Dutch Oven Cooking

How To Use A Dutch Oven

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Today, it’s all about how to use a Dutch Oven! You may think a Dutch Oven is just for camping, but it’s also a great survival cooking source! Here’s the deal: I grew up with cast iron cookware products when I was young. My mom always had a brand called Lodge. I was not paid or given any product from Lodge to write this post, just in case you were wondering. There are many other excellent cast iron products you can purchase.

My mom fried eggs, bacon, cheese, and many other things in her cast iron frying pans. Cooking on cast iron is more convenient than you may think. For instance, you can cook with a Dutch Oven outside with just charcoal. You can also bake Dutch Oven recipes like baking bread in a Dutch oven in your conventional oven inside your home. It’s much easier if the Dutch Oven is flat on the bottom instead of having legs if cooking inside.

Cooking with a Dutch Oven

Not Great For Glass Top Stoves

I would not recommend cooking with cast iron on a glass-top stove. Please let me know if you use cast iron pans on your glass-top stovetop since my experience hasn’t been good. I’ve also heard that stove manufacturers have suggested against doing so.

We finally got a gas stove a few years ago in our Southern Utah home, so I no longer had to worry about scratching the glass top I’d had with my electric stove. I had used gas stoves for years until we bought this house, which had an electric stove with a glass top. We have always had a gas stove and think they are less expensive to use, and I like how I can turn the gas flame up and down with instant results. I always felt like I was waiting for the electric element to heat up or cool down. Mark and I loved cooking with gas in Southern Utah because our electric bill was outrageous!!!

Let’s talk about the size of the Dutch Oven to buy. I prefer the 6-quart size because when the pot is full of ingredients, I can still lift it very easily. The 4-quart is a good size as well, and somewhat lighter. The larger the capacity, the heavier the Dutch Oven becomes. A stronger person may prefer a larger 8-quart size.

Read More of My Articles  How To Use A Volcano Stove

The lid is a 12-inch lid on both the six- and eight-quart Lodge Dutch Ovens. The 8-quart is deeper and can definitely cook more food, but it would be too heavy for me to handle. If you take care of your cast iron, it will truly last a lifetime.

Charcoal Starter Canister

Lodge Dutch Oven

I thought I would show you how I get my “charcoal” going with a little newspaper and this fire-starter canister. It costs about $20.00, and I have had it for years. You place it in a safe location to light it. Next, place some loosely made newspaper balls or small twigs at the bottom of the canister. Chimney Starter

Next, I place charcoal on top of the newspaper in the canister. Then, I use a match or butane fire starter to light the newspaper on fire. I wait until the charcoal looks half black and half whitish; this means it’s almost ready to use on the top and bottom of the Dutch oven.

I have a 6-quart Lodge Dutch Oven with a lid lip, and it’s my favorite for cooking with charcoal on the top and bottom. It’s also great for stacking Dutch ovens. As I mentioned, the lid is 12 inches in diameter.

Dutch Oven Stand

You may have seen this Dutch Oven stand my brother-in-law, Duane S., made for Mark and me. Dutch Oven Stand post. It sure makes it easier to cook standing up rather than on the ground. It’s so awesome, and you can recycle items to make this stand.

Tutorial On Using A Dutch Oven | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

Too Many Charcoal Pieces

I got distracted, as I often do, and put more than 24 charcoal pieces in the fire starter canister. Of course, we used all of the charcoal anyway. Here, the charcoal is ready to be placed in the Dutch Oven stand with the Dutch Oven on top of the hot charcoal.

Tutorial On Using A Dutch Oven | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

For today’s recipe, I melted a half cube of butter in the bottom of the oven before placing these potatoes in the hot Dutch Oven. These are dehydrated potatoes that I rehydrated in tepid water for 45 minutes and drained off the excess water.

Tutorial On Using A Dutch Oven | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

Here, I placed some pre-cooked bacon cut into pieces, some freeze-dried onions (not reconstituted), and lots of freshly grated cheese. I put the hot charcoal pieces on top of the lid. See the lid lip or rim? I like these for this kind of meal.

Tutorial On Using A Dutch Oven | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

You can buy some Dutch oven lids without the lip, but the charcoal won’t stay on top where I need it. Remember, I lost count of the charcoal, so I just threw the remaining charcoal on top. It still works.

