Have you ever tried to bake bread in a Dutch oven? It results in some of the most perfectly browned, crispy crusted bread with the airiest crumb you have ever seen.
However, although they might seem straight-forward in design, there are quite a few requirements to bake this infamous bread.
Although sourdough is delicious and the steps seem simple, it is a very technical and specific bread to make. You definitely want to use the right oven so your efforts don’t go to waste.
So, what are the best Dutch ovens to bake sourdough in? A Dutch oven for baking sourdough should have a flat bottom, tightly sealing lid, and a capacity of 4-7 quarts (at least 4 times the size of the ball of bread dough) to ensure room for a good-sized loaf and space for the oven spring. A pre-seasoned Dutch oven is also ideal as it prevents rust.
Below we have listed our top 7 ranked Dutch ovens that will take your sourdough game to the next level.
In this article, we will discuss everything Dutch oven, from what it is, the types there are and the checklist it needs to adhere to, to bake perfect sourdough loaves.
What Is A Dutch Oven?
Depending on where you are located, they might be made from different materials, come in different sizes and shapes, be used in different ways and even go by different names.
Even though there are many variations of the Dutch oven today, a traditional Dutch oven is a cooking pot that has thick cast-iron walls with a heavy, well-fitting lid.
These vessels can either be flat on the bottom or have 3 peg legs, depending on what they are being used for.
These vessels were originally used to make long-cooking stews over an open fire and should, therefore, be of the highest quality.
Today the humble Dutch oven has evolved into more modern forms. Most English-speaking countries know it as a casserole dish – you know; that heavy pot that will break your foot before it breaks!
These are mostly used inside convection ovens and are virtually always coated in a ceramic coating which is more for display than functionality.
Each culture around the world that uses these vessels makes their own, very unique, traditional dishes, ranging from soups, stews, bread, and even cakes.
2 Types of Dutch Ovens For Baking Sourdough
Like we have mentioned, the traditional Dutch oven and its new modern variant, although still being able to perform similar functions, still have very different looks and uses.
1. Outdoor Dutch Ovens (Campfire Dutch Ovens)
This type of Dutch oven is the original one we were talking about earlier that is used on open fires. Some of these (with flat bottoms) can still be used in the same manner the indoor ones can.
They are very simple in design and almost always plain black cast-iron pots. You do get different shaped and sized pots which each have their own uses.
The humongous domed and deep pots with peg legs work best if you want to make stews and such things. The flat-bottomed, round and deep vessels will work better for breads.
There aren’t any set rules as to what you can and cannot use, however, we will later discuss which works best for sourdough specifically.
Some of these Dutch ovens need to be seasoned (coated with oil or fat) to prevent the pot from rusting (which can happen within days).
This is especially important when it comes to baking sourdough inside; the rust will be imparted on the dough and stain the bottom, sometimes even adjusting the flavor.
2. Indoor Dutch Ovens (Enamel/Modern Dutch Ovens)
Today there are many, many different types of household Dutch ovens made to be used in a convection oven. They are mostly called “casserole pots”.
Unlike the outdoor ovens that can be used indoors, these won’t always be able to handle the intense direct heat of flames.
They are coated with enamel on both the outside and inside and can even be made into different colors. Many brands pride themselves on their color range when it comes to their Dutch oven selection.
These Dutch ovens also come in a much wider variety of sizes and shapes and are all means to be used in a convection oven.
These modern, enamel-coated pots do not have to be seasoned and are even sometimes coated with a non-stick layer on the inside.
Why Use A Dutch Oven For Sourdough?
Because sourdough uses natural yeast and not a commercial type, it won’t be as effective when it comes to the dough rising (oven spring).
If you know a lot about sourdough, you know that there are always some tricks when baking, never just placing the loaf inside the oven to do its own thing.
Using a Dutch oven to make your sourdough will:
- Promote good oven spring (the dough will rise beautifully during baking).
