Are you shopping for a new Dutch oven and considering Lodge?
The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, and other outlets have named it the Best Dutch Oven.
But what’s so special about it? Does it live up to the hype?
In this in-depth review, I break down the pros and cons of the Lodge Dutch oven.
You’ll get all the facts, including how it looks, feels, and performs. I also explain how it’s made, what it costs, and how it compares to the competition.
After testing the Lodge Dutch oven for over a year, I’m here to tell you everything you need to know before buying.
Use the links below to navigate the review:
- Materials and Construction
- Moisture Retention
- Heat Retention
- Sizes and Shapes
- Where It Is Made
- What Others Are Saying About Lodge Dutch Ovens
- FAQs About Lodge Dutch Ovens
- Company History
- Bottom Line: Are Lodge Dutch Ovens Any Good?
Materials and Construction
But, regardless of the type of Dutch oven, Lodge manufactures all of its cast iron cookware using a method called sand molding.
The craftspeople create a mold out of packed sand. Into that mold, they pour a proprietary mixture of pig iron and secret ingredients.
Because sand melts at a higher temperature than iron, the mold holds its shape. Once the iron has cooled, the sand mold is broken, and the cast iron product is left behind.
The sand mold method has been used as early as the 9th century, and Lodge considers it the best way to make cast iron cookware. This ancient process is where all Lodge Dutch ovens begin.
From there, the bare cast iron Dutch ovens are given a seasoning using heat and neutral oil.
Enameled cast iron has a smooth, porcelain surface applied to the inside and outside of the Dutch oven, which keeps food from sticking. The steel lid handles are attached, and the Dutch oven is ready for sale.
All Lodge Dutch ovens are oven-safe up to 500°F, including the lids. The bare Dutch ovens are also fire-safe, so you can cook over a campfire or on a grill.
Lodge Dutch ovens have an aesthetically pleasing design with a beautiful exterior gradient, similar to what you get with Le Creuset Dutch ovens (see my in-depth comparison of Lodge vs. Le Creuset).
The enamel is glossy and even, and the colors are bright and saturated. The result is a colorful flair that is sure to liven up your kitchen.
Regardless of the exterior color, the interior is always beige. The light color allows you to monitor your food when cooking but shows stains, so you need to scrub it well.
Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch ovens boast a stainless steel lid knob with the brand name stamped upon it. It is a practical and clean accent to the brightly colored pots.
The lids feature circular patterns that add some intrigue to the design.
The bottom edges are rounder than most Dutch ovens. Customers with electric stoves often complain that the rounded bottom slows the heating process.
Lodge Dutch oven handles are thin with small openings only 3/4ths of an inch wide. For comparison, Le Creuset handles have 1.25-inch openings.
That can make it hard to lift your Dutch oven when wearing oven mitts, especially when it’s full.
You’ll need to use extra caution when handling a Lodge Dutch oven because the contents will be extremely hot.
Lodge Dutch ovens boast exceptional heat retention because the walls are thicker than the industry standard and noticeably thicker than Le Creuset, as you can see in the side-by-side picture below.
Although Lodge doesn’t publish the number on their website, I confirmed my own measurements with a Lodge product specialist: the walls are 3.18 mm thick.
The traditional bare cast iron Dutch ovens are simple and black, with the logo stamped on the lid.
The camping Dutch oven also has a steel bail handle so that you can hang it over top of a roaring fire.
The bottom line is that Lodge’s enameled Dutch oven is a stunning piece of cookware. If you don’t see the logo, you could easily mistake it for a Le Creuset, which costs more than double.
Lodge round enameled Dutch ovens are available in seven gorgeous colors: blue, desert sage, indigo, lagoon, midnight chrome, oyster, and red. However, their oval enameled Dutch ovens are only available in red and oyster (white).
Here’s a look at each color.
As previously mentioned, the colored enamel is glossy and saturated, offering the Dutch ovens a sophisticated but simple appearance that will look great in any kitchen.
The interiors of Lodge Dutch Ovens are a simple beige, allowing you to monitor your food when you are cooking.
Dutch ovens are known for their heavy, tight-fitting lids that lock in moisture and keep your food warm.
When moisture escapes, you lose flavor and tenderness.
So how well does Lodge retain moisture, and how does it compare to the competition?
To find out, I conducted a simple test.
First, I poured 32 ounces of water into the Lodge Dutch oven. Then, I placed it on the stove and turned the heat to high.
After the water began to boil, I turned the heat to medium and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Finally, I turned the heat off and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Throughout the process, I kept the lid on and tightly secured.
After the additional 30 minutes, I poured the water into a measuring cup and was pleased to see that 30 of the 32 ounces were retained.
That sounds good, but how does it compare to the competition?
|Dutch Oven||Water Retained|
|Le Creuset||31 ounces|
|Great Jones||28 ounces|
As you can see, all four Dutch ovens retain moisture well. Le Creuset retained the most moisture, but Lodge came in second.
