No Dutch Oven? No Problem! These Are The Best Substitutes For a Dutch Oven

Maryana Lucia Vestic
Maryana Lucia Vestic

Maryana Lucia Vestic

Maryana is a professional baker and recipe developer. She runs Ravenswood Bakes, a sweet and savory bakery in Rhode Island. Her work has been featured in many prominent food publications.

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Dutch Oven Substitutes

A traditional Dutch oven is a heavy enameled cast iron or ceramic pot with a lid, a flat bottom, and a round or oval shape. Dutch ovens can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. Since they retain heat and moisture so well, they cook stews, chilis, and baked goods from all directions, yielding quick and even results.

If your Dutch oven has seen better days or you don’t have a Dutch oven on hand, don’t stress. Many Dutch oven substitutes include cookware like pots, pans, and kitchen appliances that help achieve similar results. A flavorful meal will still end up on the table with the assistance of these alternatives to a Dutch oven.

Here are the pots and pans I reach for when I don’t have a Dutch oven available.

1. Slow Cooker/Crockpot

Without a Dutch oven, your first go-to is a slow cooker. Also called a crock pot, slow cookers work for many different one-pot meals, from soup to chili. You can use a slow cooker to make unexpected foods like deep dish pizza or hot cocoa in a slow cooker!

A crock pot cooks in a very low oven for hours on end, so it’s an excellent substitute for a Dutch oven. The end result is similar to simmering a meal in a Dutch oven for an hour or two – but it will take longer. Because it’s so similar, you can often swap one for the other, as long as you adjust the cooking time.

I’ve made meatballs in a stovetop slow cooker overnight. 😁

3.5 Quart Slow Cooker

This 3.5-quart slow cooker makes cooking easy! Choose from Low, High, or Warm settings for delicious casseroles, curries, soups, and more. The removable aluminum pot is perfect for searing on the stovetop and doubles as a lightweight, dishwasher-safe serving dish. Monitor your meal through the tempered glass lid. Ideal for family-sized portions.

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2. Cast Iron Skillet

Replacing a Dutch oven with a cast iron skillet is the best choice for recipes requiring braising, sautéing, frying, or baking. Quality Dutch ovens are made of cast iron (whether enameled or not), so if you can find something to use as a lid, a cast iron skillet is a top substitute for recipes requiring both a stovetop and in the oven.

I’ve used a sheet pan as a lid for an extra large cast iron skillet with good results. The only thing to watch out for is using an uncoated cast iron skillet with acidic foods like tomato sauce. Unlike a Dutch oven, bare cast iron will react with acids, causing a metallic flavor in your food.

Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Pre-Seasoned Skillet
This Lodge cast iron skillet goes from stovetop to oven to grill, handling any recipe with ease. Crafted in America, it delivers the superior heat retention and durability experienced cooks love. Cast iron's legendary heat retention ensures perfectly cooked dishes from edge to edge. Perfect for searing, roasting, and all your favorite recipes.
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3. Casserole Dish

If using your Dutch oven in the actual oven is your main goal, try replacing it with a casserole dish. It’s a good alternative that is easy to use and works particularly well for baked pasta, pot pies, and — of course — casseroles. If you’re looking for a casserole dish with a lid, use one like the Lovecasa Nonstick Casserole Dish. It works for everything from lasagna or vegetables to a sheet cake.  A casserole dish is made for any particular recipe when you need to finish it in the oven.

Though a substitute for a Dutch oven, remember that a casserole dish won’t retain heat in quite the same way. If you use one made of cast iron, there’s more of a chance it’ll heat evenly. The same is true for a cast iron skillet, making both the best Dutch oven alternatives for slow cooking and simmering.

Lovecasa Nonstick Casserole Dish

This 9x13 ceramic dish is ideal for slow-cooked dishes typically made in a Dutch oven, like roasts, braises, stews, and even baking. The tough enamel finish resists scratches and makes cleaning a breeze. It's oven, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher safe. The included lid helps retain moisture and the elegant design makes it suitable for serving directly from the dish.

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4. Tagine Pot

Do you only use your tagine pot when whipping up a Moroccan meal? The lidded earthenware pot is perfect for many everyday dishes too, and is a beautiful piece of cooking equipment. Its ability to break down tougher meats makes it a favorite for slow-cooked meals. It’s great for sauteing vegetables as well. and is unexpectedly one of the easiest Dutch oven alternatives.

