A Baker’s Guide to Buying The Best Dutch Oven

When deciding how to pick the best pot for the job, you’re choice will need to take into account three things: Material, Size, and Shape. We break down each category and reveal our big pick. For more on Dutch oven bread and our step-by-step tutorial for mastering it, get our latest September/October issue

Material:

You have two main choices: an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven or a traditional black cast-iron Dutch oven. The difference is in the coating, but the results will remain the same as long as you have a well-seasoned pot. You just need a lid to cover it and the proper heat-conducting cast-iron material, and your bread will come out perfectly every time.

Size & Shape: 

Look for a 6- to 7-quart, round Dutch oven. Anything much bigger will cause the bread to spread out and go flat. The 6- and 7-quart size yields the perfect round shape, with plenty of springy height. We prefer the round shape to accommodate a round boule, but oval will work. Just shape boule into an oval.

Our Pick:

Staub La Cocotte, 7-quart (pictured here). A trustworthy brand you can depend on, Staub’s La Cocotte is technically a French oven, with a classic French design, but it’s the perfect enamel-coated cast-iron pot that’ll help you bake loaf after crispy loaf. Our favorite part? The metal knob is a smart final touch, as some Dutch ovens come equipped with a plastic knob that’ll smoke under high temperatures.

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