My friend has recently taken to baking bread with an old Dutch oven she’d come across in her mother’s garage.
That cast iron bread baker has turned out to be a great find. The loaves are wonderful and the smell of baking bread in a kitchen is one of life’s great pleasures.
But there are so many types – what’s the best Dutch oven for baking bread?
All About Dutch Ovens and Bread Baking
A Dutch oven is a cast iron, heavy-lidded pot, with many uses.
It’s a versatile cooking tool that can bake or boil, on the stovetop, in the oven, or even on a campfire.
You’re here to find a Dutch oven for baking bread. Yet it’s always helpful to be able to repurpose your cookware. Why keep a separate pot if you want to cook up a stew or even a pot of gumbo?
Is a Dutch Oven Best for Bread?
The steaming qualities of a Dutch oven create a loaf with a unique flavor and a perfect crust.
As the dough heats up, yeast activity accelerates. This helps create the fluffy bread we all like. Yet if the crust hardens too quickly, it can stop the dough expanding. I don’t want my bread to fall flat like this!
A Dutch oven with a decent, tight lid is different. This is because water is trapped inside the close-lidded vessel keeping the crust moist and soft longer. The bread continues to expand and create that fluffy texture.
Yet, while a Dutch oven is excellent for making bread, there are other options. You also need other tools, if making sourdough bread a tea towel is even more important than a Dutch oven.
Dutch Oven Size & Shape
What is the best Dutch oven size for bread? And what about the shape?
A wider and shallower Dutch oven is the best shape for bread. It makes it easier to lift the bread out of the pot without burning yourself. Whether it is oval or circular isn’t important, though your bread will come out the shape of your oven.
In terms of size, as a rough guide, I would suggest at least 3 quarts for every pound (450 g) of bread you bake. You should be able to do a decent loaf with 3 to 4 quarts. If you like to prepare larger portions, then go for at least 5 quarts. (Remember you need plenty of extra room so the bread doesn’t push the top off your dutch oven!)
Dutch Oven Material
Some Dutch ovens are made of plain cast iron; others enameled cast iron. Both have similar cooking performance, so what are the differences?
The non-enameled cast iron pots have to be seasoned. If the pot is enameled, it doesn’t need as much care. So enameled can be a bit less work.
Also, a pure cast iron pot can add iron to the food. It’s like a healthy supplement (unless you suffer from hemochromatosis). Enameled cookware won’t leach iron into your food.
Unfortunately, an enameled cast iron pot is more likely to chip. And, once it’s chipped in a few places, you need to throw it away.
(You can get more durable enamel Dutch ovens, though they are pricey. Check out my Staub vs Le Creuset guide for more information).
Dutch ovens can be made out of other materials like stainless steel or hard-anodized aluminum. I prefer cast iron, but we will check out some of the alternatives.
Oven Safe Temperature
It’s essential to know the oven-safe temperature of your Dutch oven.
Some recommend baking bread at a temperature as high as 260°C (500°F). That’s hot!
But generally, for most loaves of bread, it seems that 220°C (428°F) is enough. In some cases you may be able to go lower.
Check your recipe – make sure you get the right Dutch oven for the bread you plan on baking!
Baking Bread in a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are very versatile. You can use them for boiling or frying. If you want to roast meat or bake bread, use your Dutch oven.
Remember that cast iron pots can become extremely hot and take their time to cool down. Use oven mitts when removing from the oven and even from the stovetop.
A Dutch oven is handy, but not essential, for making sourdough loaves because it can bear high temperatures and retain steam. But it’s not the only way to make a sourdough loaf. It’s just the easiest for beginners!
And now on to the best Dutch oven for bread reviews:
Calphalon 2029654 Premier Nonstick 5 Quart Dutch Oven (Best Nonstick Dutch Oven)
The Calphalon Nonstick Dutch oven is quite highly priced. It’s also not cast iron. If you want something more comfortable to clear up afterward, this could be the right choice.
It has six different capacities to suit various family sizes. The 2.5 quart (2.4 liter) pot is for a small family or just one or two people. The 8.5 quart (8 liter) can serve a large, multi-generational family gathering. Or choose one of the sizes in between.
I’d recommend the 5 quart (4.7 liter) for baking bread. It’s a decent shape and doesn’t have the inconvenient long handles of the smaller sizes that make it hard to fit in the oven.
