Who doesn’t love a freshly baked loaf of bread? Especially one that comes straight out of your oven.
But if you are wondering about all the time and effort that goes into bread baking, there is an easier and more interesting way of doing so with very little effort and great results.
It’s called baking bread in a Dutch oven!
Before we get to the best dutch ovens for baking bread, let’s take a quick detour to cover some background info about them. If you prefer, go straight to our recommendations.
What is a Dutch Oven?
If you already have a Dutch oven in your kitchen, you know what a workhorse this particular piece can be. It is a fairly versatile piece of cookware used for a number of cooking tasks such as making stove top soups and stews to oven baked roasts and casseroles.
In fact, anything you can make in a conventional oven can also be made in a Dutch oven.
In addition, you can also use it to bake some bread. This bread comes out as an artisan style loaf with steam that is created inside the pot. The heavy lid retains steam, which yields a delectable crispy crust.
Historically, Dutch ovens have been in use for centuries. The iron pot method are based on the age old European technique of baking inside a closed clay pot.
But contemporary references to the Dutch oven may mean any large, heavy pot suitable for stovetop or oven use. So even your deep 7 quart stock pot could easily become your Dutch oven, as long as there is an oven safe lid and the pot can go straight to the oven from the stove.
However, the original Dutch oven was a heavy, thick walled pot made from raw cast iron. It also came paired with feet to rest above a hot fire.
This feature has now largely been restricted to Dutch ovens that are made for outdoor use such as for camping. Other “leg-less” or “leg-free” versions are now produced commercially for use in the kitchen.
Modern day Dutch ovens can be categorized into two types with each offering its specific set of perks and shortcomings. The pot is typically made of cast iron which can either be bare or enameled. Of the two, bare cast iron oven must be seasoned before use.
Bare Cast Iron
Cast iron Dutch ovens are a timeless piece of cookware offering durability and convenience of use.
Cast iron is a superior heat conductor and is the endorsed material for quality cookware by cooks of all types. It can withstand relatively high temperatures sans degradation. This feature makes it a useful piece of cookware for a number of different cooking applications.
But if you are going to buy a Dutch oven made of bare cast iron sans any enamel coating, it will need to be seasoned prior to use in order to be non-stick.
Seasoning prevents the food from sticking to the pot while maintaining the cast iron properties of the Dutch oven.
Most manufacturers now preseason their cooking pots for ease of use making them ready to use upon purchase. However, as is with cast iron cookware, all pieces need special care and cleaning to maintain the integrity of this metal.
With proper care, a cast iron Dutch oven has the potential to last for years.
Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled versions have a metal or ceramic core. Ceramic also conducts heat very well and the coating makes for easy convenience when in use.
Enamel is surprisingly sturdy and shares the same level of durability as cast iron but without any hassle of iron leaching or rusting.
Enamel also does not need seasoning and is usually dishwasher safe. However, most manufacturers recommend washing cookware by hand for better longevity.
On the flip side, enameled cookware is significantly more expensive. Another downside to enameled cookware is that the enamel can chip and they often come with non-metal knobs that cannot be used at the highest temperatures.
Baking bread in a Dutch oven yields delicious results every time with very little room for error. Perhaps the only drawback to this method is that you are limited to a bread that is the shape of your Dutch oven.
Buying Guide for Dutch Ovens
If you are ready to invest in a Dutch oven, then take a look at some important pointers given below to make sure that you get the right product for your needs:
- Capacity to make sure that you have the right size for your bread loaf
- Depth so that the loaf can rise properly without getting flattened
- Shape- choose from either round or oval depending on the kind of loaf you want to bake
- Convenience of use such as easy cleaning
- Lids for a tight fit to ensure proper baking
- Handles for safe handling of the Dutch oven
- Materials- choose from cast iron or enamel based on preference
- Price- typically falling into three pricing categories, Dutch ovens can be classified as premium, French-made brands, mid-tier models and low cost brands.
These large, heavy pots are a worthwhile investment and here we will share with you an impressive selection suiting a range of budgets.
Best Dutch Oven for Baking Bread
1 – Le Creuset Signature Enameled, 5 ½ Quart (Top Pick)
Although on the smaller side as compared to other Dutch oven sizes, this modestly sized cookware (view on Amazon), is a great fit for baking bread.
Its dimensions work really well in terms of diameter and depth to create a bread roll that presents both aesthetics and taste.
The lid of the Le Creuset is sufficiently heavy for baking purposes, but not too heavy that it can’t be managed. It works well to retain moisture, flavor and heat within while baking.
This model is conveniently available in an assortment of colors to complement your kitchen décor and color palette.
The manufacturer promises that the plastic knob can withstand temperatures up to 500 F but we recommend that you cover up the knob well with heavy duty foil to prevent any damage.
