Food & Recipes

The 5 Best Dutch Ovens for All Your Pandemic Bread-Making Needs

There's never been a better time to bake.

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Ever since the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown began, some of the things that have been hardest to find on store shelves — along with toilet paper — are yeast and flour. That makes sense to us; who isn’t comforted by the scent of fresh-baked bread? And there’s nothing like kneading a loaf of dough to burn off a little anxiety, too.

The benefits of kneading aside, if you’re lucky enough to have a few packets of yeast and some flour in your pantry, you might want to try this popular no-knead recipe from Jim Lahey, the owner of New York’s celebrated Sullivan Street Bakery. “It’s ridiculously easy, if you can get your hands on flour and yeast,” says our editor, Lili Zarghami.

She’s made several amazing-looking loaves over the past few days, and reports having good success with making it gluten-free, as well as with traditional all-purpose flour.

loaf of homemade bread
Lili’s bread — can’t you almost smell it?Lili Zarghami

The thing you’ll need to make this bread (along with flour and yeast, of course), is a good sturdy oven-proof dish to bake it in. The recipe calls for a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot, which can be made of cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic. Lili used a 5-quart oval Dutch oven and says there was “more than enough room, but you probably wouldn’t want to go too much smaller.” She also says the dough could easily be divided if you want to use two smaller dishes.

If you’d like to try this recipe and find yourself, as I did, thinking that this is the perfect excuse to splurge on some new cookware, good news! Le Creuset is currently having a sale on many of their most popular items, including this gorgeous Dutch oven.

Le Creuset not in your quarantine budget? No problem. There are several great alternatives that will help you turn out delicious, rustic loaves of yeasty goodness. We’ve rounded up five that we love, and think you will too. Keep scrolling to shop FIRST for Women’s picks for the best Dutch ovens!

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1. Modern Cast Iron Covered Round Casserole

round dutch oven
Food52

Where to buy: $160, Food52

Available in the lovely green shade pictured, or in black, this 4.4 quart casserole dish will lock flavor into your stews as well as creating lovely loaves. The cast iron ensures even heating, and the smooth surface cleans up easily. Plus, you can buy a coordinating steamer insert ($48) that tucks neatly inside, for perfectly steamed veggies!

2. Staub Round Cocotte

round dutch oven
Sur La Table

Where to buy: $99.96 (Originally $414), Sur La Table

This 4-quart beauty is crafted in France and makes perfect soups, stews, roasts, braises, and yes, bread. The lid has “self-basting spikes” to keep food tender and flavorful, and the matte enamel finish won’t rust, chip, or become discolored. It’s oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can be sure it’ll last. Snap it up while it’s on sale — the savings are huge!

3. Lodge Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven

lodge dutch oven
Target

Where to buy: $69.90, Amazon

Available in eye-popping red or cheerful bright blue, this 6-quart workhorse is a fantastic, reliable option for cooking up large batches of — well, anything you want, really! In addition to bread, you’ll use this one for pot roasts, bean dishes, and anything you want to cook long and slow, filling your home with a tempting aroma.

4. Artisanal Kitchen Supply Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

gray dutch oven
Bed Bath & Beyond

Where to buy: $69.99, Bed Bath & Beyond

We love the slate gray option pictured here, but this durable 6-quart Dutch oven also comes in red or blue. Whatever shade you choose, you’ll find that it’s a great option for stovetop or oven use. The stainless steel knob on the lid keeps heat from escaping, and sturdy handles on the sides help you keep a firm grip. The lid features “self-basting rings” to collect moisture and direct it back into the food, ensuring rich flavor.

5. AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven

blue dutch oven
Amazon

Where to buy: $46.49, Amazon

A Dutch oven doesn’t have to have a hefty price tag to get the job done, as this 6-quart AmazonBasics option proves. Oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and suitable for stovetop use as well, this budget-friendly dish will surprise you with its quality and durability.

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