- It will provide a thin and crispy crust (not a thick and chewy one as some convection ovens give bread).
- It will easily create a beautiful crumb (open and airy texture on the inside).
Dutch Oven Requirements For Baking Sourdough
Now that we know the two types of Dutch ovens for sourdough baking, let’s look at some important characteristics your Dutch oven should have:
- Whether you are using an outdoor or indoor Dutch oven, it needs to have a flat-bottom. This will help evenly distribute the heat and allow the dough to rise and bake evenly.
- It needs to hold 4 to 7 quarts in capacity (for an average, good-sized loaf). This will allow the dough to have enough space to rise without touching the lid. The vessel also needs to be deep to prevent the dough from rising to the top.
- You need to use a vessel of the same shape that you want your loaf to be in. If you want to make an oval-shaped loaf, you need to use an oval-shaped pot. The same goes for any other shape.
- There needs to be a tight seal between the base and the lid to prevent any steam from escaping. Steam helps promote oven spring, especially in sourdoughs.
The 7 Best Dutch Ovens For Baking Sourdough
We’ve done our research and found our top 7 Dutch ovens for making sourdough:
|1.||Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Cast iron, pre-seasoned, 5qt|
|2.||Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Enameled cast iron, 6qt|
|3.||Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven||Enameled cast iron, 5.5qt|
|4.||Uno Casa Camping Dutch Oven||Cast iron, pre-seasoned, 6qt|
|5.||AmazonBasics Enameled Dutch Oven||Enameled cast iron, 4.3qt|
|6.||Texsport Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Legs||Cast iron; legs, lid, handles 4qt|
|7.||Crock-Pot Artisan Oval Dutch Oven||Enameled cast iron, 7qt|
We’ve also included a full review of each one below, so keep reading and happy baking!
1. Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven (5 Quart)
This traditional cast-iron outdoor Dutch oven from Lodge is by far our favorite to use for sourdough.
It has a 5-quart capacity, making it perfect for a good-sized loaf. This Dutch oven also comes pre-seasoned, taking a lot of the hassle away from you.
Lodge claims to only use 100% vegetable oil and no synthetic coatings and chemicals. This is very important as a good seasoning will promote good flavor when making any type of food in this vessel.
Its design is perfect for making sourdoughs; it has a flat-bottom (no legs), it is deep enough to allow efficient rising space for your dough, and comes with two sturdy handles to make handling and transportation much easier.
Its lid fits tightly and also has its own handle to make the job much easier.
This Dutch oven is meant for outdoor purposes, which will give your bread a very unique flavor if used on a smokey open fire. However, it will definitely be suitable to use in an indoor oven, so there’s no need to worry there.
It has an amazing heat distribution capability, it is extremely durable due to its build and it is a very versatile cooking vessel.
Arguably the best part, it is super easy to clean. Dutch ovens that are coated in enamel should always be cleaned with soft sponges to prevent the enamel from being chipped or scrubbed away.
This is not a problem with these types of vessels as you can easily remove any crust with a steel or copper pot scourer.
This Dutch oven will last you a lifetime and it is a very good investment. Unlike other, more modern and sleek looking Dutch ovens that constantly chip and fade away, this Lodge Dutch oven will never disappoint.
2. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Another amazing Dutch oven from Lodge, only this time it is one of their enamel-coated products.
This 6-quart blue Dutch oven has some of the most and highest-reviewed products on Amazon for Dutch ovens.
It is the perfect size for a not-too-small, but not-too-big sourdough loaf with a perfect design: flat-bottomed round and deep vessel with sturdy handles and a convenient pot lid.
This Dutch oven is a very well pierced Dutch oven with amazing heat distribution capabilities and a stylishly modern look for any home – you won’t be disappointed in this product!
3. Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven
If you are looking at modern Dutch ovens, you have probably already looked at Le Creuset’s massive range of options.
