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Dutch oven cookbook recommendation?

My Christmas I am going to buy my younger brother a Lodge dutch oven, and I was hoping you could give me a recommendation for a good cookbook to go with it.

My brother is single and cooks most often for just himself. He is an ok cook, but hasn't been eating well due to time/fatigue. I think he would like the idea of one pot tasty food, especially that he could reheat for more meals later. He likes everything, and used to do a lot of ethnic food cooking for himself (ex. indian, thai), but less of this lately due to time. In general, he tries to be fairly healthy when he does cook.

What cookbook is practical, with good tasting recipes? I see that the Molly Stevens book "All about braising" is popular, but does it have stews etc.. as well? Some reviews also criticized it for being a bit too demanding in the "minimum 10 items per recipe" sense.

I am also thinking about the 6 quart dutch oven, wondering if that is too big for a single guy. Not sure what size is standard as a "starter" for this scenario.

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  1. I didn't think there would be any, since a Dutch oven is pretty much a general-purpose tool. I was wrong; there are lots. If you don't get any recommendations from Chowhounds, maybe the reviews on amazon.com will help:


    1 Reply
    1. re: John Francis

      Thanks John. I was scanning Amazon, and was hoping you guys could give your opinion if one of the books jumped out at you when I described my bro.

    2. The Molly Stevens books is wonderful. Another option might be Cooks Illustrated "Best Stews and Soups."

      2 Replies
      1. re: smtucker

        It certainly seems to come highly recommended on Amazon. Just worried it might be a little too much for him, and hope that it includes some "easy" things. Does it have stews and soups as well? Your Cooks Illustrated idea is fantastic. I just saw a couple of their cookbooks at Costco and they looked awesome.

        1. re: smtucker

          I wonder how this Cooks Illustrated is..... Best Slow Easy recipes - Roasts, stews and Braises. It isn't specific for Dutch Oven though. Any thoughts?


        2. I'd recommend no cookbook at all. Instead, personalize the gift by putting in a few index cards with your favorite healthy dutch-oven dishes. Something braised, maybe a white-chicken chile, a curry or two. I think he'd appreciate that more than a book which you yourself don't own and got on the recommendation of (semi) strangers. I know I would. You know his tastes and capabilities better than any book.

          As to size, I cook for a two-person household and the 5-quart is more than sufficient. Occasionally I've had to chop a pork butt into two but it's exceedingly rare.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nokitchen

            I do love this idea the most. I am just embarrassed to admit I don't have stock recipes for these things yet or even a Dutch oven myself. I will borrow my brother's! So I am hoping for a cookbook that we both will learn from.

          2. I've enjoyed many recipes from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook. I've used my deep 10 in skillet with a lid for many of her recipes. They are all easy level and homey one pot meals. She uses different sizes of skillets, but I haven't had an issue with only using what I have. I will use my skillet for soup/stews much as I would use a dutch oven, because it is almost as deep. The book also teaches seasoning and cleaning.

            1. Beware that 'dutch oven' can mean several things. On this forum it often means enameled cast iron, ideally from French manufactures in designer colors. It can also refer to a similarly shaped bare cast iron. That is probably what you have in mind. Lodge also makes 'camp' dutch ovens, designed for use with coals. This kind has 3 short legs and a rimmed lid.

              The are 'dutch oven' societies and competitions that focus on this camp cooking. And many cookbooks that have 'dutch oven' in the title are also aimed at camp cooking. While camp cooking has a long history, many recipes make heavy use of convenience food. For example there are 'dump cakes' and cobblers, that use cake mix, canned fruit, and soda pop. Or elk stews using packaged soup mix. Admittedly even I make more use of convenience foods when camping, since I don't have a full fridge and pantry at my disposal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: paulj

                Thanks for bringing this to my attention. We were a big camping family when I was a child, and eating while camping was always wonderful although we never made things as "complicated" as what you would put in a 'camp' dutch oven. Love the idea though.

                Boy, I used to love cooking while camping. Chicken, fresh corn on the cob (we picked 30 minutes before eating), hot dogs... anything tasted so much better!

              2. I'm single, and though I used a 4.5 qt Le Creuset (enameled cast iron) for decades, I now have a 5.5 qt, too. If I could only have one, it would be the larger one. So I don't think a 6 qt. is too big.

                I'd get enameled rather than bare cast iron. Whatever I make often stays in the fridge in the pot for a couple of nights, and if you use anything acidy (tomatoes, vinegar, wine), the iron corrodes or leaches into your food. Enamel won't. amazon.com has a 6 qt. Lodge in blue for $49.97.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Jay F

                  Thanks Jay. I was looking exactly at that Lodge in blue on Amazon! Glad you approve of that one.

                  1. re: violin

                    I've never used it myself, violin. But it's a nice color and a nice price.

                2. You're a good sister!

                  Since braising includes stews, molly Stevens' cookbook has recipes for them. But, honestly, as you describe his skills, most of her recipes will be way over his head.

                  I am not familiar with the CI cookbook referenced but they are usually much more basic and straightforward. Possibly a better choice.

                  But his DO can be used for much more than braising. Think chili, soup, jambalaya, etc.

                  There has to be a dutch oven cookbook for beginners out there...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    Yes, recipes including chili/soup/jambalaya all would be great too.

                    My brother has a good palate and can actually follow recipes and somewhat complex ones fine... it's just that it would be wonderful if every meal did not require a special shopping trip to get all the ingredients. Maybe my perception of Molly's book is incorrect....

                    I worry a little bit about a truly basic cookbook though, as sometimes I find that "simple" somehow often equals bland/without much flavor.

                  2. There is a book I've seen, called Glorious One Pot Meals by Elizabeth Yarnell that you might consider. Virtually all the meals serve two and are cooked in a 3 qt dutch oven. The starch, meat, and veg (most recipes include meat, but there are a few vegetarian) are all cooked together in layers for a complete meal about 40 min, so they aren't stews or casseroles. She invented it to enable her to cook healthy meals without exhausting herself after being diagnosed with a chronic disease. Instructions are included on how to size up, but the base recipes are designed to feed two adults. She has a website http://www.gloriousonepotmeals.com/ that might give you an idea of what is included.

                    I tried an eggplant dish (supposed to be cooked with pasta, but I ended up just making it by itself the second time) that was quite tasty and cooked through (I truly hate undercooked eggplant). When I made the pasta, it too cooked, but burned a bit - I was using a larger pot and clearly didn't time it right. I haven't tried anything else. The recipes generally were moderately spicy/flavored, rather than timid or traditional Midwestern, and contained a smattering of different sorts of food (chicken satay, pasta dishes, ...), nutritionally balanced. A perhaps larger than expected amount of recipes with either tofu and chickpeas, but otherwise interesting -- most of all for the technique.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: willownt

                      Interesting reference. I will look at it. I really like the idea of ethnic influences and crunchy stuff (yes to tofu and chickpeas) with more spice you describe. But the starch layer might be a bit much. He's a bit more Atkin's like - protein and lots of veg. But I will explore... Thanks!