One advantage of a tagine over our other alternatives is it looks lovely on the stovetop when not in use.

Moroccan Tagine

This beautiful enameled cast iron tagine is perfect for slow-cooking flavorful stews and braises. Works on any cooktop, goes straight to the oven, and doubles as a serving dish for table presentation. The durable design is easy to clean and requires no seasoning.

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5. Braiser

While a braiser won’t work for every meal, it can come in handy! It doesn’t work well for loaves of bread but can handle small batches of stews. This is because a braiser is shallow, so lacks the depth of most standard Dutch ovens. 

A traditional braiser like this cast-iron one from Staub moves from the stove to the oven easily. It’s easily a worthwhile appliance, whether used in place of a Dutch oven or simply as a braiser.

Staub Chistera Braiser

This versatile braiser is ideal for browning, then slow-cooking meats, fish, and vegetables. Its unique lid design promotes moisture circulation for tender results. Works on all stovetops (including induction), transitions to the oven, and boasts a heat-resistant decorative knob.

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6. Stockpot

A stockpot may seem like an obvious replacement for recipes that call for a Dutch oven, especially big-batch recipes – but it has its downsides. A stockpot (also called a soup pot) is often made of aluminum or stainless steel, so it won’t retain heat as well as an iron Dutch oven.

The lid isn’t as thick, so it won’t cook food from the top as effectively. But for stovetop recipes that require a Dutch oven, like chili or stews, use a stock pot. If you plan to take your recipe from the stove to the oven, make sure your stock pot – including the handles – is oven-safe.

A drawback to aluminum or stainless steel stock pots is that the ingredients may stick a bit more than they would to enamel or ceramic.  Even so, a stockpot is a great Dutch oven substitute to have on hand.

Gotham Steel Aqua Blue Nonstick Stock Pot

This ceramic nonstick stock pot features a diamond-reinforced coating for incredible food release. No oil or butter needed for healthy cooking! It's metal utensil safe, incredibly durable, and a breeze to clean. The stay-cool handles ensure comfortable use. Dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

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7. Instant Pot or Multi Cooker

Compared to a Dutch oven, an Instant Pot or pressure cooker works like a turbocharged Dutch oven, sealing in moisture and using pressure to drive heat into food. If you’re lucky enough to have an Instant Pot, set it to sauté first, so your ingredients brown before simmering away. 

You should reduce cooking times significantly when adapting a Dutch oven recipe to the Instant Pot. The “yogurt” mode on a multi-cooker is great for proofing bread, but you’ll need to bake it in something else to develop a crust. An Instant Pot is better at steaming and slow cooking.

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

This 7-in-1 wonder cooker pressure cooks, slow cooks, steams, sautés, and more! Whip up delicious meals from ribs and soups to rice and yogurt with easy one-touch settings. The durable pot is easy to clean and comes with safety features for peace of mind. Perfect for busy families or meal prepping, and the free app unlocks even more recipes.

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8. Air Fryer

Air fryers cook very differently than Dutch ovens, since they rely on hot, circulating air rather than trapped steam to cook the food. But, like a Dutch oven, they seal in flavors to roast, bake, and fry food evenly.

You can use an air fryer instead of a Dutch oven for several things that don’t require liquid to braise, from sauteeing onions to roasting meats.

To adapt a recipe meant for a Dutch oven to an air fryer, first, reduce the cooking time by about 20-25%, and lower the oven temperature by 25°F (14°C). Make sure the recipe includes sufficient moisture or fat, as the air fryer doesn’t retain liquids as a Dutch oven does.

For bread or baked goods, you may want to slightly increase the fat or moisture to prevent them from drying out. 

COSORI Air Fryer Pro

Enjoy crispy, delicious food with up to 85% less fat thanks to rapid air circulation. This air fryer cooks quickly and efficiently, and its compact size is perfect for any kitchen. The tempered glass display and angled design make it beautiful and easy to use. Includes a cookbook plus access to even more recipes online with the free app. The nonstick basket is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

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9. Saucepan

You may not think of using a saucepan instead of a cast iron Dutch oven, but it’s very possible. Most saucepans come with a metal or tempered glass lid and a thick base, so make a good cookware substitution for a Dutch oven.

If you want a tighter seal, use tin foil before putting the lid in place. But remember that many saucepans aren’t oven-safe, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations before putting it in the oven. 

