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

Image via Pixabay

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

Image via PIxabay

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

Image via Pixabay

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

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

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

Image via Flickr

AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 6-Quart, Green
  • Enamel doesn't have non-stick function
  • Always use hot-pads, oven mitts, or potholders while moving or removing cast iron cookware on or from the stove or oven.

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.

Overmont Camp Dutch Oven 14x14x8.3in All-round Cast Iron Casserole Pot Dual Function Lid Skillet Pre Seasoned with Lid Lifter Handle for Camping Cooking BBQ Baking
  • All-round Dutch Oven. The integral legs on both pot and lid allow the oven to sit perfectly over the campfire; the lid can also be used as a skillet for frying. Moreover, cast iron pots are not coated in toxic chemicals. It is a safe non-stick surface.
  • Well known as a Lifetime Pot. Compared with pots of other materials, the Overmont Dutch Oven is made of high quality cast iron, and will last a lifetime if cared for properly. It can be used both on the stove and in the oven at home, providing value for money.
  • Energy-saving and therefor good for the environment. Heat is evenly distributed and held, making it great for deep frying, searing and baking. It also has the advantages of great heat insulation and a good seal, so even a novice camper can do a delicious roasted chicken with this pot.
  • Considering the considerable weight of cast iron, Overmont equips a lid lifter for the Dutch Oven. The durable handle also allows you to hang it over the open fire. Our Logo design of an eagle on the lid means, freedom, power, strength and desire for life.
  • Once you are finished cooking, cleaning and after care are simple. Make sure to dry the pot completely after cleaning and whilst the pot is still warm, lightly oil the inside of the pan with your oil of choice, a thin coat is all you need. Use a cloth or paper towel to rub off any excess. Overmont are dedicated to providing the best sporting experience for the new generation of outdoor sports enthusiasts. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any issues with the equipment.

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.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products Stainless Steel Instant Read Oven/Grill/Smoker Monitoring Thermometer
  • Necessary for food safety: Thermometer displays true oven temperature instantly to ensure safe food preparation
  • Extreme temperature range: Thermometer reads between 60° and 580° degrees fahrenheit / 20° and 300° degrees celsius
  • Perfect for any kitchen: Designed for professional kitchens with the highest quality in mind; works perfectly in any home or commercial space
  • Many uses: This product is perfect for traditional ovens, toaster ovens, grills, smokers, or any heat based food appliance
  • Durable material: Stainless steel construction and shatter proof lens makes this thermometer highly dependable

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.

Homwe Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitt - 1 Pair - Extra Long Oven Mitts with Quilted Liner - Red
  • Heat-Resistant and Flame Retardant - Offering protection up to 450°F, our oven gloves with quilted cotton lining offer improved comfort while cooking. They will also spare tender forearms from burns that can occur when your outdoor grill experiences a flare-up. They will not catch fire or melt when used near a flame.
  • Extra Long - At 14.7" inches long, our oven mitts better protect fingers, hands and wrists from burns. The longer wrist protection keeps you protected from fingertip to past your wrist. This lets you grip pots, pans and cookware safely without slips or spills.
  • Steam Resistant and Waterproof - Unlike cotton oven mitts, our silicone oven mitts won't absorb liquids. The silicone part of the glove is entirely waterproof. They also helps protect hands while holding hot plates and dishware, working over the grill or reaching into ovens. You can also use it as a pot holder to grab a hot pot.
  • Textured, Non-Slip Grip - These silicone oven mitts are flexible, breathable and provide an improved control and stability thanks to a non-skid, textured palm. The soft polyester-cotton lining also adds an extra protection & comfort layer.
  • Easy to Clean and Machine Washable - Crafted with FDA-approved, BPA-free silicone, our silicone gloves are stain resistant and easily cleanable, with just some warm water & a little soap. They won't tear, thin or fray.

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.

932℉ Extreme Heat Resistant BBQ Gloves, Food Grade Kitchen Oven Mitts - Flexible Oven Gloves, Silicone Non-slip Cooking Hot Glove for Grilling, Baking, Welding (Blue, Palm Width 4.9 in)
  • PREMIUM QUALITY - Our heat insulated oven gloves consists of 3 layers of different materials and functions. First layer non-toxic silicone for skid resistance. Second layer ultra-high strength deyan aramid fiber for high heat, cut, acid and alkali resistance. Third layer polyester cotton for double protection & comfortable
  • EXTREME HEAT FLAME & CUT RESISTANT - Our BBQ grilling gloves can stably provide the ultra protection against heat up to 932℉ (500℃), which are awarded also with the highest, EN388 cut resistance - 4 times stronger than leather. Idea for grilling, cutting, cooking, baking, woodworking, welding
  • ANTI-SLIP & FLEXIBLE - Our insulated hot gloves are covered with Food Grade Silicone to ensure your object would not slip from your hands. The separate fingers enable you move more comfortable and flexible. They allow you possible to hold different kinds of hot and slick kitchen item safely and stably
  • EXTENDED WRIST GUARD & BREATHABLE - Our hot resistant baking gloves equipped Ultra-long wrist guard. It will keep your hands, wrists and forearms all be safer. We also Lined with super soft cotton to breathe, so there is enough air circulation to let your hands won't sweat in summer or high heat condition
  • EASY TO WEAR, CLEAN & STORE - There is no difference between the right or left hand of our grilling gloves, you can wear on both sides. The large size fits most men's hands. Machine washable make it be easy to cleaning. And you can hang it up easily with inside loop

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

Lodge Camp Dutch Oven Lid Lifter. Black 9 MM Bar Stock for Lifting and Carrying Dutch Ovens. (Black Finish)
  • Heavy duty steel
  • All Black finish
  • Length: 15 inches
  • Must have for any lodge Dutch oven owner
  • Made in the USA

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

Image via Flickr

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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