Best Dutch Ovens
Whether you want to prepare a stew, fresh bread, or roasted veggies, a Dutch oven can significantly improve your menu in the great outdoors.
Sturdy, versatile, and dependable, Dutch ovens make for the perfect addition to a camp kitchen. When choosing a Dutch oven for camping, it’s important to consider its material, size, weight, and accessories.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand the special considerations of a camping Dutch oven, and what to look for before making a purchase.
What Makes a Camping Dutch Oven?Check Price
First things first: why can’t you just take any Dutch oven camping with you, and call it a camping Dutch oven?
The guiding principle here is that if you’re camping, then your Dutch oven needs to be safe over open flames. This means that you are really looking at seasoned cast iron Dutch ovens – enamel cast iron is not safe to use at these temperatures.
Beyond making sure your cast iron won’t melt, you also want to make sure that your Dutch oven has a lid for all-around heating, and comes with accessories like legs that make it easier to balance over your fire.
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s dive into the specific considerations of a camping Dutch oven one by one.
As mentioned above, camping Dutch ovens must be safe to use over open flames and other outdoor heat sources. This is a safety precaution and protects both you and your cookware.
The most popular Dutch oven material by far is seasoned cast iron. This material is incredibly durable, retains heat very well, and is easy to clean outdoors, as it should only be rinsed with water and then seasoned with a bit of oil.
You may also find stainless steel and aluminum Dutch ovens that are safe to use outdoors. However, these options will not offer the heat retention of the cast iron. If you’re trying to use your Dutch oven for baking, roasting, or anything else that can’t be done in a regular pot, then you need the heat retention of the thick cast iron walls.
Size & WeightCheck Price
The best size Dutch oven depends on how many people you’ll be cooking for. A good rule of thumb is 1.5 quarts per person. Of course, if you know you have very hungry campers at the end of a long day, you might want a little more – and if you’re camping with small children, you might budget less for them.
Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular sizes for camping Dutch ovens and how many people they might serve.
Dutch Oven Sizes & Servings
|Dutch Oven Size
|Qty of People Served
|3-5 people (family size)
When camping, lugging heavy materials can be cumbersome. If you’ll be cooking for larger groups, it can actually be easier to travel with multiple smaller Dutch ovens, rather than grabbing a 20-quart Dutch oven that may be difficult to heat outdoors.
A typical cast iron Dutch oven will usually weigh 8-15 pounds, though the larger ovens can be as heavy as 45 pounds. Consider how you’re getting your cookware to your campsite before you buy – hopefully it’s just a few steps over!
Aluminum Dutch ovens are considerably less heavy, but they do not offer the same heat retention.
There are many accessories you’ll want to pay special attention to for camping Dutch ovens. These will make it easier to situate your oven over your heat source, and ensure the kind of cooking you’re interested in.
You want sturdy handles that can help you deal with the weight of your Dutch oven, especially when it’s full. Looping wire handles can help you hang the oven above a campfire. Make sure to protect your hands when you touch the handles, just as you would with the pot itself.
A Dutch oven with a flat bottom will usually sit well over coals, but this can lead to uneven heat distribution. Some camping Dutch ovens will come with legs built in, or you can purchase a tripod or cooking stand. This will raise your oven above the heat source for even cooking, and makes balancing a bit easier.
A Dutch oven lid serves many purposes. At home, your lid is important for trapping steam inside the oven; when camping, the lid should also allow for coals to be placed on top for heat from above. This means you want a flat lid with a rimmed edge – and it’s particularly important for baking.
Many camping Dutch ovens offer lids that double as griddles, which gives you more functionality without taking up more space in your camp kitchen. You may also want to check if your Dutch oven comes with a lid lifter, which is a long rod that can help you hook and lift the lid from a safe distance.
Additional AccessoriesCheck Price
You may want a few extra add-ons to make your Dutch oven camping experience even better. These include:
- Lid lifter
- Metal tongs (for charcoal)
- Heat-resistant gloves
- Add-on tripod, legs, and/or wire handle
These accessories are often sold separately, though you can check for sets or kits from manufacturers.
Best Dutch Ovens for Camping
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get shopping! Be sure to make a note of what size you’re looking for, and then choose from an array of excellent options by time-tested manufacturers.
Lodge Dutch Oven with Legs
Lodge has long been the leader in cast iron production, and for good reason. This Dutch oven gives three legs for added stability, plus a wire handle to hang over the campfire using a tripod. The lid can be inverted and used as a griddle, and is flat with a rim to make it easy to put charcoal on top of the oven. Pre-seasoned cast iron provides excellent heat retention and equal heat distribution for baking, roasting, and more. This model is available in 2-10 quart options.
Camp Chef Dutch Ovens
Camp Chef is another trusted brand in outdoor cooking products – so it’s no surprise they offer a Dutch oven for camping! This Dutch oven has a flat lid with a rim on the edge to keep charcoal from sliding off. The legs provide additional stability for cooking outdoors. Camp Chef’s cast iron comes pre-seasoned with their “True Seasoned Finish,” meaning they are ready to cook right out of the box. These Dutch ovens are available either standard or “deep,” for those who are looking to save on diameter but increase the capacity of their oven.