This article reviews the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Cast Iron Dutch Oven.
During the cold months, I love making hearty soups and mouth-watering stews. Not only are they warm and delicious, but they also heat up well. Our family can stretch a batch of white bean chili over multiple days, making my life a little less hectic. That makes this Momma happy.
And when I need to whip up some enchilada soup, I reach for my Dutch oven. That single piece of cookware is responsible for most of my winter weeknight meals.
So it’s vital that my Dutch oven perform well, be durable, and go from the stove to the oven, the table, and even the fridge to hold leftovers.
I found the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic enameled cast iron Dutch oven to be a solid mid-range choice. It won’t give you the luxury of a Le Creuset oven, but it will give you good performance at an affordable price range. To see how these two brands stack up, visit my in-depth Cuisinart vs. Le Creuset comparison.
But there are lots of things to consider when purchasing an enameled Dutch oven. You have to consider your cooking needs and how tough you are on cookware, as well as things like dimensions, color, and shape.
Luckily, I’ve broken down the features of the Cuisinart Dutch oven, as well as some viable alternatives, so you can get the best Dutch oven for you.
Does the Cuisinart enameled cast-iron casserole deserve a spot in your kitchen? Read on to learn more details.
What to look for in enameled Dutch ovens
Heat Distribution & Retention
Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens are known for their superior heat distribution and their ability to retain heat. That’s what makes them great for slow-cooking beef stew, preparing casserole dishes, and baking fresh bread.
Well-constructed Dutch ovens will give you nice, even heating while holding in that heat until you’re ready to serve.
And since these pieces typically come in a range of beautiful colors, your Dutch oven can double as serveware on the dinner table or at gatherings. Just be sure to use oven mitts when transporting these pots; they can get hot!
Size and Shape
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to enameled Dutch ovens–it really depends on your cooking needs. That being said, there are some guidelines to help you when deciding.
In general, you can easily feed a family of four using anywhere from a 5-quart (4.73 liters) to a 7-quart (6.62 liters) oven.
If you need a little more guidance, don’t worry; I’ve got your back. Use the chart below to determine which capacity is suitable for you:
|Dutch Oven Capacity
|Side dishes, vegetables, desserts, sauces
|Roasts, poultry, potatoes, stews, chilis, soups, beans, rolls, bread, desserts
|Whole birds, larger roasts, potatoes, bread, stews, soups, chilis, beans, rolls, desserts
But total capacity is not the only consideration. Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens come in various dimensions. And in addition to the classic round shape, you can also find oval Dutch ovens.
Are you roasting whole birds? An oval Dutch oven will better accommodate their length and irregular shape. Baking bread daily? A wide, shallow pot will make lifting bread safer and more accessible. Are you a soup master? Round Dutch ovens have a deeper bowl that is well-suited for soups and stews.
You can read more about the pros and cons of oval vs. round Dutch ovens in this article.
Regardless of which size and shape Dutch oven you choose, rest assured they’re all quite versatile cookware pieces that will help you prepare tasty meals.
Wide looped handles
Enameled cast iron is almost always quite heavy. Look for a Dutch oven with wide looped handles to make sure your perfectly cooked beef stew makes it safely to the table. Otherwise, you might be cleaning a liquid mess off the floor as you search to replace a broken Dutch oven.
You also want handles wide enough to accommodate oven mitts for those times when you want to serve a dish hot from the oven.
Enameled cast iron holds in heat wonderfully, allowing you to serve a delicious meal long after the cooking process is complete. Of course, it’s imperative to follow food safety guidelines.
But an ill-fitting lid can ruin all of that heat retention. Unless you enjoy dried-out roast, get a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.
If you like to braise or slow cook stews or meat, you might also want a self-basting lid. These lids have drip points that allow moisture to collect and recirculate throughout the pan.
High-quality enamel coating
Enameled cast iron cookware has a few distinct advantages over traditional cast iron. It doesn’t require seasoning, won’t react with acidic foods or impart flavors, and it comes in a selection of beautiful color choices.
But none of that matters if the enamel coating wears off, cracks, or has chips on the cooking surface. In short, an enameled Dutch oven is only as good as its coating.
And that, my friends, is where you’ll find the most significant quality difference among brands.
Lesser brands use a cheap coating that scratches, stains, and wears at the drop of a hat. The best Dutch ovens, however, feature superior coatings that can withstand normal, proper use.
Pro tip? Look for a lighter-colored interior enamel. The contrast will help you effortlessly monitor food while cooking, especially when browning meats.
Cleaning and Care
A Dutch oven is an investment that can last for years with the proper care. That’s why it’s essential to know how to use and clean your enameled cast iron cookware.
When using your cast iron Dutch oven, stick to wooden or heat-resistant silicone cooking tools. Metal utensils can scratch up the porcelain enamel interior.
