Owning a Dutch oven is proof that you've made it. No matter what else is going on in your life, you can come home to a dependable piece of cookware that will cook soups, stews, braised meats, and bread better than any other piece of equipment in your kitchen.
My Le Creuset Dutch Oven is one of my prized possessions. It's bright orange—a color I intentionally chose because it's the brand's signature hue—and has a gold knob, that I swapped myself and never looked back. Who needs a dining room tablewhen you have a Le Creuset Dutch oven? (Don't answer that, I know how it sounds.)
Of course, Le Creuset isn't the only brand that makes dutch ovens. Nowadays you have your pick from established kitchenware brands like Emile Henry, Staub, Cuisinart, and Lodge to newcomers like Great Jones and Misen. They come in a rainbow of colors, a whole host of different sizes, and in both oval and round shapes. There's a Dutch oven to fit every budget and every kitchen. And once you obtain one, there are all kinds of great ways to fill it.
For regular weekdays and snowy weekends, there's tortellini, chuck roast, sweet potatoes, kale, chicken thighs, and lentils that are yearning to be turned into a delicious one-pot meal.
No loaf pan is needed to make this sourdough bread. A Dutch oven works double duty to both create steam, which helps the bread to rise, while the enameled cast iron creates a crusty exterior.
2. Nach Waxman's Brisket of Beef
One of the best things to cook in a Dutch oven is a tough cut of meat, like pork shoulder or brisket. It's the perfect vessel for handling a large piece of meat that needs to cook low and slow for hours. Give this simple preparation of beef brisket a go.
3. Pomegranate-Braised Pot Roast
Told you a Dutch oven is good for meat! Sure, you can cook pot roast in a slow-cooker, but a Dutch oven brings out so much more flavor. Here, a four-pound boneless chuck roast braises in a combination of hearty root vegetables, tomato paste, onion soup mix, chicken stock, red wine, and pomegranate molasses.
4. Spinach Tortellini Soup by Joanna Gaines
On a cold day, settle into a comforting cooking project like homemade soup. This one comes together sneakily fast (in just 20 minutes), which is perfect for when you need to get dinner on the table like five minutes ago.
5. Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter
This is easily the most famous tomato sauce recipe. The beauty comes in its simplicity—all you need are super-ripe tomatoes (or your favorite canned San Marzano tomatoes), a generous amount of butter, white onion, and salt. If you really want to feel like an Italian grandmother, you obviously should cook it in a Dutch oven.
6. Dutch-Oven Scalloped Idaho Potatoes
I grew up with scalloped potatoes cooked in a casserole dish so the idea that the same cheesy, creamy side dish can be done in a Dutch oven is a new, but welcome change in my life.
7. Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut
Braised meats aside, the Dutch oven really proves its worth for homemade soups. This one is a totally vegan butternut squash soup that gets creaminess from coconut milk, heat from cayenne pepper, and warmth from cumin and freshly grated ginger.
8. Baked Beans
Canned baked beans are convenient but homemade have much better flavor and texture (sorry, but it's true!). You can make them as sweet or spicy as you like, but recipe developer Merrill Stubbs turns to bacon fat (brilliant), chopped canned tomatoes (I'm listening), Dijon mustard (duh), and brown sugar (double duh).
A little bit of smoked paprika and sausage bring big flavor to this quick Dutch oven recipe.
Food52 Resident Carolina Gelen puts her Dutch oven to good use with this vegetarian stew that features a pound and a half of mixed mushrooms cooked with basic pantry staples (think: soy sauce, stock, balsamic vinegar, and red wine) for lots of umami-packed flavor.
11. One-Pot Roast Chicken a la Julia Child
Recipe developer Jennifer Clair attempted to recreate Julia Child's method for cooking roasted chicken and vegetables in a Dutch oven—we think she succeeded, but try it for yourself.
12. Barley & Root Vegetable Rainbow Stew
Not only will this vegetable stew warm you up from the inside out, but it will also make you feel nourished all night long. (Oh, and if you're wondering, yes it can be cooked in a Dutch oven).
13. Cheesy Potato Soup With Peppered Scallions
Think of this like a vichyssoise soup but instead of leeks, you'll find so, so much cheese (a necessary and beautiful swap).
14. Pulled Pork
I find that cooking pulled pork in a Dutch oven rather than a slow cooker or Instant Pot yields more flavorful meat, as it has had the opportunity to caramelize on the outside. Not only do you crispier bits of pork, but the seared meat seals in all of the juices as the pork breaks down.
15. Mexican Chicken Noodle Soup
Grandma's chicken soup just got a punchy upgrade from jalapeño peppers, a generous amount of fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, coriander, and cumin.
16. Chicken Stew With Potatoes, Carrots & Celery
"Nourishing, easy, and flavorful, this chicken stew feels like a big warm hug if you ever need one. Whether it's putting a comforting meal on the table on a weeknight or nursing a loved one back to health, this recipe will come to your rescue. The best part? It takes only 30 minutes to put together," writes recipe developer Rachel Gurjar.
17. Beef Short Rib Bourguignon With Garlicky Panko Gremolata
Beef bourguignon is my all-time favorite dish to cook in a Dutch oven. It's the easiest, and yet most impressive, dinner I can make, all in one sturdy pot. Serve with mashed potatoes for the ultimate comfort food meal.
18. Rice Pilaf With Crispy Chickpeas & Cashews
Assigning editor Rebecca Firkser has done a public service by sharing her three key tips for making fluffy, flavorful rice pilaf in a Dutch oven.
While you can make our chili recipe in a slow cooker, it's tastes better and comes together more quickly when cooked in a Dutch oven (I know I sound like a broken record, but I only speak the truth). This one is extra good because it uses a trio of beef chuck, Italian sausage, and ground veal.
Bolognese was made for the Dutch oven (okay, I don't actually know if this is true, but it makes sense, right?). "The longer you can slowly simmer this sauce, the better it will taste," writes recipe developer Josh Cohen.
This beautiful bean stew is filling and inexpensive (a unique 2-for-1 special!). Assigning editor Rebecca Firkser perks up a pound of beans with dried chile, olive oil, and a previously-frozen Parm rind.
22. Chicken Stock
Give a chicken carcass and bones a second life by making homemade stock in a Dutch oven.