Dutch oven cooking

I’m not an expert with a Dutch oven (camp oven) but I’ve got a good command of the basics.  I’ve recently revived my “hobby” of cooking in a Dutch as I prepare one-pot meal “kits” from dehydrated and canned foods.  Last night I took it all to the outdoors, and what a success! 

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of discussion on the use of a Dutch oven here on TP, at least a search didn’t reveal much.  I can’t think of a better cooking option during a power outage (as long as you can source fuel – we stockpile charcoal, but would have a supply of hardwood as well).  You can cook almost anything in a Dutch – roast, bake, simmer, fry on the upturned lid.  And you can use it in almost any weather, as long as you can keep it dry and sheltered from wind.

The fuel required depends on the size oven one is cooking in, and how long a cooking time.  Last night I used a 10″ oven to cook a four-serving casserole, the fuel consumption was 20 briquettes, and with the “kit” (1 pint jar hamburger, and packets of dehydrated veggies, spices and topping), the cooking length was two refreshing beverages.  Meal preparation time was almost nil, which doesn’t include the time spent in the separate operations of preserving and assembling the ingredients.

My long term goal is to hone my baking skills, maybe try stacking the ovens (did that only once) and continuing to find and “kit up” meals that are quick to prepare and require minimal fuel. (And taste great!!)

So, any other Dutch oven aficionados out there?  Is there a place in your preps for this remarkable tool?


  • Comments (17)

    • 3

      Dutch ovens  abd other cast iron items are great to cook with, but they are very heavy and hence impractical for many situations.  When the weight i tolerable, there is nothing better. 

      I am often in situations where weight is a consideration.

      • 2

        Most of the scenarios we contemplate are shelter-in-place, which makes the DO a pretty high priority skill to master for me.  If we need to go, we’ve got MUCH lighter gear!  Fuel storage, in general is not easy for us, and I think conserving propane for the generator is a good idea, and I can do that with wood for cooking fuel. 

        We also have some small cooking appliances that will run on the smaller gas generators, chief of which is a really excellent 1600 watt hot plate.  The other thing is a 1500 watt air fryer/convection oven.   Actually bought both of those for power outages.

    • 3

      I’m with ya Dogpatch! Dutch oven and other cast iron cookware all the way. 

      I still haven’t managed the smooth as glass seasoning, but they are pretty non-stick with a lot of fat or butter.

      If you haven’t already. You NEED to try this Lazy Peach Cobbler recipe. Easiest thing in the world to make, and near close the the most delicious thing you will ever taste. Especially if paired with some quality vanilla ice cream. I learned this in boy scouts and there’s nothing that says dutch oven more than a cobbler to me.

      If you don’t want to get out during the winter but have a need to dutch oven something, look up ‘charcoal briquettes to oven temperature’ and you will find various helpful charts that will help you know how to convert briquettes to oven temp or oven temp to briquettes.

      Screenshot from 2021-09-07 11-07-24

      • 2

        Thank you for the recipe!

    • 2

      I’ve never been a fan of cast iron cooking.  I have plenty of it, but always go with my lighter cookware.  But, in a crisis, it will be hard to beat.

      • 2

        The cast iron just gives a more even and consistent temperature throughout the food. So I love it for cooking, but it does require some more work during the cleanup stage.

        My wife’s looking to add an enameled cast iron skillet to our arsenal and get rid of the other non-stick pans that have lost their teflon coating. We researched and found Le Creuset’s to be the best out there, but it also comes with quite a steep price. We are going to have to buy a pan every month or two until we have what we need. Hopefully it will be the best of both worlds.

      • 1

        Buying one every month will give you a chance to see how it works for you!

    • 4

      Also remember that Dutch ovens can be used for ‘Haybox’ cooking.

      1. Heat your food in a lidded pot by boiling it for a short time (such as 10 minutes).
      2. Put the pot in an insulated box so that it keeps cooking on its own, but without any additional fuel.
      3. Several hours later the food will still be warm and ready to eat.

      Hayboxes can be made from many different types of materials:
      Possible types of insulation:

      From Here.

      Somewhere I have a pattern for making a bean bag type.

      • 2

        I’ve heard of hayboxing but have never seen or tried it myself. It is something that is peaking my interest to learn about however, because in an emergency when fuel and time is scarce, it can be a way to cook things.