Be aware that enameled cast iron can stain over time. This will not affect the cookware’s performance, even if it is unsightly. To help prevent permanent staining, you should clean cookware promptly and use baking soda to lift fresh stains or stuck-on food.
Hand washing cookware not really your thing? Be sure to find a Dutch oven that’s dishwasher safe. Avoid contact with metal in the dishwasher. Of course, handwashing will help your Dutch oven last longer.
One last tip? Slowly preheat your pan with cooking oil on low or medium heat. Overheating an empty pan can cause chips or cracks in the enamel, as well as burn food.
Cuisinart Cast Iron Dutch Oven Review
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart Round Covered Casserole
This Cuisinart Chef’s Classic enameled cast iron Dutch oven is also called a casserole and has a total capacity of 7 quarts (6.62 liters). Cuisinart offers a 3-quart (2.84 liters) and 5-quart (4..73 liters) option, as well.
This Cuisinart Dutch oven comes in two attractive color choices: Cardinal red or Provencial blue.
This cookware is designed to help you prepare delicious meals with just one pot. The cast iron construction means this durable oven retains heat well and distributes it evenly.
7-quart Cuisinart Dutch Oven: Features and FAQs
Coming in second place in the test kitchen, this Cuisinart cast iron Dutch oven has a good reputation. But does it live up to the hype?
This Cuisinart Dutch oven had overwhelmingly positive reviews. Customers had success with stews, soups, roast, and bread. They could slow cook, roast, simmer, sauté, broil, braise, and bake with this cast iron pan.
The cast iron construction gives this Chef’s Classic pan even heat distribution and superior heat retention. This pan is hefty, so you might consider other Dutch ovens if you have weight restrictions.
Numerous users commented on the weight of this cookware piece, but most weren’t complaining. They simply felt it was noteworthy. Remember, the weight helps this pan retain heat for a longer time.
Porcelain Enamel Coating
This Cuisinart cast-iron casserole features an enamel layer on the exterior and interior surfaces. The outside enamel covers the lid and lid knob, as well.
This enamel layer means you don’t have to worry about seasoning your Dutch oven before its first use. It also means the Chef’s Classic pan is non-reactive. No metallic-tasting tomato sauce or lemon pasta.
And if that’s not enough? The beautiful Cardinal red and Provencial blue colors look great in almost any kitchen.
But there are a couple of caveats. For starters? The pan’s upper rim and the lid’s rim do not have any enamel, which means there’s a small line of exposed bare cast iron. This isn’t a huge deal, but many people opt to season the rims for an extra layer of protection.
To do this, rub oil along the edge of the pan and the lid rim. Bake in a hot oven at 350°F (177°C) for an hour and let cool. Wipe off any excess oil, and you’re ready to go!
Another concern? The durability of the enamel. In fact, this was by far the most common customer complaint. While many users had no issues with chipping or cracking, others had large chunks of missing enamel.
This seemed to happen more often on the Dutch oven’s exterior and on the lid or handles. A small chip on the lid is not going to affect cooking performance, but it is an eyesore.
A few recommendations. First, I would immediately check my Chef’s Classic casserole for defects upon receipt. If the chip is there when you get the product, call Cuisinart and replace it under their Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Once you’ve ensured there are no chips or cracks in the new product, be extra careful to follow proper use and care guidelines. That means letting the Dutch oven heat slowly on low or medium heat and avoiding extreme temperature changes.
It also means using only heat-resistant wooden or silicone cooking utensils and storing your pan in a safe place free from stacking. All these factors go into preserving and preventing damage to your porcelain enamel cookware.
The Cuisinart Chef’s Classic can last a long time, but the porcelain enamel is on the fragile side. If you’re extra tough on your cookware, you’ll want to consider that before purchasing.
Handles and Lid
Cuisinart’s wide-looped handles are covered in enamel and make for easy carrying. And with this cast iron pan weighing north of 10 pounds, you’ll want the extra leverage.
The cast-iron lid and knob are all covered in enamel, with the exception of the rim. While the lid is not self-basting, it does fit snugly to hold in heat and moisture.
Several customers reported chips in the lid enamel, especially near the knob. I recommend handling the lid with extra caution as its enamel seems more fragile.
Ease of Cleaning
With a piece as pricey and hefty as a Dutch oven, convenient maintenance and easy cleanup is key.
This Cuisinart Dutch oven is easy to clean. Reviewers consistently commented on the ease of cleaning. And since this isn’t regular cast iron, you don’t have to season the pan after each use.
What’s more? This Cuisinart enameled cast iron piece is dishwasher-safe. However, I would use extreme caution when dishwashing this cookware. The porcelain is easy to damage, and using the dishwasher only increases your chances of chipped enamel.
Another cleaning tip? Don’t plunge your hot Dutch oven into cold water. Not unless you like throwing away money. The thermal shock can damage your Cuisinart pan. Instead, let the Dutch oven cool completely before cleaning.
