If you’re looking for a versatile and adaptable way to cook, nothing beats using a dutch oven. Dutch ovens are one of the most well-rounded pieces of cookware around, and they can be used for everything from roasting to baking to braising.
With nothing but your dutch oven and plenty of heat, you can create simple, filling staples or surprisingly sophisticated dishes.
Just as at “home” in your oven, on your stovetop, or over a campfire, these time-tested pots have a place in every prepper’s or homesteader’s arsenal.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started with a dutch oven of your own, and 20 of our favorite dutch oven recipes that work just as well at camp as they do at home.
Table of Contents:
Getting Started with a Dutch Oven
What is a Dutch Oven?
A dutch oven is a heavy, lidded pot that’s typically made from cast iron or enamel-coated cast iron.
The lid and base of a dutch oven are almost always flat, which makes it ideal for cooking dishes where you need to stack ingredients on top of each other or place hot coals atop for uniform heating.
Dutch ovens are great for baking bread and casseroles, as well as roasting whole cuts of meat and simmering soups or stews.
Their tight-fitting lids make them perfect for trapping heat and moisture, and their adaptable design lets clever cooks get the most out of them in the field or at home in the kitchen.
There are two main types of dutch ovens: those with legs, and those without. Legless dutch ovens are known as “cocottes,” while dutch ovens with legs are sometimes called “chuckwagons”.
Cocottes are typically used for stovetop cooking, while chuckwagons are better suited for cooking over an open flame or fireplace.
Some models feature a lid that functions as a skillet when needed, and these types are usually called combo cookers. All types are still made today by modern and heritage manufacturers alike.
When shopping for a dutch oven, pay attention to the size of the pot and the diameter of its lid. Dutch ovens come in a range of sizes, from small 10″ pots to enormous 16″ to 20″ models.
The size you need will depend on how many people you’re cooking for and what sorts of dishes you plan on preparing. As a general rule, it’s better to err a little smaller; large dutch ovens can be extremely heavy!
What are the Benefits of a Dutch Oven?
A dutch oven is a great addition to any prepper’s repertoire because it’s so versatile.
Dutch ovens are also very durable; they’re typically made from cast iron, which is an incredibly tough material. When properly seasoned and cared for, a dutch oven will last for generations.
Another benefit of using a dutch oven is that it’s very efficient. Because they’re so good at trapping heat, dutch ovens cook food quickly and evenly.
This makes them ideal for cooking over an open flame or campfire, as well as in your kitchen oven.
Even better, for all this capability dutch ovens are relatively inexpensive. You can find them new for around $50, and used dutch ovens are even cheaper, and many preppers prefer to buy them secondhand as heirlooms or for restoration projects.
Tips for Cooking with Your Dutch Oven
Now that you know a little more about dutch ovens, it’s time to get cooking! Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. When cooking with coals, use twice as many coals on the top of the pot as on the bottom. Since heat rises, most of the heat being generated on the lid is lost. By increasing the intensity of the heat on the lid you’ll ensure even cooking.
2. Also when cooking outside over coals, make sure to orient yourself and the lid to prevent ash from blowing into your food when you open up the dutch oven.
A small, natural fiber broom or whisk is helpful to brush ash off the lid when your food is finished.
3. Keep a heavy welding glove nearby for cooking with a dutch oven; these things are heavy and having some extra control and protection compared to a standard pot holder is helpful. The gauntlet has saved me from burns on a couple of occasions!
4. If you’re using your dutch oven for baking bread or roasting, preheat it first. This will help ensure evenly cooked food with a crisp crust.
When roasting whole cuts of meat use a dutch oven rack, placed at the bottom, to keep the meat from sitting in its own juices if needed.
5. Be patient! Because of their mass and typical cast iron construction, dutch ovens take longer to heat up and cool down compared to other pots and pans.
Check your temps with meat- or infrared thermometer to be sure. Or you can splash a few droplets of water on the surface to see how quickly they turn to steam.
Now you know what you need to make a go of it with a dutch oven. The only question left is, “what are you going to cook first?”
The following recipes are all easy enough to make at home or in the field, and all are sure crowd-pleasers. No matter if you need breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, you’ll find a new favorite on the list below.
