This article is more than a post about finding and reviewing the best Dutch oven for bread. I will take this opportunity to share with you why Dutch ovens are such awesome for bread baking.
Plus, we’ll also discuss why this bakeware is way more than a baking pot with a lid. It’s a great cookware tool, as well. You can use it for all kinds of recipes from stews to meats to soups and desserts.
A Dutch oven cookbook can show you all the ways in which you can take advantage of this pot with a lid. But the Internet is full of Dutch oven recipes, too.
Best Dutch Oven for Bread: Top Picks
1. Overall Best: Lodge Combo Cooker Cast Iron
You can actually bake the bread in the 10.25-inch shallow skillet and use the Dutch oven pot as the dome. It’s amazing, cheap, very easy to use, perfect for 5 cups of flour, and overall the best Dutch oven for bread that you could get.
2. For smaller bread: Emile Henry Bread Pot/Potato Pot
The Emile Henry is mainly designed for baking absolutely delicious loaves. You can preheat it empty with the lid on. It’s made of clay not enamel so, there’s no risk of cracking. The spherical shape is intriguing. The lid and the body create a perfect seal, which is one of its top features. However, it’s best for recipes that require 4-4.5 cups of flour at most.
3. Cheap & Big: Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 5 quart
Lodge has managed to make one of the cheapest best Dutch ovens for bread. You can preheat it empty with the lid on because it’s made of cast iron. It’s meant to last a lifetime. The 5 quart pot is satisfyingly large. Moreover, you can actually use both the pot and the lid. The lid can be used as a skillet and you can even make pizza on the stovetop. It’s impressively versatile. It is also a preferred model for Ken Forkish.
4. Classic Choice: Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte
If you cook for one or two, you can get the 4 quart size. It’s more affordable than the bigger pots. Otherwise, you need the 5.5 quart pot. The quality is impressive and you can use it for all kinds of recipes. It has an unique interior with matte texture that ensures exceptional browning. It’s definitely a top feature for perfect crust.
Best Dutch Oven for Bread Reviews
Shopping for the best Dutch oven for bread is truly worth it because this pot manages to do one essential thing. It emulates the baking environment in a professional bakery.
In a professional setting, the steam and the intense temperatures enable an even cooking, a perfectly risen bread, with the perfect crust, with a deep shiny color.
I love the fact that even those without much experience can use a Dutch oven for baking bread and get excellent results. You’ll see what I mean about that. Most of all, I love the versatility of this pot with a lid.
1. Lodge Combo Cooker Cast Iron – Best Dutch Oven for Bread
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of perusing Tartine Bread by Robertson Chad, you might have noticed that the baker and author uses a Dutch oven to bake sourdough bread but it uses it a bit differently than expected.
The classic way of using a Dutch oven for baking artisan and sourdough breads is that we use the deep pot for the baking and the lid for creating the steam needed for the first part of the baking process. Usually, after 20 minutes, the lid is removed and the bread is bake with the lid for another 20-25 minutes or until the crust gets the brown we like.
However, with the Lodge Combo Cooker Cast Iron things stand a bit differently. The reverse is actually happening. Let’s talk all about it so that you can see how amazing it is.
Skillet + 3.2 quart Dutch oven
Being a cast iron combo cooker, we get two components and both can be used for cooking a wide variety of dishes, including for baking loaves of all kinds:
- 10.25 -inch shallow skillet with handle
- 3.2 quart Dutch oven with the same handle
Thus, we can actually bake our breads in the skillet and use the Dutch oven as the bid lid, a dome. It’s similar to what a bread cloche is, only that we get to make one from this Lodge Combo Cooker Cast Iron.
Given that the skillet has very narrow margins, there’s no risk of burning our forearms when we transfer the dough from its proofing basket or whatever bowl we kept it in during proofing.
That’s the first advantage. You just need to lay a 9-inch parchment paper in the skillet and you’re ready to bake.
Preheating it empty
The second advantage is that this Lodge combo cooker is made of cast iron.
That means that we can preheat it empty, without any worries of cracking.
Unfortunately, if you get an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven for bread, you shouldn’t preheat it empty. It can crack.
