How To Cook With Dutch Ovens
Today it’s all about how to cook with Dutch Ovens. You can cook or bake so many things in a Dutch oven. You heard that right, if you have one or two of these with some charcoal and a fire starter or matches you are good to go. Cooking with firewood works well in a fire pit too! I love cooking over a campfire. I updated this post today because I wrote this post back in 2016!
You can truly be prepared to survive by boiling water and making meals with a Dutch oven. I highly recommend this style of Dutch oven because of the lid structure and size. Lodge Camp Dutch Oven, 6 Qt
I can’t lift more than a 6-quart Dutch oven because of the weight, especially when it’s full of food. I like this style because you can use the lid to stack other Dutch ovens on top of each other and the lid can be used as a griddle. The lid also is designed to hold the hot briquettes during the cooking process, making sure the food items are cooked through.
Very little fuel (charcoal or lump charcoal) is needed to use one of these cast iron gems. Please think of a Dutch oven as an oven using charcoal to bake your food.
Free Printable Cooking Chart
Whatever you bake in your conventional oven you can bake in one of these. My PRINTABLE chart will help you get the temperature required to bake your recipes outside of your kitchen. No special cookbook is needed. Please keep in mind those beautiful ceramic enamel-coated Dutch ovens can only be used in a conventional oven or on a stovetop. They are enamel cast iron Dutch oven varieties that come in different colors.
Here is my PRINTABLE Dutch oven chart that Lodge Manufacturing allowed me to make for you: Dutch Oven Chart
Oh my goodness, can’t you just smell the charcoal briquettes, oh, and the bacon, gotta love it! I decided to just set up my Dutch oven stand and cook one of my favorite meals using a Dutch oven to generate the pictures for this post.
This Lodge Dutch oven above comes “pre-seasoned” so it’s ready to use after washing it with some mild soap and hot water, then patting it dry. Keep it oiled, clean, and dry and these babies last a lifetime. You don’t want to put these in your dishwasher, it MAY damage the surface texture and you’d have to season it again. They are oven-safe if you want to cook inside during inclement weather.
Please Share Ideas
Keep in mind, you can make so many food items in a Dutch oven. If you have some ideas on how to use a Dutch oven I will add yours to my list! Thank you in advance!
If you start practicing NOW with your Dutch oven you will be so comfortable using one after a disaster hits your community. Or if you go camping, all you do is use the recipes you already have in your cookbooks or you have memorized.
My Lodge Dutch oven cooking chart below shows you how many charcoal pieces/hot coals: you need to get the right temperature for the Lodge Dutch oven size you are using. Easy peasy, I promise.
Meal Preparation With Dutch Ovens:
- boil water or other liquid like soups, even creamy soup varieties
- loaf of bread
- make a casserole with meat, rice, or other ingredients
- lasagna and other pasta recipes
- peach cobbler along with other desserts – the crusts are to die for!
- chicken pot pie
- baked chicken
- sauces with fresh herbs – adding to the flavors you like
- various kinds of stews like beef stew
- you can fry a number of things to make a favorite dish – you can also sear and do some braising
- cooks roasts to a perfect tenderness
Charcoal Starter Canister
I thought I would show you how I get my “charcoal” going with a little newspaper and this fire-starter canister. It costs about $26.00 Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter and I have had it for years. To start out right you place it in a safe location so you don’t set fire to your surroundings.
Next, you take some loosely made newspaper balls or small twigs and place them in the bottom of the canister. 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 12-inch Lodge Dutch oven with a lid that has a lip. It’s my favorite for cooking with charcoal on the top and bottom. It’s great for stacking Dutch ovens as well.
Dutch Oven Stand
I recently showed the Dutch oven stand my brother-in-law, Duane S. made for me. Dutch Oven Stand post. Note that the Dutch oven has two types of handles. There is one that swivels on the oven itself so you can lift it, and there is one on the lid too. This is pretty typical of the classic-style Dutch oven. I use a “lift lifter” to open the oven both to check on the meal as it’s being cooked and to gain access when serving the meal.
I Counted Out Too Many Charcoal Pieces
Well, I got distracted, which I often do, and put more than 24 charcoal pieces in the fire-starter canister. So of course, we used all of the charcoal anyway. Here is my PRINTABLE Dutch oven chart that Lodge Manufacturing allowed me to make for you: Dutch Oven Chart
The picture above shows the charcoal that’s ready to use underneath the Dutch oven and also on top of the lid to start this amazing meal.
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 soaked in tepid water for 45 minutes and then drained off the water making for the perfect amount of moisture as they cooked.
Here I placed some pre-cooked bacon cut into pieces, some freeze-dried onions (not reconstituted), and lots of freshly grated cheese.
Check out the picture below to see how I put the hot charcoal pieces on top of the lid.
See the lid lip, I like these for this kind of meal. You can buy some LODGE Dutch ovens without the lip, but you can’t stack other ovens on top if the lid doesn’t have the lip shown.