I’m always concerned about the quality of nonstick. Let’s be honest – it’s unlikely to last as long, and there are some health concerns.
The other issue with non stick is that it doesn’t have as high a heat resistant temperature as cast iron. Now the lid on this Dutch oven is oven safe, along with the pot, to 232°C(450°F). This is just about OK for baking bread, but doesn’t leave a lot of margin. If you want to buy this pot, check your recipe’s baking temperature.
This is a three-layered, high-quality anodized aluminum nonstick pot. The glass lid and compatibility with gas, electric, and induction stovetops make it versatile. It’s also dishwasher and oven safe.
For short term convenience, this pot is ideal. The 5 quart is the best nonstick Dutch oven for baking bread. If you want the traditional, durable, healthy choice – go for one of the cast iron pots.
- Glass lid
- Long handle
- Dishwasher safe
- Easy to clean
- Awkward handles on some sizes
- Dishwasher safe but better to clean this by hand
- Oven safe to 232°C(450°F ) – only just enough for baking most bread
This reasonably-priced stainless steel Dutch oven is available in various sizes, from 1.5 quarts (1.4 liters) to 8 quarts (7.6 liters). I’d recommend either the 3 quart (2.8 liter) or 5 quart (4.7 liter). Not only are they the right size, but the handles won’t get in the way.
The lid is quite tough! It can withstand oven temperatures up to 260°C (500°F). So it’s suitable for baking bread as well as boiling, frying, roasting, and braising.
Stainless steel can be a bit of a hassle in terms of clean up. It’s definitely not nonstick. Add oil and preheat the oven to help stop food sticking.
The cookware origin is a bit of an issue. At the time of writing, it’s advertised as made in Brazil, yet it is stamped as made in China.
In Brazil, this brand is highly regarded. I’d prefer cast iron for baking bread, but if you are looking for stainless steel, this is a quality pot.
- Handles and lid are oven safe
- Dishwasher safe
- Sometimes overheating causes discoloration of the steel
- Pre-heat for a nonstick effect
- Advertised as Made in Brazil, but evidence it’s Made in China
Tramontina also offers an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven. I want to cover different brands here, so I won’t go into detail, but if you are interested then check out my review. Or check out my Best Tramontina cookware guide.
This reasonably-priced cast iron enameled Dutch oven is available in 4.3 qt and 7.3 qt as well as 6 quarts (5.7 liters). There’s also an excellent range of color options (including blue, green red, and white)
At 13 lbs (approximately 6 kgs), it’s a substantial kitchen tool.
Unfortunately, it’s not dishwasher safe.
With even heat retention and distribution, it would be perfect bread-baking. Yet, it’s only oven safe to 204°C (400°F ). You can bake some bread at that temperature, but it’s on the lower end of what’s acceptable. Check your recipe.
A multi-purpose kitchen tool, it can boil, braise, bake, and roast.
This is a pretty versatile pot. It can go in the range or on the stovetop. You can use it to serve food directly or even store it in the fridge. (Though I don’t recommend using cookware to store food.)
It bakes a perfect loaf of bread, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The secure lid traps the moisture to aid the bread-baking process.
For me, the lower oven-safe temperature rules it out. I need something versatile, not limiting.
- Excellent for low temperature bread-baking
- If carefully handled, on par with expensive brands
- Don’t use metal utensils
- There have been complaints of chipping enamel
- Don’t use high flame on stovetop
- Very low oven-safe temperature
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Best Enameled Dutch Oven for Baking Bread
This reasonably-priced 6 quart (5.6 liters) capacity Dutch oven is an attractive, cast iron enameled pot. It can produce a large loaf of bread or serve a stew for a family of 4 – 6.
As well as a range of sizes from 1.5 qts to 7.5 qts, it offers a beautiful range of colors. For baking bread, I recommend the 6-quart pot (reviewed). Colorwise I always try to get something that goes with my kitchen.
Watch out, though, at 14.9 lbs (6.8 kgs); it is not light.
As it’s cast iron, it has excellent heat retention and heats evenly. It can work in temperatures up to 500°F (260°C).
Its well-fitting lid ensures excellent bread-baking.
It fits nicely in the refrigerator, the stovetop, and the oven. Its attractive appearance ensures it’s suitable for serving too.
Like all enameled dishes, it doesn’t interact with any ingredients.
