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Make Your Dutch Oven Your Kitchen MVP

Dutch ovens can do it all. They go from the stovetop to the oven—and they’re often pretty enough to put right on the dining room table. But if you’re using your Dutch oven for just soups, stews, and braises, you’re missing out. These kitchen MVPs are perfect for baking bread, frying, and even making dessert.

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ur guide this week has the tools you need to get the most out of your Dutch oven. With our favorite clip-on probe thermometer, you can monitor the temperature of foods as they cook. You’ll never overcook a roast again. Our winning tongs grip foods securely but gently, making it easy to transfer heavy or delicate items. Don’t own a Dutch oven yet? Our longtime favorite is a showstopper. It distributes heat evenly, has comfortable handles, and is built to last a lifetime. Even if you already cook with a Dutch oven, you’ll find new uses for it in Cook It in Your Dutch Oven, our collection of more than 150 recipes. From the classics such as Simple Pot Roast and Best Chicken Stew to impressive desserts such as Chocolate-Orange Lava Cake, this book will have you wondering if there’s anything a Dutch oven can’t do.

150 Recipes Tailor-Made for Your Kitchen's Most Versatile Pot

Cook It In Your Dutch Oven

$19.99 $29.99

This perfect, pricey pot bested the competition again. It was substantial enough to hold and distribute heat evenly without being unbearably heavy. The light-colored interior combined with low, straight sides gave us good visibility and made it easy to monitor browning and thermometer position. The broad cooking surface saved us time since we could cook more food at once. The lid was smooth and easy to clean. This pot is expensive, but it was exceptionally resistant to damage.  More on this test

With an exceptionally broad cooking surface and low, straight sides, this 7-quart pot had the same advantageous shape as the Le Creuset. It was heavier but not prohibitively so. The looped handles were comfortable to hold, though slightly smaller than ideal. The rim and lid chipped cosmetically when we repeatedly slammed the lid onto the pot, so it's slightly less durable than our winner.  More on this test

This accessory to our favorite digital probe thermometer for meat, deep frying, and candy making, the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm, tracks the ambient temperature of the oven. The probe clipped easily to the grate and was accurate to within a single degree. We also like that the remote thermometer, with its large digital display and intuitive user interfaces, allows you to easily check the oven temperature without opening the door. If you already own the ChefAlarm, it’s an excellent alternative to a dedicated oven thermometer.  More on this test

Our old favorite fits a good amount of food, and we love its new telescoping handle: When the handle is extended to the full 4 inches, it's easy to grip to move the steamer in and out of the pot. The handle can also collapse to 2.5 inches when the steamer is in the pot or for compact storage. Our only quibbles? The metal leaves are a bit finicky to clean and bent a little during testing, though the unit remained perfectly functional throughout.  More on this test

With a roomy, medium-depth basket of very fine, tight, stiff mesh, this strainer removed lots of bran from whole-wheat flour and produced silky purees. A long, wide hook allowed it to sit securely on a variety of cookware, and while its rounded steel handle was a bit less comfortable than some, it was still easy to hold. This strainer’s sturdy construction makes it worth its high price: It looked as good as new even after serious abuse.  More on this test

Our former winner, which is made from stainless steel, again worked seamlessly from start to finish. Its comfortable handles opened wide, allowing us to easily load cloves. It produced a uniform mince, handled unpeeled cloves well, and quickly rinsed clean. Two minor issues: We pinched our fingers between the handles a couple of times, and garlic sometimes squished up and around the plunger if we minced multiple cloves at once. But overall we loved this sleek, easy-to-use press.  More on this test

This light, smooth bamboo spoon was broad enough to churn bulky stews, yet small enough to rotate a single chunk of beef without disturbing surrounding pieces. Its rectangular handle was comfortable to grip; its head had the most surface area in contact with the pan, so it excelled at scraping fond. Stain-resistant, it emerged after testing looking closest to new.  More on this test

This model can feel oversized, but the long handle offers good leverage in deep bowls and pots. The large, flat blade makes quick work of folding whipped egg whites, which would suffer from too much agitation. You may not use it every day, but it can’t be beat for certain tasks. It lost points for staining, but it eventually did come clean.  More on this test

Everything we did with this ladle felt easy and controlled, from scooping chunky stew out of a small saucepan to reaching into a tall stockpot to collect broth. The 45-degree angle of the offset handle put our arms and wrists at a natural angle, giving us full control. The slightly shallow bowl worked well for scraping the bottom of a pot, though it was less convenient for collecting and retaining springy noodles than a deeper bowl would be.  More on this test

The lightest of the stainless-steel models, this nearly perfect spoon had a long, hollow handle that felt like it was molded to fit our palms; its wide, shallow, thin bowl made it a breeze to scoop up food. Quibbles were minor: The bowl got a few scratches in the dishwasher, and a few testers thought the steep, ladle-like angle between the handle and the bowl upset the balance of the spoon.   More on this test