Tutorial On Using A Dutch Oven | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

Here is the finished meal. It was fabulous, and I think it took about 20-25 minutes. I suggest you purchase a lid lifter so you can take the lid off to check on your food, and to remove it when the cooking is done.

Tutorial On Using A Dutch Oven | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

Some Food You Can Cook In A Dutch Oven

  1. Chili
  2. Soups or stew
  3. Lasagna or other pasta
  4. Pot Roast with potatoes, carrots, sliced onions or other vegetables
  5. Spaghetti
  6. Bread
  7. Biscuits
  8. Pulled Pork
  9. Peach Cobbler
  10. Sloppy Joes
  11. Beef Brisket
  12. White Chili
  13. Mac and Cheese
  14. Pizza
  15. Chicken
  16. Other Deep-frying entrees
  17. Casseroles
Read More of My Articles  Open Fire Cooking 101

They Last For Many years if Cleaned and Stored Properly

If you missed my post on how to clean and restore cast iron, here it is: How To Clean And Restore Cast Iron by Linda

Cast iron Dutch Ovens and other cast iron cookware items are known for their durability. Refer to the How to Clean link above to see if you can use soapy water to properly clean the units.

Can I Use the Dutch Oven to Sear or Do Some Braising if the Recipe Calls for It?

Although most of us look for the Dutch Oven to function more like a slow cooking device, you can use the unit to sear or braise meat before you add in the liquid ingredients. As with other slow cookers, the Dutch Oven can make the meat have more tenderness with longer cooking times. Gently cooking the meat first and then simmering the meat along with the other ingredients that provide the needed moisture tend to work best.

Are There any Advantages to Using Enameled Cast Iron Cookware?

The enamel coating that you find on an enameled Dutch Oven gives the unit a smooth surface that helps resist food sticking and makes it easier to clean when you’re done. The coating also prevents the iron from rusting and leaching.

The enamel may add some additional weight to the already heavy cookware. Some home cooks and chefs have noticed the enamel can chip and make the unit more unsightly. If you’re concerned with the ease of cleaning a unit, other non-stick cookware surfaces may be easier to clean. Note that the enameled Dutch Ovens could prove to be more costly.

PLEASE NOTE: Enamel-coated Dutch Ovens cannot be used outside. Check your brand before using one outside. Most are designed for stovetops or conventional ovens.

PRINTABLE Cooking Chart

PRINTABLE Lodge Dutch Oven time and temperature chart I put together after getting permission from the company: Dutch Oven Cooking Chart

Final Word

There is something remarkable about having even just one Dutch Oven as an additional cooking method. If you think about it, you can survive any disaster if you store charcoal in airtight containers to use as fuel to cook some meals. Please store the charcoal without the lighter fluid because it will store indefinitely.

If you take care of your cast iron, it will truly last a lifetime. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world, Linda

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    1. I’ve seen them on Amazon for $276.00 today. I gave away the Sun Oven dehydrator racks because I have a dehydrator. I have my post ready to go live tomorrow on Sun Ovens. Las Vegas is a great place to use one. I have seen brand new ones for sale in the box on FB Marketplace every so often. I think people are afraid to take them out of the box. True story. I have had to help a few people in my neighborhood. I get it, it’s a bit overwhelming until people see my posts or demonstrations. Linda

  1. Linda – I’ve been cooking DO for years now. I love that anything that can be cooked on top of the stove or baked in an oven, can be cooked or baked in a DO.

    One note that I would like to mention. Keep the inside of the lid well seasoned as well. The lid, turned upside down on a trivet (sold by Lodge) can be used as a frying pan with coals underneath! The first time I saw this, the guy was making crepes!! YUM!

