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Dutch oven alternative

Best Dutch Oven Substitute for All Dishes

Is there a perfect Dutch oven substitute?

Frankly, nothing can truly replace a Dutch oven but there are alternatives you can use. Some of them you might already have in the kitchen. You might not need to go through the extra effort of acquiring a substitute for a Dutch oven.

However, I want to mention once again that owning a Dutch oven is truly amazing.

You don’t realize how versatile this pot with a lid is until you use one almost daily. Or at least once in a while. I don’t say about many things that they don’t have an awesome substitute but this might just be the case.

7 Dutch Oven Substitutes

best Dutch oven substitute
Anyway, we’re actually here to find the best Dutch oven substitute for whatever you want to cook or bake so let’s get to that.

Finding the right substitute for a Dutch oven, which basically is a versatile pot with a lid, depends on what you need it for.

We use it in two main ways: on the stovetop or in the oven. In both ways we can use it with the lid on. We can also use it on the grill or when we go camping but the two main situations remain on the stovetop and in the oven.

Furthermore, what will truly determine which Dutch oven substitute you’re going to use is what you need it for. Meaning, what you’re going to cook or bake.

We can use a Dutch oven for almost everything: bake bread, frying, roasts and braises, soups, one-pot dinners, stews, chilis, make sauces, make desserts, pasta dishes, rice dishes, casseroles, etc.

The cooking techniques we use when cooking in a Dutch oven are: braising, frying, deglazing, roasting and baking. That’s the entire arsenal.

One last thing I should mention is that Dutch ovens are well renowned for being the perfect bakeware for baking bread. If we bake artisan loaves or sourdough loaves, this pot with a lid is what we really want for baking a product that resembles what we can buy from bakeries.

1. Deep skillet: The Best Dutch Oven Substitute

A very good deep skillet can be just as versatile as a Dutch oven. It can also be used to cook and bake pretty much everything, including bread.

A deep skillet can go on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and you can also use it when you’re camping as your primary cookware.

If the skillet doesn’t have a lid, make one. Layer on some parchment paper just slightly bigger than the circumference of the skillet and then cover the parchment paper with aluminum foil.

Tuck it in and simply remove it with a fork or a pair of tongs when your dish should go uncovered.

Aluminum foil is heat conductive and heat resistant so it’s perfect for the oven or on the stovetop if you have a pot that doesn’t have a lid.

Dutch oven vs deep skillet sizes

The only inconvenience you might run into when you’re trying to substitute a Dutch oven with a deep skillet is size.

Dutch ovens come in various sizes, starting from 2 quart up to 7, 8, 10 quarts and more. When we shop for one, we basically choose it based on how many portions we need to make.

If we cook for two and we don’t cook food in big batches, we can choose a smaller size, up to 4 quarts.

A family for 4 can be fed for one meal from a 5.5-quart pot.

On the other hand, if you want to cook a dish in large quantities, you’ll need a 7-10 quart Dutch oven, which is also quite expensive.

Thus, a deep skillet is not the perfect Dutch oven substitute for people who cook for larger families. If you cook for 2 or 3 then it will work very well, whether you want to cook a dish or bake bread in a deep skillet.

2. Slow cookers

For many dishes, a slow cooker can serve as a Dutch oven substitute. They are similar in many ways but they also have their differences so we must keep that in mind when we want to replace one with the other.

A slow cooker, also known as a crock-pot, is an electric cooking appliance so it doesn’t go on the stovetop or in the oven, like a Dutch oven does.

A slow cooker simmers food at a low temperature over a long period of time, hence the name.

Basically, we add our ingredients in, and leave them in for many hours until the dish is cooked.

The main benefit of using a slow cooker is that it’s a great appliance for breaking down and tenderizing large pieces of meat because it cooks them in a low-and-slow manner.

Thus, they’re great for making pot roasts and beef stews, casseroles, one pot meals, and soups. We can buy less expensive cuts of meat because a slow cooker will tenderize them perfectly.

Thus, if what you plan to cook includes pot roasts, beef stews, casseroles, one pot meals, soups then a slow cooker can work as a substitute for a Dutch oven.

However, cooking times are different for the two.

For example, chicken can be cooked in 1-½ hours in a Dutch oven but it will take 2 hours on high setting in a slow cooker. It’s safe to say that adding at least 1 hour to the cooking time would be a good idea.

Check out this article if you want to know more about their differences.

3. Pizza stone: Dutch Oven Substitute for Baking Bread

This is one of my favorite substitutes for those who just want an alternative for baking bread.