Remember, I lost count of the charcoal so I just threw the remaining charcoal on top. It still works, you just have to check the food to make sure they’re cooking the way you desire.
Here is the finished meal…fabulous…I think it took about 20-25 minutes.
Be Prepared to Cook Outside – Then Properly Clean the Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens can provide many years of reliable service if properly cared for. This includes proper cleaning once the cooking is done. The best approach is to remove any food that may be stuck to the sides and bottom of the oven. It may require putting some water in the oven while still on the heating source and heating the water until it is near the boiling point.
Using a sponge or plastic scrubber you scrape the food from the sides. Try not to use anything that may scratch the surface. Always stay clear of using any kind of harsh soap product since it can damage the special coating on the oven surface. Rinse the oven with clean warm water. Towel dry the oven and allow it to then air dry.
Once the oven is dry reheat it until it is hot to the touch and then remove it from the heat and apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to fill the pores. Once cool enough, wipe the oil off with a towel. It is also suggested to leave the lid slightly ajar so the pan is properly ventilated during storage.
Be Sure And Store It Dry
You’ll find with continued use that over time the Dutch oven will need additional care which may include the stripping and re-curing/seasoning process. It could be that your Dutch oven actually gets rusty or takes on a rancid odor. You will want to treat the oven as if you just purchased it and cure it for future use. Many people find it most convenient to heat the oven over an outdoor propane stove.
Make sure that ALL the surfaces are given the opportunity to get hot. Turn up the heat on the propane stove and then carefully reheat all the surfaces such that they are “smoked” for approximately five minutes. Remove the oven from the heat and then rub all the surfaces with some steel wool until clean using hot running water at the same time. Wipe the clean oven and dry it with paper towels and then allow the oven to air dry. Once totally dry, you then will re-season the unit as you cured it prior to placing it in service the first time.
Take good care of this unique cooking tool and enjoy those delicious meals for many years to come. You can also purchase disposable liners for your ovens, or line them with aluminum foil to make them easier to clean.
I often check out the Lodge website and just dream…… Lodge Manufacturing Company.
My Favorite Reasons Why I Store Aluminum Foil
My favorite things:
Lodge Cast-Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle 20 by 10 inch diameter
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Square Grill Pan, 10.5-inch diameter
Lodge Camp Dutch Oven Lid Stand
I hope you enjoyed today’s post on how to cook with a Dutch oven. Many of you probably grew up using them, but I believe there are many families that may not know how to use them. It’s so easy to use and taking it camping is the best thing ever! Please tell me how you use yours. May God Bless this world, Linda
13 thoughts on “How To Cook With Dutch Ovens”
Number 1: Purchase the large briquettes from Sams or Walmart…they last longer and produce more heat per piece.
Number 2: Anytime you cook cheese or sugary foods in a Dutch oven do yourself a favor and find a round steel or aluminum cake pan that will fit inside the oven. Punch a couple holes in the edge and make a bail with a piece of wire. Much easier to clean a cake pan in the field or kitchen than a sticky, carbonized oven.
Number 3: Go to a tractor supply or farm store and pick up a couple flat horseshoes. Place the shoe under the cake pan for even heat transfer. Bottle caps also work. So do three flat small stones. I like horseshoes. Makes better biscuits without scorching.
Number 4: Preheat the oven always.
Number 5: Do not clean with soap. I know some who do, but not a great idea. Hard to remove soap from cast iron in the field and you will remove seasoning with the soap. I use hot water and a paper towel. If there is stuck food on the oven then scrape with hard plastic or wood chip to remove. Always dry the oven over heat completely, then apply some Crisco. It carbonizes better than olive oil. Lard also works.
I have cooked with Dutch ovens for 40 years, both here in the firepit in my Missouri home as well as on western deer and elk hunting camps. Don’t forget that a small nearby hardwood fire will produce all the coals needed for these wonderful ovens. Your ancestors probably used them in the front yard and on the trail to pioneer homes for centuries. Have fun and keep those ovens oiled!
Hi Celtarch, your comment is music to my ears! I’m adding this whole comment to my post! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for these great Dutch oven tips! I’m going into town tomorrow to find a couple os horseshoes! I LOVE this idea! Thanks again! Linda
I remember when my husband gave me a 14 inch deep DO! I told him never to make me mad if that thing was full. Back then, I could lift the pot empty but struggled when it was full! I figured if I got the full pot swinging, he was going to lose his life if I hit him with it!! Never happened though.