20 Dutch Oven Recipes You Will Love
Dutch Oven Pizza
Starting this list out with one of my favorite foods, and also one of my very favorite dutch oven recipes. Dutch ovens excel at roasting and baking, particularly when very hot temperatures are required.
Both of those attributes can make for an excellent, rustic pizza that is easy to prepare compared to the conventional style.
If you like a coarse crust with a crispy outside and a warm, chewy inside, you’ll love this recipe and you can top it with whatever you want.
Most folks begin their dutch oven journey with some sort of casserole, soup or stew and it is hard to argue with that logic. A long, even simmer creates superlative flavors and this is another area where dutch ovens Excel.
A classic beef stew with a rich broth and chunks of fresh vegetables is the perfect meal for a weeknight dinner or for gathering around the campfire.
Dutch Oven Bread
One of the most basic, adaptable, and delicious recipes on this list is simple Dutch oven herb bread.
No matter what style and flavorings you prefer, there is a recipe out there that will blow all of the store-bought stuff right out of the water. In fact, it is likely but this recipe is the one that will see you using your Dutch oven the most.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
I don’t think it’s a stretch to assert that most readers would place chicken noodle soup high up on their list of comfort foods, and I might ruffle some feathers when I assert that I think this chicken tortilla soup recipe beats most of the traditional offerings.
The warm, slightly spicy broth, large chunks of chicken, peppers, and tortillas strips are more filling and dare I say more delicious than the stuff most of us grew up with.
This is another recipe that tastes great out of all proportion with the effort involved in preparing it.
Brussels and Bacon Sauté
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that pretty much everyone hated as a kid, but curiously many of us enjoy as adults.
Especially when you doctor them up by roasting them with seasonings and oil and adding crispy, succulent bacon to the mix you might just have a new favorite vegetable side dish on your hands.
Dutch ovens are unique and that they can handle the pan frying and immediately transition to roasting when called for, and that makes this brussels and bacon dish a superlative option.
I honestly don’t think I know one, single person that doesn’t enjoy a warm, heaping plate of spaghetti.
This stove-top standby is a favorite around the world, but you don’t need to be at home to enjoy all the flavors of spaghetti in a slightly different format if you have a dutch oven.
Your dutch oven will allow you to cook the pasta and then prepare a rich, savory marinara or meat sauce to go with it.
Using macaroni instead of traditional spaghetti noodles might be seen as heresy by some, but I can promise you that once you try it all those thoughts will be forgotten.
This is yet another recipe that is so simple to prepare in the field it might become a regular staple on your outings. Check out our spaghetti dutch oven recipe.
Probably the most iconic picture of dutch ovens that the average American has in mind is that of tired, trail-weary cowboys huddling around a roaring fire waiting on their dinner that is cooking in the aforementioned oven.
Chances are also pretty good that the dish you imagine in this bucolic scene is hearty chili.
And that’s what good reason, as chili is extremely filling, super satisfying, and a cinch to prepare in a dutch oven wherever you happen to be so long as you have the ingredients on hand.
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie is a special dish that checks a lot of boxes: juicy chicken in a thick, savory broth, chunks of wholesome, fresh vegetables, and a delightfully crispy, crumbly crust. Check, check and check again.
This is another dish that might well have first been created in a dutch oven.
Seriously, the two seem made for each other, and only a dutch oven can reliably create that warm, pillowy crust in the same pot after simmering all your ingredients together to create that delicious stew.
Cabbage rolls at first glance might seem like an odd inclusion on this list. Not a particularly common food in America, and neither are they thought of as usual dutch oven fare, they nonetheless have much to recommend them.
Wholesome, easy to make, highly nutritious, and delicious, they also happen to be a snap to make in a dutch oven at home or around the campfire.
This can be made as an entirely vegetarian offering or spruced up with a little bit of meat filling at your discretion. Either way, this recipe will give you a great foundation.
Coming out of the gate strong with a dessert that is both traditional, and taken to its absolute maximum in a dutch oven.
A smores pot is exactly what you might be thinking: a pot, or in this case, a dutch oven, lined with all of the delicious ingredients that make traditional smores.
Roasted quickly over a campfire, the result looks something like a smores casserole, only way more delicious than it sounds.
This is a great way to introduce kids to cooking with a dutch oven, and I can promise you everyone in the family will love the decadent result.
