The best Dutch ovens for camping allow you to cook a wide range of dishes over an open campfire, so you can enjoy a hot meal when you’re camped out in the middle of the backcountry. But finding a Dutch oven, one that’s durable, efficient, and designed to last isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, the market is essentially flooded with these durable pots, making it difficult to narrow down your choices and find a model that will work for you. That’s where I come in. I’ve tested out several of the best-selling pots, and I came up with five that have what it takes to last season after season. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide, which discusses the different features available and how to choose the perfect model, one that will meet all of your cooking needs when you’re spending a few weeks enjoying nature.
Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each oven, it’s top features, and how it rated.
Dutch Ovens for Camping Comparison Chart
Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven
This heavy-duty eight-quart oven can do it all. It comes with a flanged lid that allows you to place coals on top, for more precise temperature control. The lid can also be inverted and used as a griddle. This model also comes equipped with legs, so the pot can be placed directly in the coals, allowing you to add extra coals underneath for improved cooking efficiency. The pot comes pre-seasoned, providing a nonstick cooking surface that will make cooking and cleanup a cinch. The pot is seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil.
- Lid can be inverted and used as a griddle
- Low maintenance
- Low quality handle
If you’re looking for a large, heavy-duty pot that you can use to prepare a wide range of dishes, then you’ll love this massive Dutch oven by Lodge Deep. The pot offers superior heat retention and a larger design that allows you to fry, braise, broil, boil, bake, and saute your favorite foods. This pot is a must-have for any camping trip and really takes the work out of cooking for a large group of people.
Bruntmor Dutch Oven
This 8.5-quart Dutch oven by Bruntmor features a flanged lid that allows you to stack briquettes on top for dishes that require a higher cooking temperature. The pot is highly portable and perfect for campfire cooking. The surface of the pot is pre-seasoned with the manufacturer’s patented “deep seasoned finish”. The finish provides an easy release, natural surface that’s easier to cook on and clean. The pot is large enough to feed a big group of campers and can handle brisket, breads, cobblers, stews, chili, and more.
- Flanged lid
- Large capacity pot
- Must be re-seasoned often
If you’re looking for a new Dutch oven, one that you can rely on season after season to prepare your favorite foods over the campfire, then this model by Bruntmor is it. The pre-seasoned surface will prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides, so serving and clean up is fast and simple. The pot itself is made out of durable, thick cast iron, so it can handle heavy-duty use like a champ.
CO-Z 9 Quart Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Offering a higher than average cooking capacity at nine-quarts, this model by CO-Z can also work as a griddle. The pot has been processed with seasoned finish technology, so food will easily slide off the surface. The pot itself does not have legs, which can be a drawback for some potential buyer’s since legs on a Dutch oven will allow you to place extra briquettes under the bottom, for better temperature control. The included lid is designed to increase airflow, for food that’s evenly cooked. The loop handle can be used to suspend the pot from a tripod, over an open fire. The lid also has a built-in thermometer notch, so you can keep a close eye on the temperature. The included lid lifter will allow you to safely remove the lid from the pot as you’re cooking, so you can stir or check for doneness.
- Chemical-free coating
- Built-in thermometer notch
- Lid lifter included
- Lid design increases airflow
- Pot does not have legs
This large capacity Dutch oven comes with some great extras, but it also lacks a major feature that many campers are looking for in a new pot. The lack of legs can be a deal breaker, since many recipes call for placing extra charcoal under the pot to increase the temperature. However, if you’re primarily purchasing a Dutch oven so you can prepare large stews, chili, soup, or other types of basic one pot meals, then the legless design won’t be an issue. Overall, the pot is thick, durable, solidly built, and can be an excellent choice if you’re looking for a model that can handle preparing food for a large group of people.
Camp Chef 12 Qt Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven
This model is Camp Chef’s Grand Canyon National Park Commemorative edition. This pot comes with a built-in thermometer notch, true seasoned finish for easier meal preparation and cleaning, and it comes equipped with legs so you’ll have more control over the cooking temperature. The addition of legs will allow you to add the recommended five to seven coals under the pot, when cooking certain dishes, such as brisket or cobbler. The lid itself also has legs and an inverted design, so you can flip it over and use it as a skillet or griddle. The included lid lifter will make taking off a hot lid safe and easy.
- Thermometer notch
- Lid with legs
- Lid lifter included
- Lid can be flipped over and turned into a skillet
- The inside of the pot has a very abrasive finish
This larger than average Dutch oven is big enough to feed an army. If you’re looking for an easy to use, durable, and massive Dutch oven to take to your next major camping event, then this model by Camp Chef is the perfect choice. Whip up a large batch of chili at night. In the morning, flip the pot’s lid over and use it to cook up some eggs and sausage for your whole camp. The pot’s true seasoning finish will make cooking in and cleaning this pot a breeze. Built tough and a must have for large camping groups spending the summer in the backcountry, you can’t go wrong with this model from Camp Chef.
