Best Dutch Ovens for Bread Baking – Complete Guide

Baking artisan bread in a Dutch oven is simple and nearly foolproof. Whether you are just getting started or taking your bread making to the next level, here is my list of the 5 best Dutch ovens for bread baking.

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The 5 Best Dutch Ovens for Bread Baking

#1 – Staub Enameled Cast Iron 5.5 qt

STAUB Cast Iron Dutch Oven 5.5-qt Round Cocotte, Made in France, Serves 5-6, Cherry
  • Made in France , Heavy weight tight-fitting lid retains moisture spikes on the lid create a rain-forest effect evenly returning juices back onto food

Pros

  • Oven safe up to 900 degrees F
  • Heavy weight tight fitting lid to retain moisture
  • Unique interior matte texture for exceptional browning
  • Great heat distribution
  • Nonstick – easy to clean
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • Price – most expensive
  • Heavy

#2 – Le Crueset Enameled Cast Iron 5.5 qt

Sale
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt., Marseille
  • Enameled cast iron delivers superior heat distribution and retention

Pros

  • Oven safe up to 500 degrees F
  • Tight fitting lid to keep steam inside pot
  • Stainless steel knob safe for any oven temperature
  • Great heat distribution
  • Nonstick – easy to clean
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • Price – 2nd most expensive
  • Limited lifetime warranty

#3 – Larder & Vine Enameled Cast Iron 5.7 qt

Larder & Vine Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Lid - Oversized Handles, Dome Lid, Dutch Oven for Sourdough Bread Making – 5.7QT/5.4L - (Okra)
  • Dutch oven pot with lid: This enameled cast iron Dutch oven is perfect for all your cooking needs. A cast iron pot, equipped with a snug-fitting lid featuring drip bumps, effortlessly enhances your cooking by retaining moisture and creating a self-basting effect, resulting in delectably moist and flavorful dishes with minimal intervention.

Pros

  • Price – Mid range price
  • Oven safe up to 500 degrees F
  • Nonstick – easy to clean
  • Multiple color options
  • Large handles for easy handling

Cons

  • Hand wash only
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Heavy – 12.4 pounds

#4 – Crock Pot Artisan Enameled Cast Iron 5 qt

Sale
Crock Pot Artisan 5 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, Slate Gray
  • Crock Pot Artisan Round Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 5-Quart, Slate Grey w/Lid

Pros

  • Price – Great budget option
  • Oven safe up to 500 degrees F
  • Nonstick – easy to clean
  • Multiple color options
  • Oversized handles for easy handling

Cons

  • Lid doesn’t fit as tight as high end brands
  • Chips easily – Must handle with care

#5 – Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron with Loop Handles 5 qt

Sale
Lodge Cast Iron Serving Pot Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven, 5-Quart
  • One Lodge Pre-Seasoned 5 Quart Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven

Pros

  • Price – Great budget option
  • Versatility – Two in one with the lid’s ability to be used as a skillet
  • Extremely heat resistant

Cons

  • Small handles – difficult to hold
  • Manufacturers pre-seasoning isn’t usually enough
  • Needs seasoned regularly
  • Heavy – 13.13 pounds

Benefits of Using Dutch Ovens to Bake Bread

If you’re wondering why you would want to bake bread in a Dutch oven when you already have a bread loaf pan, let me tell you why.

It all comes down to baking with steam. Steam keeps the crust from hardening and promotes better oven spring (rising). A Dutch oven is better at creating and holding steam for 2 reasons.

The Dutch oven is preheated – Preheating the Dutch oven allows steam to be created pretty much immediately after the dough is added and the covered Dutch oven is placed back in the oven.

The Dutch oven has a lid – Baking bread in a cast iron pot with a lid traps the steam inside the pot.

In addition to the benefit of trapping steam, a Dutch oven is also very helpful in eliminating hot spots in an oven which results in more even rise across the loaf.

Dutch ovens allow even the most beginner bread bakers to make beautiful artisan loaves with ease.

Types of Dutch Ovens

Bare Cast Iron

Bare cast iron Dutch ovens are made of solid cast iron. They are extremely durable and will last forever if properly maintained.

One downside of bare cast iron Dutch ovens is that they need to be seasoned regularly. Seasoning Dutch ovens not only keeps them in good condition but also prevents food from sticking.

Bare cast iron Dutch ovens have the benefit of being able to withstand extremely high temperatures which makes them ideal for sourdough bread baking along with use over open fires.

Enameled Cast Iron

Enamel coated Dutch ovens are made of solid cast iron as well but they are coated with an enamel. The enamel coating provides a non-stick surface which eliminates the need to season the Dutch oven.

Be sure to check the maximum heat threshold of an enamel coated Dutch oven before you buy it for bread baking. Many have maximum heat values that are less than what is needed for baking bread.

Enameled cast iron allows more moisture to collect inside the Dutch oven while the bread is baking which results in smoother and shinier bread.

