Let’s face it, as a cook who likes to prepare every dish from scratch and cooks the “old-fashioned way,” a Dutch oven is pretty irreplaceable. As a matter of fact, I have five Dutch ovens and use them all regularly. But, in a pinch, some pots and cookers can be called into service to substitute for a Dutch oven for at least most of its uses.
The 10 best substitutes for a Dutch oven are:
- A deep frying pan
- A heavy-bottomed stockpot
- A roasting pan
- A good glass baking pan
- A crockpot
- A pressure cooker/Instant Pot
- An air fryer
- A wok
- An electric fryer
- A heavy glazed ceramic pot.
To better understand how these pots and pans can be substituted for a Dutch oven, let’s spend a little time talking about the ways a Dutch oven can be used and how the substitutes mentioned above can handle some of those tasks.
What Is a Dutch Oven?
For those of you who may not be familiar with cooking in one, a Dutch oven is a covered pot that generally comes in sizes ranging from 3 quarts to 12 quarts and can be made from a wide variety of materials, including cast iron, coated cast iron, aluminum, coated aluminum, glass, stainless steel, copper, and ceramic.
Most cookware sets include a Dutch oven, usually a five or six-quart size. The smaller and the larger sizes are normally special orders for a specific purpose.
Many Dutch ovens are also oven-proof; however, some have handles and knobs that are not oven-proof, which prevents them from being used either in the oven or outdoors over a fire.
Primary Ways a Dutch Oven Is Used
Dutch ovens can be used for cooking just about anything on the stovetop, and many can be used in the oven or on an open fire.
- They can bake, boil, fry, fast-cook, slow-cook, roast, saute, sear, stew, and even stir-fry.
- They can be used to cook large batches of vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, soup, roasts, fried chicken, fried steaks, chicken and dumplings, gravies and sauces, casseroles, desserts.
- A 5-quart or larger is perfect for various canning and freezing processes and for making jam and jelly.
Dutch ovens can be used to cook foods quickly over a high flame or temperature, or they can be used to cook slowly over a low flame or temperature.
The 10 best substitutes for a Dutch oven and how each is used
Here is the list of replacements that I recommend for a Dutch oven. I currently still own and use all of these except for #7.
1. A Deep Frying Pan
A deep frying pan can replace a Dutch oven for frying chicken, steaks, or any other kind of meat, and for making gravies and sauces. The frying pan can also replace a Dutch oven for making stews, roasts and gravy, pasta dishes, casseroles, and for desserts such as fruit pies and cobblers. And, a cast iron deep frying pan makes amazing homemade macaroni and cheese and fantastic desserts outside over an open fire!
2. A Heavy-Bottomed Stockpot
A good stockpot can be used for multiple tasks customarily performed by a Dutch oven. With tall sides, they are perfect for cooking large amounts of vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, soup, sauces, for blanching foods for the freezer, and for cooking roasts, for preparing dressing, and for making chicken and dumplings.
And, if you are into making pots of dried beans, red beans and rice, and even gumbo, a heavy-bottomed stockpot will do the trick. Because stockpots, like Dutch ovens, come in many sizes, there is one that will work for any amount, large or small, that you are making.
Even if your recipe calls for browning meat on the stovetop and then transferring it to the oven to cook slowly until tender, with a stockpot, you can finish cooking on the stovetop rather than the oven by placing the lid on the stockpot and reducing the heat to cook until tender.
3. A Roasting Pan
A roasting pan can replace a Dutch oven for such tasks as making a pot roast or roasting a hen or turkey, preparing and baking dressing, baking casseroles, and making an unlimited number of desserts like peach cobbler and apple crisp.
4. A Glass Baking Pan
A good glass baking pan like those made by Corning Ware is particularly good for making casseroles, dressings, and desserts. They can’t be used on a stovetop but are made specifically for cooking in the oven or microwave.
5. A Crockpot
A crockpot or slow cooker is pretty much interchangeable with a Dutch oven for making soups, stews, and cooking any kind of meat, many vegetables, and various desserts.
The foods you cook in a Dutch oven will only take approximately half the time of cooking in the crockpot, but the crockpot doesn’t have to be watched and stirred occasionally. Just keep in mind that with a crockpot, you won’t need as much water as in the Dutch oven because there will be very little evaporation.
The only drawback I can see for using a crockpot rather than a Dutch oven is that you can’t brown or sear meat before adding broth or water or making gravy before simmering. You will have to use a frying pan or skillet for that process and then pour it into the crockpot to cook.
One additional benefit of the crockpot over the Dutch oven is that the crockpot will keep your food warm after cooking for a very long period.
6. A Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot
A pressure cooker will perform nicely when filling in for a Dutch oven for making soups, roasts, stews, and one-pot meals like red beans and rice.
