When you move away from home, it can be daunting to figure out which items you need in your kitchen and prioritize your purchases.

There is no doubt that certain cooking items are worth splurging on, especially if you are going to use them often and they can stand the test of time. Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum, many seniors are starting to downsize their homes, which means that valuable cupboard space needs to be given to items that will be the most useful. Stockpots and Dutch ovens are a perfect example of this dilemma.

While many people think that a Stockpot and a Dutch Oven are synonymous, that would be far from the truth, and the comment would cause any chef to gasp in horror.

Read on to can find out which should be on your Christmas list this year.

The Stockpot

Stockpots come in various sizes, generally starting from 8 quarts, but they all have certain features in common. Stockpots are large pots with a flat bottom and tall sides designed to accommodate a lot of ingredients.

Hence the name, a stockpot was traditionally used to boil off various stocks made from a large bone and cast-off vegetable peelings and the like. The pot itself is made of reasonably light metal so that it is easier to pick up when full to the brim.

Stockpots typically have two handles near the top and a lid and sometimes come in a set along with other pots and pans. The lid will allow some steam to escape so that the contents can slowly reduce as the cooking process continues.

Stockpot
Stockpots are large pots with a flat bottom and tall sides: designed to accommodate a lot of ingredients.

When is it best to use a stockpot?

In addition to making stock, a stockpot is ideal for large batches of soup, chili or stews on the stovetop. It is also the go-to pot for making spaghetti or for boiling crab or cobs of corn. Here are some uses for a stockpot that you might want to consider:

Canning Kettle – Stockpots are available in various sizes, so depending on your cans, this pot can be perfect for using as a water bath when canning jams, jellies, vegetables, or tomatoes. Canning might not be as common as it was a generation ago, but nothing beats heartfelt gifts of homemade pickles or marmalades.

Batch cooking – Every other Saturday before our next grocery shop, our household makes a massive batch of bolognese sauce. There’s no recipe, since besides a base of ground beef, onions and herbs, the rest is all about using up every last bit of veggies in the fridge. Carrots, celery, fresh herbs, tomatoes, half jars of tomato paste, peppers, and more go into the pot, so nothing is left to waste. This concoction is then mixed with cooked pasta, thrown into a Pyrex dish, layered with cheese, and covered in foil before going into the freezer. Not only does this save a load of money by using up odds and ends, but it also helps ready the fridge for easier cleaning and ensures that we have healthy read-made freezer meals for nights when you otherwise would be hitting the drive-through.

Cooking legumes – Frugal cooking and stockpots are a match made in heaven. Variety types of beans, lentils, and chickpeas are all loads cheaper if you buy them dried rather than canned. Cooking them yourself also limits your sodium intake, and they taste better. You can use your stockpot to soak these items overnight. In the morning, drain, rinse, and refill before simmering until they are soft. Once cooled, these can be put into freezer bags to be popped into a stew, soup, or chili at a later stage.

Making stock – It may seem obvious with the name and all, but a stockpot is perfect for simmering stocks. Again, this is a fabulous way to ensure your family eats healthier and enables you to use up all of the ends of vegetables and last scraps of meat. Homemade chicken broth is so much nicer than those horrid cubes, and it freezes a dream. You’ll never throw away another rotisserie chicken carcass again.

Cook N Home Stockpot available in 8 quart, 12 quart and 20 quart sizes:

Cook N Home Quart Stockpot, 8 QT, Metallic
3,691 Reviews
Cook N Home Quart Stockpot, 8 QT, Metallic
  • Made of mirror polished 18-10 stainless steel for durability and easy cleaning
  • Encapsulated aluminum disc in bottom for even heat conduction and prevents hot spots
  • Tempered glass lid with steam vent to view food while cooking and stays cool

The Dutch oven

A Dutch oven is a heavy cast-iron pot that is wider than it is tallm and has a tight-fitting lid to secure moisture.

Dutch ovens are excellent for retaining and distributing heat and incredibly versatile. Traditionally Dutch ovens needed to be seasoned with oil to protect the cast iron and prevent it from rusting and food from sticking.

However, today most Dutch ovens have an enamel coating that eliminates this need. Moreover, this coating means that Dutch ovens are available in all colors of the rainbow and have become quite the coveted piece of equipment in a kitchen. In fact, we keep one in pride of place on the stovetop all of the time which is also due to laziness as the thing weighs a tonne!

orange dutch oven
Dutch oven are are excellent for retaining and distributing heat and incredibly versatile

When is it best to use a Dutch oven?