They specialize in enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens that come in a massive variety of colors ranging from more traditional colors like black, grey, and white, to fancier designs such as their “Bluebell purple” and “Caribbean blue”.
These colors are all beautiful and beautifully applied and will fit any type of kitchen.
Le Creuset is well known for its Dutch ovens as all their products are of the highest quality.
This round vessel specifically has a 5 ½ quart capacity with a flat bottom, very large handles (larger than average) and a large lid handle to ensure easy handling.
These vessels are top of the range and boast a lot of favorable qualities such as perfect heat distribution and great versatility.
It is definitely a life-long cooking vessel, but as with any enamel-coated Dutch oven, has a high chance of chipping or fading with time.
When cleaning this Dutch oven you will also need to use only softer sponges as any pot scourer could aid in removing this coating as well over time. But you’ll be glad to when you have such high-quality cookware to preserve.
They are beautiful, versatile, and very easy to use, the perfect vessel for sourdough, it is only their price tag that prevents them from being ranked higher in our books.
4. Uno Casa Camping Dutch Oven
This is a great value-for-money option for an outdoor Dutch oven that will last you a life-time.
This traditional 6-quart Dutch oven from Uno Casa is the perfect size for making sourdough and has been designed specifically for outdoor use.
It is flat-bottomed and has three peg legs to help even coat distribution (and therefore heat) at the bottom of the vessel. It is a pre-seasoned vessel taking the hassle out of your life.
The lid has also been designed with a very functional handle and it is completely flat so you can place more coals (heat) on top to ensure heat comes from all angles.
This product also comes with a heavy-duty tote bag, a cast-iron lid lifter, and a free recipe ebook.
5. AmazonBasics Enameled Dutch Oven
This 4.3-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven from Amazon Basics really took us by surprise.
We were never sure how good a product like this (from this brand) could be, but boy oh boy, were we wrong in doubting it.
This Amazon Basics Dutch oven is the perfect size and shape for a smaller sourdough. Its design is very functional and made for convenient use.
It has great heat distributions and is also very versatile to use and the most attractive part of this product, its price!
This is definitely worth the buy if you are looking for a good-sized cooking vessel for not only baking sourdough, but also many other uses.
6. Texsport Cast Iron Dutch Oven
This is our first reviewed traditional cast-iron Dutch oven. It is made by Texsport and has a 4 quart capacity for any smaller sourdough loaves.
It has a flat-bottom with three peg legs to ensure you can easily adjust the amount of coals, and thereby heat, you want to have underneath the vessel and dough.
The base also has an easy to lift handle attached to the side handles of the base.
The lid has dual functionality as it is both well-fitting, to ensure heat or steam escapes, and the flat design which will allow the user to place coals on top for more heat control and even cooking.
This product specifically hasn’t been pre-seasoned, so you will have to take care of that yourself, however, it is not difficult and doesn’t take long at all.
These types of Dutch ovens will last you a lifetime and are easy to use and clean. This Texsport Dutch oven comes at a very affordable price and will be a great investment for future adventures.
7. Crock-Pot Artisan Oval Dutch Oven
We just had to include an oval-shaped Dutch oven.
We love sourdough in this form as it provides much more even-sized slices and allows for beautiful decorations (scoring) to be done on the bigger surface area.
This beautiful Ombré Teal Dutch oven from Crock-Pot is the perfect such vessel.
It has a 7-quart capacity with a perfectly deep design, making it perfect for larger sourdough loaves.
This Dutch oven has a beautiful design; flat-bottomed, an ombré teal enamel coating (crisp clean white enamel coating on the inside), two very solid handles, and easy transportation and a sleek silver pot handle on top.
This Dutch can only be used indoors (on any type of stovetop and in convection ovens) but it is truly a one-pot wonder.
However, you will only be able to use it for larger amounts of food and you will also need to be very careful when cleaning this vessel. Still, we think you’ll find it worth it to have your delicious, fresh-baked sourdough.