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Help me choose a dutch oven

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Hi Everyone,

So I am on an extreme budget so I'm not really looking at all of the pricey Dutch Ovens. So far I've purchased 2 Dutch Ovens (I'm only planning to keep one of them) and have my eye on a third. The two I have purchased:

- Berndes 5.75 Qt Enameled Cast Iron Casserole safe up to 450 Degrees. This one was purchased at Ross for $35 and I can't find any info on it anywhere.

- Staub Elite Enameled Cast Iron 5qt. French Oven safe up to 400 Degrees. Purchased from Homegoods for $40. I like the basting spikes it has (although have no clue if they really do anything) but have read bad reviews about cleaning the bottom of the inside which has "dimples"

I also see that Walmart has that Tramontina Dutch Oven right now (a 6.5 Qt for $35). This one is safe up to 350 degrees but can be more if the handle on the lid is replaced.

I probably like the looks of the Staub the most followed by the Berndes followed by the Tramontina. However, I know nothing of the Berndes and have read many many good reviews about the Tramontina. The Staub seems to be the only one with the basting spikes and is the only one made in France. I'm new to all of this and am pretty confused.

I'm single and won't be cooking for very large groups often. Would I benefit more from something smaller like the 5 Qt or would I not go wrong with buying something bigger like the 6.5 Qt. Any input anyone can give me would be very much appreciated. And as far as budget, I'm trying to stay under $50 for my first Dutch Oven purchase.

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  1. Get the Tramontina. You are on a budget so appearance needs to take a back seat to performance and economy. It is a Cook's Illustrated Best Buy and can be used at higher temps if you wrap the knob in aluminum foil (their recommendation came as part of the No-Knead Bread 2.0 article, which starts by preheating it to 500 degrees). I bought it for that purpose and have used it at over 350 many times, so far without a problem. You'll see the Tramontina in use on Cook's Country shows on PBS, a further endorsement of its worthiness since it is in the company of All-Clad, LeCreuset, and other pricey lines.
    The 6.5 is not all that larger than the other 2 and will give you the option of making bread in addition to larger quantities of soups, stews, and braises. I am single too, but make extra amounts for freezing. Making 4-5 quarts in a 6.5 quart pot lets you stir and turn without spilling.

    1. We have the Lodge 3qt and 6qt dutch ovens. They work great on the stovetop or in the oven. We use both, but seem to use the 3qt more for the two of us.