Nevertheless, brands like Le Creuset and Staub assure us that their pans don’t need to be preheated to make excellent bread. I agree with them but their products cost hundreds of dollars. Lodge makes cast-iron Dutch ovens that cost well under $100. There’s a huge difference between these brands in terms of prices.
This combo will work very well for recipes that involve 5 cups (600g) of flour. It’s more than enough for a lot of people.
If you have a slightly larger family, you’ll want a 5 quart Dutch oven that is able to bake dough made with 8 cups (1000g) of flour. If even that’s not enough, you should look at 7/8/9 quart pots.
We’ve established that we can preheat it empty. We’ve also established that the skillet is actually the component of the combo where we’re going to bake in.
Preheat both the skillet and the pot one on top of the other sealed at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
Remove the skillet but leave the pot in the oven. Add the parchment paper to the skillet, transfer the dough, put the pot on top and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot and bake in the skillet for another 20-25 minutes. Or until the crust gets the caramelized color that you’re looking for.
And that’s it. That’s what you have to do if you want to emulate the results of artisan bakers. A Dutch oven will create the necessary steam and it will retain enough heat that the results rival the artisan breads baked in professional ovens. That’s what all the fuss is about.
We get fantastic rise for the dough, chewy crumb, and crispy perfect crust.
Where to Buy?
2. Emile Henry Bread Pot/Potato Pot
The name already tells you what you can cook in this Dutch oven. You can bake either bread or cook a wide variety of vegetables at a low temperature. Emile Henry bread pot doesn’t work for soups, pasta, or every other recipe that can be made in other pots.
The price is pretty high for such limited use. But if you only care about bread baking, it is worth it.
It has a spherical shape with round corners instead of straight ones. It’s a different design than the rest of them because the lid actually resembles a dome and there’s no knob on top. But there are handles on the side, both for the pot and the dome, and the lid seals it perfectly.
When lifting the lid don’t put your face right into the pot because steam is released. If you drop the lid, it will instantly crack. Handle it with a bit of care and it will last a long time.
Made of clay
Pay attention to the fact that it’s a lot more fragile than the usual Dutch ovens, since this one is made of clay.
It’s on the smaller side. It has a 2.1-quart (2 L) pot. But it still has a 3-4 cups of flour capacity.
Emile Henry bread pot bakes a 1 pound loaf. It even comes with a bread recipe. Even so, it might not be ideal for large families, unless you like baking consecutive breads.
The bread will be absolutely perfect. The thing that really grabs my attention when it comes to this particular model is that the manufacturer clearly states that it can be preheated empty for an ideal baking experience.
Can be preheated empty without worries
It’s capable of withstanding sudden changes in temperature and it can be used in the oven, on top of the stove or on BBQ grills.
That’s because this is not made of the usual enameled cast iron. It’s actually made of clay with a highly resistant ceramic glaze, made in France from natural materials, which is really nice.
Due to the fact that it’s made of clay, it’s also a lot lighter. It can be carried more easily.
The fact that it can be preheated empty without a care in the world that it might crack, the outstanding quality of the bread it bakes, and the whole uniqueness that sums up this Emile Henry Bread Pot/Potato Pot, all these factors are a clear indication that this is one of the best Dutch ovens for bread, albeit on the expensive side.
Where to Buy?
3. Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 5 Quart – Cheap & Amazing
Since I’m all for preheating Dutch ovens when baking bread, it only makes sense that my next recommendation would be a best Dutch oven for bread that’s made of cast iron. I also reviewed some cast iron loaf pans, if you’re interested.
Can be preheated empty without worries
Just like the Emile Henry made of clay, Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven can be preheated with the lid on without any care of cracking.
Start off with a cold oven at the temperature stated in the recipe and leave it in for at least half an hour, with the lid on.
The price is quite cheap, even when compared with the more affordable enameled Dutch ovens. The quality is impressive. And this is cast iron that we’re talking about. This set will last for a lifetime if you treat it well.
The size is also impressive, this is no small pot.
A 5 quart pot is perfect even for larger families.
You can also use it on the stovetop to make all kinds of recipes. It’s also awesome if you go camping.
