If you’ve landed here you probably already know WHY you need a Dutch oven for camping. But just incase you don’t, let us tell you.
They are amazing.
If you enjoy cooking to any extent, you NEED a Dutch oven for camping.
A Dutch oven allows for you to cook anything from pizzas to chili to cakes to french fries.
You can bake, sauté, deep fry, boil…whatever!
In a hurry? Here’s our top 3 picks for the best dutch ovens for camping.
How to choose the best Dutch oven for camping
Are cast iron Dutch ovens better?
For cooking yes. Without a shadow of a doubt no other material comes close to the even heat distribution achieved by cast iron.
However, if weight and ease of maintenance are an important factor for you, an aluminum Dutch oven may be a better choice.
Aluminum is lightweight and can be washed with soap, whereas cast iron is heavy and requires more work to maintain.
A quick break down of the pros and cons of each are as follows –
Cast iron offers even cooking and a consistent temperature but is heavy, requires seasoning and can’t be cleaned with dish soap.
Aluminum is lightweight and easy to clean with soap but heats up quicker and is prone to hot spots. Hot spots make cooking things like cakes and pizza more difficult as the heat isn’t distributed evenly.
How big of a Dutch oven should I get?
A rough guide for the size of Dutch oven you need –
5 quartz – 1-2 people main meal or 4 people side meal
8 quartz – 4-6 people main meal or 8-10 people side meal
12 quartz – 10-12 people main meal or 14-18 people side meal
How do you use a Dutch oven while camping?
The “correct” way to use a Dutch oven while camping is with the use of charcoal briquettes. To get the full oven effect you need charcoal briquettes on top of the lid as well as underneath the pot.
If this is the way you would like to use your Dutch oven, you need to purchase one with legs on the bottom to put the coals underneath and a lip on the lid to hold the coals on top.
The recommended amount of coals is roughly 2/3’s on top of the lid and 1/3 underneath the pot. This ensures a nice, even heat distribution.
This is mainly important for cooking/baking foods such as pizza, cake or bread.
If you’re looking to use the Dutch oven as more of a pot, for instance for chili or stews, the oven effect is less important.
In this instance you can simply use a tripod to hang your Dutch oven over an open campfire or stove.
It’s not recommended however, to put the Dutch oven directly on top of a camp fire as it will heat too quickly and to too high of a temperature. You’ll find that your food will burn before it is cooked.
What can you make in a Dutch oven while camping?
A Dutch oven is so versatile it can pretty much replace your entire camp cooking equipment. There really isn’t anything you can’t make in a Dutch oven.
You can make breakfast meals such as pancakes, eggs, sausages or mushrooms. Or full dinners such as lasagne, pizza, chili or stew. And even dessert items such as cakes or bakery items like bread.
You can also use it as a deep fryer to cook fries, donuts, buffalo wings…the list is endless.
Basically, anything you normally make at home can be made with ease in a Dutch oven while camping.
5 best Dutch ovens for camping
Premium cast iron Dutch oven for small families
The Lodge 8 qt Dutch oven is the perfect size for creating main meals for a family of 4, or side meals for a group of 8.
The design of the Lodge is super versatile. The flanged lid can hold hot coals or be turned over and used as a griddle, while the legs allow more stability when placed over a campfire.
One of the most notable qualities is just how thick the cast iron is. This ensures more even cooking and easier temperature control. Your dumplings will come out evenly browned and your chilli evenly cooked. No burnt bits and no undercooked bits.
It also offers better peace of mind when transporting it from A to B. While you want to be careful with any cast iron Dutch oven, it can more than handle being “handled”.
The pot comes pre-seasoned with soy-based vegetable oil and supplied with a camping Dutch oven cookbook.
Pre-seasoned cast iron Dutch oven for large families and groups
The Camp Chef Deluxe 12 qt Dutch oven is the perfect size for large families and big groups.
Both the top and bottom of the oven have legs, allowing you to use the top as a skillet to cook bacon, eggs or pancakes etc. To give you a guide as to just how big this thing is, the lid itself can hold around 18 eggs or a dozen sausages at once.
While not made in the USA like Lodge Dutch ovens are, the quality is still exceptional. Nothing sticks, its easy to clean up and it cooks everything perfectly and evenly.
At 25lbs, it’s a fairly heavy cooking accessory to take camping, but if you have the muscles and a large group of hungry campers in tow, this thing wont let you down.
It comes supplied with a lid lifter and a Dutch oven starter booklet with seasoning tips.
A high-end cast iron Dutch oven for couples and smaller meals
The Lodge 5 qt double Dutch oven is a great choice if you plan to cook via a tripod over a campfire or on a stove.
Its lack of legs underneath and no flat lid means you can’t use charcoal briquettes as the heat source.
However, if you don’t plan to cook pizza or breads etc, and are only looking to cook stews or cook meat, it’s the perfect little dutch oven.
As with all cast iron pots and pans, it cooks to perfection, cleans easily and doesn’t stick or burn.
The domed lid can also be used as a skillet for cooking eggs, pancakes, bacon…whatever breakfast delights you can concoct in your imagination!
An aluminum Dutch oven for easy maintenance and lightweight camping
The GSI Outdoors aluminum Dutch oven is a neat alternative to the traditional cast iron Dutch oven.
If you want to be able to cook up a feast without the bulk and hassle of seasoning, special cleaning requirements and rust prevention, an aluminum Dutch oven is the perfect choice.
Aluminum is much lighter than cast iron and can be cleaned like most other pots and pans with warm, soapy water.
While it’s lighter, the GSI Outdoors Dutch oven is still super hardy and durable. It will be handle to knocks and drops with ease and wont rust if left wet/damp.
You can cook all the same things in it as you can in a cast iron Dutch oven.
The only difference being foods like pizza or bread wont be quite as nicely or evenly cooked. However, for most meals like stews or soups, there really isn’t much difference is cooking quality.
A neat outdoor design makes this Dutch oven stand out from the rest
The Overmont Camp Dutch oven doesn’t offer anything different to the other cast iron skillets on the list. But, how could we leave it off with that sweet lid design?
It’s not just cool looking though, it’s super well made and even comes supplied with a decent lid lifter.
Available in small to medium sized capacities, it’s suitable for most peoples needs. You’ll be able to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert with this little beauty.
The legs supplied on the lid allows for use as a skillet, so you can cook eggs, bacon and sausages or even pancakes every morning.
The Weber Rapidfire is the ultimate accessory for your Dutch oven. It’s basically designed to quickly produce hot coals for cooking with no lighter fluid needed.
While some Dutch ovens come supplied with a lid lifter, most, including Lodge Dutch ovens do not.
Unless you want to burn your fingertips off every time you check on your camp meal, it’s advisable to use a lid lifter. It can also be used with a tripod to hang your Dutch oven over a camp fire.
If you don’t fancy messing with briquettes, your next best bet is using a tripod. Simply hang your Dutch oven over a camp fire and watch your meal bubble away.