A durable Dutch oven is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you can have in your kitchen. These pots are often made of cast iron and may be overlaid with enamel, although Dutch ovens made from stainless steel are also popular. The cast iron versions tend to hold and distribute heat better, longer and more evenly than aluminum or stainless steel versions, but cast iron isn't for everyone.
A standard Dutch oven can weigh up to 18 pounds. An aluminum or stainless steel version usually weighs 7 pounds or less, making pots made from these materials the better choice for the disabled or anyone who has trouble lifting heavy weights. Dutch ovens are ideal for braising meats, simmering stews, throwing together a big pot of chili or making baked beans as a side dish for your next barbecue. When you use a Dutch oven, the flanged lid is designed to retain as much moisture as possible so you know your food will never dry out. Most Dutch oven are able to go from the stovetop to the oven with ease, making them a versatile piece of cookware.
Le Creuset is one of the leading manufacturers of enamel-coated cookware, and it offers Dutch ovens in a variety of sizes, colors and styles. Choose a Le Creuset 9.5-quart Dutch oven when cooking for a crowd, or choose a mini cocette for perfectly sized meals for one. Calphalon is the undisputed king of nonstick cookware, and it also offers a variety of Dutch ovens that offer easy cleanup. Both Calphalon and All-Clad offer Dutch ovens in modern-looking and lightweight stainless steel.