Both the pot and the lid can be used for baking and cooking
You can use both the lid and the pot in the oven and on the stovetop. The lid can be used instead of a pizza stone and you can even make pizza on the stovetop. You can use it for frying, making soups, stews, as a casserole dish.
It even works on a campfire, which cannot be done with an enameled model.
There are two components to this Lodge:
- a shallow lid that can also be used as a 10 inch cast iron skillet
- and the big pot where we can bake the bread and do many other dishes
Let’s make one thing clear. It comes with instructions that are included in a booklet and you will have to follow them. If you already have experience with pre-seasoning and seasoning, it’s going to go well. If not, you will need to adjust to cooking with a new material that is sturdy but, at the same time, necessitates a bit of care.
The manufacturer states that it arrives with a foundational seasoning of 100% vegetable oil.
Where to Buy?
4. Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte – Versatile & Expensive
This is one of the most impressive best Dutch ovens for bread without a doubt.
The 4 quart is not exactly the biggest but the price for a Staub of this size is a lot more approachable. I think this would be the best choice for a lot of households.
They also have an identically looking 5.5 quart cocotte, in case you are willing to spend a lot more just to get a bigger size.
Unique interior matte texture
It is made of cast iron but it’s coated in enamel. Due to that reason, I would say that you should skip the preheating phase and go straight to baking in a cold pot with the lid on.
You will still be able to bake breads with amazing crust and delicious crumb. This pot is definitely capable of that, as many users also praise it for this ability.
The manufacturer also states that the unique interior matte texture will lead to exceptional browning. This is not the type of shiny surface that the enamel offers to other Dutch ovens.
This is the type of pot with a lid that can be used for everything from baking breads to slow-cooking meats and vegetables to stews and soups and so much more.
The whole black design looks really great.
The nickel steel knob is safe up to 500F/260C. It stands out from the whole black design.
Without the lid, this Staub cocotte is safe up to 900F/482C.
Speaking of the lid, this is the most interesting feature for this Dutch oven. It’s a future unique to Staub and it’s called a self-basting spiked lid.
It’s not only tight-fitted, the type of lid that works best on a Dutch oven but it’s also designed to retain moisture. The spikes on the inside help create a rainforest effect that yields moist, flavorful results. Who could have thought of that? Well, Staub did.
It is recommended to wash it by hand.
Where to Buy?
5. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt.
Can we talk about the best Dutch oven for bread without mentioning the most famous manufacturer of them all?
No, we actually can’t. It’s just like when talking about the best stand mixers, we have to talk about KitchenAid. Well, I believe that a lot more people have heard of KitchenAid than of Le Creuset.
As it happens in both cases, even though we’re talking about completely different products, I’m still not attracted to their most well-known manufacturers. The reason is simple: I totally acknowledge the quality but I don’t exactly afford their quality.
So, Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven is the most expensive pot with a lid on this list.
The price is not only due to its size. No matter which size you pick, it will still be the most expensive when compared to other similar pots.
Well, since I wanted to review a Le Creuset, I thought we should go big. Literally. So, I decided to recommend the 7.25-quart pot.
If you’re going to pay big bucks, you might as well get the most out of it.
Moreover, I really wanted to recommend a best Dutch oven for bread for big families.
The selection of colors for this pot is fantastic and impressive. I just absolutely love the Caribbean and the deep teal. They’re gorgeous. If you could hear me know, you’d know that I’m gushing like a schoolgirl.
It’s made of cast iron coated in enamel.
The exterior enamel is shock-resistant to prevent chipping and cracking.
However, just don’t preheat it empty with the lid on. Place it cold in the oven and you’ll do great. It is oven-safe up to 500°F.
The stainless steel knob is safe at any oven temperature.
This is the kind of pot with a lid that can last a very long time if you take care of it. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer and you’ll have it for a lifetime.
The lid is awesome and creates a sealed chamber when it’s on. These tight-fitting lids are specially designed to circulate steam and return moisture back to the food.
Moreover, it delivers superior heat distribution and retention. You can make absolutely any dish in it.
Where to Buy?
6. LoafNest Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Is this my favorite of my recommendations for the best Dutch oven for bread? Not really. Let me tell why.
