Blue dutch oven full of stew on iron grates above gas burner

What is a Dutch Oven and How to Use It for Cooking

Dutch ovens are versatile kitchen instruments that have been utilized for hundreds of years. These durable, cast iron pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes with tight-fitting lids designed to trap steam and retain heat. Read on to learn more about what defines a dutch oven, how to care for it and how to use it on your stovetop or in your oven to simplify your cooking routine.

Red dutch oven full of stew simmering above gas burner Red dutch oven full of stew simmering above gas burner

What is a Dutch Oven?

A dutch oven is a hefty, cast iron pot with a tight-fitting lid that can often resemble the shape and size of a stock pot. These versatile cooking vessels can be transferred between the oven and stove top, or vice versa, to eliminate the need for multiple dishes. They withstand high temperatures and, due to their thick walls and tight lid, do well maintaining an even heat.

Most dutch ovens fall into one of two categories: enameled or traditional (sometimes called “seasoned”) dutch ovens. An enameled cast iron dutch oven is coated with a smooth, nonporous enamel that comes in a variety of colors, while traditional cast iron dutch ovens are black or gray and, without an enamel coating, feature a textured finish.

What is a Dutch Oven Used For?

From roasting a whole chicken to simmering soup or baking bread, there’s little that a dutch oven can’t do. The tight-fitting lid of a dutch oven doesn’t allow steam to escape the pot, so it’s ideal for dishes like crusted breads, stews, soups, braises and roasts that require a moist-heat cooking method. Most dutch ovens can quickly transition from the stovetop to the oven and vice versa, letting you sear meats or vegetables on the stovetop then pop them into the oven to bake through.

Electric stovetop with built-in griddle on granite island countertop Electric stovetop with built-in griddle on granite island countertop

How to Use a Dutch Oven

Steps for using a dutch oven vary by enameled vs. seasoned cast iron models. Learning how to properly use your dutch oven can help you create the dishes you like and help keep your dutch oven in good shape, so follow the steps below to learn how to prepare, use and wash your dutch oven. Be sure to refer to your specific user manual for more information on use and care.

  • Vegetable oil (for seasoned cast iron models)

  • Enameled or seasoned cast iron dutch oven

  • Nylon brush

  • Dish towel

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Step 1: Rinse New Dutch Oven

Prior to its first use, rinse and dry the dutch oven pot and lid thoroughly with hot water to remove any remaining residue from the manufacturing process. Be careful not to use soap on seasoned cast iron dutch ovens, as this can remove the seasoning process applied during manufacturing.

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Step 2: Apply Vegetable Oil

If using a traditional, seasoned cast iron dutch oven, apply vegetable oil to the entirety of the cooking surface to “season” the pot. This helps protect the cast iron material and create a non-stick surface to work with. You can skip this step if you’re cooking with an enameled dutch oven, but using vegetable oil or cooking spray may allow for easier cooking and cleaning.

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Step 3: Add Ingredients and Heat Gradually

Whether you plan to cook on the stovetop or roast in the oven, never heat an empty enameled dutch oven, as this can cause the enamel to crack. Add ingredients to your dutch oven, then heat the dutch oven gradually on the stovetop or in the oven (according to your recipe). Dutch ovens retain heat well and don’t often require high heat settings to cook effectively, so gradual heating can help you keep a close eye on cooking temperatures.

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Step 4: Wash

When you’ve finished cooking or baking, remove your dutch oven from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Then, for a seasoned dutch oven, use a stiff nylon brush and hot water to remove food residue. Towel dry the dutch oven immediately to help prevent rust. You can ensure all water is removed from the dutch oven by heating it over low heat to evaporate any remaining water droplets, then apply a light coating of oil before storage.


Hand wash an enameled dutch oven with warm soapy water, using a nylon pad or scraper to remove residue, then dry completely before storing. If necessary, you can tackle stubborn food residue by filling both a seasoned or enameled dutch oven with water and bringing it to a boil to help loosen food particles before scraping it down.