Cuisinart Professional Series Saucepan

This features a beautiful, mirror-polished finish.The aluminum base heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly to prevent hot spots, ensuring perfect cooking results. The high-quality stainless steel cooking surface won't discolor, react with food, or alter flavors. Stay-cool handles provide a safe and comfortable grip.

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10. Roasting Pan

A roasting pan isn’t as versatile as a Dutch oven but makes many meals come to life in the same way.

Those with a tight-fitting lid work best, like this one by Lareina.

Tip: If your pan doesn’t have a lid, you can cover it with foil to seal in moisture – but you will have to increase cooking times. 

Feel free to use a huge stainless steel roasting pan for big batches of stews or pulled pork. They turn out wonderfully flavorful and tender in the oven – but take many more hours to cook than they would in a Dutch oven with a heavy lid. Roasting pans don’t work well for baking recipes, like bread.


11. Poor Man’s Dutch Oven for Bread

If you’ve got your heart set on making a Dutch oven bread recipe, but don’t have a Dutch oven.

This super helpful YouTube video by Artisanbreadwithstev shows you how you can achieve the same crusty loaf when recipes call for a Dutch oven.

After proofing the bread dough, bake the bread using two greased loaf tins placed on top of each other and held together by clips. The seal created works similarly to the lidded Dutch oven and naturally shapes the bread as it bakes. You’ll feel like a professional bread maker in no time!

Are Cheap Dutch Ovens as Good as Expensive Ones?

Between the materials used and the size, the price tag for a round Dutch oven can vary greatly. Cheap Dutch ovens made of enameled cast iron will cook nearly as well as more expensive ones, according to our extensive tests. But they may not hold up as long without the enamel chipping.

At the Skillful Cook, we put the Lodge Enameled Dutch oven to the test firsthand, measuring how it stacked up against pricier Staub and Le Creuset models. We rated it 80/100 overall and gave it excellent marks for its price and cooking ability.

Great Budget Choice (80/100)
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The “Essential Enamel” Lodge Dutch oven is affordable and a great introduction to cooking in enameled cast iron. It releases more steam when cooking and takes a bit longer to heat up, but it retains heat almost as well as higher-end models.

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Does Every Kitchen Need a Dutch Oven?

A Dutch oven works better than almost any other pot or pan for cooking one-pot meals. If you’re a fan of tomato sauce, stews, or chili, there’s nothing as durable as a Dutch oven to get it done. The “stick-less” surface and even cooking ability of an enameled Dutch oven make weeknight meals, Sunday dinners, or baking a snap. Once you have a Dutch oven, you may never want to part with it again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you use instead of a Dutch oven for bread?

Steam created from using a Dutch oven is the key to baking crusty bread. If you’re unable to use a Dutch oven to make bread, do so on a sheet pan while covered with a pot, or place one loaf pan upside-down over the other, and clip them together.

You can also create steam by using a bain-marie, or pan filled with water while baking bread. Either way, don’t forget to use oven mitts when removing bread from the very hot oven. Dutch ovens will save you even more time when you want to bake no-knead bread in a Dutch oven.

Can you cover bread with foil instead of baking it in a Dutch oven?

I’ve tried baking bread at home with as many cooking methods as possible. Bread bakes well on a pan when covered with foil, but isn’t as crusty as bread made in a Dutch oven or the unforgettable Challenger bread pan. If you can’t use a Dutch oven, stick to baking loaves, baguettes, and small rolls using the foil method.  

Can you use a regular pan instead of a Dutch oven?

You can use a cast iron frying pan or thick-bottomed pot in place of a Dutch oven. If doing so, it’s best to seal the pan with tin foil or cover with a fitted lid. A slow cooker works nearly as well as a Dutch oven, but you’ll probably find a suitable Dutch oven substitute instead already in your kitchen.

Conclusion

While many cooks swear they wouldn’t survive without a Dutch oven, really, there are several great alternatives. Whether replacing it with a slow cooker, cast-iron skillet, or tagine, you’ll find many ways to make a delicious meal.

If you need further details about any of these Dutch oven substitutes, make sure to add a comment below. 

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Maryana Lucia Vestic
About The Author
Maryana is a professional baker and recipe developer. She runs Ravenswood Bakes, a sweet and savory bakery in Rhode Island. Her work has been featured in many prominent food publications.

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