International Dutch Oven Society Chapter – Richmond, VA

Selecting a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens come in a large variety of sizes and shapes. When selecting your Dutch oven, there are just a couple of things that you will need to keep in mind.
· Who do you typically cook for?
– How many people?
– How much do they normally eat?
· Where will you typically cook?
– Camping
– Backyard
– Stove / Oven
– Fireplace
· What do you think that you will typically cook?
The most versatile Dutch ovens are probably the 10” and 12” sizes. You can easily cook any recipe for an average sized family in either of those sizes.

Sizing your oven:
The first thing you need to decide on is oven size. Sizes are either specified by diameter or by capacity. For example, a 10” oven, 10” is the approximate diameter at the bottom of the oven and it has about a 4 quart capacity.
The chart below is a guideline in determining what size oven is needed for a one pot meal or a side dish.
Oven Size          Oven Capacity             Main Dish                  Side Dish
8”                               2 quarts                          2-6                             8-10
10”                            4 quarts                          4-12                         16-20
12”                            6 quarts                          6-18                         24-30
12” deep                 8 quarts                          8-24                         32-40
14”                            8 quarts                          8-24                         32-40
14” deep               12 quarts                        16-30                         48-60

What to look for:
When buying a cast iron Dutch oven, whether new or used, look carefully at these important areas:
· Legs: Does the oven you are looking at have three good legs? Only buy a Dutch oven with legs, also
called a camp oven. Some are manufactured with flat bottoms and are far more difficult to use while
camping and are best suited for use in an inside kitchen. The legs should be long enough to provide
clearance to the briquettes and lid handle that will be under the oven.
· Fit: Does the lid fit well? The lid should lie flush with the lip of the oven all the way around, with no
significant gaps. A good seal also helps with successful cooking.
· Lip: Does the lid have a lip? The lid should have a lip all around the outer edge to keep the ash from
the charcoal from making its way into your food.
· Consistency: Does the thickness of the walls appear to be consistent. There will be some
inconsistencies. However, any area that is substantially thicker or thinner (more than 15%) than the
surrounding areas will produce hot or cold spots during cooking and cooling. This variation in
thickness will also make the oven much more likely to crack or warp. Pay special attention to the
bottom and the lid.
· Handle: Does the lid have a handle? A securely attached loop handle will make lifting and rotating
the lid much easier.
· Bail: Does the Dutch oven have a wire bail handle attached to the oven itself. It should be easily
movable and strong enough to use for carrying or hanging a heavy pot full of stew without difficulty.
· Finish: Does the Dutch oven have heavy pitting? Look for an oven with very little pitting. Heavy
pitting will make it difficult for the seasoning to adhere.
· Lodge is just one of several manufacturers that have a consistent quality across their product line.
If these areas pass inspection, you’ve got a good Dutch oven. Take it home and start having fun.

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