2024 Best Non-Toxic Dutch Ovens: A Chef’s Guide

Amy Hand
Amy Hand

Amy Hand

Amy worked as the head pastry chef and the head chef at multiple restaurants in South Africa. She now shares her professional insights about cooking and kitchen tools here at The Skillful Cook.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MD

Last updated:

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Best Non Toxic Dutch Ovens

DISCLAIMER: THIS PAGE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE.

This page is intended for informational purposes only. No material on this page is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before changing your dietary or cooking habits.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with my Dutch oven! I love to slow cook, so I crack out my Dutch oven on a weekly basis to braise lamb shanks or make hearty soups. 

Dutch ovens are thick-walled cooking pots with tight-fitting lids used on a stovetop or in the oven. They are often used in long and slow cooking methods. This prolonged cooking time means that harmful metals or chemicals – if they’re present in the cookware – have plenty of time to leach into your food, which is why it’s essential that your Dutch oven is nontoxic.

Best Overall

Our rating:

Staub Cocotte

  • Lead and cadmium-free
  • Oven safe 500°F
  • Compliant with FDA, Prop 65, and EU standards

#2 Best Choice

Our rating:

Emile Henry

  • All natural materials
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Stovetop compatible

#3 Best Choice

Our rating:

Le Creuset

  • Oven safe 500°F
  • Made in France
  • Tight-fitting lid

Our Top Picks

  1. Best Non-Toxic Dutch Oven - Staub Cocotte
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  2. Best Non-Toxic Ceramic Clay Dutch Oven - Emile Henry 
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  3. Fan Favorite Enameled Cast Iron - Le Creuset French Oven
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  4. Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Lodge
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  5. Best Affordable Dutch Oven - Lodge Enameled Cast Iron
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  6. Best Ceramic Coated Dutch Oven - Caraway
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  7. Best Stainless Steel Dutch Oven - All Clad D3
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At The Skillful Cook, we’ve done extensive research into cookware safety. We’ve tested several top brands of Dutch ovens hands-on, and we’ve interviewed manufacturers regarding their safety and regulation compliance. In this article, I’ll share what we’ve learned so you can pick the perfect one for you.

The Best Non-Toxic Dutch Oven

The Winner
Staub 5.5 Quart Round Cocotte
Staub outperformed all the other Dutch ovens we tested.
If you want to buy a nontoxic dutch oven, Staub is your safest bet. Staub Dutch ovens are manufactured in France in adherence to FDA and California Prop 65 standards. Their Dutch ovens do not contain Teflon.
These are heirloom pieces that will last you a lifetime.
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At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all best nontoxic cookware; all the materials have their pros and cons. From my research, I believe the Dutch ovens on this list are among the safest ones available, most likely to be free of lead, cadmium, PTFE, and other metals or chemicals that you don’t want in your cookware.

Read Our Full Comparison of Staub, Le Creuset and Lodge Dutch Ovens

Best Nontoxic Dutch Ovens to Buy

Staub Cocotte Cast Iron Dutch Oven- Best Non-Toxic Dutch Oven

Best Non-Toxic Dutch Oven
Staub Cocotte Cast Iron Dutch Oven-
5.0

The Staub Cocotte is made of cast iron with a porcelain enamel finish on the inside and out. The glass-like enamel prevents the iron from reacting with acids in your food, making it safe for cooking even tomato-based dishes. 

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Lead and cadmium were traditionally used to create the shiny finish in ceramics, and traces of these heavy metals may be found in some brands of enameled cookware today. Not so with Staub.

Staub cookware, according to the brand, is not just “lead-safe” (meaning it doesn’t contain lead that can leach into your food), but truly “lead-free,” meaning it is manufactured without lead at all. Consumer tests, even with XRF devices, seem to bear this out.

We reached out to Staub USA for a comment. This was the brand’s response to our editor on social media:

“Staub is Cadmium Free, Lead-Free, PFOA Free, PTFE Free and California Proposition 65 compliant.”

In addition to its safety, there are lots of other reasons to love Staub! It’s induction-compatible, beautiful, and had the best cooking performance in our Dutch oven tests. The black enamel inside is textured with quartz for better browning. Its self-basting lid makes it the ideal bread-baking vessel. The replaceable shaped handles on this pot add a touch of joy to your kitchen.