  2. Growing up we would drive to the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and camp for vacation. My mother’s family would join us for part and my grandmother would stay the entire 2 weeks with us, and sometimes our cousins would stay with her. She was an amazing cook and always brought her cast iron Dutch Oven with her. This DO belonged to my grandfather’s mother and she had gotten it from her grandmother, it was at least 100 years old when we were children. She would fix pot roast with potatoes, onions and carrots; she would make meatloaf and wrap potatoes in foil and bake them in the fire; she would make cornbread to go with a pot of soup cooked on the camp stove. And cobblers…. it depended what was ripe at the time we went. It was usually blueberry season. She would take all the grandchildren and cousins our ages and we would go blueberry picking. She taught us the correct way to pick berries was one in the pail and one in your mouth. (Which is why she needed a dozen or more kids helping to pick berries.) We all came back with purple stained hand, mouths and clothing. The she would make the best tasting cobblers. Weekend were great because our family would take over the entire loop we were in and there would be one large fire and half a dozen or more Dutch ovens cooking in the fire. People would walk by our campsite just to smell whatever she was cooking.

    My grandmother never used charcoal. The job we kids had was collecting wood to keep her fire going. She was always the first person up and she started the fire (and bake biscuits for breakfast in the Dutch Oven) and she believed that the fire had to be smokey to be a good fire. Once again it was good to have a dozen or more kids because we would hunt the woods and have to go farther each day. On weekends, one or more uncle would bring wood to the campground for us.

    I often said that I would love to have gotten my grandmother’s recipes, however, the truth is I don’t think she ever used a recipe and she always claimed that her secret ingredient was love.

    While I don’t have the family Dutch oven, I have two sizes of DO and we do sometimes cook in them out side at our firepit. I’m not as talented as my grandmother, but they meals are always tasty. We had a power outage on Saturday and I was planning on cooking in the DO in the fire pit (in the rain) but the electricity came back on before we started the charcoal, so we wimped out and used the oven and stayed dry.

    1. Hi Angela, Oh, how I love your comment. The secret ingredient is love, that’s my favorite! You know there is something that makes a family stay together and I truly believe it’s cooking together as a family. The Dutch Oven pot cooked over wood is so awesome!! Life is so good eating together, camping together, and enjoying the beautiful world around us. Thanks for sharing, Linda

  3. Linda,

    I just visited your site and signed back up for your newsletter. Hope it works this time as I haven’t been getting them.

    1. Ray,
      Occasionally my email provider blocks or loses Linda’s emails. When they do, I just use this link to get to her blog: https://www.foodstoragemoms.com/
      Then I scroll down a little and her latest post is on the left side of the screen. Realistically, since she posts every day, sometimes I access the article before getting the email. We Texans sometimes have a tough time waiting. LOL!!!
      Have a great weekend.

  4. Our dutch oven is very heavy grade aluminum, but it works great. Jane inherited it from her grandmother. I mostly use it when making corned beef and cabbage or pot roast.

  5. I’ve been using cast iron on a glass top stove and I find it really makes a scratched up mess of the glass but otherwise no problems. My Dutch oven is mostly used for making sourdough rye bread, lid on at first then lid off for the second half. Makes the most amazing bread. I also use it for all kinds of soups and stews and even spaghetti sauce though I clean it as soon as the cooking is done. I found the enamel coated pans are too fussy to bother with. One of the things I like about plain, well seasoned cast iron pans is how sturdy they are and if it gets mistreated it’s relatively easy to get it back in shape again. Once enamel is damaged that’s it. I did however pick up a couple of stainless steel frying pans at the thrift shop. When certain guests unfamiliar with cast iron care are here I hide the cast iron.

    1. HI Alice, well at least it hasn’t cracked your glass top. I’ve never made rye sourdough bread, I’m going to try that, yummy!! I got the giggles over hiding the cast iron pans, I do the same thing! LOL! Love it, Linda

  6. Something I learned out camping and using my DO to bake bread. Alice mentioned that she takes the lid off for part of the baking. I do not. However, when I bake bread in my DO, I rotate the pot clockwise every 10 minutes and the lid counterclockwise. This helps eliminate hot spots that could possibly char your bread. I would also do that if I am baking just about anything. I don’t like the char on my baked goods (bread, casseroles, desserts, etc.)

    When I use my DO to cook soups and stews, etc., over a campfire, I try to keep the fire low enough that burning rarely happens. Sometimes, though, you need to add wood and when it flares up, it can cause hot spots. Stirring helps in that situation, but I generally take my pot off the fire when I add wood and wait for the flames to die down.

    1. Hi Leanne, great tip, thank you for sharing. I never take my lid off when making bread either. I’ve make several recipes in mine and every time I learn something new. It’s so fun to cook in a DO over a fire, love it! Linda

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