Dutch ovens have been difficult to find since the pandemic took over American life. Because we design our gear list to provide you with useful items, not just things that will get put in an “outdoor gear” box and collect dust, we’re changing our recommendation for a dutch oven for students. In short, we’re removing the legs to make it more versatile so you can use it at home or in the field.
I’m still a big believer that an 8″ (2-quart) dutch oven is one of the most versatile pots around the campfire or in the home kitchen, especially if you’re cooking for 1 or 2 people. That hasn’t changed. The beginning of this spring’s Wilderness Guide Training Semester was cold, and we ended up cooking on a woodstove for much of the first few weeks. A dutch without legs worked great, while a dutch with legs did not.
A small dutch oven is a great hanging frypan, and when it has a flanged lid makes a functional oven for baking bread or roasting meat. So the new recommendation is for a legless, 8-inch, 2-quart cast iron dutch oven with a flanged lid. To get around the oven not having legs, we also recommend getting a dutch oven lid stand that just fits an 8″ oven. Specifically, this 7 7/8″ folding dutch oven lid stand by ForHauz.
You can rake out a bunch of coals from the fire, put the lid holder down, put the oven on the lid holder, then pile coals onto the flanged lid. So it works just like a dutch oven with legs, but you can also use it in the kitchen at home. on a regular burner or in the oven. The lid holder also keeps your lid free of dirt or debris, keeping it out of your food, and can be used to lift a lid or an oven.
The dutch oven I have is from Bayou Classic, but as long as the lid fits and it has a flanged lid, it will work. The Bayou Classic oven came with one of those goofy metal spirals on the bail handle. I call it goofy because it makes it a lot harder to hang the oven over a campfire. So, I cut it off with a pair of pliers, then filed down the ends with the file I keep my axe sharp with.
Looking around at the usual suspects of online commerce, it seems that this is mostly not in stock anywhere. Hopefully there will be some cast iron cookware available before the fall semester begins. Again, it isn’t about the brand. It’s about flanged lid, bail handle and tight-fitting lid.
And if you’re looking for inspiration or recipes to make in your 2-quart dutch oven, pick up a copy of Glorious One-Pot Meals by Elizabeth Yarnell. Highly recommended.
2023 Update: Since writing this post, the price of the Bayou Classic dutch oven has increased significantly. I have since purchased a 2 quart Stansport dutch oven (for $23) and like it as well.