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Enamel cast iron
  • Colors available: Basil, Dark Blue, Graphite Grey, Grenadine, Matte Black
  • Size: 5qt - 7qt

Pros

  • Lead and cadmium-free
  • Compliant with FDA, Prop 65, and EU standards
  • Made in France
  • Spiked self-basting lid
  • Oven safe 500°F

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Expensive
  • Limited color choices

Emile Henry Ceramic Dutch Oven- Best Pure Ceramic Dutch Oven 

Best Pure Ceramic Dutch Oven
Emile Henry Ceramic Dutch Oven
4.8

Emile Henry’s HR (High Resistance) Ceramic pieces are made in Burgundy, France, with the region’s native clay. There is no metal in this pot – it’s made entirely of natural clay with a totally lead-and-cadmium-free glaze. All materials are food-safe and meet or exceed EU and US cookware regulations, including California Prop 65.

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We typically think of ceramics as being breakable – and you do need to be careful with the Emile Henry Dutch oven. However, the company claims that these pieces can go in the oven to 500F, the freezer, and the microwave. Some are safe for stovetop use. Emile Henry says its commercial clay pieces are dishwasher safe beyond 2000 cycles. Products for home use come with a 10-year warranty

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Solid Burgundy clay ceramic
  • Colors available: Creme, Graphite, Blue, Red
  • Size: 4, 6, 7.5-qt

Pros

  • All natural materials
  • No metal in the substrate or the glaze
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Attractive enough to store on the counter
  • Stovetop compatible (gas or electric)

Cons

  • Susceptible to shock/breaking
  • Not induction compatible

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron French Oven - Fan Favorite Enameled Cast Iron

Fan Favorite Enameled Cast Iron
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron French Oven
4.5

I have cooked with a lot of Dutch ovens in my career, so I can say that, without a doubt, Le Creuset’s Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is one of the best. One customer called it their ‘desert island pot’ after still proving reliable after years of use. Le Creuset is known for its lighter-weight, lower-carbon cast iron covered in the most luxuriously colored enamel on the planet.

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But is Le Creuset safe? Is it lead-free? At The Skillful Cook, we did an entire article on this controversial topic, and I’d encourage you to check that out for the full discussion.

In short: Le Creuset did not respond to our requests for comment on whether their products are made entirely without lead. However, since they are made in France and sold in the US without a California Prop 65 warning, modern Le Creuset products meet EU and FDA standards for leachable lead and other chemicals of concern. (You should have vintage Le Creuset lab tested for heavy metals, though!)

Like other enameled cast iron options, Le Creuset is nonreactive to acidic foods and free of Teflon (PTFE), PFA, and PFOA. They are induction-compatible and available in an extensive size range.

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Colors available: Cerise, Marseille, Oyster, Flame, Indigo, Licorice, Meringue, Sea Salt, White, Artichaut, Caribbean, Deep Teal, Shallot, Marble
  • Size: 2, 3, 4.5, 5.5, 7.25, 13-quart options

Pros

  • Oven safe 500°F
  • Made in France
  • Tight-fitting lid
  • Lighter weight per quart than other brands

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some older knobs (phenolic) are only oven-safe to 375°F.
  • Company is not as transparent about lead use as Staub
  • Can’t be used with scrubbers or metal utensils

Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven- Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven
4.3
The Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven is a simple pot made from the original Dutch oven material: cast iron. Cast iron is a simple alloy of about 98% iron and 1-2% carbon, with very small amounts of silicon or other metals. Cast iron is nickel-free, lead-free, cadmium-free, and PTFE-free.
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The downside of non-enameled cast iron is that it needs maintenance. You will need to You will need to clean it well, dry it, and season it between every use. The seasoning oils can build up on the exterior of the pot and stain surfaces.

Cast iron will leach small amounts of iron into your food, but there are very few toxicity concerns with this material. Its major downside is that it will react with acidic foods. Since I like to stew tomatoes in a Dutch oven, I usually prefer enameled cast iron like Staub or Le Creuset.

One feature of this pot that I love is that the lid converts into a skillet. This and its general durability make this pot perfect for cooking on a fire and going camping.

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Cast iron
  • Colors available: colors list from Amazon
  • Size: 1, 2, 5, 7-qt

Pros

  • Natural nonstick if seasoned regularly
  • Durable
  • Affordable and dependable

Cons

  • Reactive to acidic food
  • Will leach iron
  • Requires seasoning

Lodge 6-qt Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven- Best Budget Dutch Oven

Best Budget Dutch Oven
Lodge 6-qt Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
4.0
The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven was named “Best Bang for Your Buck” by Bon Appetit, and I totally agree! Out of the big three companies that manufacture enameled cast iron, Lodge Dutch ovens have the best prices you can find.
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Unlike the brand’s uncoated cast iron, Lodge enameled Dutch ovens are made in China. Lodge products are California Prop 65 compliant, although the brand has not made a clear statement in recent years on the quality control procedures of its products made in China. 

