How To Cook Outdoors With Cast Iron Dutch Oven

United States
April 29, 2007 12:38am CST
Heat control is the hardest thing to master when learning to cook with a Dutch Oven. Remember to start with moderate temperatures. You can always add more heat if desired or necessary. Be cautious, as most of your guests wont enjoy burned food! High quality charcoal briquettes are recommended. Charcoal Briquettes provide a long lasting, even heat source and are easier to use than wood coals. Briquettes will last for about an hour and will need to be replenished if longer cooking times are required. Group the smaller briquettes and add new hot ones as required to maintain the desired temperature. Rule of thumb: Each Charcoal briquette adds between 10 & 20 degrees. Different types of cooking requires different placement of the briquettes. Here are a few general rules for briquette placement: For Roasting: The heat source comes from the top and bottom equally. This requires twice as many coals on top as on the bottom. For Baking: The heat source comes from the top more than the bottom. Place 3 times as many coals on the lid. For Boiling, Frying, Stewing, Simmering: All of the heat comes from the bottom. All coals are placed beneath the Dutch Oven. Place the required # of briquettes under the oven bottom in a circular pattern so they are at least 1/2" inside the Dutch Oven's edge. Arrange charcoal briquettes on top in a checkerboard pattern. Do not bunch briquettes as they can cause hot spots. To prevent hot spots during cooking, get in the habit to lift and rotate the entire oven 1/4 turn and then rotate just the lid 1/4 turn in the opposite direction. Rotate every 10-15 minutes. If you use wood coals, remember that the flame will be much hotter than the coals! Avoid direct flames on the pot or turn frequently. It is important to remember that these tips are only a guide to help you get started. You will need to adjust briquettes (or coals) according to the recipe and keep in mind that the weather, ambient temperature, and ground conditions can affect cooking temperature. Here is a handy guide for the amount of charcoal briquettes needed for different sized Dutch Ovens to reach a desired temperature level: 8" DUTCH OVEN: 325 degrees - 15 coals ...OR... 10 on top & 5 on bottom 350 degrees - 16 coals ...OR... 11 on top & 5 on bottom 375 degrees - 17 coals ...OR... 11 on top & 6 on bottom 400 degrees - 18 coals ...OR... 12 on top & 6 on bottom 425 degrees - 19 coals ...OR... 13 on top & 6 on bottom 450 degrees - 20 coals ...OR... 14 on top & 6 on bottom 10" DUTCH OVEN: 325 degrees - 19 coals ...OR... 13 on top & 6 on bottom 350 degrees - 21 coals ...OR... 14 on top & 7 on bottom 375 degrees - 23 coals ...OR... 16 on top & 7 on bottom 400 degrees - 25 coals ...OR... 17 on top & 8 on bottom 425 degrees - 27 coals ...OR... 18 on top & 9 on bottom 450 degrees - 29 coals ...OR... 19 on top & 10 on bottom 12" DUTCH OVEN: 325 degrees - 23 coals ...OR... 16 on top & 7 on bottom 350 degrees - 25 coals ...OR... 17 on top & 8 on bottom 375 degrees - 27 coals ...OR... 18 on top & 9 on bottom 400 degrees - 29 coals ...OR... 19 on top & 10 on bottom 425 degrees - 31 coals ...OR... 21 on top & 10 on bottom 450 degrees - 33 coals ...OR... 22 on top & 11 on bottom 14" DUTCH OVEN: 325 degrees - 30 coals ...OR... 20 on top & 10 on bottom 350 degrees - 32 coals ...OR... 21 on top & 11 on bottom 375 degrees - 34 coals ...OR... 22 on top & 12 on bottom 400 degrees - 36 coals ...OR... 24 on top & 12 on bottom 425 degrees - 38 coals ...OR... 25 on top & 13 on bottom 450 degrees - 40 coals ...OR... 26 on top & 14 on bottom 16" DUTCH OVEN: 325 degrees - 34 coals ...OR... 22 on top & 12 on bottom 350 degrees - 36 coals ...OR... 24 on top & 12 on bottom 375 degrees - 38 coals ...OR... 25 on top & 13 on bottom 400 degrees - 40 coals ...OR... 27 on top & 13 on bottom 425 degrees - 42 coals ...OR... 28 on top & 14 on bottom 450 degrees - 44 coals ...OR... 30 on top & 14 on bottom NOTE: For cooking times over an hour additional charcoal may be necessary. Either have another batch ready to go after about an hour and a half or, at about an hour, place unlit briquettes next to those on and under the oven to ignite them. I have already posted a discussion on how to season your cast iron and it can be found here: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/1038184.aspx I have also posted a discussion on how to cook With Cast Iron Dutch Oven and it can be found here: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/1038204.aspx
4 people like this
4 responses
• United States
29 Apr 07
Thank you so much for posting this villageanne! I have always wanted to try cooking this way. I will be looking for a dutch oven now to use. I would appreciate any suggestions on where to buy one. I can't wait to try this out next time we go camping!
2 people like this
• United States
30 Apr 07
Estate Sales are always a great place to find them. Most of the younger generations dont want the cast iron so when they sell their parents items...they sell them. Any outdoor outfitter that sells camping gear should have them also.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Apr 07
I have already posted a discussion on how to season your cast iron and it can be found here: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/1038184.aspx I have also posted a discussion on how to cook With Cast Iron Dutch Oven and it can be found here: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/1038204.aspx
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Apr 07
What an excellent article! Although I doubt that the hubby will use this, I am printing if off for myself and our roomie. Our roomie has a Dutch oven. Using the Dutch oven will also be great when cooking larger meats that require the oven for baking. Using the oven in the summertime is a no-no in our house. It gets so hot in here. Cooking outside is a great way to cook the meals that you enjoy and not heating up the kitchen. Your chart breaks it down perfectly. So perfectly that even my old man could do it if he were so inclined to at least give it a try. Huggers to you!
@carpenter5 (6785)
• United States
1 May 07
I use my cast iron skillets all the time. I love them for things like baking cornbread. My mom helped me season mine after I bought it.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 May 07
You just cant match the taste of cornbread done in a cast iron skillet. The pioneers knew what they were doing. Didnt they? I admire the pioneers so mush.
@gewcew23 (8010)
• United States
30 Apr 07
Wow thanks for all of the information. I will definately bookmark this for when I find me a dutch oven.
1 person likes this