Even if you’ve mastered your cast iron iron skillet cleaning routine, caring for a larger cast iron cooking tool like a Dutch oven can often seem a little intimidating. Should you clean it the same way? How do you make sure it’s completely dry? And does it need to be seasoned in the same way as a skillet? Luckily, caring for a cast iron Dutch oven is actually super simple, and relies on time and use more than anything else—just like our skillets.

How to clean a cast iron Dutch oven

To start, you’ll need the right set of tools. From there, we recommend following The Field Method, our foolproof steps for cast iron care:


Rinse out your Dutch oven with a little warm water, and scrub with a stiff brush to remove any food or stuck-on residue.


Lightly scuff the cooking surface and interior walls of the Dutch oven with a chain mail scrubber. The chain mail will also help remove any sticky food that hasn’t come away yet.


Heat your Dutch oven over medium-low heat for about 5 to 6 minutes, to evaporate moisture. Same goes for the lid, if you used and cleaned it.


If there are still some drops of water after heating the Dutch oven, wipe it dry with a paper towel or rag to get rid of any remaining water.


Apply a dab of seasoning oil. Use a paper towel or cloth to rub the seasoning oil all over the Dutch oven, including the exterior.


Wipe away any excess oil.

Then cook your next meal! The only notable difference when cleaning a Dutch oven is that you might need to dry it a little longer; since it’s a bigger piece of cookware, it may take longer to evaporate all the moisture. Following these steps after each use of your Dutch oven (or any cast iron cookware for that matter), will make cast iron care easy, and also help build up durable, even layers of seasoning.

How to build up seasoning in a Dutch oven?

We’re firm believers that the best way to develop seasoning is just by cooking. Every time you heat up oil in your cast iron, you’re adding a little bit more seasoning; and with enough use, you’ll develop the slick, non-stick surface you expect. For this reason, we often recommend that people start breaking in a new skillet by cooking things that coat the pan in plenty of fat, like cornbread or roasted vegetables.

But when it comes to a Dutch oven, making cornbread likely isn’t your first move. Instead, we’d recommend making one of these recipe, which will coat the taller walls of a Dutch oven with an even layer of fat, getting you on the path to bulletproof seasoning:

Stovetop Popcorn

We’ve found that we use our Dutch ovens almost every week to make stovetop popcorn. Making popcorn on the stove allows you to season it to taste, and to get much more creative with your seasoning choices. Plus, heating up fat and then frying the popcorn kernels adds some great seasoning to both the interior of the Dutch oven and your cast iron lid.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings with Crispy Garlic

Seasoning your Dutch oven is the perfect excuse to make a batch of crispy, peppery chicken wings. This version of our favorite snack gets bonus points for its double hit of garlic; after frying in garlicky oil, the wings are tossed with crunchy garlic chips.

Dutch Oven-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

If you’re roasting a chicken you can take two routes, do it in a cast iron skillet, or a Dutch oven, it just depends on what you want. While a skillet might yield crispier skin, roasting your chicken in a Dutch oven keeps the meat juicer, and doesn’t dry the bird out. But no matter which way you go, roasting poultry is a great way to sneak in some new seasoning on your cast iron.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Apple Cider Funnel Cakes

Despite what you might think, funnel cakes are super easy to make at home! They don’t require a yeasted dough like some other fritters, and the batter comes together super quickly. We love this recipe in particular because it gives you the flavor of an apple-cider donut.

What not to cook in a cast iron Dutch oven

The first thing you think of cooking in a Dutch oven is probably chili (or maybe that’s just me). But at the same time, we’ve all been told that you can’t cook acidic foods in cast iron. So can you make all the chilis, beef stews and slow simmering braises you want to in your Dutch oven?

In short, yes! The idea that you can’t cook acidic foods in cast iron is a bit of a myth. You will lose a little bit of seasoning when you cook something acidic or super liquidy in your cast iron, but that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) do it. Instead, you simply need to ensure you have enough seasoning built up on the cooking surface first. This will prevent your Dutch oven (or pan) from going back down to bare metal if and when you do lose some seasoning.

You can find our full guide to cooking with acidic foods in cast iron here. With these guidelines in hand, you can pretty much make anything in your Dutch oven. If you have any questions about cast iron care, or just want to show us what you’re making in your No.8 Dutch Oven, feel free to drop us a line at help@fieldcompany.com.