Like Staub and Le Creuset, Lodge enameled cast iron is made without synthetic polymers and is nonreactive. This means it’s safe to store any culinary creation in it, no matter how acidic. Simply let the Dutch oven fully cool before popping it in the fridge for later.

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Enameled cast iron
  • Colors available: Apricot, Avocado, Blue, Burnt Sienna, Cornflower Blue, Cranberry, Desert Sage, Evergreen, Holiday Green, Indigo, Island Spice Red, Lagoon, Midnight Chrome, Oyster White, Poppy, Pumpkin, Storm Blue
  • Size: 6-qt

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Large color range
  • Perfect for bread baking

Cons

  • Fewer sizes available
  • Made in China
  • Chips more easily than Staub or Le Creuset
  • Citrus-based cleaners will dull the exterior finish.

Caraway Nonstick Ceramic Dutch Oven Pot with Lid - Best Nonstick Dutch Oven

Best Nonstick Dutch Oven
Caraway Nonstick Ceramic Dutch Oven Pot with Lid
3.8

In terms of longevity and heat retention, this ceramic-coated aluminum Dutch oven can’t hold a candle to the others on this list. But if you’re looking for something lighter weight and easier to wash (with a delightful appearance, too), you may be attracted to Caraway.

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Caraway aluminum is not hard anodized, but it is thick enough to resist denting. Many people have concerns about aluminum toxicity from cookware, but the aluminum in this pot should not come in contact with your food unless it is badly chipped or scratched. The proprietary ceramic (sol-gel) coating is made of natural materials; most brands use silica with other minerals, but Caraway doesn’t tell us exactly what’s in its coating. 

We do know that the ceramic coating is free from Teflon (PTFE) and the “forever chemicals” associated with it. Caraway markets its products as being better for the environment, with less CO2 produced to create its coating than to produce traditional nonstick pans.

In my experience, Caraway lasts longer than competing brands like Blue Diamond. However, it’s still going to need to be replaced within 5 years – so it’s not really as environmentally friendly as cast iron pans that will last decades.

Caraway is one of the few ceramic nonstick brands to offer a Dutch oven.

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Aluminum coated in ceramic
  • Colors available: black, gold, gray, marigold, navy, perracotta, sage, white
  • Size: 6.5 qt, 10.5”

Pros

  • Fun colors
  • Seems to last longer than other ceramic nonstick pans
  • Lightweight
  • Induction compatible

Cons

  • Does not cook as quickly as iron Dutch ovens
  • Nonstick coating will scratch easily
  • Aluminum core

All Clad D3 Stainless Steel Dutch Oven- Best Stainless Steel Dutch Oven

Best Stainless Steel Dutch Oven
All Clad D3 Stainless Steel Dutch Oven
3.8

This All Clad D3 Stainless Steel Dutch Oven is a more rare option made from stainless steel. Stainless steel is considered a non-toxic cooking material because it’s free from lead, cadmium, and chemical polymers. The major concern that some people have about stainless steel is that it usually includes nickel in the metal alloy. (Although you can find a few nickel-free options.)

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The All Clad D3 line has an aluminum core that heats the pan quickly and evenly. The 18/10 stainless steel inside that is durable and great for searing. This material is long-lasting and doesn’t require maintenance like seasoning, which is a huge selling point.

If you are a fan of stainless steel, All Clad is one of the best on the market. But for a Dutch oven, stainless steel isn’t my first choice.

This material doesn’t retain heat as efficiently as cast iron or pure ceramic, which is one of the main functions of a Dutch oven in my eyes. So, I would recommend going with one of the enamel cast iron options instead.

Quick Overview:

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Colors available: Silver
  • Size: 5.5-qt

Pros

  • Oven safe 600°F
  • Induction compatible
  • Attractive appearance

Cons

  • Contains nickel
  • Doesn’t retain heat efficiently
  • Expensive
  • Lid is too light

How to Choose a Non-Toxic Dutch Oven

What is a Dutch Oven?

A Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking vessel with a tight-fitting lid. It's designed to be used on the stovetop and in the oven.

The best thing about Dutch ovens is their versatility. They can be used for baking, boiling, slow-cooking, and even cooking on an open fire. Since they are subjected to intense heat and long cooking times, it is vital that the cooking vessels are nontoxic and won’t leach any harmful chemicals under these conditions.

How to Choose a Non-Toxic Dutch Oven

What are the Safest Cookware Materials?

As you can see from our product rundown, there are a few material options for safe Dutch ovens, so let’s look at these options in a little more detail. For a complete guide and comparison between all cookware material, check out our article here.

Cast iron

Raw cast iron is an old material that has been in use for cookware around 680 AD. Dutch ovens are often made from this material because of its superior heat retention. But it is very reactive to acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons.

