A Dutch oven is often used for cooking. It’s a pot that has thick walls and is typically made from seasoned cast iron.
The good thing about baking bread is that you can bake it without a Dutch oven. But having one will certainly make the process of baking bread a little bit easier.
Many pro bakers recommend that the best method for making crusty bread at home is by using a Dutch oven.
Why do you need a Dutch oven for bread?
Technically, you can still bake bread even without using a Dutch oven since a traditional or convection oven would suffice.
However, baking bread in a Dutch oven is the easiest way to develop that perfect golden crust. But more than that, using it allows you to make artisan-style loaves. The steam that the pot creates inside transforms the dough’s crust into the perfect crumbly texture that many love.
The reason why it’s so easy to get that perfect crust in a Dutch Oven is that it conducts heat evenly. The result is a consistent bake that results in an amazing crust. Its heavy lid also traps any steam coming from the dough as it’s being baked inside.
Steam is pretty useful when baking using a Dutch oven because it keeps the outside of your bread from setting before it rises, dries out or bakes too quickly.
By slowing down the process of crust formation, steam lets the bread rise quickly without the crust getting too hard. The outcome is a thin outer crust that’s crispy instead of tough and chewy.
This process also lets the bread develop a deep golden brown color without burning the bread altogether.
What can I use instead of a Dutch oven for bread?
If you insist on using a Dutch oven to bake your bread, there are many alternatives out there that you can try.
Any pot that’s deep enough (should be at least 4 inches deep) that gives the dough room to rise as it bakes is a suitable alternative. For instance, a 5 or 6-quart stock pot usually does the job as well as a Dutch oven.
However, just make sure that the pot you’ll be using is oven-safe and the lid is heavy enough to trap the steam inside.
Can I use a crockpot instead of a Dutch oven to bake bread?
There are two types of crockpots: electrical and ceramic.
The electrical one is often used as a slow cooker while ceramic crockpots are typically used on gas stoves.
If you have a ceramic crock pot then you can use it just like you would your Dutch oven. Just put your dough inside and bake inside the oven as you would usually do.
Can I use a roasting pan instead of a Dutch oven to bake bread?
Roasting pans are usually used for a baking whole chicken, beef, and other types of meat in the oven. Its large size allows such cuts to be baked and cooked as a whole.
You can use a roasting pan to bake your bread in if you cover it with a thick foil.
The reason why Dutch ovens make great bread is their ability to trap steam inside. And since roasting pans are open, you have to cover them so they can mimic the process of trapping steam.
What is the best size of a Dutch oven for baking bread?
Baking bread in a Dutch oven is an easy way to bake bread with the perfect crust. But how big should your Dutch oven be if you’re baking bread in it?
The best size of the Dutch oven to bake bread in is between 5-quart to 7.5-quart.
A Dutch oven in this size range can accommodate the size of a standard loaf. But more than that, the said size range will provide enough room for your dough to rise while being baked.
Top 4 Dutch Ovens for Baking Bread
Not all Dutch ovens are built the same—some are good for baking bread while some are just so-so. If you want to invest in a Dutch oven for this sole purpose, below are standout options we’ve tested out!
Best Overall Pick for Bread Baking
The Staub Cast Iron Round Wide 6-Quart Cocotte is exquisitely designed to bake bread. It has a spiked lid that easily traps moisture inside so your bread doesn’t dry out.
The pot itself can withstand up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven while the lid is oven-safe up to 500 degrees.
The workmanship in this Staub Dutch Oven is high-quality since it looked brand new despite multiple uses. But aside from those, this Dutch oven is by far one of the biggest on the list and has the perfect size for baking bread.
Best Well-Rounded Choice
The Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is the best overall pick because of its durability for the price!
Aside from being able to withstand 500 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven, its 6-quart capacity is more than spacious enough for your dough to rise.
It also has excellent heat retention and bakes bread evenly with our bread getting that perfect brown crust on its exterior.
Best Design Pick
The Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 Qt. is our best splurge option if you’re not on a budget. It circulates heat and moisture splendidly, yielding bread with a hard crust on the outside and chewy inside based on our test.
Take note that the pot can get very hot and stays that way for a long time. The manual mentions that you can use it at any oven temperature so it can withstand high heat in the oven.
Best Budget Pick
For $60, the Crock Pot 5-Quart Dutch Oven is the most affordable option on our list. For the price, it does what other higher-priced models can do. It bakes bread evenly and is also oven safe to up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The only caveat is that it takes longer to get hot compared to others on the list, but it also baked bread perfectly well!