Besides moisture retention, Dutch ovens should have excellent heat retention.
In other words, it should be able to hold heat and keep your food warm long after you turn off the burner or remove it from the oven.
Heat retention is important not only to keep your soup or stew warm while you prepare the rest of the meal, but it helps with searing and browning too.
Recipes often call for browning on the stove followed by a braise or roast in the oven. If the Dutch oven retains heat well, it will stay hot when you place cold meat inside of it to brown.
Without reliable heat retention, the meat will cook slowly and not form the golden crust you’re looking for.
So, how well does the Lodge Dutch oven retain heat?
Again, I conducted a quick test to find out.
First, I poured 32 ounces of water into the Dutch oven. Then I set it on the stove and turned the heat to high. This time, I left the lid off. When the water began to boil, I removed the Dutch oven and set it on the counter.
After ten minutes, I measured the water temperature; it read 130.8°F.
After twenty minutes, the water was 105.7°F.
|Dutch Oven||Water Temperature (10 minutes)||Water Temperature (20 minutes)|
As you can see, the Lodge Dutch oven retains heat better than Le Creuset and Great Jones but not as well as Tramontina.
These results are not too surprising because Tramontina has ultra-thick 4.4 mm walls. Lodge’s walls are thick, too, but only 3.18 mm.
Sizes and Shapes
Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are available in a round or oval shape. If you’re not sure which shape is best, check out this guide where I break down the pros and cons of both.
The round Dutch ovens are available in 1.5-, 3-, 4.5-, 6-, and 7.5-quart sizes. The oval Dutch ovens are only available in the 7-quart size.
If you are looking for an enameled cast iron Dutch oven larger than 7-quarts, you will need to choose a different brand, like Le Creuset.
Lodge’s bare seasoned cast iron Dutch ovens come in even more varieties. Their standard Dutch ovens are available in 1-, 2-, 5-, and 7-quart sizes. The company also offers a cast iron camp dutch oven with a bail handle, available in 2-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8-, and 10-quart sizes.
Lodge provides a few more specialty Dutch ovens, but the ones discussed above are the most common size offerings.
Where It Is Made
Lodge manufactures its bare cast iron cookware in the United States at the two foundries in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
Since its founding in 1896, Lodge has become one of the country’s most recognized cast iron brands. In fact, I’ve named it the best cast iron cookware made in the USA.
The history of being made in America is a big selling point. It’s also why people are disappointed to find out that Lodge enameled cast iron is not manufactured in the US.
Lodge’s enameled cast iron products are made in China. However, the quality is still excellent.
Its enameled cast iron products are still manufactured to Lodge’s high standards, and the Chinese production is overseen by an American third-party inspection company.
Lodge’s Dutch ovens, whether enameled or bare, are very reasonably priced.
When comparing them to high-end brands like Le Creuset and Staub, Lodge’s products are much more affordable, despite performing as good or better.
Simply put, Lodge Dutch ovens are an excellent value.
To give you a better idea of how Lodge compares to the competition in terms of price, check out the chart below. The prices displayed are pulled in real-time from Amazon. You can click on each price to learn more.
|Dutch Oven||Price||View Details|
|Lodge 1.5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 3-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 4.5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 7.5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 7-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven (Oval)||Amazon|
|Lodge 5-Quart Bare Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 5-Quart Camping Bare Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
|Lodge 7-Quart Bare Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Amazon|
Lodge has a history of making high-quality cast iron cookware, but its products are not perfect.
When looking at its enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, you’ll notice a thin band of exposed cast iron around the top of the sidewall. That exposed cast iron needs to be dried and oiled like any other cast iron, making the cleaning process more tedious.
Also, the enamel layer applied to Lodge Dutch ovens will not last forever. Enamel chips and wears over time.
If the enamel on the outside of your Dutch oven chips, take extra care not to make it worse. Even with the chip, you can keep using the Dutch oven.
However, if the enamel cooking surface chips, stop using the Dutch oven immediately. One chip usually leads to more chips, and enamel in your food is a safety hazard.
Lodge Dutch ovens also have rounded bottom edges, which decrease contact with your cooking surface. That isn’t a big issue with a gas stove, but it can create hot and cold spots when cooking on a glass or ceramic cooktop.
Another downside to Lodge Dutch ovens is the weight. These things are heavy. The 6-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven weighs nearly 14lbs, which is heavier than larger models from other manufacturers.
Due to the small, thin handles, the weight of these Dutch ovens makes them difficult to handle and move, especially when they are full of hot food, which can bring the total weight up to around 20 pounds.
Lodge’s enameled cast iron is only available in seven color options. While there is hopefully a color to fit your design scheme, this lack of choice puts Lodge behind the competition. For example, Le Creuset offers 20 color options.
Lastly, the Chinese production facilities are a dealbreaker for many customers. While it may not seem like a huge issue considering so many products these days are made in China, manufacturing in the USA is a big part of Lodge’s image and brand.