I totally agree with what some users say: it’s a great pot but it’s a bit too expensive. Yes, the price is not something that makes me scream of joy. I also think that it’s just too pricey for what it offers.
When you can get a cheap Lodge that it’s 4 times cheaper, I guess you can understand why my enthusiasm is not at top levels. Well, some people do love it so, who am I to stand in the why? Let’s review it and you can form your own opinion.
I just wanted to point another thing out. Only the liner is made in France. The actual pot and the lid are made in China. And it’s actually designed in the Netherlands. So many countries and 2 continents for making just a Dutch oven.
The color is definitely vibrant. The blue pops up in any kitchen but it can also fit in quite beautifully.
The liner, which is the actual part made in France, is just a replacement for a parchment paper. It can last at least for 1000 uses and with proper care will last 2000-3000 uses.
The liner prevents the loaf from sticking to the pot. And you can easily remove it with the liner when it’s time to place it on the cooling rack.
What kind of makes this LoafNest model stand out from the others is the fact that it has an oval shape.
The shape means that it’s great for making sandwich loaves. But if you are particularly interested in sandwich bread, you can make simply buy a loaf pan, which is about 10 times cheaper than this pot.
What I like
It can be preheated empty with the lid on. I like that.
It’s made of cast iron but coated with enamel, just like the Staub. But it doesn’t carry around the gravity of the name Staub.
The manufacturer also describes it as being: non-stick, rust-free, easy to put the dough in and easy to clean.
I appreciate that the manufacturer lets us know that we can make bread more easily: no-kneading, no-shaping, no-mess, no-fuss, no-cleanup.
But I will argue back that there’s actually a book about bread that’s called The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that teaches us exactly that. So, we can make choose to make these kinds of breads in any Dutch Oven. It’s not something that can be achieved only if we use the one from LoafNest.
It also promises to bake a crunchy crust and a soft air crump.
LoafNest delivers its own recipe but, as one user states, it will take a few tried until getting the perfect result. Once you do, the result will be indeed spectacular and delicious. I still believe that it’s too expensive.
Where to Buy?
7. Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart
There are quite a few users who say that the enamel chips off easily. That’s definitely a big complaint and it will make a lot of us weigh in if it’s worth taking a risk or not.
Well, why do I chose to review this Cuisinart as one of the best Dutch ovens for bread?
Because there are plenty reviews who state that it bakes delicious, fantastic looking loaves of bread. Those are some good reasons to consider it.
I wouldn’t pick it over Lodge because it’s cheaper and there’s no enamel involved. But I would consider picking it over Staub or Le Creuset because it’s absolutely so much cheaper.
It actually looks like a cheaper copy of Le Creuset. It doesn’t have an impressive design.
Where to Buy?
What is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven very much resembles a lidded pot. That’s exactly what it looks like. A large pot with a lid.
You might be wondering why everyone is so excited about owning one and using it for bread baking. What’s the deal?
Dutch ovens will help you make breads with delicious crispy thin golden crusts, that’s their main attribute and why these baking tools are so popular even though their price is not exactly cheap.
Furthermore, their versatility in being a cookware tool not just a baking tool is the added bonus.
There’s only one slightly difficult thing about them.
Needs to be Preheated
That slight difficulty arises when the Dutch oven for bread is preheated. There’s quite the debate on whether the preheating is essential to baking a nicely risen crusty loaf of bread or not.
The idea is that it must be preheated for quite a long time in order to be capable of creating the steam needed to bake the breads with a crusty deliciously thin golden crust and in order to achieve an even bake.
The preheating time should be around 25-35 minutes at the baking temperature stated in the recipe but remember to always start with a cold oven. That means, if you do decide to preheat your Dutch oven, you must place it with the lid on in a cold oven and turn on the heat.
Replicates a professional bakery
Thus, with the help of a best Dutch over for bread we can replicate the environment which can be found in a good bakery. A sealed chamber that combines both moisture and high even heat for perfect baking for all kinds of breads.
Everything sounds perfect so far. So, what could be the difficulty?
The pot is quite tall.
