Dutch Oven Vs. Stockpot: What Are The Major Differences?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

If there’s one thing that has become a popular wedding registry gift in recent years, it’s a dutch oven. These are gorgeous pots made for baking, casseroles, and just about everything else. Most commonly made out of cast iron with a nice enamel touch, dutch ovens are often called “the new stock pots.” However, these things aren’t the same. One is clearly different from the other. But, what’s the difference?

A Dutch oven is made of cast iron, while a stock pot is made from aluminum stainless. Generally, a Dutch oven is wider and heavier than a stock pot, and it can be used both in the oven and on the stove top. Dutch ovens are ideal for braising and stock pots for making soups and stock.

A well-stocked kitchen will have both, but if you have to choose just one of these two culinary tools, it can be hard to figure out which you want to buy. If you’re unsure of which tool you should invest in, this article will help you shed some light.

What Are The Differences Between A Dutch Oven And A Stockpot?

Though most people use stockpots and dutch ovens in similar situations, the truth is that they have several striking differences that make them unique in their own rights. If you’re curious about the primary differences, this is what you need to know:

  • Dutch ovens are almost always made of cast iron, while stock pots can be made of lighter materials like stainless steel. If you love a little heft, you will enjoy a dutch oven. If you are open to a lighter-weight tool, then go for a stockpot.
  • Dutch ovens are meant for braising, while stock pots are meant for making stock or soups. If you want to slow-cook rack of lamb or a pot roast, the dutch oven is your better choice.
  • Stockpots are better for bigger recipes, while a dutch oven is smaller. Large-scale recipes usually call for a stockpot, simply because stock pots are taller and are meant to hold gallons. With dutch ovens, it’s more about smaller items that can fit in an oven.
  • Stockpot lids can be made of glass or metal, while dutch ovens usually have a thicker metal lid. This, in turn, changes how each dish prepared in each pot will taste.
  • Dutch ovens are typically more expensive than stockpots. This makes them a luxury item among many culinary fans and a good choice for people who are loading up a wedding registry.

The Price Of A Dutch Oven vs. A Stockpot

One of the biggest differences that you’ll see between stock pots and dutch ovens is the price. A dutch oven costs between $50 and $300 for a typical to high-end model. A stockpot will cost between $15 and $200, making it a far cheaper option for chefs.

While this may seem like a huge markup, the truth is that it’s not. Dutch ovens are generally seen as the more versatile of the two pots, primarily because of their ability to heat items evenly. They are also built thicker and are made from thicker metals, which in turn, drives up the price.

Can You Use A Stockpot In Place Of A Dutch Oven?

Don’t have the money to shell out for a quality dutch oven? That might not be a big problem after all. For the most part, you can use a stockpot whenever a dutch oven is called for in a recipe. The key thing to keep in mind is that you need to make sure that the stockpot is oven safe—which the vast majority are.

The main difference when it comes to using a stockpot versus a dutch oven here is the outcome of the food. Dutch ovens might give better heat conduction and also tend to heat things more evenly. So if you want to make sure that you get the best possible outcome, you still should get a dutch oven.

Can You Use A Dutch Oven To Make Soup Stock?

Dutch ovens and stock pots are able to be used interchangeably. However, many people still swear by a stockpot when they’re trying to make a good soup stock. Since a dutch oven is wider, you will experience more evaporation during the creation of the soup stock. Moreover, dutch ovens are smaller so the amount of soup you can make will be smaller as well.

How Can You Tell If A Stockpot Is Safe For Oven Use?

This all depends on what the stockpot is made of. If your stockpot is 100 percent metal or ceramic, then it can go into the oven without any issue. However, some stock pots will have parts that are made of rubber or plastic. These kinds of stock pots aren’t deemed oven-safe and can actually get fairly badly damaged if placed in an oven.

The best way to figure out if your stockpot is oven-safe is to buy a stockpot that is advertised as oven-safe. If you can’t splurge, then look to see if you can find any non-metal, non-ceramic parts that could indicate a bad time in the oven.

Which Should You Use For Frying, A Stockpot Or A Dutch Oven?

If you want to deep-fry something a stockpot is going to be the better choice by far. Dutch ovens don’t always have the depth to fully submerge fry-worthy foods. Meanwhile, a stockpot’s tall shape will. Moreover, stockpots are meant to have items at a high temperature boiling inside. It’s a win-win in most cases.

Dutch ovens can handle boiling oil too, however their build can make it hard to submerge larger items. As a result, your mileage may vary depending on what you’re trying to fry up.

Why Is It Called A Dutch Oven, Anyway?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering why a large pot would be called a dutch oven. I mean, it’s not exactly an oven, is it? This actually has to do with the pot’s invention. In the 17th century, Dutch ironworkers were able to create a new way of casting iron into a thicker, more reliable type of cookware.

The term “Dutch oven” was patented in 1707 to describe the thicker and more even-cooking cookware that originated in the area. Eventually, the term evolved to describe a specific type of pot used to slow-cook stews, casseroles, and bake different types of breads. Though they were initially meant for braising, they also became a favorite for people who want slow-cooked soups.

Which Is Better, a Dutch Oven Or a Stockpot?

Most people in the culinary world could debate this for hours on end. Truth be told, there’s no “better” pot when it comes to this battle. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Each pot has its own unique use. While they can be used interchangeably, it’s better to have one of each so that you get the best possible results for the specific type of food you’re trying to prepare.

If you can only spend money on one pot, choose the type of pot that best works with the types of food you want to prepare. Of course, if you just want to get a dutch oven because it’s a little bit of a status symbol, go for it. Sometimes, you just gotta treat yourself.

Related Questions

What else can be used as a substitute for a dutch oven?

Aside from using a stockpot, there are several other options that you can use depending on what you want to cook. Some of the better options include a cast-iron skillet, a casserole dish, a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, or an Instant Pot. If you use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you might have to modify your recipe to suit the cooking method.

Do you really need to have a dutch oven?

This is something that can be argued back and forth, but if you’re big on stews, it absolutely is a great device to have. Dutch ovens are remarkably versatile, which is precisely why they’re celebrated in the culinary world. With that said, there are plenty of substitutes that you can use to make up for a lack of a dutch oven in your home.Everyone has their own needs in the kitchen, and that includes figuring out whether a dutch oven is worth it. How much you’re willing to deal with workarounds will determine whether or not a dutch oven is worth the high price tag.

Do I need to season an enameled dutch oven?

Though most cast iron needs to be seasoned, an enameled dutch oven doesn’t require any seasoning to speak of. So if you got a cast iron enamel dutch oven from Le Creuset, you don’t necessarily need to worry about seasoning it quite yet. If you have a solid cast iron dutch oven without enamel, you will need to season it prior to using it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

More by Ossiana Tepfenhart