Another dessert for you, although this one is more traditional and nearly as easy to make. An apple crisp dessert combines delicious, sweet apples with dessert seasonings and spices and a topping of crispy oats and brown sugar.
Whether you depend on it as a quick and easy option or just because it is your favorite part of a more traditional cobbler, that’s up to you. It doesn’t get much easier than this.
Whole Roasted Chicken
One of the more elegant recipes on this list, roasting a whole chicken is seen as something of a rite of passage for amateur cooks.
I can’t speak to the provenance of such a notion, but I can promise you that using a dutch oven for the purpose makes it easy because it will cook the bird so evenly.
Garnished with fresh herbs and spices and roasted potatoes or other veggies, you’ll have a wholesome, nourishing, and impressive meal.
For many readers, sloppy joes are one of those meals that are inseparable from summertime memories.
Gathered around the picnic table and getting messy with these delicious, filling sandwiches is the stuff that childhoods are made of. But this recipe doesn’t have to stay constrained to your memories.
Sloppy joes, made with some embellishments for adults, are just as delicious as you remember and quite filling, and your dutch oven is the perfect tool for simmering the beef to perfection for this recipe.
When it comes to salt of the earth sides, biscuits do double duty at breakfast and at dinner time.
As mentioned above, dutch ovens are tough to beat for baking, and these simple drop biscuits are an easy and reliable recipe whether you’re making them at home or over the cookfire.
Applesauce is one of those things that I have come to appreciate more as I’ve gotten a little older.
It’s nice having a sweet side that is not too sweet and not chock-full of weird preservatives and other junk that I generally don’t want going into my body.
This chunky applesauce recipe is a fun spin on a lunchroom classic and will give you all the flavor that you love with a little more substance. Plenty of apples and a few spices are all that you’ll need.
Stuffed peppers are one of those mealtime options that are delicious and enjoyable, but it never seems like the output is worth the effort.
If you love that delicious beef and rice filling but hate all of the work and prep that goes into making it normally give this dutch oven variation a try.
It is definitely more rustic, but no less delicious, and has the added advantage of being much easier to prepare when you are away from home.
Sausage, Eggs, and Grits
We can’t forget about breakfast on this list, and when it comes to breakfast you’ll hardly find a better one than this sausage egg and grit plate that is easy to prepare, one pot style, in your dutch oven.
From frying up the sausage and eggs to perfectly cooking the grits to that just right consistency, it is hard to believe it can all be done with this time-tested piece of cookware.
Berry Cake Dump Cobbler
One of the most succulent and satisfying desserts you’ll find anywhere, to say nothing of on this list, this berry cake dump cobbler is an easy-to-make mash-up of white, fluffy cake with a berry cobbler topping.
I cannot tell you how delicious this dessert is, and the contrast of the warm, slightly crispy and buttery cake with the rich and juicy sweetness of the berries is a showstopper.
If you make this recipe for your family, get ready to make it over and over again because it is that good.
Sweet Potato Hash
Another delicious and filling breakfast option, sweet potato hash is a dish of contrasts.
The sweet tenderness of the sweet potatoes contrasts with the rich savoriness of the sausage and is complemented by the brightness of the peppers and seasonings to produce a dish that is decidedly out of the ordinary but a welcome addition to the breakfast table.
The hardest part about making this dish is the prep, as dicing up sweet potatoes to a uniform size takes time, but once you’ve done that, it practically makes itself.
No list of dutch oven recipes is complete without a traditional, dutch oven-style peach cobbler. I don’t think there is any one recipe that wholly encapsulates what dutch oven cooking is all about more than this one.
The chunky, perfectly cooked crust and the bright, fresh sweetness of peaches go together better than just about anything else. You don’t have to, but if you want to, top it with a single scoop of ice cream and you’ll have heaven in a bowl.
Try These Timeless Recipes for your Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens have been around for a long time and for a good reason, and I think they are bound to be with us for a whole lot longer.
Whether you are cooking at home or whipping up a rustic meal around the campfire, your dutch oven is going to be your go-to piece of cookware anytime you need to bake, roast, or simmer.
Try the recipes on this list above and you are bound to find some new favorites that will see regular rotation on your menu.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.