When it comes to classic cooking tools, you can’t get much more old-school than the Dutch oven. Everyone’s favorite pot may look simple from the outside—but it’s actually a kitchen game-changer. The Dutch oven can do it all: braise meat, bake bread, deep-fry chicken and make deliciously flavorful soups and stews. With proper care, a Dutch oven will last you a lifetime, says Malia Call, a culinary instructor based in Utah, “I will pass my Dutch oven on to my kids, and they can pass it on to future generations.” Cleaning your Dutch oven the right way will ensure you’re cooking up flavorful Dutch oven recipes (like these!) for many years to come.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Bare cast iron Dutch ovens don’t have a protective finish, and should be cleaned just like your cast iron skillet (a process which requires a little more effort than cleaning your other pans). Here’s how to clean an uncoated cast iron Dutch oven:
Step 1: Wash by Hand
Use a small amount of mild dish soap and a soft sponge to gently wash off any leftover food bits. Make sure that you’re not scrubbing too hard or using an abrasive sponge as it could remove the seasoning and open your Dutch oven up to rusting. Also—sorry, no dishwasher!
Step 2: Use a Plastic Scraper
For stuck-on food, fill the pot with a little water and simmer to loosen, then use a plastic scraper to remove the food after the pot has cooled. Then wash the pot in soapy water with a soft sponge. By the way, this is the cleaning tool we use to wash our cast iron pieces.
Step 3: Completely Dry
Dry the pot with a paper towel or cloth. Be careful not to leave any standing water in the pot (or leave the pot to soak), which can cause rust.
Step 4: Season Your Dutch Oven
Season the pot by rubbing a small amount of cooking oil or seasoning spray on the interior. Wipe with a paper towel to remove extra residue. If you see a spot of rust on your cast iron Dutch oven, or have noticed food sticking more than normal, you may want to fully reseason it. Take a look at our guide to seasoning a Dutch oven for the step-by-step instructions.
Step 5: Store
When not in use, keep your Dutch oven and lid in a dry area, like a cabinet or shelf away from the sink and stove. It’s best to keep the lid next to the Dutch oven, rather than on top of it, to allow for airflow.
How to Clean an Enamel Dutch Oven
An enamel Dutch oven is still made from cast iron, but features a nonstick and durable enamel finish. Cleaning enameled Dutch ovens are a bit easier, plus they come in all sorts of colors to brighten your kitchen. This is how to clean an enameled Dutch oven:
Step 1: Wash by Hand
Wash the pan with dish soap and a nylon or other non-abrasive brush or sponge. Never use abrasive cleaners or steel wool pads, which can scratch or damage the enamel.
Step 2: Overnight Soak
If your pot has stubborn food residue that won’t wash away easily, fill it with a little water and baking soda and let it soak overnight. This will loosen up the grime. Then gently scrub with soap and water.
Step 3: Bar Keepers Friend for Tough Stains
For really tough stains or food burns, try the always handy Bar Keepers Friend. Simply sprinkle the cleaning powder into the pot with a little bit of water and scrub. Then, wash and rinse as normal. Here are even more things you can clean with Bar Keepers Friend!
Now that you know how to clean your Dutch oven so it looks brand new, it’s time to get cooking! Here are some of our favorite Dutch oven recipes.
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Stovetop Cheeseburger Pasta
Cheeseburgers are delicious in any form, but I’m partial to this creamy pasta dish that seriously tastes just like the real thing. It’s weeknight comfort in a bowl. —Tracy Avis, Peterborough, OntarioGo to Recipe Start your meal with one of these tasty Dutch oven appetizers.
Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup
This chicken tortilla soup is as good as (if not better than) any I’ve had in a restaurant. I get so many compliments when I serve it: you will, too. —Laura Black Johnson, Largo, FloridaGo to Recipe Check out more delicious Dutch oven soup recipes.
Green Beans with Creamy Pistachio Sauce
I was asked to bring vegetables for a party and wasn’t feeling inspired until I remembered Mom served green beans with butter and evaporated milk. I love pistachios, so I added those instead of almonds. Everybody wanted the recipe, and I was really pleased—very little work and lots of happy family and friends! —Loretta Ouellette, Pompano Beach, FloridaGo to Recipe Find 100 more Dutch oven recipes to love.
Mediterranean Pork and Orzo
On a really busy day, this meal in a bowl is one of my top picks. It’s quick to put together, leaving a lot more time to relax at the table. —Mary Relyea, Canastota, New YorkGo to Recipe End your meal on a sweet note. These Dutch oven dessert recipes are perfection.
