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 gives 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.
In this article, I will cover six of the best nontoxic Dutch ovens of various materials on the market and provide you with a quick buying guide so you have all the information you need to buy the perfect one for you.
What is the Best Non-Toxic Dutch Oven?
The best generally nontoxic materials for Dutch ovens include enameled cast iron, ceramic coated, and cast iron options.
At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all best nontoxic cookware; they all have their pros and cons.
But the Dutch ovens from reputable brands on this list are among the safest options available. Of all these choices, I recommend Le Creuset’s Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven because it is a versatile heirloom piece with that cooks wonderfully.
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Best Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven
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 the best of the best. One customer even called it their ‘desert island pot’ after still proving reliable after years of use. This brand is known for its nontoxic effective enameled cast iron products with excellent heat retention, and this Dutch oven is the perfect example.
I like that the Signature line of Dutch ovens has an extensive size range, so you can choose one that fits the size of your household perfectly. And, of course, these pots are available in the stunning color range Le Creuset is famous for, which adds a luxurious pop of color to your kitchen.
Lodge 6-qt Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven– Best Budget Dutch Oven
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 in nontoxic Dutch ovens.
The porcelain enamel is super durable and chip-resistant if you avoid using metal utensils on it. Since the finish is nonreactive, it’s safe to store any culinary creation in, no matter how acidic. Simply let the Dutch oven fully cool before popping it in the fridge for later.
Calphalon 1932451 Nonstick Dutch Oven– Best Nonstick Dutch Oven
If you want a Dutch oven with powerful nonstick, look no further than the Calphalon Nonstick Dutch Oven. This pot has two layers of a powerful PFOA-free nonstick that releases food with ease and makes cleaning a breeze.
In my opinion, the spouts on either side are the only downside to this Dutch oven. They are there so you can drain the water from the pot when it doubles as a pasta pot, which makes sense. But most of us will use a Dutch oven for slow cooking, and these spouts will let out all the moisture instead of returning it to the dish like the self-basting lids like the Staub.
This Dutch oven does have a polymer-based nonstick coating. According to Healthline, “Today’s nonstick…cookware is considered safe for everyday home cooking, as long as temperatures 500°F (260°C).” Still, if you have concerns about Teflon in cookware, or plan to use your Dutch oven for searing meat, this is not the right pot for you.
Emile Henry Ceramic Dutch Oven– Best Pure Ceramic Dutch Oven
You cannot look at this Emile Henry Ceramic Dutch Oven and tell me that it’s not a stunning piece of cookware! This pure ceramic Dutch oven has a beautiful matte finish that looks and feels luxurious, which you would expect for that price!
Personally, I avoid ceramic Dutch ovens because I am clumsy, and these can chip or break into pieces if dropped. I feel like the Lodge enameled cast iron options are much cheaper and much more durable. But I should point out that this is another more lightweight option that many customers prefer over the heavy Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Staub Cocotte Cast Iron Dutch Oven– Best Induction Compatible Dutch Oven
Cast iron is inherently induction-safe, but I have to take this opportunity to recommend the Staub Cocotte Cast Iron Dutch Oven. This pot has a shiny, colorful enamel finish on the outside that is easy to clean with a textured, black enamel inside for better browning. Customers also mention that it is the ideal bread-baking vessel.
I know this doesn’t affect the functioning of the Dutch oven, but I love the pig-shaped handle on this pot! It’s a unique, quirky touch that makes it feel more luxe and handcrafted. One customer said it added a “touch of whimsy” to their kitchen, so they decided to store it on the countertop.
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven– Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven
The Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven is a simple pot made from the original Dutch oven material. Before you buy a raw cast iron Dutch oven, you need to be prepared to maintain it by cleaning it well, drying it, and seasoning it between every use. 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.
While this Dutch oven is very durable and has wonderful heat retention, I generally steer clear of raw cast iron for this kind of pot. This material is very reactive to acidic food, and most of the dishes I slow cook feature tomatoes, so I prefer to stick to the enameled cast iron options like the Le Creuset Dutch oven.
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.
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.
Raw cast iron is an old material that has been in use for cookware since 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.
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. There are concerns around the levels of lead and cadmium in porcelain enamel glazes that I go into more detail about here.
Pure Ceramic/ Stoneware
Pure ceramic and stoneware are similar materials made from glazed, nonporous clay. To find out more about the difference between stoneware and ceramic, check out our article here. 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.
Hard Anodized/ Anodized Aluminum
Hard anodized aluminum is cookware that has been through a chemical process during manufacturing that strengthens the aluminum. Most of these pans will have a nonstick coating applied, but you need to ensure the coating is PTFE-free to be considered genuinely nontoxic.
Check out my complete guide here for my recommendations for the best hard-anodized aluminum cookware.
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 Le Creuset, Lodge, and Staub. All of these brands have been tested under California Proposition 65 standards and passed.
GreenPan also undergoes third-party testing to prove that the Thermolon nonstick coating is safe and PTFE-free. These test results were shared until December 2021, when it was no longer a legal requirement.
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- In this case, cheaper can often mean toxic! Many of the cheap knock-off Dutch ovens, especially the enameled cast iron ones, contain higher levels of lead and cadmium, so paying a little extra makes all the difference.
- 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 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 may suit you better than heavy cast iron.
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.
#1 Recommendation: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Out of all these options, I recommend the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven because it performs well and will last you a lifetime. But, if you require a more lightweight option, the Calphalon Nonstick Dutch Oven is a great choice, too.