Cooler temps are on the horizon, and with that comes my favorite time of year: soup and stew season. My go-to recipes include vegetable beef stew, chicken sausage soup, and a thick, meaty chili. If I'm home on the weekend, you can find my cast-iron Dutch oven simmering something delicious for dinner. For years, I only used it for big soup batches, but I've recently branched out and tried using my Dutch oven for pasta, braised short ribs, and an entire chicken—there’s not much the giant pan can’t do. While I used to use it primarily on the weekends, it's recently become pretty handy for busy weeknights when one-pot meals are practically a necessity in our home. Trust me: it’s one kitchen essential that will change the way you cook forever. If you haven’t already experienced the joy that comes with owning your very own Dutch oven, now’s the time to invest, especially with fall in full swing and the desire to make warm comforting meals stronger than ever.
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While you could shell out the big bucks for an iconic Le Creuset kitchen staple, you could also save some money and instead turn to Amazon’s number two best-selling dutch oven, the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, which costs six times less than a similar Le Creuset option.
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Buy It: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 4.5-Quart, $55, Amazon
The Lodge cast-iron pot is made of porcelain enamel and includes a self-basting cover to trap heat and moisture. Thanks to the durable material, you can safely use it to sauté or simmer ingredients on the stove, bake dishes in the oven at temperatures up to 500°F, and even refrigerate after use to easily store leftovers for later. Plus, the sleek design looks lovely on a tabletop to serve your meal. Just make sure you carry the pan with two hands (and potholders)—the 4.5-quart pan in itself weighs 13.1 pounds, plus the weight of your dinner.
When it comes time to clean up, you can quickly pop the Dutch oven in the dishwasher, but hand-washing is recommended to maintain the cookware’s glossy appearance. You’ll also want to avoid using nylon pads or scrapers when cleaning since they could chip the porcelain.
With more than 5,500 perfect five-star reviews, this Dutch oven is clearly a hit among Amazon shoppers. Many agree it’s easy to clean, but we also noticed they liked the pan because it heats and cooks food evenly and comes at a great price for the quality.
“Oh my gosh, I wish I'd invested in one of these a long time ago. It is NOTHING like using regular pots. I don't have to turn my burners up as high, it heats so evenly, no hotspots, no burning, no cold centers. I went slow and low with my sauce today and it came out better than it has ever come out,” one reviewer wrote. “If you are like me and need an ‘entry level’ enameled cast iron, GET THIS. It was worth every penny.”
Another said, “The quality is superb and the metal is heavy but practical. I used it to bake artisan-style bread a couple times and the results were just as if I had put my bread in a brick oven… The enamel non-stick surface is so easy to clean, I don't know why I didn't buy this before.”
From bread to dumplings, thousands of customers confirm that this pot can just about do it all. “I have made so many meals in this Dutch Oven. It holds soooooo much!!! Chili, Dumplings, Soup, and more! All it takes is a low heat,” said one reviewer.
The Dutch oven comes in five different sizes ranging from 1.5 quarts to 7.5 quarts, though the median 4.5-quart option is the most popular pick among Amazon shoppers. You can also choose from a variety of bold colors like Island Spice red and Caribbean blue, or keep it classic with Oyster white and Midnight chrome.
Choose your favorite size and color, then head to Amazon to get the affordable Lodge Dutch oven for no more than $80 (no matter which size you choose)—you’ll be on your way to cooking delicious meals in no time.
Originally Published on bhg.com
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