A Dutch oven is ideal for going from stovetop to oven and straight to the table for serving. This workhorse of a pot is best for thicker liquid recipes like stews, tomato sauces, or for braising meat low and slow. A Dutch oven retains heat incredibly well, to the point that inexperienced cooks may have some accidentally scorched meals if not carefully attentive. The heavy, tightly fit lid limits moisture escaping and acts as an insulator and heat conductor. You may consider a Dutch oven also for:

Deep frying – A Dutch oven is ideal for retaining the temperature needed for deep frying, and since the pot itself is so heavy, you don’t need to worry about it being knocked and causing spills. Most Dutch ovens are much wider than they are tall, which is perfect for frying in batches. We often leave the oil in our Dutch oven to use another day.

Marinating – An enameled Dutch oven is ideal for marinating meats and vegetables since the coating can’t be permeated even by acidic ingredients like wine or vinegar. This also means that you can use the same pot for cooking, and we all loveless washing up!

Baking bread – Dutch ovens do indeed work like an oven and are the perfect pot for making loaves of gorgeous crusty bread. Recipes like this one for no need bread take only about five minutes of prep time.

Casseroles – The fact that a Dutch oven can quickly move from the stovetop to oven and right to the table makes them ideal for one-pot casseroles. Many pots like the Le Creuset will be gorgeous on your table, so there is no need to dirty another dish. The pot will also retain heat and keep your meal warm throughout dinner.

casserole cooked in dutch oven
Dutch oven is ideal for one-pot casseroles.

Le Creuset’s 6.75 quart Dutch oven looks great in deep teal:

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Oval Dutch Oven, 6.75 qt., Deep Teal
138 Reviews
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Oval Dutch Oven, 6.75 qt., Deep Teal
  • 45% larger handles that provide a sure grip, even with oven mitts. Heat Source-Ceramic Hob, Electric Hob, Gas Hob, Grill, Oven safe, Induction hob
  • The superior heat distribution and retention of le creuset enameled cast iron
  • An advanced sand-colored interior enamel with even more resistance to wear

Comparing Stockpots to Dutch Ovens

It’s time to go head to head, or lid to lid, to see whether the stockpot or the Dutch oven is the winner of this battle. Check out our table below to see which is the winner of each round.

 StockpotDutch OvenWinner?
PriceBasic pots are very cheap but can get expensive depending on the brand and size.Bare cast iron is pretty reasonable. Enameled pots are pricy even without a name brand.Stockpot
WeightLightVery heavyStockpot
VersatilityIt depends on the size but can be used for a variety of cooking purposes.
They can only be used on the stovetop.
The sheer weight of cast iron limits these pots from getting too big.
They can be used on the stovetop or oven.
Stockpot by a slim margin and depends on what you usually cook.
LooksIt is a nondescript tall pot though generally in stainless steel.Available in a rainbow of gorgeous colors.Dutch oven
Oven friendlyGenerally, can’t go in the oven.Can easily go in the ovenDutch oven
Induction cooker friendlySometimes depending on the material used.YesDutch oven

It really is neck and neck, and then we still don’t have a clear winner in the battle of stockpot vs. Dutch oven. If we had to give one of them up in our own kitchen, it would be a tough choice without a doubt.

Likely the stockpot would win if we are entirely logical about the whole situation, but our Dutch oven is just so darn pretty, and of course, useful.

To be fair, if it was just down to price and versatility, then it’s a no-brainer since a good quality stockpot is a fraction of the cost of a quality enameled Dutch oven. It still doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t cry if that Le Creuset had to go, but we would think twice about paying that hefty price tag again.

Conclusion

There is no clear winner in the battle between a stockpot and a Dutch oven. You will sacrifice some utility by picking one or the other, so the runaway champion depends on your cooking style. We are personally happy that we don’t have to pick one or the other. However, if you had to decide, it is likely best to start with a stockpot. A stockpot is versatile, can cook a lot of food at once, and is a cheaper initial investment.

If you want to stretch your budget, then you could always also go for an old-fashioned cast-iron Dutch oven, which is far less expensive than the enameled version and should last you for generations with proper care. You can then add a gorgeous enameled Dutch oven in your favorite color to your wish list from Santa.