Can you boil water in a Dutch oven?
It might seem like a strange question, but there is actually quite a lot of debate around the topic of whether you can boil water in a Dutch oven or not. In part, this has been fueled by some of the more popular manufacturers of Dutch oven cookware themselves. We’re naming no names, but some recommend that their cast iron cookware be used over a steady and low flame that only ever delivers a medium temperature.
As we all know, cast iron is thick, and water needs to be 100 degrees to boil, so if the temperature inside your Dutch oven isn’t allowed to get any higher than 97 degrees, quite frankly, you will never get it to boil water. However, the straightforward answer to can you boil water in a Dutch oven is of course, yes! Just make sure that you have the flame and temperature high enough to do so.
What else should you know about your new Dutch oven
If you are the new and proud owner of a Dutch oven then congratulations, you are going to have quite possibly a lifetime of delicious as well as joyous cooking experiences ahead of you. While the initial investment might have set up back more than you’d bargained for, it’s the one piece of cookware that you will use time and time again, and you can indeed bake, broil and boil, grill, sauté and simmer. It’s a multipurpose, incredibly versatile and ultimately dependable piece of cookware that should very much be viewed as an investment.
Treat your Dutch oven properly, and it will last you for decades
While we are on the subject of water, there are a few important points to make with regards to water and your Dutch oven. Before you even use your Dutch oven for the first time, you will want to ensure that it has been thoroughly cleaned with hot, soapy water and then properly dried with a soft cloth.
Water is the enemy of cast iron as it eventually creates rust, and nobody wants to spend $100’s on a fantastic cast iron pot to then have the flavor of those delicious dishes tainted by isolated pockets of rust. Regularly seasoning your Dutch oven is vital to its maintenance and ensuring that you always clear away any remaining moisture or residue of water before you put your oven away is just as important.
Boiling hot water and the high-temperature debate
As we’ve already established, some manufacturers of cast iron cookware don’t recommend that you regularly cook over high flames. However, the very beauty of this type of vessel is that it has been designed to hold heat at a regular and even temperature. That means of course that it works exceptionally well when you heat things up slowly and steadily.
It’s also a great solution for when you want to subsequently keep a dish warm on the stovetop without continuing to have a flame burning. That’s why Dutch ovens are so popular for preparing stews, casseroles, and soups, which of course are also water or liquid based.
If you do want to use your Dutch oven specifically to boil water, that you might want for preparing vegetables, pasta, rice or even reducing the consistency of a stock or sauce, then you are going to need to crank up that heat source to its highest setting so that the water can be boiled. Using a heat setting on some food recipes though is certainly not advisable as it could encourage the food to stick and burn simply because the vessel is such an effective and efficient conductor of heat.
Remember also that you can use your Dutch oven to fry foods and oil heats up to a much higher temperature than boiling water so again, despite what some of the manufacturers of ovens might say on the subject, using high heat is perfectly OK as long as you maintain, season and clean your oven correctly afterward.
Cast iron gets hot and holds heats, but conversely, it does also get cold too!
Remember that the process of conductivity does, in fact, work both ways. While cast iron is the perfect product for getting hot and evenly distributing heat, it also retains the cold too, so you can go from the stove top to the table top and then into your refrigerator. Just don’t immediately move from the stove to the fridge or the fridge to the stove as if you do have an enamel coating, those extremes of temperature could cause the enamel to crack. So, it’s always a good idea to make sure you let your Dutch oven stand first to either cool down or heat back up to room temperature.
Boiling, broiling, baking, and frying
A Dutch oven at the end of the day can cook virtually anything. It’s that one piece of cookware that would stand the test of time in a disaster and be an essential part of your cooking survival kit. The reason for that being, when used in the right conditions and heat temperature settings, you really can boil water in it, make stews, soups, and casseroles, a full Sunday roast or even bake a loaf of bread. If you were ever forced to evacuate your home and had to set up a temporary camp, you definitely would want to take your Dutch oven with you!
Absolutely, yes you can, and the best way of doing this is to crank up the heat setting so that you have your flame or heat on high to speed up the boiling process. As a cautionary note, cast iron Dutch ovens are heavy, to begin with, and especially so when full of hot boiling water, so please execute due caution when removing on and off the stove top and ensure that you haven’t overfilled your cookware with too much water either.
Also, to ensure that your Dutch oven remains in the best condition possible, make sure that you clean, season and always thoroughly pat dry your Dutch oven before storing it away. If you do all of this, then you and your Dutch Oven will be boiling, broiling and baking together for many happy years to come.