- Attractive, great for serving
- Versatile, suitable for bread-baking and cooking
- Moves seamlessly from induction top to oven
- Decent oven-safe temperature
- Keep metal utensils away
- Allegedly dishwasher safe, but handwashing recommended
Lodge L8DOL3HH41PLT 5Qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven (Best Dutch oven for bread)
This reasonably-priced cast iron Dutch oven is made in the USA. The 5 quart (4.7 liter)model weighs 13 lbs (approximately 5.9 kgs).
There is also a 2 quart and 7 quart option, but I recommend this 5 quart one for baking bread.
This cookware comes pre-seasoned, but I advise further seasoning before use for extra protection.
Its nicely-fitted lid has a looped handle, and looped handles on the side to fit easily into your oven.
Due to its superior heat retention and even heating, there is nothing like a cast iron Dutch oven for baking bread.
It bakes soft, crusty 7 inch loaves. It’s a classic piece of cookware.
- Built to last lifetimes
- Perfect for baking artisan bread
- No realistic limit on oven-safe temperature
- Cast Iron needs extra care
This 7-quart slate grey cast iron enameled Dutch oven is a versatile piece of cookware. It is as much at home on the stovetop as in the range or even on the table.
It’s a Dutch oven that doubles up as a crockpot or slow cooker. Being cast iron enameled, it has all the heat retention and cooking qualities of cast iron without the need to season.
The main disadvantage is that the enamel is prone to chipping.
A versatile and flexible cooking tool that suits all kinds of stovetops, it can withstand temperatures up to 232°C (450°F).
If you are cooking sourdough bread
- Slow cooker and Dutch oven
- Bakes good bread
- Enamel chipping seems to start very early
- Not dishwasher safe
Cuisinart MCP44-24N MultiClad Pro Stainless 6-Quart Saucepot (Best Stainless Steel Dutch Oven For Baking Bread)
This is a stainless steel Dutch oven with a cover and handles. However, the manufacturers don’t call it that!
This “saucepot” has tapered rims for easy pouring and is dishwasher safe. Great for keeping down the mess.
It is oven safe up to 287°C (550°F) – more than enough for baking bread.
Thanks to Heat Surround Technology, it heats evenly, and so is excellent at baking. The cover fits tightly to keep in the moisture, and this is especially suited for baking bread.
- Easy to clean
- Has nonstick characteristics
- Great for baking bread
- High oven safe temperature
- Stainless steel is harder to clean
Crockpot Artisan 7Qt Oval Dutch Oven (Best Oval Dutch Oven for Bread)
Dutch ovens come as round circular ovens or in an oval shape. Either work fine for me, and the most common is the circular shape.
Yet the oval shape offers some interesting advantages:
- Bread comes out in a more interesting artisanal shape
- It’s easier to fit things like pasta or even roast a chicken
- It’s a slightly different look when serving
If you fancy an oval Dutch oven then this Crockpot Dutch oven is an interesting choice. It’s made from enameled cast iron and comes as either a 5 quart (4.7 liters) or a 7 quart (6.6 liters).
I do like porcelain enamel; it has some of the advantages of cast iron without the effort needed. Yet you do need to treat it a bit more carefully – otherwise, you risk it chipping.
Check it as soon as it arrives – a small number of customers report it arriving chipped. If this happens – make sure to return it.
I’d definitely consider this oval Dutch oven. It ticks all the boxes for making a nice loaf of bread that looks a bit different.
- Interesting Oval shape
- Enameled cast iron is easy to use
- Quality product
- Oven safe to 232°C (450°F)
- Treat with care or risk enamel chipping
- Check condition on arrival
Best Dutch Oven for Baking Bread
Without a doubt, the best Dutch oven for bread is the Lodge L8DOL3HH41PLT 5Qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven.
There’s nothing like cast iron for baking a beautiful loaf of bread. Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Delicious all round.
Because it’s cast iron, I’d also say it’s the best Dutch oven for artisan bread. There’s nothing like pulling that handmade artisan loaf out of a beautiful cast iron Dutch oven!
If you are looking to bake a loaf of sourdough bread then this is the best Dutch oven for tartine bread. If you pre warm it, it will maintain an even temperature throughout – ideal for sourdough tartine.
Lodge offers a quality product at a great price that can be used for baking many types of bread. If you want a Dutch oven dedicated to bread baking, you won’t go far wrong with this one.