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Dutch Ovens are versatile tools. They are great for stewing, deep frying and even baking. However, they are big and heavy. Sometimes we just need something just big enough for one. Thankfully, manufacturer have thought of this and manufacture a range of Small Dutch Oven. They are designed for the smaller family. Its lighter to carry and in general heats up faster. The Best Small Dutch Oven are durable, portable and perform just as well as its bigger counterpart.
What is the Smallest Dutch Oven
If you are truly looking for the smallest dutch oven, they make extremely small one for cooking. You usually see those on those miniature cooking channel. However, for practical sake. Staub and Le Creuset makes little petite .5 qt dutch oven. They usually come in ceramic or cast iron. However, I recommend cast iron for its durability and functionality. These .5 qt dutch oven are usually only good for baking and storing spices.
Small Dutch Oven Uses
The actual functional small dutch oven are the 1.5-2 qt models. They are just big enough to make stews for two people. Its also light enough to be portable. You can take it camping or just use it for a space limited room. I personally just like making stews with it. However, you can use it to make small loaf of bread or as a miniature deep fry pot. Basically anything that the larger dutch oven will do.
Camping vs Home Use
When you are camping, the last thing you want to is to carry a heavy pot. While you can get cast iron, they are also heavy. Cast Aluminum dutch oven are a good alternative. They heat up fast and is usually half the weight of cast iron. The only downside is that it does not retain heat as well as the cast iron model. But in terms of performance, Aluminum is actually better.
Another thing to consider is appearance. When camping, looks isnt as important as functionality. Where as the home kitchen, decor is everything. You want it to match your other set. In these cases, having different color option is important. Where for camping, a black one will do just fine.
How to Use a Dutch Oven
Using a Small Dutch Oven is the same as the big dutch oven/pot. Add Oil and start preheating the pot. Once it gets hot add food as necessary. If you plan on browning food, be sure to not crowd the food. Since the size is smaller, you might have to sear things in more batches.
For baking, its always good to prep it. Line it with butter and dust it with flour to prevent sticking. The bare cast iron models are better for baking, but the enamel one will work just fine. Models with nonstick coating works best and is generally easier to use.
Cleaning is the same as well. With nonstick and enamel cast iron, use hot soapy water and a sponge. For bare cast iron model, I recommend a scrub with salt and paper towel. Using soap can strip it of its seasoning and cause it to rust.
If you find food to be stuck on the nonstick and enamel, a good soak will loosen it up.
Best Small Dutch Oven List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best Small Dutch Oven. There are a few option available, get one that best suits your needs.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 2 qt (Best Overall)
Le Creuset is best known for their colors and their dutch oven. This model has wide handle for easy carrying. A plastic knob so that it stays cool during cooking. The colors and beautiful and the enamel durable. It resist chipping unlike the other cheaper brand. Best of all, its one of the few cast iron cookware that is still made in France.
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 1.5-Quart (Best Buy)
While Le Creuset is the perfect example of a Dutch Oven. Its also very expensive. Lodge makes a very good alternative. While its not made in America like its bare cast iron model, its still very well made. The handle is wide and comfortable. The inside also has a nice gradient for easy scraping. The color isnt as nice, but should still be suitable for most people.
Uniware 9900 Super Quality Aluminum Caldero,Dutch Oven,2 QT (Best for Camping)
This Aluminum Dutch Oven is small, light and functional. While its not as attractive as the colored one, its perfect for camping. There is no coating for it to get damaged. And you can toss it around without worrying about it getting damaged. The handle is small though and the bare aluminum can react with acidic food. But if you can look past that, its great for camping.
Small dutch oven are prefect for cooking 1-2 portion of food. Its versatile and it can replace a regular sauce pot. Le Creuset still makes the finest example of the dutch oven. However, lodge makes a great alternative. If you want a dutch oven for camping, ditch the cast iron. Aluminum is much lighter and it heats up faster. Exactly what you need for camping. The only downside to Aluminum is that it does not retain heat as well as cast iron.
Looking to organize your kitchen, check out our article on the Best Pots and Pan Organizer Rack, Shelf and Cabinet.