So, I never actually used that 14 inch DO as I didn’t know how to bake in it. I figured over a camp fire, suspended by the bail, I could make soup or stew but nothing else! Several years passed and I was at a camp out and the people next to us were cooking with their DO. The first thing I learned how to make/do with my DO was to put the lid upside down on a trivet with coals underneath. They taught me how to make crepes on that lid!! Game on! The next day they made bread and told me that if something is baked in an oven, it could be baked in a DO along with stewing, roasting, frying and just about anything I could imagine doing in the DO. I was gifted a 3-ring binder with tons of recipes for the DO and I went to town making things. Every weekend we had a couple come for dinner. Dinner was made in the DO. I also purchased a 12 inch and 10 inch DOs so I could cook 3 different things at the same time. I now have 4 DOs: 14 inch deep, 12 inch, 10 inch and 8 inch.
I love the camp DOs for cooking with charcoal or over an open fire but I really do want to get a flat bottom DO for use in my oven at home. I also have 2 iron trivets for my DO cooking – for setting the lid on so it doesn’t get dirty but also to hold the lid above the coals if I am using the lid for crepes or frying eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, etc. I have
As for cleaning the DO, there are bags (roasting bags at the grocery store) that come in handy for containing the food and keeping the DO clean; parchment paper is great as well for something that comes out of the DO to be served (bread, cakes, etc.); pie plates are wonderful for things that will fit (I have a ceramic pie plate with a bail that fits perfectly in my 10 inch) and finally aluminum foil if you like to use aluminum (look in the cooking/baking section or houseware section at the grocery store for some that will fit in the DO you will be using).
On to a recipe of sorts! This is for “Rocky Cornish Game Hens”. Get some stones approximately the same size as the hen’s body cavity. Clean the stones well and dry completely. Wrap in foil or other heat resistant material (parchment paper or roasting bags – they need to be separate, one stone for each bird. Preheat the DO according to the directions on your birds but put the stones in the DO while it is preheating. Prepare your birds how you like them (I use butter mixed with sage, rosemary and thyme under the skin). When the birds are prepped and the DO/stones are preheated, place the covered stones in your bird’s cavity. Cook as directed by the package directions (I just looked up directions on Food Network dot com). Place the coals that are needed for your oven temperature and time based on the size of the DO (may need more during the cooking process depending on how many birds you are cooking and ambient temperature). Enjoy!!
HI Leanne, oh my gosh, the 14 inch deep DO, that would have been a heavy pot!!!! I hope people realize if they have a few DO you can cook or bake anything if it fits in the pan! The ‘”Cornish Hens” story is the best, I want to try that one! Love this, Linda
I loved your comment about your husband not making you mad when your dutch oven was full. I can remember when I was a young wife (I have been married 53 years) and my father in law came home drunk and was grabbing my mother in Love and she took the biggest cast iron skillet she had and bashed him in the head. Didn’t hurt him as it didn’t phase him that was how drunk he was. Momma was upset with herself but daddy didn’t do that ever again.
HI Jackie, wow, that would have hurt! Thanks for sharing, Linda
Great article. You hit on an important point with the weight issue. I love some Dutch oven cobbler
Hi Matt, now I want to make some Dutch Oven Cobbler, it’s so easy and so good! Linda
I don’t have a Dutch oven yet. I also have a hard time lifting heavy things but I would like to get the 6 quart Dutch oven to start learning how to cook with it, especially the baking aspect. I printed off the chart for the number of briquettes for the top and the bottom. The Dutch oven sizes on the chart are in inches versus quarts. For your 6 quart Dutch oven, what is the size in inches that you use to determine the number of briquettes for the various temperatures? Is it the diameter of the lid or the depth of the Dutch oven itself?
Hi Carol, the 6 quart Lodge brand is 12 inches in diameter if you added in the attached side handles that hold the handle it’s a about 12.75 give or take. It’s not the depth, I’m glad you asked. Linda
Thanks, Linda. for the great post and answering my question. I don’t have room to store a camping oven so I want to try the Dutch oven for baking. Some of the recipes like the peach cobbler and pizza that you make look interesting. Of course. chili soup, chicken soups, sweet and tangy chicken and many more things would be great too. I have purchased the hood for my volcano grill. I need to practice now to get familiar with baking in it while deciding on the Dutch oven. I have been going through my recipes to identify ones that could be made if the inside appliances didn’t work due to a disaster. Your postings are so helpful and the readers who comment just add to it. I love learning new things to be more prepared for whatever may befall us. May God help us survive.
Hi Carol, thank you for your kind words, my friend. I bought the Volcano Hood to bake a loaf of bread. It does work, but it’s hard to control the temperature. It can burn very quickly. Bake bread in a Dutch oven, it works! Here is a 4-Quart Lodge that is a bit more affordable. https://amzn.to/43mLqqN (Inside dimensions: 10-inch diameter by 3.5-inch deep)
I like this style because you can stack other DO with this lid on top of each other. Linda
I love cast iron pans and dutch ovens. We made a cobbler in our little 8 inch dutch oven over Memorial Day and it was wonderful. I put a square of parchment paper in it (some paper hangs over the side a bit) and pour the fruit in and the topping. This works well for me and it’s so good and easy clean-up.