What Others Are Saying About Lodge Dutch Ovens
If you search for the “best dutch ovens,” you’ll find plenty of articles from prominent media outlets. You’ll notice a theme: Lodge is at the top of most lists.
Here’s what others are saying about Lodge Dutch ovens.
The Wirecutter (owned by The New York Times) also had the Lodge enameled Dutch oven as its best Dutch oven, saying it was easy to use and gave meat the best sear.
In its Best Dutch Ovens roundup, CNET chose Lodge for the budget Dutch oven pick, saying, “Lodge produces some of the sturdiest cookware around, and reviewers agree, especially considering its affordable price.”
Consumer Reports listed Lodge right after Le Creuset on its list of the Best Dutch Ovens, pointing out that it offers similar performance at a much lower price.
Food Network also chose the Lodge 6-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven as its favorite, saying, “This is a workhorse of a Dutch oven that you can use often and un-gently; it’s tough enough to do the work, and the moderate price tag means you won’t feel the need to baby it.”
FAQs About Lodge Dutch Ovens
If you still have questions about Lodge Dutch ovens, this section should clear things up. Here are the most frequently asked questions about the brand.
Bare cast iron should never be washed in a dishwasher. While enameled cast iron Dutch ovens can be washed in the dishwasher, Lodge recommends washing them by hand, so the enamel doesn’t chip.
You can clean enameled Lodge Dutch ovens by hand with soapy water and a sponge.
To clean seasoned cast iron Dutch ovens, scrape out large pieces of food with a food scraper or plastic spatula, scrub lightly with a small amount of soap and water, dry thoroughly, and apply a thin coat of neutral cooking oil.
For more details, check out my guide to cleaning enameled cast iron cookware.
Lodge enameled Dutch ovens are oven-safe up to 500°F. The company doesn’t state the oven-safe temperature of the bare cast iron Dutch ovens, but I spoke with a Lodge product specialist. Here’s what they told me:
“Our cookware is seasoned with baked-on cooking oil. We recommend using Lodge cookware up to 500°F because anything higher can start to break down the seasoning. However, the cast iron can withstand higher temperatures, but you may have to re-season if used over 500°F.”
Yes, Lodge Dutch oven lids are oven-safe to the same temperature as the ovens (500°F).
Yes, iron is a magnetic metal, so Lodge cast iron Dutch ovens are induction-compatible.
Yes, you can use a Lodge Dutch oven on a glass top stove. However, due to the heavy weight, be careful not to move the Dutch oven, or it could scratch your cooktop. Check out my guide to cooking with cast iron on glass stoves to learn all the do’s and don’ts.
Yes, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and craftsmanship. It does not cover normal wear-and-tear or cosmetic blemishes.
Before I wrap up this review of Lodge Dutch ovens, it’s important to understand a brief history of the brand.
Lodge cast iron was founded by Joseph Lodge in 1896.
As the oldest continuous cast iron manufacturer in the United States, Lodge still makes its bare cast iron products in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, where the company was founded over a century ago.
Since then, Lodge has become a household name, making cast iron cookware that has been passed down through families for generations.
While this review primarily focused on the Dutch ovens, Lodge manufactures an array of cast iron cookware. The company makes skillets, grills, bakeware, and accessories, as well as carbon steel cookware. Learn more in my in-depth review of Lodge’s cast iron skillets.
What sets Lodge apart from the competition is how it chose to change as a company. They still operate two foundries in the town they were founded in, using many of the same processes. Where they’ve evolved as a company is in their social actions.
Since 2018, Lodge has engaged in a company-wide recycling program, drastically lowering the environmental impact of their manufacturing process.
The company has also found more energy-efficient ways to make its products and put a focus on employee welfare.
Lodge believes its best way forward as a company is to deliver quality products in a way that is good for customers, employees, and the planet.
Learn more about Lodge’s history and mission on LodgeCastIron.com.
Bottom Line: Are Lodge Dutch Ovens Any Good?
Lodge Dutch ovens are sturdy, retain heat remarkably well, and feature a simple but beautiful design aesthetic.
Compared to Le Creuset, Great Jones, Tramontina, and several other brands I’ve tested, Lodge Dutch ovens hold their own.
The most common complaint is that the enamel chips or wears over time. However, the low price of Lodge Dutch ovens helps mitigate the risk. Plus, no enamel is indestructible, regardless of how much you pay.
So, is a Lodge Dutch oven worth it?
Absolutely. It’s a low-price, high-value piece of cookware from a brand that’s been producing quality cast iron since 1896. While it performs similarly to the competition, its low cost makes it stand out.
If you’re ready to buy or want a second opinion, check it out on Amazon, where you’ll find thousands of other reviews.
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- Great Jones vs. Le Creuset: Which Dutch Oven Is Better?
- Staub vs. Le Creuset Dutch Ovens: How Do They Compare?
- Oval vs. Round Dutch Ovens: Which Shape Is Better?
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