With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, many cooks will be breaking out their Dutch ovens. Don't have one? These versatile pots can bake, deep-fry, braise and even boil foods. Many cooks also conveniently use them to whip up soups and stews.
So how do these products differ from stockpots? Popular Dutch oven sizes are in the 5- to 7- quart range, while stockpots are usually 8 or 12 quarts. Unlike stockpots, Dutch ovens can be easily transferred from stovetop to oven, right to the table. Current Dutch ovens consist of uncoated cast iron, enameled cast iron or feature stainless steel construction.
A few things to know before you buy: Each material its own benefits and drawbacks. For instance, while cast iron Dutch ovens such as the best-reviewed Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven (*Est. $65) retain heat and cook very well, uncoated cast iron Dutch ovens can react to acidic foods, changing their flavor. Colorful enameled cast iron Dutch ovens like the Le Creuset 7-Quart Round French Oven (*Est. $270) are attractive and can be easily transferred from the stovetop right to the table, but they tend to be more pricey. Stainless steel, while the lightest weight material of the bunch, doesn't retain heat as well as cast iron. Looking to learn a little more? To get the complete scoop on this kitchen workhorse, read our new report on Dutch ovens.