Cooking at home saves you money, but you need the right kitchenware to do it. You may have noticed in many recipes that chefs call for Dutch ovens and cast iron skillets. Both can go from the stove to the oven, and they can evenly cook food better than traditional pots and pans. Additionally, both are great for cooking stews, chili, meats, and casseroles. But is one better for your kitchen? Below, explore the pros and cons of choosing a cast-iron skillet versus a Dutch oven for your first apartment.
Thinking about kitchen storage before you buy your kitchenware is essential. Cast-iron skillets are usually easier to store even though some can be wider and require more horizontal space than a Dutch oven. They can be conveniently stacked with other skillets.
Dutch ovens (usually made from cast-iron and sometimes with an enamel coating) come in a wide array of sizes, but standard five to seven-quart models can take up a bit of vertical space in cabinets and on countertops. They may even take up too much space if your kitchen is small and your apartment doesn’t offer much storage space. Depending on a Dutch oven’s size, it might not fit in your oven or on your shelves.
An advantage of cooking with a cast-iron skillet instead of a Dutch oven is its lighter weight, as Dutch ovens are significantly heavier than a skillet. Cast-iron skillets typically weigh around five pounds. Dutch ovens often weigh 14 pounds or more. , Food inside a Dutch oven can make it even heavier, which can make it especially tough to work with as you bring it to and from the oven.
Since most Dutch ovens are made of cast-iron and have tight lids, they retain very heat well. That’s why Dutch ovens are best used for foods that require extended periods of braising or stewing. They retain heat so effectively that if you’re not careful, you can burn your food if you cook it at too high a temperature.
Additionally, Dutch ovens can be used for baking and campfire cooking because the lids tightly secure your food. The best foods to cook in a Dutch oven are chilis, soups, pastas, casseroles, breads, and multiple servings of meat.
Cast-iron skillets are also oven-proof, but their lids are typically not tight-fitting compared to Dutch ovens. However, skillets may be better for simmering, sauteing, and frying food. If you love breakfast dishes, vegetables, sauteing meat, and stove-top stir fry dishes, cast-iron skillets are more suitable to cook these foods.
A cast-iron skillet is typically much more affordable than a Dutch oven. Cast-iron Dutch ovens are usually twice the price of a skillet (or even more). Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens are more expensive than cast-iron Dutch ovens without an enamel coating.
There are a couple of reasons you might want to spend more for an enameled cast-iron pot. Enameled pots don’t need to be seasoned before you use them, and they’re not prone to rust, unlike traditional cast iron.
Number of people you’re feeding
If you’re cooking for yourself or a small number of people in your first apartment, it’s best to purchase a smaller skillet or Dutch oven. A 10 to 13 inch skillet is perfect for cooking just a few servings of food. A Dutch oven under six quarts can also feed two to four people. If you regularly feed more than four people, a wider, deeper cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven will be more suitable for your needs.
If you like to quickly cook food for yourself and just a couple of other people, a cast-iron skillet might be the best kitchenware for you. They are more affordable and take up less space in a small kitchen in an apartment. On the other hand, Dutch ovens are best for serving food in larger quantities, and they are more suitable if you have more countertop and storage space.
Which do you prefer: a cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven? Sound off in the comments!