Dutch ovens remind me of some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. They’re such a valuable tool, and I’ve always had one in my kitchen. Are you considering the Martha Stewart line of dutch ovens for your cookware arsenal? Martha Stewart Collection makes a nice-looking dutch oven from an established national brand at an attractive price. But what are the tradeoffs between durability, performance, and cost for a frequently used kitchen tool?
Martha Stewart Collect Dutch Oven in Red
This Martha Stewart dutch oven review will help you understand how this product stacks up before making a purchase decision. I’ll provide an overview of dutch ovens. Then we’ll tour a few popular brands (both top-of-class and peer competitors). Finally, we discuss the high and low points of the Martha Stewart Collection dutch ovens. In the end, I hope you’ll understand why I recommend carefully thinking through the purchase of this particular product.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Dutch Oven
Let’s review dutch ovens in general to get a better understanding of the things we’re looking for in a purchase.
Is It Worth Buying a Dutch Oven?
Dutch ovens (aka cocotte) are versatile. I particularly appreciate that I can stew, braise, fry, slow cook, poach, and bake a seemingly endless list of dishes and single-pot meals with the same trusty dutch oven.
Dutch ovens have deep, thick walls that hold and evenly distribute heat for long periods, saving energy. The dense, oven-safe lids on a dutch oven retains moisture in both high-heat and slow cooking conditions.
The overall cooking benefits of owning a dutch oven are pretty straightforward.
- One pot, many tasks.
- Relatively inexpensive considering its versatility, budget, and brand.
- Outstanding performance.
What are the Drawbacks of a Dutch Oven?
Any dutch oven that I’ve ever used was heavy. Moving a full one from the kitchen oven to the stovetop (or vice versa) can require strength and care.
Also, some busy cooks may not find dutch ovens as convenient as a crockpot or an Instant Pot which require less attention. Many cooks won’t feel safe leaving the house with a simmering dutch oven on the stovetop.
Finally, new non-enameled cast-iron dutch ovens need seasoning if they aren’t pre-seasoned, and will require maintenance over time.
What to Look for in a Dutch Oven?
Dutch ovens may seem simple, but there are a few noteworthy differences to consider from one model to the next.
Cast-iron is the best choice – durable and heavy. Non-enameled cast iron requires seasoning. Enameled cast-iron doesn’t require seasoning and is beautiful, but generally more expensive. Cast-aluminum is lighter and less costly, but also less durable.
Weight and Thickness
The most versatile dutch ovens will have the thickest, most massive construction. Choosing lighter and thinner materials sacrifices heat retention and overall performance.
A useful rule of thumb for choosing the best size dutch oven – add one quart of capacity per family member, plus a little extra for leftovers. Most dutch ovens are sized between 3-5 quarts, but you can find them as small as ¼ quart and occasionally as large as 9 quarts.
Handles and Lid
Look for handles that make it easy to lift and move a full dutch oven safely. The lid should have a temperature-resistant knob for kitchen oven use and be tight-fitting for moisture retention.
Who are the Best Dutch Oven Makers on the Market?
Le Creuset and Staub are neck-and-neck top of the line dutch ovens. Both are nearly flawless performers and similarly priced. But there are differences to consider.
Le Creuset makes the broadest range of high-quality dutch ovens available. This is the brand best-known for adding colored enamel to cookware, with up to 15 colors to choose from. The white non-stick enameled interior of the Le Creuset line makes monitoring doneness and cleanup easy. Le Creuset’s dutch ovens are fully dishwasher safe.
The less expensive Staub line offers slightly fewer models and color choices. Staubs can be slightly heavier, depending on the model. Staub lids fit tighter and retain moisture better and have “drip nibs” on the inside of the lid, which I love for self-basting. Staub’s website recommends hand-washing.
If $280 to $360 is too much, then many well-known consumer brands offer lower-priced dutch ovens. Cuisinart and Martha Stewart are fitting representatives at this end of the market.