A pressure cooker can even do better than a Dutch oven by cooking your meals in one-third of the time. Anyone short on time for preparing a meal can easily benefit from using a pressure cooker by getting the meal ready and on the table in record time. I often used a pressure cooker when I was working, and my children were small. My goal was to have a meal on the table within an hour of getting home, and the pressure cooker was a big help.
The Instant Pot, however, is a whole new ballgame, so to speak. It is an electric pressure canner that can perform as many as 7 different cooking processes, including a meat cooker, rice cooker, vegetable steamer, soup cooker, yogurt maker, pasta cooker, egg cooker, and pressure canner.
I’m using the Instant Pot as an example. Still, there are many different brands on the market now that are the new wave in electric pressure canners which makes it unnecessary to have many different kitchen appliances by doing the work of all of them.
A major plus for the Instant Pot is that it is an electric appliance, while the older pressure cookers were powered by the heat of your stovetop, whether electric or gas. Even though I used several different pressure cookers over the years and never had a problem, I always felt a little insecure about the safety of using a pressure cooker. The new electric pressure cookers, in my opinion, are safer and much easier to use than the older models.
7. An Air Fryer
Talk about the Cadillac of electric cookers, some of the new electric cookers perform all the tasks that I’ve mentioned in the pressure cooker/Instant Pot section above and have the air fryer capability as well. While I’ve not personally used an air fryer, I’ve eaten food that has been prepared in one, and it was amazing!
8. An Electric Fryer
While a Dutch oven isn’t made to fry in, it works beautifully for frying because it distributes the heat to all parts of the pot, and the sides are high enough that it reduces the amount of grease splatter on your countertop. But, if you don’t already have a Dutch oven or an electric fryer and that is the purpose that you need, buying an electric fryer might be more economical than purchasing a Dutch oven.
9. A Wok
Whether it is chicken, steak, stir-fry, or French fries, anything you are frying can be cooked in a wok instead of a Dutch oven. You could even sear and cook a roast in a wok!
10. A Heavy Glazed Ceramic Pot
A heavy glazed ceramic pot can fill in for a Dutch oven, especially for cooking baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and other casseroles and desserts. I have one that produces baked beans, homemade mac and cheese, and apple or peach crisp that looks and tastes fantastic!
Recommended Types of Dutch Ovens
If you are considering purchasing a Dutch oven, here are the three types that I either have in my kitchen or have used:
1. Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
Cast Iron cookware makes a wonderful addition to any kitchen. The foods cooked in a cast-iron pot just taste better than foods cooked in other pots. I have had one similar to this Lodge Pre-Seasoned Dutch Oven With Loop Handles and Cast Iron Cover, 7 Quart, Black for many years and mainly use it for making stews, frying fish, homemade macaroni and cheese, and cobblers. (I actually have a total of 17 cast iron pots, pans, and skillets! And, yes, I’m bragging here! I do love my cast iron!)
2. Coated Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
I also have a coated cast iron Dutch oven by Le Creuset that is similar to this one Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt., Marseille that I absolutely love to use. It cooks everything beautifully, but I use it primarily for soups, stews, and roasts with gravy.
I use it often, especially for dishes that I want to simmer for a long time. The heat is distributed evenly throughout the pot, and you don’t have to check it as often as other pots because the food isn’t as likely to burn in it. I have a beef and barley soup recipe that I always make in the Le Creuset Dutch oven because this recipe has to be simmered for 3 hours, and it cooks beautifully and is very flavorful, especially in this pot.
3. Coated Aluminum Dutch Ovens
Another option for a Dutch oven is a coated aluminum that is not expensive but cooks exceptionally well. This pot will take care of most of your cooking needs. But, because of the wood handles and lid knob, it cannot be used in the oven.
This 7 quart coated cast iron Dutch oven with oven-proof handle and knob, however, is very affordable and will do as good a job as any other Dutch oven.
Dutch Oven Usage That Cannot Be Substituted
The only thing that I use a Dutch oven for that there isn’t a substitution for is making jelly and jam. The substitutions that I’ve mentioned here just wouldn’t work for jelly and jam because the pot has to be large enough, at least a 5-quart size, to accommodate a batch of jelly or jam, and the sides cannot be too high like a stockpot for the proper rate of evaporation. In actuality, a jelly and jam pot like this one from Amazon is the best pot for the job, and the Dutch oven is the only substitution for the jelly or jam pot.
No matter how many ways the Dutch oven can be used, there is definitely at least one kitchen pot, pan, or appliance that can step in and substitute for the Dutch oven in each case, with the one exception listed above. My point here is, don’t sweat it if you find yourself cooking in a kitchen that is not fully stocked with cookware, and you can’t find a Dutch oven anywhere. Just look around and find yourself a substitute and carry on.
After a few years of experience, most cooks become flexible and willing to not only substitute ingredients in our recipes but become proficient at substituting different cookware when the need arises.
I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss How to Do Water Bath Canning | What I Learned Over 50 Years.
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