This pot can be used for cooking all kinds of recipes, which is a very good thing because it ensures that you can use a Dutch oven every day and not only for bread baking. I love cooking tools that don’t have a single use because, even though they are on the expensive side, I can be content with having spent my money wisely by creating wonderful recipes.
Since the pot is quite tall, you can easily burn yourself when placing the dough inside. Or you can get scared of the high heat since the Dutch oven needs to be preheated and drop the dough with more force than necessary, which can make it deflate or lose its shape. And then you can to go back to proofing the bread instead of moving on to baking.
Somewhere down below you’ll be able to find a few tricks for transferring the dough to a Dutch oven, keep on reading.
How to Pick the Best Dutch Oven for Bread
My first choice as the best Dutch oven for bread is made of clay. It’s basically exclusively for bread baking. It’s just truly interesting and worth checking out.
The Staub cocotte is just as impressive. As one would expect from one of the most well-known manufacturers. The 4-quart size is the most affordable. Nevertheless, if you are cooking for more than 2 people, you need to spend more and get the 5.5-quart pot from Staub.
Last but not least the Lodge cast iron Dutch oven has the advantage of a very good price. Moreover, cast iron can last a lifetime. The lid doubles as a pizza stone and frying pan. The pot can be used for whatever cooking you want to do, it has a lot of variety.
Two of these best Dutch ovens for bread can be used for making an entire universe of recipes, from soups to frying to stews to pasta and so on. The clay one is more fragile in the sense that it can crack if it’s dropped. Otherwise, it’s very sturdy in handling extreme temperatures, which makes it perfect for baking bread without worries.
Shape & Sizes
There are a lot of sizes and shapes to choose from.
Well, the shape issue is easy to take care of because the most popular models are round-shaped and that’s what works best for a Dutch oven for bread.
When it comes to sizes, the choices are more varied. The most frequently encountered sizes are between 4-quart (3.79 liter) and 7.5-quart (7.1 liter). There are Dutch ovens even larger than that but they’re usually extremely expensive.
A quart is the equivalent of a quarter of a gallon (0.94 liter).
If you’re cooking for one or two or even four people, a 4 quarts or a 3.5 quarts Dutch oven is perfect. For a larger family, with more than four members, it’s best to start with at least a 5-5.5 quarts model.
Go over 7-quart only if your family is very large.
Most of them are made of enameled cast iron, which is coated cast iron in glass. The enamel is the one that gives the shiny color and provides a non-stick surface but you can use parchment paper for complete non-stickiness or sprinkle it with flour or cornmeal or spread a bit of oil on the bottom.
The enamel part is the one that poses the question of whether you should preheat an empty Dutch oven or not, a debate about which I’m going to talk just below.
Since enamel is glass there’s the trepidation that it might crack when preheated empty with the lid on in an oven, which is why most manufacturers warn not to preheat it empty.
This debate actually has a solution: getting a Dutch oven for bread made of bare cast iron, no shiny coating. They usually come pre-seasoned and I think that they’re absolutely a fantastic choice. And they’re cheaper.
You will have to season it, those used to cooking with cast irons will be comfortable with the process. And if you use parchment paper than you avoid the sticking risk.
Perfectly Fitted Lid
The lid is an essential part, a perfectly fitted lid will create a sealed space inside which the steam can work its magic.
Staub has mastered the art of creating a unique perfect lid for its Dutch ovens. Le Creuset is another manufacturer that mastered the magic of a tight lid that creates a sealed chamber full of magical steam.
For bread baking, a solid lid is the best option. Definitely not a glass lid.
When it comes to famous brands for Dutch ovens, Le Creuset is usually the brand that comes to mind. They’re also unbelievably expensive but of the highest quality. The materials they use are the best.
However, as you can see above, there are other more affordable options for the best Dutch oven for bread, too.
In terms of very high prices, Staub is the next brand on the list. These two are the classics, just like KitchenAid is for stand mixers.
How to Use the Best Dutch Oven for Bread
Using a Dutch oven for baking bread mainly resolves around preheating or not preheating the pot empty with the lid on.
The preheating of the empty pot with the lid on is done at 450 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
Then there’s the matter of shaping the dough (you can use proofing baskets for that).
