Last Updated on July 11, 2023 by Lori Walker
Have you ever found yourself excited to try out a new recipe only to realize it requires a Dutch oven you don’t have? It can be quite frustrating and may leave you wondering if you have to give up on the recipe altogether.
But fret not because, in this article, I will delve into practical alternatives to answer that very question: “What can I use instead of a Dutch oven?”
Will these Dutch oven alternatives give similar results when making Dutch oven recipes? Read on to find out.
Top 10 Alternatives for Dutch Oven
1. Deep Oven-Proof Skillet
Why We Choose It: A deep oven-proof skillet is an ideal Dutch oven substitute because of its high sides and sturdy construction for baking, braising, and stewing.
I only purchased a Dutch oven two years ago, so previously, when the recipe calls for a Dutch oven, I usually use a deep oven-safe skillet as a substitute.I like using the oven-safe pan because it helps distribute heat evenly.
Also, I noticed it had a similar cooking time when I started making delicious meals in a Dutch oven.
2. Slow Cooker
Why We Choose It: A slow cooker is another Dutch oven substitute we tried before, and it is an excellent alternative for those who are not willing to spend more for a high-end Dutch oven.
Some may raise their eyebrow because slow cooker is very 70s, but original slow cookers have been popular kitchen tool in recent years .
We like that the slow cooker works well with curries, stews, and pasta dishes. I noticed that it gives similar cooking results and keeps the food warm long, and moist.
However, unlike in a Dutch oven, you can’t sear meat in a slow cooker, and they don’t have the same cook time. You can make it work by adding extra preparation on the stovetop.
Why We Choose It: A crockpot boasts its slow-cooking prowess and convenience, making it one of the best Dutch oven substitutes.
Five years ago, I often used the crockpot’s pressure cooker function as an alternative to Dutch ovens to make tender-fork stews, braised meat dishes, and other slow-cooked meals.
Its low but consistent heat distribution makes cooking slow-cooked dishes convenient since I didn’t have an electric pressure cooker and Dutch oven before.
Why We Choose It: Stockpot is a versatile pot you can use as a substitute for a Dutch oven. You can use a stockpot with a tight-fitting lid and heavy bottom for slow cooking.
I like that you can sear and saute in this pot, but I noticed that you should cook in low heat and regularly check the liquid level. A stockpot has tall sides called a soup pot, ideal for simmering bone broth and boiling pasta.I tried simmering stews and soups at a very low heat setting.
It may not be a good option if you want to speed up your cooking time; it is not a Dutch oven where you can slow or fast cook.
Also, I do not recommend using this in the oven because the oven temperature and direct heat source cannot be stockpot-friendly.
Find out the difference between a stockpot and a Dutch oven here.
5. Instant Pot
Why We Choose It: Instant Pot takes advantage of the slow cooker revival plus, plus it is convenient to use and speeds up the operation. You can use this for simmering soups and braised meats if you don’t have Dutch ovens.
Instant Pot is excellent instead of slow cookers (but not as better as Dutch ovens) because you can pressure cook faster. However, the only downside I experienced with Instant Pot is that you’ll need less water because moisture is retained.
6. Clay Pot
Why We Choose It: Clay Pot is a close option instead of a Dutch oven because it has a conical lid that collects the steam and condenses it back into the dish.
Based on my research, it is known as self-basting, which keeps any meal moist and nutritious .
It can be placed directly on the heating element and used for one-pot meals. Good thing; it now comes with an enamel coating, which works as a diffuser between the pot and the heat.
7. Ceramic Pot
Why We Choose It: A ceramic Pot is an impressive alternative to a Dutch oven because it can prepare Dutch oven recipes and use in the oven if required.
I find it easy to clean because of its non-stick surface. Also, I like that you can serve it straight on the dining table. It is affordable for a Dutch oven, but you must be careful because they are not scratch-resistant like a metal pot.
8. French Oven
Why We Choose It: According to research, the Dutch oven was designed for Dutch in Pennsylvania in the 1700s  and is made of cast iron.
The French oven is a modernized version of the Dutch oven, and it is made from enameled cast iron. Recently, it has become a more popular option than Dutch ovens.
“A recipe has no soul. You as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”-Thomas Keller, Professional Chef
The French oven’s sturdy construction, enameled surface, and lid make it an ideal substitute. Based on my observation, it can distribute heat and retain moisture evenly, ensuring delectable results, whether braising, roasting, or baking.
9. Cast Iron Skillet
Why We Choose It: Cast Iron skillet is another Dutch oven substitute for searing, sauteing, and frying. It has an oven-safe handle so you can use it in the oven .
Also, if you don’t have an air fryer (hot air), electric fryer, or deep fryer, you can use cast iron skillets for frying food like french fries and meats.
However, cast iron skillets cannot be used for slow cook or stews because it does not come with lids, and the sides need to be higher.
Why We Choose It: If you have a braiser, you can use it as a substitute for a Dutch oven but expect a minor tweak. I observed that the height and circumference of the pot’s walls are different, so you should adapt to the recipe accordingly.
We got a Le Creuset braiser because we love to braise meats, and instead of using a Dutch oven, we usually go for an enameled braiser.
Do I Really Need Dutch Ovens?
While a Dutch oven offers several benefits, such as its versatility, heat retention, and durability, it is unnecessary in every kitchen.
A Dutch oven can be a valuable tool if you frequently prepare dishes that need even heat distribution.
“When the Dutch oven is out of reach, ingenuity steps in to unleash a world of culinary possibilities.”– Eat Pallet Food & Advice
It excels at braising, stewing, roasting, baking bread, and making soups. Its ability to go from stovetop to oven seamlessly adds convenience to your cooking process.
However, there are alternative cookware options available that can perform similar functions.
Tips & Tricks When Using Dutch Oven Alternatives
- When selecting a Dutch oven alternative, choose a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet that can withstand high heat and distribute it evenly. Look for cookware with a tight-fitting lid to trap moisture and flavors.
- Keep in mind that different cookware may have varying heat conductivity. Adjust your time and temperature to ensure your dish cooks evenly and reaches the desired doneness.
- If using a slow cooker as a Dutch oven alternative, embrace the low and slow cooking approach. Allow enough time for the flavors to meld and the ingredients to tenderize.
- Cover your alternative cookware with a layer of aluminum foil or parchment paper before placing the lid on top to mimic the heat retention properties of a Dutch oven. It helps seal in moisture and heat.
What to use instead of a Dutch oven for bread?
If you want to bake bread, a stockpot can do a great job because it is oven-safe. Stockpot can make your bread crusty. Secure the fitting of the lid when using it.
Can you make your own Dutch oven?
Yes, you can make your own Dutch oven. Get a large pot with high sides and lit that fits right. Create a heat barrier at the bottom of the pot using foil or a small inverted oven-safe dish.
Can I use a frying pan instead of a Dutch oven?
Yes, you can use a frying pan instead of a Dutch oven. However, it is only ideal for some Dutch oven dishes.
You should consider the size, capacity, heat distribution, lid, steam retention, and cooking procedure.
A deep oven-proof skillet is our best bet for traditional Dutch oven alternatives. While a Dutch oven is a versatile and highly recommended piece of cookware, alternative cooking vessels are available for those without one.
Crockpot, slow cooker, instant pot, French oven, or improvising with other pots and roasting pans can help you achieve satisfactory results in your cooking endeavors.
It’s essential to consider the specific needs of your recipe, make necessary adjustments in cooking time and temperature, and be mindful of any variations in heat distribution.
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