Obviously, as the name suggests, pizza stones were mainly created for baking delicious pizza in a home oven or in a countertop oven.

But it can also be used to bake bread and baguettes so it’s quite a versatile tool to have in the kitchen. And it can be left permanently in the oven so you don’t have to worry about storing it anywhere in the kitchen.

A pizza stone regulates the temperature of an oven so it works out perfectly.

Some of the best pizza stones are made of cordierite. As long as you don’t drop it, everything will be great.

In order to bake on a pizza stone, whether we’re making bread or pizza, we need to preheat it first.

It can be preheated for 30 minutes up to an hour or more, depending on its thickness.

Once the preheating is done, add parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to it and you’re ready to bake.

We can bake artisan breads, pita bread, sourdough, gluten free loaves, and baguettes. And, of course, delicious pizza.

4. Baking steel

A baking steel works the same as a pizza stone. We need to preheat it and then we can bake pizza or breads or baguettes on it.

The difference is that most pizza stones are made of cordierite (a mineral), while baking steels are made of steel, just like the name suggests.

They’re a lot heavier, more expensive but they also last a lifetime with a bit of care.

5. Stock pot

The shape of a stock pot doesn’t have much in common with a Dutch oven. One is tall with a lid, the other is wide and kind of shallow with a lid.

However, if you want to cook stews, chilis and soups, then a stock pot can be a good replacement.

Another difference is that we only use stock pots on the stovetop and not in the oven.

6. Loaf pan

If you want to bake bread regularly but you don’t want to buy a Dutch oven just for that, you have a very easy-to-use and cheap substitute: a loaf pan.

Loaf pans are cheap, easy to use, and perfect for baking loaves for years to come.

The difference is that we won’t bake a boule (round loaf) but a rectangular loaf, shaped like a sandwich bread.

Besides the different shapes of the bread, we can bake any type of dough in a loaf pan, including sourdough.

And it costs less than $20 to buy an amazing loaf pan to bake delicious loaves every time.

7. Tagine

My last Dutch oven substitute recommendation is a tagine. While it’s less known than a Dutch oven, it can be nice to discover it.

It’s a fantastic piece of cookware that requires some patience to learn how to use and take care of one but you’ll love it once you get the hang of it.

You can read this article if you don’t know anything about tagines but you want to learn the essential things to know about.

A tagine is a type of North African cookware with a conical lid. The base is wide and shallow. These two pieces together imitate a clay oven.

The conical lid helps return condensed steam back to the food we can slow cook anything we want in it.

Nowadays, tagines can have the base made from enameled cast iron so they’re sturdier and easier to clean. The lid is made from ceramic so don’t drop it.

We can make stews, braise meats, cook one pot dinners, make different combos of meats, spices and veggies.

Dutch oven vs French oven

A Dutch oven and a French oven are basically the same thing by different nationalities. Thus, I won’t recommend a French oven as a Dutch oven substitute because they’re the same thing.

Le Creuset is one of the most famous and one of the most expensive manufacturers of Dutch ovens. It also calls some of their pots French ovens.

A French oven improved the original cast iron design by creating an enameled cast iron coating that is resistant to chipping, cracking and staining.

In truth, the Dutch oven was a cast iron cooking pot patented in 1707 by the English industrialist Abraham Darby. He took inspiration from craftsmen in the Netherlands.

However, it is considered that the technology for cast iron cookware was developed in China more than 2,500 years ago. It’s a long history. You can read more about that here.

What is a Dutch oven?

It is a heavy, wide, fairly shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid.

It can be made from cast iron, like the famous ones from Lodge. Or made from enameled cast iron, like the ones from Le Creuset and Staub.

The difference between the two is that the ones with enamel coating don’t need to be seasoned like cast iron.

On the other hand, the cast iron Dutch ovens from Lodge are some of the cheapest and some of the best on the market.

If you manage to season cast iron the way it should be, it can last a lifetime. And that’s its biggest selling point. That and the cheap price of cookware made of cast iron.

As I’ve mentioned in my introduction, Dutch ovens are versatile pots with lids that can be used for braising, frying, deglazing, roasting and baking.

Baking bread in one such pot is considered the best because it manages to imitate the conditions created in a professional oven.

For the first part of the baking, the one with the lid on, steam and heat is created for the dough to bake in. The lid is removed to create that perfect crust. It’s hard to imitate that.

In the end, which cooking tool ends up being the best Dutch oven substitute for you depends on what you’re trying to cook or bake.