Cuisinart, for example, offers a small range of enameled cast-iron cookware (they call them covered casseroles) in the $100 price range. Cooking performance is good, but there are weak points such as lid looseness, quality of enameling, and selection of sizes and colors. Some owners report that the enameled outer coating can easily chip or crack during normal use.
Features and Benefits of the Martha Stewart Dutch Oven
The Martha Stewart dutch oven line was created for Macy’s and is also available at military exchanges, Sam’s Club, and sometimes from Amazon. I searched and found five versions of round and oval dutch ovens, sized from 2 quarts to 8 quarts, available in eight different colors.
The overall look of Martha Stewart’s dutch ovens is cosmetically similar to Le Creuset or Staub. It’s an attractive, colorful piece that you might be happy to leave out on your cooktop. And the range of colors is just wide enough to suit any kitchen decorating scheme.
The interior and exterior are colorfully enameled, and many versions and sizes have a white interior similar to Le Creuset. The lids include an embossed Martha Stewart trademark on the top.
Both the oval and round dutch ovens from this line have a relatively straight side profile, and most of the colors are shaded dark to light to create a gradient look. I like the blue version pictured above.
This dutch oven certainly meets the heaviness criteria, weighing over 14 pounds for the 6-quart version. Compare that to Le Creuset’s 11.4 pounds for its 5.5-quart round dutch oven.
This kind of heft will hold evenly distributed heat when you are slow cooking or braising, creating a uniform cooking temperature that minimizes the need to turn and rotate the food continually.
It’s worth noting, though, that there is such a thing as “too heavy.”
Lid and Handles
The heat-resistant stainless steel knob is sized for easy grabbing and safe use inside your kitchen oven. The inside of the cover features raised moisture rings that serve a similar purpose to “drip nibs.” The handles are oversized with enough surface area and finger space to accommodate bulky potholders on your hands.
This product is available at three different sizes: 2-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart.
The 6-quart dutch oven is slightly larger than similar models offered by both Le Creuset and Staub, as well as Cuisinart’s 5- and 5.5-quart offerings.
I like the slightly larger sizing, even though it increases the weight because I’m almost always cooking with having leftovers in mind.
A dutch oven’s versatility means it gets frequent use in my house, and its durability is an important consideration. While some users report long-term satisfaction with the Martha Stewart line of dutch ovens, others have questioned the manufacturing quality. I think it makes little sense to purchase a moderately priced kitchen tool if I end up having to buy two or more of them instead of a single product from a more expensive brand.
Some owners mentioned cracked or chipped enamel during regular use of the ovens. In 2011, Macy’s recalled almost 1 million units for cracking enamel that posed a risk of laceration or burns. Similarly, they recalled a line of Martha Stewart metal cookware in 2015 for poor manufacturing practices.
Some owners also reported warped lids on larger models of the Martha Stewart dutch ovens. A poor fitting lids may impact the oven’s moisture and heat retention abilities, especially when used in the oven.
These types of issues seem to indicate manufacturing inconsistencies, which is worth considering when making your purchase decisions.
The Martha Stewart dutch oven series has thick, heavy construction perfect for braising, stewing, and frying, among other cooking styles. The moisture rings on the inside of the lids offer a self-basting function to keep foods moist and juicy.
Owners seem universally pleased with the cooking performance of the line. For the price, the Martha Stewart dutch oven performs well when used and maintained with care.
Martha Stewart brand cookware does not advertise a warranty. Owners posting about their experiences on message boards and comment streams indicate mixed results when attempting to return items with chipped enamel.
Martha Stewart Dutch Ovens are an excellent value for cooks who know their way around the care of enameled cookware and don’t mind the possibility of a return or exchange situation if their specific purchase has manufacturing faults.
This dutch oven’s design features, weight, and range of sizes and colors make it an enticing alternative to higher-priced options like Le Creuset and lower-priced competitors like Cuisinart.
If you’re interested in purchasing this dutch oven, it’s often available on Amazon, and as a regularly featured product on Macy’s.
Click here to check it out!