot casseroles. For example, you can braise meat and vegetables on the stovetop. Then, you can mix in all the ingredients and transfer them to the oven for baking.
  • Soups, stews, and braises - It can retain heat for a long time. For that reason, they are an excellent choice for making soups, stews, and braises which require long cooking times for "fall off the bone" tenderness.
  • Deep frying - Dutch ovens heat consistently and retain heat well making them the perfect choice for deep frying.

How to Use a Dutch Oven Camping and at Home

Dutch ovens truly are an essential piece of cookware for every kitchen because of their versatility. However, there is a learning curve, of course. And a lot to know depending on whether you use it at home or while camping.

cooked bread

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How to use a Dutch oven while camping

Learning how to use a Dutch oven while camping or in the backyard is quite simple. There are only a couple of things you need to know.

Firstly, you need to learn how many charcoal briquettes you need to use. Secondly, you need to learn where to place them.

cooking at camping

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Charcoal briquette temperature conversion

The simplest way to determine the internal temperature of your Dutch oven is by using a simple formula called the "Rule of Three." The rule of three is used to determine how many charcoal briquettes you need to reach 325 degrees Fahrenheit inside your Dutch oven.

Here's how it works:

  • Firstly, you need to know the diameter of your Dutch oven.
  • Secondly, subtract three from the diameter, and that is the number of charcoal briquettes that go beneath the oven.
  • Thirdly, add three to the diameter. And, that is the number of charcoal briquettes that go on top of the oven.
  • Lastly, to reach higher temperatures add 25 degrees Fahrenheit for every two briquettes you add.

For example, you have a 12-inch Dutch oven, and subtracting 3 equals 9. So that means you place nine briquettes under your Dutch oven.

Then, adding 3 equals 15. Therefore, you put 15 briquettes on top of it.

However, be aware that cooking with Dutch ovens is as much an art form as a science. For that reason, you might need to play around with those numbers a bit to get the exact temperatures you want.

how to use a dutch oven charcoal chart

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Placing the briquettes

Learning how to place the briquettes is simple. Basically, for baking, you put the briquettes on both the top and bottom of your Dutch oven using the Rule of Three.

However, if you are broiling, you place the combined total number of briquettes on the lid. Similarly, for frying, you put them all beneath your Dutch oven.

dutch oven charcoal placement chart

Image created by the author, used with permission, all rights reserved.

Last, but not least, the ratio of charcoal briquettes needs to be modified if you are roasting, stewing, or simmering.

  • Firstly, for roasting the heat needs to be equal. Therefore, place the briquettes beneath and on top of your Dutch oven in a one-to-one ratio.
  • Secondly, for stewing and simmering place the briquettes in a four-to-one ratio with the largest number of briquettes beneath your Dutch oven.

How to use a Dutch oven at home

Learning how to use a Dutch oven at home is simple. A Dutch oven can be used on all types of stovetops, whether they are electric, gas, or induction. Not to mention, you can place them directly in the oven. However, be sure to purchase a Dutch oven without feet for home use, like this enameled cast iron six-quart Dutch oven.

dutch oven at home

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A word of caution, however, most are cast iron which is a poor conductor of heat. Consequently, they retain heat for a very long time. For that reason, it is best to use an oven-save thermometer using a Dutch oven at home.

This is important, you need to check out the temperature rating of your Dutch oven if the knobs aren't metal. For example, the maximum temperature range for traditional Le Creuset Dutch ovens is about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, some have black phenolic knobs which can withstand temperatures up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, to be 100 percent safe, you should review the instructions that came with your Dutch oven or check out the manufacturer's website.

Safety tips

Any article about how to use a Dutch oven wouldn't be complete without covering a few safety tips.

For example, as discussed above, you must know the maximum temperature rating for your Dutch oven before placing it in the oven. Additionally, most are extremely heavy, and caution must be observed at all times with handling them.

Likewise, to avoid scratches, always lift directly upwards when removing from delicate surfaces like ceramic stovetops, inductions stovetops, or marble countertops.

Also, make sure you have a proper set of heatproof gloves such as these kitchen gloves of these silicone oven mitts or these extreme heat BBQ gloves.

Lastly, you should purchase a Dutch oven lid lifter, particularly if you plan to use one while camping.

Dutch Oven Recipes

Now that you know how to use a Dutch oven, it's time for the fun part -- learning a couple of classic recipes.

Dutch Oven Wine-Braised Ribs

Our first recipe come to us courtesy of Williams Sonoma. The original recipe calls for a classic Moroccan vessel called a tagine. However, the recipe was modified in the video below to use a Dutch oven instead.

What you need

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-3/4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed Aleppo chili
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Mashed potatoes, rice or polenta for serving

How you make it

  1. Firstly, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, place your Dutch oven on your stovetop and heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, season the ribs with the kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and Aleppo chili.
  2. Secondly, add half the ribs to the pan and cook about 10 minutes until the ribs are browned on all sides and transfer to a plate. Repeat with one tablespoon of oil with the remaining ribs.
  3. Thirdly, reduce the heat to medium and add the final tablespoon of olive oil. Next, add the celery, carrots, and shallot and cook for about seven to eight minutes, occasionally stirring, until softened and slightly browned. Then, add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for one minute until the tomato paste browns.
  4. Fourthly, add the flour and let it cook out until you get a nice roux, about four to six minutes. Then add the wine and deglaze the Dutch oven using a spoon or wire whisk. Next, add the broth, place the lid on the Dutch oven and bake in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half.
  5. Lastly, add the bay leaf and thyme and return to the oven for five minutes. Serve hot over mashed potatoes, polenta, or rice and garnish with the parsley.

Lazy Cobbler Recipe

Our next, and final recipe, come to us courtesy of Delish. You will love this simple recipe that uses charcoal briquettes.

What you need

  • 25 charcoal briquettes (15 below, 9 on top)
  • 2 cans sliced peaches in syrup
  • 1 package cake mix (white, yellow, or spiced)
  • 1 stick butter (or margarine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving

How you make it

  1. Firstly, light the charcoal briquettes and allow them to burn for about 30 to 45 minutes until most of them are ashen-white embers. Next, place the Dutch oven over 15 charcoal briquettes spread out evenly. Then, pour the contents of the peach cans along with the juice into the Dutch oven.
  2. Secondly, spread the cake mix evenly over the top of the peaches and sprinkle with the cinnamon to taste. Next, cut the butter into about 10 to 12 even slices and place in a checkerboard pattern on top. Place the lid on top of the oven and place nine briquettes on top.
  3. Thirdly, after 30 minutes, transfer 6 to 8 briquettes from beneath the Dutch oven to the top to complete the browning process of the top of the cobbler. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until brown on top and serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

What We Learned About Dutch OvensToday

new red dutch oven

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We hope you enjoyed our article discussing Dutch ovens. We are convinced that once you learn how to use a Dutch oven that it will become one of your favorite cookware items.

Just remember to observe all our safety warnings detailed in the article. In fact, you might want to bookmark this article for future reference. You can never be too safe.

Now, we want to hear from you. Let us know your favorite tips and tricks for using Dutch ovens using the comments section, below. Additionally, share any favorite recipes with us.

Featured image: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license via Max Pixel.


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