Overmont Dutch Oven
This is a smaller Dutch oven, with a five-quart capacity. It’s perfect for preparing smaller meals and it comes with some great extras, which adds to its versatility. The lid features a dome design, so it can be inverted and used to prepare other types of recipes, such as eggs and bacon, burgers, and more. Unlike competing companies, Overmont’s seasoning is one hundred percent natural and made out of vegetable oil, so there’s no harsh chemicals used and no synthetic coating.
Additionally, the pot also comes with two handles, which will make the pot easier to carry when full and adds to the pot’s durability. The handles come equipped with silicone covers for added comfort and safety. Additionally, the handles can also be used to suspend the pot on a tripod over the fire.
- Natural seasoning
- Silicone covers on handles
- Lid can be used as a griddle
- Small capacity
If you’re looking for a smaller pot for your next family camping trip, or you need an extra pot to take along to prepare side dishes, this model is a great buy. However, if you’re camping out with a large group and searching for a pot that can prepare enough food for five or more people, then you’ll be pretty disappointed with the Dutch oven’s limited capacity. Aside from its smaller size, the pot itself is durable, well-seasoned, and built tough, so it can easily last season after season.
Dutch Ovens for Camping Buyer’s Guide
The right way to use one of these pots when you’re camping is to place them over some charcoal briquettes. These versatile pots will allow you to try out simple outdoor Dutch oven recipes that are perfect for both warm and colder weather.
When cooking outdoors with a Dutch oven, you need to place some of the charcoal briquettes under the oven and on top of the lid, to get the full oven effect. Because of this, you need to purchase a model with legs on the bottom, so you can easily place some of the coals under the pot.
If you want to cook large pots of stew, soup, or chili, then you can hang the oven over an open fire. It’s not recommended to place the oven directly on top of a fire, since this can cause it to heat up too quickly and can make controlling the temperature almost impossible.
Taking a Dutch oven with you on your next camping trip will allow you to cook anything from fries and cakes to stew, chili, and pizza. These pots are durable, efficient, and very versatile.
Of course, before you buy the first model you come across, it’s important to learn more about how they work, the types of materials they’re made out of, and how using one on your next camping trip will be a total time saver.
Benefits of Dutch Ovens for Camping
- When you’re camping, you can use your Dutch oven as a stove and literally cook anything in one. This includes stews, soups, pizza, and bread.
- The handle on a Dutch oven can be used to hang the pot over an open campfire, so you can slow cook a variety of dishes.
- This type of pot is designed for one pot meal plans. You can place the pot directly in a bed of coals or suspend it over an open fire.
- These thick and durable pots are able to easily absorb heat and do an excellent job of retaining heat, so your food will cook evenly.
- Because these pots do an excellent job of cooking food evenly and distributing heat, you’ll also find that they cook food faster than a traditional pot.
Other Important Features
Now that you know more about the benefits of taking this type of pot on your next camping trip, lets learn more about the different factors you need to consider, so you can make sure you choose a model that will suit your needs and work with your budget.
Dutch ovens are made out of a wide variety of materials including ceramic, aluminum, and cast iron. For many campers, models that are made out of cast iron are the go-to choice. But why?
Cast iron offers the best heat distribution. However, if ease of maintenance and a lower weight are important factors for you, then an aluminum model may be a better choice.
Cast iron models are easier to use and offer a consistent temperature and even cooking, however, these pots are very heavy and require seasoning, so they can’t be cleaned with dish soap.
Aluminum is very light, easy to clean, but it’s also prone to hot spots. A hot spot can make cooking dishes such as pizza, bread, and cakes difficult since the heat isn’t evenly distributed.
The next factor to consider is the size of the oven. You’ll have a few size options:
- Twelve Quarts: This size is a great choice if you need to prepare food for ten to twelve people
- Eight Quarts: This size can feed up to six people
- Five Quarts: This size can feed two to three people
Portability and Weight
Dutch ovens, especially bigger models, are very heavy. Most people forget to factor in their weight when they take them camping. If you’re planning on hiking several miles a day before stopping at a new campsite each night, then how much one of these pots weighs will definitely be important.
A five-quart model will weigh anywhere from twelve to fifteen pounds.
A twelve-quart model can weigh around twenty-two pounds or more.
The pot’s lid is the key to a quality oven. The lid should be heavy and should rest evenly, with a tight fit. A good lid will usually have nubs or dimples on the bottom surface. This design helps to redistribute the heat and moisture more evenly. If you’re going to use charcoal briquettes for cooking, then you’ll need a flat lid, not a domed one. The flat lid will easily hold the charcoal on top for heating. If you want to hang your pot over a campfire with the help of a tripod, then look for a lid that has a loop handle.