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Step 5: Store

Store a seasoned dutch oven in a cool, dry place with a folded paper towel between the lid and pot to allow for air circulation. Some enameled dutch ovens come with rubber bumpers to protect the oven during shipping. If applicable, reapply the rubber bumpers when storing your dutch oven to help prevent chips and scratches to the enamel.

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Shop Maytag® Ovens

If you’re ready to start making delicious crusty breads or casseroles with your dutch oven, look no further than a Maytag® oven to help you get the job done. Built with power and dependability, Maytag brand appliances help you get you tackle meal time with ease.

Black electric oven from Maytag brand in cream colored cabinetry Black electric oven from Maytag brand in cream colored cabinetry

Can a Dutch Oven Go in the Oven?

Dutch ovens can withstand high heat, making them ideal for oven use, but it’s always best to refer to your dutch oven’s user manual before putting it in the oven. Some models feature glass or wooden handles and knobs, or unique non-stick coatings, with a heat limit. Whether your oven is gas or electric, conventional or convection, any oven large enough can accommodate a dutch oven. Extra large or oblong dutch ovens may be best suited to larger capacity ovens, like this electric range from Maytag brand.

Can You Use a Dutch Oven on the Stovetop?

You can use a dutch oven on the stove to simmer, sear or braise recipes, whether you have a gas or electric stovetop. Cook meats from start to finish when you use stovetop settings—like the Power™ Burner on select Maytag® gas cooktops—to sear your favorite meats and seal in the juices before quickly transferring the pot to the oven for slow cooking. When using a ceramic or glass electric cooktop—like this one from Maytag brand—take care to lower the dutch oven onto the surface gently so it doesn’t chip or crack the glass. It’s also best to lift and relocate your dutch oven on the stovetop while cooking, rather than slide it from side to side, to help avoid scratching the cooktop surface.

Kitchen with white cabinetry and granite countertops with stainless steel appliances Kitchen with white cabinetry and granite countertops with stainless steel appliances

Can a Dutch Oven go from Fridge to Stove?

Rapid temperature changes in a dutch oven can lead to the enamel cracking or chipping, so it’s best to allow gradual temperature changes throughout the preparation process. Try removing your dutch oven from the refrigerator and setting it out at room temperature so it can begin heating. Once your dutch oven is no longer cold to the touch, you can gradually heat it on the stovetop or in the oven.

Can a Dutch Oven Go in the Dishwasher?

Your dutch oven manual is the best place to look when determining how to clean a dutch oven. Generally, both enameled cast iron dutch ovens and seasoned dutch ovens are better off hand washed. Frequent dishwashing can dull the enamel coating on an enameled dutch oven, and traditional, seasoned dutch ovens can’t be cleaned with soap or soaked in water. 

Instead, wash an enameled dutch oven with warm soapy water using nylon pads or scrapers to remove food, rather than metal pads or utensils that may scratch and chip. Soap can ruin a seasoned dutch oven and immersion in water can lead to rust. To clean a traditional dutch oven, boil water with baking soda sprinkled in to help loosen food before scraping, then rinse thoroughly and dry immediately.

Close-up of teriyaki chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds and green onions Close-up of teriyaki chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds and green onions

Ideas for What to Cook in a Dutch Oven

Dutch ovens are well known for their ability to create a crusty loaf of bread, but the even heat and tight-fitting lid of a dutch oven make it an ideal vessel for cooking a wide variety of stews, soups, braises and roasts. Some dutch oven recipe ideas include:

  • Chicken pot pie

  • Beef stew with carrots & potatoes

  • Whole roast chicken

  • Roasted tomato basil soup

  • Braised brisket tacos

  • Cinnamon and raisin bread

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Shop Maytag® Cooktops

Maytag® cooktops are durably designed to handle the heat and heft of your cookware. Select gas cooktops from Maytag brand feature the Power™ Burner that heats on demand for quick searing, and Maytag® electric cooktops offer Dual-Choice™ elements so you can use the pan you want and get the heating power you need.

Learn More Cooking Tips from Maytag Brand

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