Can you fry in a Dutch oven?
Investing in a Dutch oven might set you back a few pennies depending upon the quality and reputation of the brand you’ve opted for, so it stands to good reason that you are going to want to maximize that return by using your Dutch oven as regularly as possible. That’s unlikely to be an issue as a Dutch oven really is the workhorse of the kitchen and a super versatile and multi-purpose cooking vessel. You can achieve so many delicious wholesome and flavorsome family favorite meals just by using your Dutch oven.
We’re talking everything from soups and casseroles, to stews and a Sunday roast, even creating fabulous fresh baked goods. However, can you fry in a Dutch oven? That’s a great question, and the simple answer, you will be pleased to hear, is a resounding yes! Of course, there are a few considerations and recommendations that you may want to take on board which we’ll be discussing below.
Protecting yourself and your Dutch oven
A quick cautionary note before we delve in. Oil gets hot, very hot, if you intend to start frying! So make sure you take the necessary safety precautions to avoid it splashing about. Also, check out the instructions from your manufacturer and make sure they recommend using their particular make and model at such extreme heats. You don’t want to damage the enamel, or perhaps a more likely scenario is that you might cause some discoloration to your lovely cast iron pot. If you have invested in a bright, modern and funky Le Creuset or Staub, that’s the last thing you will want to happen.
That said, there is a ton of positive consumer feedback about how brilliant Dutch ovens are for frying. Most of the testimonies we researched reported no detrimental side effects from using their oven in this way. As another quick recommendation too, it’s always best that you heat the oil slowly rather than going with a full high flame from the start. That way you will prevent any accidental scorching and also build up the perfect, evenly distributed heat environment in which to successfully fry.
So let’s look at the frying process starting with the correct level oil fill.
For the best results, we recommend that your Dutch oven should be at least 5 inches deep and hold 6 quarts. To successfully fry, you’re going to require about 3 inches of depth which will be somewhere in the region of 4 to 6 cups worth of oil. As a general rule of thumb, go for filling your oven about a third full of oil so that there is still plenty of safe room in which to place your ingredients, without the oil level rising so high that it could spill over.
The right quantity of oil is only part of the process. You also need the temperature of that oil to be just perfect. Too low and you will end up with soggy and greasy food which has absorbed all the oil rather than being fried in it. That process is taken out of your hands when you are using an electric fryer as the unit will most likely have an integrated temperature gauge. It’s a good idea if you are going to by frying using the Dutch oven that you invest in a thermometer. Something like a meat thermometer is great for this specific task as it will have a longer length stem and the thermometer element positioned on top where it can be easily read.
What about other makeshift accessories to improve your frying results?
Remember that you are using your Dutch oven and not a specific fryer purchased for that task. A fryer will most probably come with an integrated steel basket, which is perfect for those delicious home cooked French fries! You are going to need to improvise slightly to get the best results. You need to be able to lower into the oil and remove the foods that you are frying with minimum effort and the least amount of mess. If you do have some kind of detachable steel basket, that would be ideal, or at least a good pair of tongs. Again, remember that oil is hot so exercise caution when removing your food to eat.
Do we have any further top tips for successful Dutch oven frying?
Some recommendations are below on how to fry in a Dutch oven to achieve the maximum taste and minimum mess.
- Make sure you have left adequate room for your food to float and move around in the oil.
- Be patient to ensure the oil is at the correct heat temperature, particularly if you are batch frying.
- Be low and steady with heating up that oil to produce the best results. We recommend a minimum of 10 minutes on a medium heat.
- If you are going to be re-using oil, which is a sensible and economic decision, do make sure that it has sufficiently cooled down before decanting and we suggest that you use a funnel to avoid drips of oil or any mess. It’s perfectly OK to store oil in a Tupperware container and re-use it.
- If you do decide to keep your oil in the Dutch oven for next time, try frying an onion in it and that can really help to freshen it up.
- Once you have cleaned your Dutch oven after use, before you do go ahead and store it away, make sure that you have dried off any excess moisture and water that could lead to rust spots over time.
What’s the overall verdict?
A Dutch oven can be successfully used as an alternative pan for frying and deep frying all kinds of delicious foods. Just follow the processes we’ve outlined in our review and make sure that you minimize the risks that are associated with cooking with hot oil. A Dutch oven is the perfect shape and size to deliver consistent frying results, and those high side walls should prevent unwanted oil splatters.