How to Select the Best Dutch Oven for Baking Bread

Dutch Oven Size

If you’re looking for the perfect size Dutch oven for bread, a 5-qt capacity is the way to go. A 5-qt will allow the loaf enough room to expand.

If you’re looking to make a smaller loaf of bread, a 3-4 qt capacity will work well.

Dutch Oven Shape

Most Dutch ovens will be either round or oval in shape. The bread will take the shape of the Dutch oven so if you want an oval loaf, use an oval Dutch oven. Round options are more popular especially when used for stovetop cooking as they fit the burners better than oval shaped options.

Dutch Oven Material

Both enameled and bare cast iron options can be great for bread making. As long as there is enough head room for the bread to rise and you have a tight fitting lid, you’ll get a beautiful artisan loaf.

Enameled options will be easier to clean and don’t require regular maintenance (seasoning). Because of this, enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are usually more expensive. The one main drawback for enameled cast iron is that it cannot withstand as much heat as the bare cast iron alternate. Most enameled Dutch Ovens will be rated high enough for bread making but if you want a versatile pot that can be used over an open fire be sure to go with the bare cast iron option.

How to Bake Bread in a Dutch Oven

Preheat Your Oven with the Dutch Oven Inside

The first step in making Dutch oven bread is to preheat your oven with the Dutch oven inside. There are a few reasons to do this. First is that placing a cold Dutch oven inside a hot oven can cause it to crack.

Preheating the Dutch oven allows the steam to start building as soon as you add the dough and set the lid on top.

Always read the manufacturers recommendations on heating. Some Dutch ovens should not be preheated empty so it is important to understand the best way to preheat your Dutch oven for bread baking.

Bake Bread with the Lid On

Now that you’ve preheated your Dutch oven, add your dough to the pot then place it in the preheated oven with the lid on. Follow the baking instructions for the recipe that you are using and bake with the lid on for the time suggested.

Baking with the lid on traps moisture inside the Dutch oven. The steam that is trapped in the pot will help the bread to stay moist and expand easier.

This first step of baking the bread with the lid on is all about allowing the bread to rise.

Remove Lid and Continue Baking

Remove the lid from the Dutch oven and bake for the additional time stated in your recipe.

The second step of baking with the lid off is about forming the perfect crust. This will allow the crust to get that perfect brown color and crispiness that is associated with artisan bread.

Remove From Oven and Let Cool

After the crust is the perfect color, remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Then remove the bread and let it cool before serving.

How to Care for a Dutch Oven

Enameled Cast Iron

Don’t Exceed the Max Temperature

Most enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are only rated up to 400-450 degrees F. It is important not to exceed this temperature when using your Dutch oven. Be sure to read the manufacturers requirements before setting your oven temperature.

If you exceed the maximum temperature it may result in some of the following issues.

  • Damaged handles as they are made of alternate materials
  • Surface cracking of the enamel
  • Melted enamel

Hand Wash Only

The enamel coating provides a non-stick surface so washing your Dutch oven shouldn’t be a difficult process. If something has stuck to the bottom you can add water and dish soap to the pot and let it soak overnight.

Be sure to always hand wash your enameled pot. Also, be careful with the interior. Never use steel wool when cleaning enameled cast iron as it can scratch and damage the surface.

Use Parchment Paper When Baking Bread

While it isn’t necessary, using parchment paper for bread baking will ensure that your bread does not stick to the bottom or sides of your Dutch oven.

Bare Cast Iron

Regularly Season Your Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Seasoning your cast iron regularly will ensure that your Dutch oven releases food more easily (non-stick) is easier to clean and stays rust free!

How to Season Cast Iron:
  1. Clean the cast iron Dutch oven with dish soap and water
  2. Dry the cast iron Dutch oven thoroughly
  3. Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil, olive oil or melted shortening over the entire Dutch oven and spread it around with a clean paper towel.
  4. Place the Dutch oven upside down on a middle rack in the oven and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees F. Be sure to place foil or a baking sheet below to catch any drips.
  5. Let the Dutch oven cool before removing it.

Hand Wash Only & Dry Immediately

Be sure to always wash your cast iron cookware by hand only.

Cleaning your cast iron cookware immediately after use while it’s still hot is key. Never ever let it soak because that may lead to rust.

Wash the cast iron cookware using hot water and a sponge. If food is stuck to your cast iron cookware, use a rigid brush to scrape it away. Avoid using any soap or steel wool as it can remove the seasoning.

Dry your cast iron cookware immediately after washing. If it is not dried right away it may rust. Thoroughly dry with a towel or dry it over the stove on low heat.

Use Parchment Paper When Baking Bread

Parchment paper isn’t necessary but it does help prevent food from sticking and will ensure that your cast iron Dutch oven stays seasoned longer.

Best Dutch ovens for bread baking

Dutch Oven Bread Recipes

The-Best-Dutch-Ovens-for-Bread-Baking

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2 Comments

  1. I love my Red Dutch Oven pot – It’s so perfect for when I bake bread or do a large roast, although I do not cook that big anymore, but its super handy for sure

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