Fire-Roasted Ziti with Sausage
We punch up our pasta with smoked sausage and fire-roasted tomato sauce. It’s an easy recipe to switch up—use whatever noodles and spaghetti sauce are in your pantry. —Jean Komlos, Plymouth, MichiganGo to Recipe
Caribbean Potato Soup
My bright and hearty soup features an unusual blend of ingredients, including okra, kale and black-eyed peas. No kale on hand? Use spinach instead. —Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, ColoradoGo to Recipe
Zucchini in Dill Cream Sauce
My husband and I were dairy farmers until we retired, so I always use fresh, real dairy products in my recipes. This creamy sauce combines all our favorite foods! —Josephine Vanden Heuvel, Hart, MichiganGo to Recipe Still hungry? Find more Dutch oven side dishes.
Delish Pesto Pasta with Chicken Marsala
My easy, go-to chicken and pasta recipe is ready and on the table in about a half an hour. It’s a fabulous option for those busy weeknights. — Lorraine Stevenski, Land O’ Lakes, FloridaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Elegant Seafood Bisque
Creamy bisque is elegant enough for sit-down dinners yet hearty enough for casual gatherings.—Mike Payne, Hixson, TennesseeGo to Recipe
Hearty Vegetable Beef Ragu
This recipe is healthy yet satisfying, quick yet delicious. It’s on the table in less than 30 minutes, and it’s something that my children will gobble up! If you are not fond of kale, stir in baby spinach or chopped broccoli instead. —Kim Van Dunk, Caldwell, New JerseyGo to Recipe
Brussels Sprouts & Kale Saute
In an effort to add more greens to our meals, I created this dish—and my kids eat it up. The crispy salami is the “hook.” —Jennifer Mcnabb, Brentwood, TennesseeGo to Recipe
Hearty Vegetarian Chili
Rich and flavorful, this chili is absolutely packed with fun veggies like mushrooms, beans and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s so filling, you’ll win over any meat lover. —Pam Ivbuls, Omaha, NebraskaGo to Recipe
Weeknight Pasta Squiggles
This zesty pasta dish is ideal for busy weeknights. It’s low on ingredients and easy to prep, and it tastes so comforting when the weather turns cool. A salad on the side makes this healthy pasta recipe a meal. —Stacey Brown, Spring, TexasGo to Recipe
Creamy Beef & Potatoes
One of my husband’s favorite childhood memories was eating his Grandma Barney’s Tater Tot Casserole. One day I prepared it using potatoes O’Brien instead. Now I always make it this way. — Heather Matthews, Keller, TexasGo to Recipe
Chickpea Tortilla Soup
This vegan tortilla soup recipe is healthy, filling and family-friendly! We love how hearty and flavorful it is. We like to play around with the different toppings we add each time it’s served. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, MarylandGo to Recipe
Creamy Noodle Casserole
My husband, Ronald, works long hours and frequently doesn’t arrive home until past 7 p.m. This casserole is ideal for those late nights—it’s just as tasty after it’s been warmed in the microwave. —Barb Marshall, Pickerington, OhioGo to Recipe
Buffalo Sloppy Joes
Lean ground turkey makes this a lighter sloppy joe than the standard ground beef version. A hefty splash of hot sauce and optional blue cheese provide an authentic Buffalo-style flavor. —Maria Regakis, Saugus, MassachusettsGo to Recipe
Makeover Creamed Corn
This healthy creamed corn has all the rich feel and flavor of the original, but only about half the calories and about a third of the saturated fat. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, IdahoGo to Recipe
One-Pot Stuffed Pepper Dinner
Thick like chili and with plenty of stuffed pepper flavor, this dish will
warm you up on chilly days. —Charlotte Smith, McDonald, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
Cheese Chicken Soup
Kids won’t think twice about eating their vegetables after tasting this cheesy soup. —LaVonne Lundgren, Sioux City, IowaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Hearty Sausage Minestrone
As a teacher, I appreciate quick and easy recipes. If I make this for just my husband and me, we have leftovers for lunches. But when there are more people at the table, every bit is eaten. —Tami Stoudt, Evans, ColoradoGo to Recipe
Orzo Shrimp Stew
My husband and I really enjoy seafood, so I don’t skimp on shrimp in this mildly seasoned stew. We also adore the broccoli, tomatoes and pasta. —Lisa Stinger, Hamilton, New JerseyGo to Recipe
Apple Barbecue Chicken
My husband and I had just moved to Dallas when I first made this recipe. Everything was new—new city, new home—but this dish felt familiar and comforting. —Darla Andrews, Schertz, TexasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Turkey & Noodle Tomato Soup