Be sure to use mild soap and a non-abrasive sponge when cleaning. For stubborn food, let the pan soak with soapy water for a few minutes, then wash. You can also boil a mixture of water and baking soda to gently lift stains.
Can a Cuisinart Dutch oven go in the oven?
Yes. In fact, Cuisinart enameled cast iron is oven-safe and broiler-safe for temperatures up to 500°F (260°C). That makes this piece a go-to for stovetop-to-oven meals.
Where are Cuisinart Dutch ovens made?
All Cuisinart Dutch ovens are made in China. This is quite common with enameled ovens, with the most notable exceptions being French brands like Le Creuset and Staub.
Is Cuisinart’s enameled cast iron dishwasher safe?
Yes, you can put your Cuisinart Dutch oven in the dishwasher. Even though this cast iron pot is dishwasher safe, I would recommend hand washing to avoid damaging the enamel.
What kind of warranty does Cuisinart have?
All Cuisinart enameled cast iron products come with a limited lifetime warranty. This warranty will cover defects in the manufacturing but not much else.
What are the alternatives?
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Oval Dutch Oven
Even though Cuisinart dubs this cookware piece as a casserole, it’s also a Dutch oven. The main differences between these two Dutch ovens come down to size and shape.
While the 7-quart (6.62 liters) Cuisinart Dutch is round, this smaller 5.5-quart (5.2 liters) casserole is an oval Dutch oven. The casserole is available in a cool grey color.
Like its larger companion, this oval Dutch oven is oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C) and compatible with all stovetops. It’s dishwasher-safe and has the same wide looped handles.
If you don’t need the extra capacity and don’t mind the oval shape, this option is a more affordable version of the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 7-quart Casserole.
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 6 Quarts
Lodge, a U.S. company based in Tennessee, is one of the top names in cast iron cookware. While their enameled products are manufactured in China, these pans still undergo a strict quality control process.
This Lodge Dutch oven has a capacity of 6 quarts (5.68 liters) and comes in a variety of beautiful colors. This cast iron pan has a metal knob, and wide looped side handles. You can use your Lodge on any cooktop, and it’s oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C).
Customer reviews were favorable, although some were disappointed that it was not made in the U.S.A. One feature I don’t love about this Dutch oven is the rounded sides. The bowl shape unnecessarily cuts into the diameter of the cooking surface.
Overall, though? This Lodge is a decent value with versatility in the kitchen. If you want a quality cast iron Dutch oven without breaking the bank, this Lodge Dutch oven is a solid option.
Tramontina Covered Dutch Oven 6 Quarts
Tramontina is a Brazilian-based brand with a global presence. You can find Tramontina products at several box stores as well as online. This particular round Dutch oven has a capacity of 6 quarts (5.68 liters) and comes in a red, cobalt blue, and gunmetal gray color.
Tramonitina’s cast-iron Dutch oven is oven-safe to 450°F (232°C) and compatible with all cooktops, including induction.
Although this piece does not require seasoning, the rim of the pot and the lid both have exposed cast iron. For this reason, the manufacturer recommends seasoning the rims by applying oil and heating for one hour in an oven at 350°F (177°C).
You have to hand wash the Tramontina Dutch oven, but customers said the cleanup was easy. One of the highlights from user reviews? The wider base makes this round Dutch oven great for baking bread or browning meat.
You’ll have to sacrifice some features, and you won’t get the same level of quality as Cuisinart. But overall, this Tramontina is a good, budget-friendly alternative.
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 Quarts
Le Creuset’s Dutch oven can hold up to 7.25 quarts (6.86 liters) and comes in several eye-popping colors. From fiery reds and oranges to cool blues and purples, you can find a Le Creuset Dutch oven to match your style.
Depending on the choice, the lid features either a composite or stainless steel knob. I recommend the steel knob as it’s far more durable.
This Le Creuset Dutch oven delivers superior heat retention, even heat distribution, and outstanding cooking performance.
It’s compatible with all cooktops, including induction. And it’s oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C). Le Creuset claims this piece is metal utensil safe, but I would still avoid them.
And the cleanup? It’s a snap. You can put your Le Creuset Dutch oven in the dishwasher or hand wash with warm water and mild dish soap. You can read a more detailed breakdown of Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron vs. Cuisinart Dutch ovens here.
If you want the best, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled cast iron Dutch oven beats all the Dutch ovens on the market, in my opinion. But this high-end product comes at a premium cost. For many home cooks, the value of the Cuisinart outweighs the luxury of a Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Final Thoughts: Cuisinart Dutch Oven Review
Cuisinart’s Chef’s Classic Dutch oven is an excellent value. It may not have the same durability as Le Creuset Signature enameled cast iron, but it offers superb performance and versatility at a fraction of the cost.
If you’re willing to treat your Cuisinart Dutch oven with care and you’re willing to accept the minor dings that may come with several years’ use, you should be quite satisfied with this attractive, affordable midrange Cuisinart cast iron oven.