dutch ovens

Joined May 20, 2011
I was just curious, what is the purpose of a dutch oven? could I just use a clay casserole dish instead? since I can cook acidic in it without any affects anyways? Just curious? also, how does a casserole dish compare to a dutch pot? I get sort of confused between all these different terms because it seems sometimes their purposes overlap each other a lot.

Joined Jan 8, 2010
OK, lemme give it a try.

A dutch oven is a cast iron pot that can be used over a wood fire or bbq and more or less acts like an oven.

The flat bottom ones can be used on the stove top as well.

For almost all purposes you can use a cast iron casserole dish or something like it as well.

A clay casserole dish cannot be use on direct fire and it's cooking properties are different from cast iron.

Hope that helps somewhat


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
There are also ceramic lined cast iron dutch ovens for daily kitchen use. They're popular for their heat retention, their development of fond. The ceramic coating allows you to cook wine and tomatoes without fear.

They're not necessary, but they're particularly nice for braising and soup.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Brenna, contributing to your confusion is that manufacturers often apply the term "Dutch oven" to any heavy duty covered pot that lacks an extended handle.

Originally, cast iron Dutch ovens were designed to be used with hot coals from the fireplace. They stood on three legs and had a recessed lid. Coals were placed both under the pot and in the lid, thus creating a dry-heat environment. When "portable" stoves became possible, manufacturers began designing them with flat bottoms and domed lids, but the name was retained. Eventually this led to things like non-stick coated aluminum pots being called Dutch ovens.

There are some differences between cooking in a Dutch oven and using a clay pot. Primarily this has to do with searing, which you can do in iron but not in clay. On the other hand, there are flavor nuances you get from clay that you don't get from iron. So, at base, it depends on what you are cooking, and your desired end goal.

I do disagree with Butzy, however. Clay pots have been used over direct fire for centuries. A lot depends on the design, the kind of clay, and the size of the fire. One example: Tajines are used directly over charcoal, and the unglazed ones can be safely used on top of your range.
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