Turn V8 juice, veggies and ramen noodles into a wonderful soup that takes just a few minutes to make. I like to serve it with biscuits. —Jennifer Bridges, Los Angeles, CaliforniaGo to Recipe
Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens
Time to gather round the table, y’all! This dish has special meaning on New Year’s Day, when Southerners eat greens for future wealth and black-eyed peas for prosperity. —Athena Russell, Greenville, South CarolinaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Turkey Linguine with Tomato Cream Sauce
I love an easy weeknight meal! This meal comes together quickly and uses up that half block of cream cheese that ends up in the fridge. —Amy Lents, Grand Forks, North DakotaGo to Recipe
Minestrone with Turkey
I remember my mom making this soup; now I make it for my kids as often as I can. It’s a good way to use up leftover vegetables. Sometimes I add a can of rinsed and drained kidney or garbanzo beans. —Angela Goodman, Kaneohe, HawaiiGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Beef Noodle Soup
This only takes a few minutes, but this beef noodle soup recipe tastes like it simmered all day. —Margery Bryan, Moses Lake, WashingtonGo to Recipe
Pork Noodle Soup
My daughter created this soup when she needed to use up some leftover pork. You can use more water for a thinner soup or less water for a noodle dish. It’s good with mushroom flavored ramen noodles, too. —Eleanor Niska, Twin Falls, IdahoGo to Recipe
Tangy Barbecued Beef Sandwiches
Every year for our church ice cream social, we’d fill six roaster ovens with these ingredients and let them simmer all day. Boy, did that barbecue smell good. If you want a meal that’s ready to eat in 30 minutes, but can keep on the stove for late arrivals, this is the one. —Janet Sipes, Monmouth, IllinoisGo to Recipe
Chili Beef Pasta
Right after I got married, an aunt gave me her recipe for skillet spaghetti and told me it was ideal for a quick weeknight meal. Over the years I’ve tinkered with the ingredients and played with the seasonings to make it a healthier dish that my family truly loves. —Kristen Killian, Depew, New YorkGo to Recipe
Hearty Italian White Bean Soup
A bowlful of this soup is so satisfying, it’s hard to believe it’s actually good for you, too. I crave it all the time. With lots of beans and potatoes, it’s filling and even hits the spot with meat lovers. —Kristina Krummel, Elkins, ArkansasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Shrimp Pasta Alfredo
My son loves any recipe with Alfredo sauce. As a bachelor, shrimp pasta was one of the first recipes he learned to prepare. Now his children ask for it regularly. Gail Lucas, Olive Branch, MississippiGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Weeknight Taco Soup
This soup turned out delicious on the first try, when I was working without a recipe. You could also add cooked ground beef or cubed stew meat dredged in seasoned flour and browned for a heartier meal. —Amanda Swartz, Goderich, OntarioGo to Recipe
Spicy Chicken Stew
When you’re craving cozy Mexican flavors, try this spicy chicken and chickpea stew. It couldn’t be easier to make—just round out the meal with a fresh tossed salad. —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe
Herbed Artichoke Cheese Tortellini
This flavor-packed meatless recipe features tomatoes, black olives and artichoke hearts tossed with tender cheese tortellini. —Karen Anzelc, Peoria, ArizonaGo to Recipe
Chicken and Dumplings
Perfect for chilly winter nights, this main course is speedy, low in fat and a delicious one-dish meal. —Nancy Tuck, Elk Falls, KansasGo to Recipe
Chicken Pesto with Pasta
Prepared sauce accents this warm chicken pesto pasta. Keep pesto in the freezer for the next time you have leftover chicken. —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe
Simple Taco Soup
We first sampled this chili-like taco soup recipe at a church dinner. What a warming dish for a cold day. And because it uses packaged seasonings with several cans of vegetables, it’s a snap to prepare. —Glenda Taylor, Sand Springs, OklahomaGo to Recipe
This cheesy recipe is way tastier than any other cauliflower soup I’ve tried! We like it with hot pepper sauce for a little extra kick. —Debbie Ohlhausen, Chilliwack, British ColumbiaGo to Recipe
Pear & Turkey Sausage Rigatoni
The sweet pear, salty sausage and creamy blue cheese are a wonderful combination in this dish. It tastes just like something you’d get at a great restaurant. —Debby Harden, Williamston, MichiganGo to Recipe ⓘ