Dutch Ovens And Alternatives [What You Can Use Instead]

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Do you really need a Dutch oven to cook that recipe? Can you complete it with something else just as well? The following looks at what you can use as substitutes for a Dutch oven and if you want to go a step further, an option for a Dutch oven in pure ceramic (plus an electric programmable one).

But first, let’s look at just what is a dutch oven and how it cooks food — the cooking method.

Vintage Dutch oven and dutch oven substitutes

What is a Dutch Oven?

You can say a Dutch oven is a traditional type of slow cooker. As the name suggests, the idea comes from the Netherlands, centuries ago, when they used to cook meals in cast-brass pots.

It was an Englishman by the name of Darby who took the Dutch idea back home to England and modified it, using iron in the casting instead of brass for a cheaper version that matched the cooking style. He patented his creation as the “Dutch oven” in 1707.

Back then it was a cast-iron cooking vessel — today the term equates to a large pot with a lid. Or as The Britannica Dictionary defines it: a large covered pot. But the true Dutch oven is a cast-iron cooking pot.

What can I use instead of a dutch oven?

Instead of a Dutch oven, you could use any cooking appliance, pot, pan, or dish that allows the moist-heat method of cooking performed by the Dutch oven.

The main attributes is that it’s heavy gauge or thick walled and has a cover that creates and holds moisture to steam, braise, stew or simmer ingredients. If it doesn’t have a lid you could fashion a cover from folding and wrapping aluminum foil to fit.

Substitutes for a Dutch oven — Yes or No?

Here are some options to consider as a Dutch oven alternative:

  1. Ceramic baking dish
    A baking dish would be ideal as a Dutch oven substitute for the oven as long as the baking dish contains the contents and has a cover. You may not be able to use it on the stove top — I wrote about avoiding the use of ceramic baking dishes on the stovetop.
  2. Slow cooker (Crock Pot)
    An electric slow cooker with ceramic inner pot will work the same as a Dutch oven.
  3. Casserole dish
    A casserole dish is designed to go in the oven. It can be used instead of a Dutch oven in the oven but unless it’s made from cast iron or the manufacturer states it, it’s not for use on the stove top.
  4. Tagine
    A traditional tagine made of clay can substitute for a Dutch oven, somewhat. It has a conical shape and is used for making tagines. The problem with a tagine is that you are limited in what you cook because it has a shallow base.
  5. Ceramic pot
    A pure ceramic pot, like those made by Xtrema, can go in the oven and on the stovetop much like a traditional Dutch oven.
  6. Frying pan
    On the stovetop, a frying pan instead of a Dutch oven can work as long as it’s fairly heavy gauge, you have a lid for it, and it is deep enough to contain the ingredients.
  7. Roasting pan
    A roasting pan with a cover could do the trick if you have no other options as a substitute for a Dutch oven. It’s an odd shape for most stovetop elements where cooking may not be evenly distributed.
  8. Pyrex dish
    A pyrex dish with lid can replace a Dutch oven for recipes done in the oven but is not ideal for the stovetop.
  9. Instant Pot
    You can use the Instant Pot to replace a Dutch oven and adjust the cooking time accordingly (about ⅓ of the time). Also, the makers of Instant Pot now market an electric cast iron Dutch oven.
  10. French oven (cocotte)
    A French oven is similar to a true Dutch oven apart from it having an enamel coating over the cast iron.
  11. Air fryer
    It’s more versatile than you might realise, since you can use an air fryer to replace many other cooking appliances. But, an air fryer uses dry-heat cooking and so is not ideal for preparing meals with liquids such as soups, stews, etc apart from reheating.

Instant Electric Precision Dutch Oven, 5-in-1: Braise, Slow Cook, Sear/Sauté, Cooking Pan, Food Warmer, Enamel Coated, Cast Iron, 6-Quart, 1500W, Red

Instant Electric Precision Dutch Oven

Available at Amazon

Pure ceramic Dutch Ovens

Ceramic is an all natural material look looks great in the kitchen with that ceramic glazed look.

Xtrema Versa 10 Quart

Xtrema’s Versa range of cookware is 100% ceramic. It’s versatile in that it can go in the oven, on the stovetop, and is classy enough for the table. Left overs can be stored in it in the refrigerator. This offers the convenience of keeping it all in the one container for less clean up afterward.

It is also dishwasher and microwave oven safe. With a 10 quart, you’ll have a size large enough to cook bone broth, make hearty stews, or steam side dishes.

Pure Ceramic Dutch Oven

10-Quart Versa Dutch Oven

from: Xtrema Cookware

Emile Henry oval Dutch oven

This Emile Henry Dutch oven is beautiful with its hard glaze finish that won’t scratch nor craze. This one too is versatile in use on stovetop, oven, and on the barbecue. It has a 10-year warranty.

Emile Henry Made In France Flame Oval Stewpot Dutch Oven, 6.3 quart, Burgundy

Emile Henry Made In France Flame Oval Stewpot Dutch Oven, 6.3 quart

Available at Amazon

Also available at La CuisineSee it here!

Final thoughts

A Dutch oven is a cast iron cooking vessel by tradition. Modern Dutch ovens come in other materials including 100% ceramic. Enamel cast iron is a French oven version, which is also refered to as a Dutch oven at times. There are other appliances and cookware that serve the purpose of a Dutch oven in steaming, stewing, braising, and slow cooking foods in the home kitchen.