The term “Dutch oven” is common in recipes everywhere, including our own, but rarely is it defined. While there’s some debate over what exactly makes something a Dutch oven, we have our own in-house criteria to follow when writing recipes.
When we refer to a Dutch oven, we’re referring to a large saucepan/pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is wider than it is tall, and usually has two heat-proof handles instead of one so that it can be easily transferred to and from an oven. In the average home kitchen, it’s probably the largest pot you have that isn’t a stock pot. They are often made of cast iron, but that’s not a strict requirement. Premium quality Dutch ovens are notoriously expensive, but inexpensive models can be found.
Recipes call for Dutch ovens because they know that most Dutch ovens are large, and the wide base with shorter walls allows for more evaporation (hence better reductions) when left uncovered. Covered, they’re perfect for roasting or braising.
The Dutch oven is a very multipurpose pot, and they’re handy to have in most family kitchens, where large batch sizes are commonplace. Aside from roasting, they’re great for making soups, stews and chili. If your Dutch oven is coated in enamel, make sure you don’t use any metal utensils when cooking in it, or you could damage the finish.