Last but not least, you should bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit (245 degrees Celsius) for 40-45 minutes. For the last 5-10 minutes, the lid is off.
To Preheat or Not to Preheat
King Arthur has done a comparison on baking in a cold Dutch oven vs the preheated version but pay attention that their case is only made on no-knead white bread. The differences between the two are not considerable, you can read about it here.
Some manufacturers even state that their pot shouldn’t be heated empty. Those made of enameled cast iron come with that warning because enamel is glass.
As a personal opinion, a Dutch oven for bread should be preheated. Obviously, it means it will be preheated empty with the lid on. As you saw, I think the Staub can be used without preheating it while still being able to deliver the same exceptional results.
Preheating means placing it in a cold oven, turning the heat up to what it states in the recipe as the temperature for baking (which is not that high in the case of bread baking, usually 450°F) and leaving it in there for 20 to 35 minutes or maybe even an hour. It depends on whom you ask.
If you put it in the cold oven, the pot with the lid will get heated up gradually so, there’s little risk of thermal damage. But there’s still a risk and you will go against most manufacturers’ advice.
It’s extremely important for the oven to be cold so that no thermal shock is incurred. That’s the rule.
But if you’re afraid of hot pots, use a cold Dutch oven in which the dough has risen and place the pot with the dough and the lid on in a cold oven for the baking phase.
The rest of the recipes, those made on whatever stovetop you have at home, require low to medium heat. These pots are not made for high heat.
Can you use parchment paper in a Dutch oven?
Yes, of course you can and I definitely recommend it. I think parchment paper is the ideal non-stick solution because it always works, it doesn’t impact the flavor and it’s easier to handle than using oil or flour or cornmeal to prevent the dough sticking to whatever baking surface you prefer.
If the bottom of your loaf turns out too dark, you can use two layers of parchment paper and see if there’s any change in color.
Alternately, I also use olive oil to keep the dough from sticking because I like the shine it imparts, it can make the bottom even crispier, and I just plainly love olive oil and its amazing flavor so I use it every chance I got.
Olive oil and parchment paper, those are my two solutions. On a baking stone you can’t use olive oil but it definitely works in a Dutch oven for bread.
Shaping the dough
You can use a proofing basket to achieve the perfect round or oval shaped dough with those wonderful coil imprints. But if you don’t care about the perfect shape, just use a simple large bowl for proofing (the stage when the dough rises so it can be scored and then baked).
The tricky part with a Dutch oven for bread actually comes when it’s time to transfer the dough in. You can burn yourself or you might drop it a bit forcefully and the dough will lose its shape.
Last but not least,
When you’re baking bread with a Dutch oven, you have to put the lid on for the first 25 to 30 minutes and then take the lid off and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
How to Transfer Dough
Place the dough on parchment paper that is bigger than the size of the bottom of your Dutch oven so that you can easily grab it and place the dough together with the parchment paper in the pot. A full sheet of parchment paper should work well. Just don’t leave any paper sticking out, trim it with a pair of scissors.
Or slide your hand under the parchment paper and turn the dough over in the pot. Additionally, you can shake the pot gently to make the dough settle.
Best Dutch Oven for Bread Substitutes
If you decide that a Dutch oven is something you can postpone buying, let’s talk some substitutes.
There’s this baking tool called bread cloche or La Cloche. It’s a bit less expensive than a Dutch oven, made of ceramics not cast iron or enamel, and it’s exclusively for baking bread.
The results are similar and the base is very small. You can transfer the dough without incidents.
The dome is a lot more impressive than a basic lid. Most are round but there are also models that resemble a loaf pan but with an impressive dome.
If you are an avid pizza lover and you also want to bake awesome bread with the same bakeware, you can opt for getting a baking stone for bread. It’s also known as a pizza stone.
I wrote an article on the best baking stones for bread, check it out if you’re interested, you’ll find some surprising choices there.
For even more interesting Dutch oven alternatives, I advise you to read this article from life as a strawberry, it has nicely detailed steps for creating the needed steam inside an oven.
In the end, I am happy that a really affordable pot like the one from Lodge can be the best Dutch oven for bread for so many people, it proves that you can get awesome baking experiences without spending too much.