Although there is a substantial price tag attached to this product, its durability makes it worth the investment.
- Easy to clean
- Comes with large handles for easy grip and handling
- Available in many colors
- Heavy lid locks in moisture
- Offers superior heat distribution
- Good size for baking bread
- Will last long with proper care
- Comes with plastic knob- needs to be covered with strong foil to withstand heat
- Kind of pricey
- Limited lifetime warranty
2 – Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven, EC6D43 (Budget Pick)
With an enameled interior, this Dutch oven is also available on Amazon and is able to handle all kinds of heavy duty tasks including bread baking.
This pot has a slightly different shape from others on the list as it showcases curved sides. For bread making purposes, this feature can be particularly helpful as it makes it easier to take the loaf out when done.
This pot is made from cast iron with a chip resistant, porcelain enamel finish and is ideal for all kinds of cooking tasks including roasting, broiling, braising and baking. It is also suitable for non-cooking tasks such as marination, leavening and serving.
The model features loop side handles, also made with cast iron, offering a secure and easy grip when handling the pot. This Lodge model also features a metal knob, which is better suited for use in the oven.
For those on a budget, the Lodge is a more economical option.
- 6 quart capacity
- Offers good performance, comparable to more expensive brands
- Comes with slightly curved sides for easy removal of bread
- Metal knob makes it safe for use in the oven
- Affordable pricing
- Aesthetics may not be as elegant as other brands
- Not dishwasher safe, hand wash only
Other Dutch Ovens to Consider
3 – Staub 5.5 Round Dutch Oven
Another serious contender on the list, this Staub model is made in France and features a sturdy cast iron pot with enamel coating. It is a stylish looking Dutch oven that comes with a 6 quart capacity and is resistant to chipping, cracking or rusting.
The model has a tight fitting lid for superior cooking and baking performance and comes in a unique looking design featuring spikes on the lid.
The manufacturer promises heat tolerance up to 900 F for the pot and 500 F for the lid. The lid displays a nickel steel knob, making it safe to use the pot in high temperature ovens.
The smooth enamel bottom is ideal for even heat distribution and its wide base and high sides work well for breads that need room to rise.
- 6 quart capacity
- Heavy duty performance- safe up to 900F
- More impressive aesthetics than many other models
- Dishwasher safe, but handwashing recommended
- Needs careful handling, since enamel may chip or crack if banged against other surfaces
- This piece is expensive
4 – Anolon Vesta Cast Iron, 5 Quart Dutch Oven
This cast iron Dutch oven is a sleek looking piece that features a wide base and high sides. This pot showcases a sturdy porcelain enamel exterior with a large stainless steel loop handle on the lid.
The lid handle makes for easy grip and lid removal while the side handles provide a stable grip while handling the pot. The Dutch oven can handle temperatures up to 500 F safely, making it a suitable option to bake bread in.
The stain resistant black matte interior prevents browning and makes for easy cleaning. The flat base provides for even heat distribution and a perfect result every time you bake bread. This model is available in two different colors.
- Well-made and ergonomic
- Suitable for heavy duty performance
- Large lid handle for easy grip
- High sides suitable for baking bread
- Available in two colors
- Being a relatively new brand, product is on the pricey side
5 – Lodge L8DD3 Double Dutch Oven
Lodge makes a second appearance on our list given its high durability and excellent performance. This is a pre-seasoned and ready-to-use cast iron model that comes with a 5 quart capacity.
It is a multi-functional piece of cookware featured by a tight fitting lid which helps lock in flavor and steam.
This Dutch oven offers even distribution of heat from the bottom through the sides. It comes with loop handles that provide easy grip when handling.
Available in a sleek black color, this model would sit well in every type of kitchen. It is also an affordable option for your heavy duty cooking and baking needs without breaking the bank.
If you are a die-hard cast iron fan, then this might just be the Dutch oven for you.
- 5 quart capacity
- Lid doubles as a skillet
- Even heat distribution
- Heavy duty performance
- To be hand washed only
- Limited lifetime warranty
So which Dutch oven should you buy?
When it comes to buying a Dutch oven, you will, of course need to consult with your wallet, but price tag aside, there are also a few other considerations that you need to keep in mind.
For instance, one of the biggest selling points of heritage brands is that they run their own factories. This feature naturally enables them to maintain higher standards.
Heritage brands also practice more quality control, making sure that their products deliver the promised results.
Other considerations include the weight of the cookware. As a general guideline, the pot should feel heavy when held with thick walls and an equally thick base.
Never compromise on the quality and fitting of the lid as that will have a lot to do with baking your bread at the right temperature and giving it its perfect texture. The ability to seal moisture is one of the main differences between Dutch ovens and regular pots.
So now if you feel ready to go out and get your first Dutch oven, keep our pros, cons and other suggestions in mind to make an informed decision.
So, which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.