        Is this something you have ever tried JennyWren?

      • 2

        Yes it is. When I used to help out with the Scouts and Guides we would cook a Chilli in a haybox. The one we used was a wooden bushel box that we packed with hay. A well was made in the middle and lined with a piece of canvas and once the chilli had boiled for 5 minutes or so, we would put it in the haybox and leave it there all day. We were free to have a good day and the chilli was ready to eat with some crusty bread at suppertime. Anything you can cook in a dutch oven can be cooked in a haybox. 

        The new things are called ‘Wonderbags’ I’ll have a rummage through my saved favourites as I’m sure I have a tutorial on how to make one.

      • 2

        That sounds almost like the equivalent of cooking in the ground, only easier!  I’ll definitely look into it!  Thanks!

      • 1

        No problem.

        One thing I would say is don’t be tempted to peek! these cookers work on holding in the heat and as soon as you open it up you lose the residual heat. Sometimes we had to put it back over a heat source to get it hot enough to eat because we started the process early in the morning and we didn’t eat til late.

      • 1

        Similar method in link below? I intend to try it! I have antique Griswold skillets that I picked up cheap at thrift stores before they became the rage. If you can find them in good shape (check for flat bottoms & no cracks, they’ll ring like a bell if sound). They’re much lighter than modern cast iron and have super smooth inside cooking surfaces which are awesome to use. They will last lifetimes with proper use & care: never soak more than 10 minutes or put in dishwasher, dry on a warm burner after scrubbing, using just a little soap. New cast iron is a royal pain, I wouldn’t use it. Heavy & rough surfaces inside, and the non-stick coatings are toxic plus fail over time.


      • 1

        Hola Jenny!

        Oooh! I’ve got to try this. Thank you!

    • 1

      Hola Dogpatch!

      I am a cast iron cook myself (since I use alot of pork fat in my culinary work and work with alot of open flame), so I definitely get where you are coming from. However, since I moved south of the border, I’ve been using my Dutch Oven with wood fires as opposed to charcoal. 

      While charcoal is less time consuming in most cases, I find the use of the local copal wood not only much cheaper (it’s basically free, depending where you are), the smoke it gives off has the added benefit of driving off biting insects (which in the tropics is a life saver).

      Keep on cooking!

      • 1

        Hola Bongohead!

        Where I live, hardwood is a scarcity.  Douglas Fir prevails, and you just can’t make a decent cooking fire with it.  Plus, regulations are making it harder and harder to forage for it. Oak, maple, alder firewood, if you can get it was about $250 a cord last time I looked and oddly enough, actually burns too hot for our well insulated house in all but the rarest deep freezes, so we don’t buy it.  It costs us more to heat with wood than with electricity.  I have a tiny supply of apple wood.  We had nine hefty blacklocust trees go down in an ice storm last winter and they’re hard as rock, but have toxicity issues.  The trees are gradually being cut up for firewood. I doubt the smoke would enter the Dutch oven though, especially when burned down to essentially smokeless coals.  Week after this coming one, we’re having three walnut trees taken down.  Walnut also has some questionable properties, but ought to make good cooking wood, probably as long as you’re not using either of these varieties for grilling.

        But cooking with wood coals is a skill all unto itself that I’d love to master.

        Good subject, which woods make good cooking fires!

      • 1

        Ah, those are some good points, DP. 

        Shame about the applewood (when Pit BBQing, it’s actually one of my favorite grilling woods).

        Yeah, Douglas Firs are a real hassle (taste it leaves on meat especially pork, I find to be off putting, and in most cases, I’m too far away from a good source). Walnut wood, on the other hand, I have no experience really working with (some have claimed that the Latin American Zapatero tree is similar, but I have my doubts), so I’m not in a good position to comment.

        As for favorite grilling woods, I loved using Applewood (as I stated above) back in the day, more recently I enjoy using Copal for Dutch Oven and indeed any other form of outdoor cast iron culinary magic (up and including fogon cooking). Nance wood (and the accompanying nance fruit) makes for a great bbq combustible if you are in Central America (chicken and pork  really pop with the added flavor and it is remarkably easy to manage).

        PS: Sorry to hear about the ice storm. But I am glad that you guys made it out ok.