When you’re shopping for a camping Dutch oven, the legs will be another important factor that you’ll want to pay attention to. The legs must be strong, even, and sturdy. Its their job to elevate the pot from off the ground, allowing for better airflow. Additionally, with legs, you can add or remove coals under the pot to better control the heat distribution and temperature.
The price for this type of Dutch oven can vary depending on the type of material it’s made out of and the size. Smaller models can cost around $30 to $89, while larger models can cost around $100 to $200. Additionally, if the pot comes with any accessories, such as a tripod, you can add an extra $30 to $40 dollars to the price tag. Of course, if you’re a serious camper and you’re looking for a top of the line model, then investing in a higher priced model is a smart move, since these are the pots that have a reputation for lasting season after season.
Cooking with a Dutch Oven
When you’re using a Dutch oven on your next camping trip, the best way you can achieve the ideal temperature is to use charcoal briquettes. Of course, if you’re new to cooking with this type of pot or cooking outdoors, then this part can be a little tricky. Fortunately, many models will come with a cookbook and a cooking chart that can help you calculate the number of coals you need to place under the pot and on the lid. This usually depends on what you’re cooking and the size of the pot.
People often don’t realize how much heat each briquette generates. Because of this, it’s important to start slow and use fewer briquettes since you can always add more if necessary. If you start off using too many, you’ll end up cooking the food too quickly at a higher temperature, which can burn your food.
Seasoning a Dutch Oven
When it comes to properly caring for and maintaining a Dutch oven, make sure you purchase one that comes pre-seasoned, or you can season it yourself before the trip. Seasoning the pot will create a type of non-stick coating on the surface that will prevent the pot from rusting. You can easily season the pot by using some oil and lightly coating the interior. Next, you’ll place the pot in your oven, with the temperature set to three hundred degrees for approximately an hour. Then, switch the oven off and allow the pot to remain in the oven until it cools off. This process allows the oil to soak into the pot’s material and can prevent it from drying out.
With cast iron, using the proper cleaning method is crucial. The pot must be rinsed out and allowed to air dry with the lid off. The pot should not be stored until it’s completely dry. Some people also recommend storing the pot with a paper towel between the base and lid to absorb any moisture. If you end up with some rust, you can take care of it easily using a little elbow grease and fine steel wool. After the rust is removed, you’ll need to re-season it. With proper care and maintenance, this type of pot can last for decades.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Size Dutch Oven to Buy for Camping?
Many seasoned campers recommend choosing a twelve-inch model. This size of pot is very versatile, so you can try out a wide range of recipes, such as stews, pizza, soup, or bread.
How Do You Use a Dutch Oven for Camping?
To use, place the pot on a heat-proof surface when you’re cooking, or you can suspend it over the fire using a tripod. If the model you have is equipped with legs, then you can place it over a bed of hot coals. Make sure you secure the lid properly to prevent any heat from escaping. Depending on the recipe you may need to place some coals on the lid and underneath the pot.
What Can You Cook in a Dutch Oven Camping?
You can prepare pretty much anything you can think of in this type of pot. For camping, many people recommend pasta, rice, soups, stews, and fish. You can also sauté and pan fry in this type of pot, so the possibilities really are endless.
Can You Fry in a Dutch Oven?
Yes. The cast iron material will help the pot to retain heat and distribute it evenly, allowing you to easily fry up a batch of chicken or fresh fish fillets.
Can You Leave Food in Cast Iron Overnight?
A pot that’s well-seasoned can prevent any food from sticking to the bottom and sides. While you can store food in a cast iron pot, most cooks don’t recommend it, simply because the material can absorb oils, or leaving certain types of food in the pot for several hours can have a negative impact on the seasoning.
Can I Clean Cast Iron with Vinegar?
Yes. To clean a Dutch oven that’s made out of cast iron you’ll need to mix equal parts water with vinegar. Make sure you cover the entire interior of the pot with the vinegar mixture. If there’s any rust in the pot, the vinegar will do an excellent job of dissolving it.
By now, you know the best Dutch ovens for camping are built tough, very versatile, and able to cook a variety of meals when you’re camping out in the backcountry. These pots will come in handy whether you’re cooking in the summer or during the winter and offer the type of durability you need if you’re planning on spending several weeks camping out. The models that I’ve included here, and this buyer’s guide, can help point you in the right direction, so you can easily find the perfect model, one that can feed your hungry group of campers and a pot that won’t break the bank.
To match your Dutch oven, you might wanna have a camping stove as well.