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Hot Box: The 5 Best Dutch Ovens for Camping

Best Dutch Ovens 0 Hero
Photo: Camp Chef Deluxe

The Dutch oven was often one of the very few cooking items that pioneers used, mostly because these rugged pots can withstand an open flame. As time has gone on, the famous ovens that helped win the West have been neutered and homogenized, turned into little enamel-covered things that aren’t even fit for going on an extended survivalist vacation to your favorite bug-out spot. We hate to see that happen, but thankfully there are still a few manufacturers fighting the good fight and making Dutch ovens that are still as steadfast as America, and just as unyielding. As luck would have it, we’ve rounded up the best Dutch ovens for a successful cookout on your next camping trip.

Best Dutch Ovens Breakdown

What To Look For in a Dutch Oven

Material: When you’re buying a Dutch oven for outdoor use, the thing to consider is what it is made of. If you’re a real traditionalist, you reach for the cast iron variety, because it can fight off weather, deal with just about any camping conditions, and work in your home as easily as out in the bush. These are standard if you’re going outdoors, but you can also rustle up a few in aluminum or copper that will work for you.

Weight: Anything you take to the campsite should be as lightweight as possible. However, the lighter you go, the smaller the capacity will be, which won’t serve you well with larger groups. Consider some of the aluminum options if you’re concerned about weight.

Lid: The lids on a Dutch oven are not only important for heat retention but the typical flat shape with ridges allows you to put hot coals on top for better all-around cooking.

Legs: Legs on a Dutch oven are really common and can be used on grill tops for fire pits, but if you’re using a conduction stove cooktop, the legs may pose a problem.

Pre-Seasoned: Many cast iron ovens are pre-seasoned, usually with the likes of vegetable oil, in order to prevent sticking. Seasoning also helps form a nice patina over time, which helps release food as well. You can also season it yourself.

Texsport Cast Iron Dutch Oven 4qt

Texsport Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • Deep and well-suited to baking
  • Fair pricing
  • Handle has notch for better hanging
  • Depth means diameter is smaller (about 10″)
  • Not pre-seasoned

Best Small Oven: Dutch ovens are troublesome for some people since they require patience, a keen eye, and a steady hand to cook properly with them. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe in, but aren’t ready to make a big commitment, this Texsport is a reasonable jumping-off point. With a 4-quart capacity, you’re not going to be overloaded, and since it’s a little off-brand, you’re also not paying too much. The distributor has been having trouble keeping them on the shelves, and indeed, at publication time they’re sold out, again. This seems to be because their high quality has earned many a convert from other companies and they haven’t realized yet that they’re sitting on a gold mine. Even if you aren’t sure you need one, this can work as a backup, but we love it for the easy use and gentle learning curve it offers to the Dutch oven world.

Volume: 4qt
Weight: 12.41lbs
Pre-Seasoned?: No

Lodge L8DO3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Lodge L8DO3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • Fantastic Lodge quality
  • Best-quality seasoning
  • Made in the USA
  • Good size options
  • Budget-friendly pricing
  • No legs means hotter on surfaces and less stability
  • Lid isn’t flat so you can’t put coals on top

Best Legless: For fans of luxury camping trips, camp stoves are a must-have. And one of the drawbacks of many of the legged ovens available is they’re less conducive to use on a stovetop. As the de facto king of this space, Lodge has made its L8DO3 model with no legs so you can keep your chili or stew heated on low without worrying about keeping the lid on. This is great for group outings especially. Available in 5-, 7-, and 9-quart options, this handled oven is also extremely fair in price, and one of the most affordable options out there, thus making it even better. Likewise, the cast iron surface is non-stick, pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil, and made in the USA.

Volume: 5qt, 7qt, 9qt
Weight: 13.49 to 19.57lbs
Pre-Seasoned?: Yes

Lodge L12DCO3 Deep Camp 8qt

Lodge L12DCO3 Deep Camp
  • Made in the USA
  • Factory seasoning is great quality
  • Overall reliable construction
  • Solid heat-retention
  • Carrying handle tends to scrape the sides

Best Overall: Lodge is the most common American iron cookware maker around. Nearly every home that is blessed to bear a skillet, a pan, or an iron pot probably has at least one Lodge item. Their reach is wide and far because they make quality that can suit most budgets without draining the reserves. Also available in 5- or 10-quart sizes, the Deep Camp line’s 8-quart option is the perfect size for groups both large and small, and with a little care, it will last you for many seasons. The lid can be inverted to provide you with a quick griddle should you feel like flapjacks, and the legs are ideal for keeping it above your coals but not so far it doesn’t hold the heat. Lodge even throws in a cookbook, “Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101″ with every oven.

Volume: 8qt
Weight: 21lbs
Pre-Seasoned?: Yes

GSI Outdoor Hard Anodized Dutch Oven

GSI Outdoor Hard Anodized Dutch Oven
  • Very lightweight
  • Doesn’t need to be seasoned
  • Cooks really cleanly
  • Lid not good for frying
  • Expensive

Best Non-Cast Iron: Cast iron is the route that many of the best Dutch ovens go, but GSI has won awards for their cook sets and decided they wanted a challenge. What they did was use hard-anodized aluminum that’s nearly a third of the weight of an oven of comparable size crafted out of iron. The aluminum they use is non-reactive and isn’t coated with any unusual compounds, so you won’t be adding any strange byproducts into your food through the heating process. You get the same slow heating, even cooking that iron provides with a body that doesn’t require seasoning and maintenance the same way iron does.

Volume: 19qt
Weight: 8.7lbs
Pre-Seasoned?: No

Camp Chef Deluxe

Camp Chef Deluxe
  • Cleans with just a quick wipedown
  • Built-in thermometer channel
  • Good for baking or roasting
  • Heavy
  • Made in China

Best Larger Option: In the world of iron cookware meant for camping, 33 years isn’t a long time. Since 1990, Camp Chef has come to prove that it belongs among the top tier names when it comes to outdoor cooking, and with this offering, we’re inclined to agree. Able to contain up to 12 Quarts, this is a beast, but recognize that all of that isn’t in the main body itself, as the lid is its own pan, accounting for part of the beastly package. This double-decker look and feel is a game changer when it comes to cooking for large groups, or whipping up complicated meals during an evening far from the city lights. A thermometer channel makes getting a roast or a cake to the perfect temperature effortless so if you have a gourmet on hand, this is the tool that will make his trip, while the food he prepares will make yours.

Volume: 12qt
Weight: 28lbs
Pre-Seasoned?: Yes

The Best Portable Fire Pits

Best Portable Fire Pits 0 Hero
Photo: BioLite FirePit+

If you’re looking to do some outdoor cooking, chances are you’ll be in the market for a quality fire pit. Head over to our guide to see the best portable options.