Almost all brands of cast iron are safe, since they have nearly the same elemental makeup no matter what the brand.

Pros
  • Great heat retention
  • Durable
  • Long lasting
Cons

  • Leaches iron
  • Rusts
  • Heavy
  • Reactive to acidic foods

Recommended Cast Iron Cookware:
STAUB Cast Iron Stackable Cookware Set
✅ Dishwasher safe
✅ Oven safe to up 500°F
✅ Stacks up to save space
✅ Highly durable
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Enamel Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron has the wonderful heat retention qualities of cast iron without any of the reactivity. The raw cast iron is covered in two layers of enamel to seal it in to prevent leaching and make it non-reactive. Some users have concerns about lead and cadmium used in porcelain enamel glazes – I explore the topic in more detail at this article: Is enameled cast iron safe?

From our research, we believe Staub to be one of the safest brands of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens.

Pros
  • Nonreactive
  • Durable
  • Heats extremely well
Cons
  • Traces of lead or cadmium in some brands
  • Can chip or scratch with metal utensils
Recommended Enameled Cast Iron Cookware:
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Shallow Round Oven

✅ Oven safe to up 500°F

✅ Good heat distribution

✅ Highly durable

✅ Compatible with induction stovetops


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Pure Ceramic/ Stoneware

Pure ceramic and stoneware are similar materials made from glazed, nonporous clay. (Check out our article on the difference between stoneware and ceramic.) This is not to be confused with ceramic-coated metal cookware, which is simply metal cookware coated in a silica-based nonstick coating that resembles ceramic. 

Pros
  • Great heat retention
  • Made of all-natural materials
  • Can be finished with a non-toxic glaze
Cons
  • Breakable
  • Prone to thermal shock
  • Harder to find

For pure ceramics, I recommend Xtrema and Emile Henry as the best non-toxic options.

Recommended Ceramic Cookware:
Xtrema Classic Oval Dutch Oven

✅ 100% Ceramic

Oven & Dishwasher safe

Stylish Textured Exterior

Modern Lid Design

Even heat distribution

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What Brands of Dutch Ovens Have the Highest Safety Standards?

When it comes to high-quality Dutch ovens that go through thorough testing, I recommend Emile Henry, Lodge, and Staub. All of these brands have been tested under California Proposition 65 standards and passed. I would avoid any brands with Teflon-coated nonstick Dutch ovens, as the nonstick coatings are not safe when exposed to high temperatures in the oven for extended periods of time.

What Brands of Dutch Ovens Have the Highest Safety Standards

Other Features of Great Dutch Ovens

We have covered almost all there is to know about Dutch ovens at this point, but here are some key features to take into consideration.

  • Price- When it comes to enameled cast iron, cheaper can mean riskier. The more expensive ovens are made in Europe with strict quality control measures. Since heavy metals were traditionally used in enamel coatings, you want to be sure that your new pot is lead-safe. All cookware sold in the US should meet California Prop 65 requirements or have a warning label, but I feel more comfortable paying for guaranteed quality.
  • Longevity- Making a bigger investment upfront in a piece from Le Creuset or another high-end brand almost guarantees that it will last you a lifetime. But how you look after your Dutch oven will also play a huge role. Wash by hand and avoid thermal shock or metal utensils to prolong its life.
  • Appearance- Many customers impulsively choose enameled cast iron Dutch ovens because of the beautiful color options. If you choose one with a striking enamel color, you can display your pot on your counter as part of your kitchen decor.
  • Capacity- Most Dutch ovens come in various sizes, so I suggest looking up a serving size chart for each capacity. This way, you only buy what you need and don’t have to store an unnecessarily large Dutch Oven.
  • Weight- Consider your own capabilities before investing in a heavy cast iron Dutch oven. If you have mobility issues or struggle to pick up heavy objects, an aluminum option like Caraway may suit you better than heavy cast iron.

Summary

To wrap things up, we've journeyed through the realm of non-toxic Dutch ovens, and hopefully, you're now armed with the knowledge to make a deliciously informed choice. Remember, whether you opt for classic cast iron or trendy ceramic, these kitchen essentials offer a safe and hearty way to cook up your favorite dishes.

The Winner
Staub 5.5 Quart Round Cocotte
Staub manufactures its Dutch ovens in France under strict quality control controls.
Staub claims that their products meet FDA and California Prop 65 standards, which means the oven doesn't leach heavy metals.
This Dutch oven does not use Teflon.
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Amy Hand
About The Author
After finding the chef life a little too high-paced, Amy decided to take her cooking skills and use them to teach others through food writing. She uses her knowledge as a pastry chef and experience as a head chef to write articles that are engaging and helpful while being as entertaining as possible.

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