Joe’s Top Ten Dutch Oven Tips
#1. Keep your Dutch ovens hot! Keeping the Dutch ovens hot by using them regularly is the best way to keep them seasoned, and the best way to get better at Dutch oven cooking.
#2. Clean your ovens right after the meal. The easiest time to clean is right after you are done eating. If you wait, the job gets way harder. Make it a habit to clean them right away.
#3. Buy a small shovel for handling briquettes. Tongs are great for making rings, but when you need to move several briquettes at a time, a small shovel (like the ones that come with a wood stove set) is very handy.
#4. Keep the lid shut! When you open an oven to check your food, you lose a lot of heat. Until the recipe should be close to done, just trust your oven, and let it cook!
#5. Check the lid and legs before you buy. The brand of the oven doesn’t matter much, the quality does. Check for a tight seal on the lid, no matter which way you turn it, and check for good solid legs. Thick walls are important too.
#6. Watch the wind. If you are cooking outside, wind can really change the way your food will cook. It can burn on one side and not finish cooking on the other. If it is windy at all, rotate the oven every fifteen minutes, and block the wind any way you can.
#7. Start with the “Diameter minus 3” rule when baking. If you are wondering how many briquettes to use for a baking recipe, take the diameter of the oven you are using and subtract three. This will give you a starting point to know how many briquettes to put under the oven. You will put the briquettes in a circle that will be the same size as the bottom of the oven, evenly spaced. For example a 12 inch Dutch oven would have 9 briquettes under it. Then always rim the top, plus three more in the middle of the lid. Some recipes need more or less, but this is a pretty good starting point until you perfect your recipe.
#8. Buy a pre-seasoned oven. If you are going to buy an oven, buy one that is pre-seasoned. They do not cost much more than the others, and you do not have to mess with seasoning it at home. I have bought both ways, and can’t see any reason not to let someone else season them!
#9. Use propane to start your briquettes. I use a briquette starter, instead of using newspaper under it, I use the propane stove to start my briquettes. It is much faster, and when you are cooking with a lot of ovens at once, it is much easier to keep up.
#10. If you can cook it in an oven in the kitchen, you can cook it in a Dutch oven outside. Try your favorite recipes outside in the Dutch oven. It can be done! It may take some creativity and a little practice, but don’t be afraid to try new things. Start simple, but once you are comfortable, try all of your favorites.
Joe’s Advanced Dutch Oven Recipes
Miah’s Apple Pie
5 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 lb lard
2 tsps salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp vinegar
¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp cinnamon, divided
- ¾ cups
- 5-6 med. Red baking apples
- 2 tsps lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
8 Fuji Apples
½ cup sugar
Crust- Blend flour, sugar, lard, salt, vinegar, and baking powder, then add 1 beaten egg and ¾ cup of lukewarm water. Mix with fork and gently knead dow for a few seconds.
Filling- Core and slice apples. Combine apples, lemon juice, and vanilla. Toss and coat. In another bowl combine cornstarch, ¾ cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix well. Add sugar mixture to apples, stir to coat evenly.
Applesauce- Wash, peel, and core apples. Cut into quarters. Place apples in about ½ inch water and boil until apples are tender. Add sugar. Add cinnamon to taste. Return to boil. Smash apples with potato masher.
Pie Assembly- Lightly grease DO. Roll pie crust to ¼ inch thick, press into bottom and up the sides of 10 inch Dutch oven. Spoon apple mixture into crust alternating layers with applesauce and pie filling. Roll top crust to ¼ inch thick and put it on. Cut vent holes in top. Place 9 briquettes on bottom, ring the top and place three in the middle. Cook until golden brown and apples are tender, approximately 1 hour.
Country-Style Barbecue Ribs
- 12 inch Dutch Oven
- ½ cup brown sugar ½ onion (Chopped)
- 1/3 cup Worchestershire sauce ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup lemon juice 1 28oz bottle ketchup
- 1 6oz bottle mustard 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 4 Tbsp chili powder ¼ bottle steak sauce
- 2 Tbsp molasses 3 Tbsp Honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a hot 12 inch Dutch oven, brown chopped onion in butter. Mix other ingredients in a bowl, then pour in with butter and onion. Simmer for about 30 minutes and set aside.
Sear 5 or 6 pounds ob boneless pork or beef ribs on all sides in a hot 12 inch Dutch oven. Pour one can of beer over the ribs and cook for 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Replace coals as needed. (Approximately every hour)
Remove ribs from Dutch oven and place into barbecue sauce (reserve about 2 cups of sauce to serve at table) and cook an additional hour.
Use about 8 to 10 on the bottom and ring the top to make the sauce. Use a pile of briquettes to heat the Dutch oven to sear the ribs. Then ring the bottom and ring the top with 3 in the middle to cook the ribs.
Spinach-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin
- ½ lb fresh mushrooms, chopped- 1 tsp salt divided-
- 4 green onions, sliced- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper-
- 2 Tbsp olive oil divided – 1 3 ½ beef tenderloin, trimmed-
- 2 garlic cloves, minced divided- ¼ tsp onion powder-
- 2 16oz packages spinach leaves – ¼ tsp ground pepper
In a skillet, saute mushrooms and onions in 1 Tbsp oil for 2 minutes. Add half of the garlic; cook until mushrooms are tender. Add spinach, ½ tsp. salt, and cayenne. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Cut a lengthwise slit down the center of the tenderloin to within ¾ inch of the bottom. Open so that the meat lies flat. Spread with spinach stuffing. Fold one side of the meat over the stuffing; tie several times with kitchen string. Rub remaining oil over beef.
Combine the onion powder, pepper, and remaining garlic, and salt. Rub over beef. Place on a rack in a 12 inch Dutch oven.
Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours to desired temperature.
Briquettes: Full ring on the bottom. Full ring on the top, with three in the middle of the lid.
Elk Camp Herb Rolls
- 4 to 4 ½ cups all- purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 pkgs Rapid Rise Yeast
- 1 ½ tsp. Salt
- ¾ tsp dried marjoram leaves
- ¾ tsp dried thyme leaves
- ¾ tsp dried rosemary leaves
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 egg
In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, salt, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary. Heat milk, water, and ¼ cup butter until very warm (120 to 130 degrees); stir into dry ingredients.
Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover, let rise on floured surface for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into 16 equal pieces and shape quickly into balls. Arrange into greased 10 inch Dutch oven and brush with soft butter.
Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20-40 minutes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. Melt remaining butter, brush over rolls. If desired, sprinkle additional marjoram, thyme, and rosemary over top.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Briquettes: 8-9 on the bottom, and ring the top, plus three in the middle on the lid. Watch closely and remove top briquettes if necessary to prevent burning.
Beer Battered Bird
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup beer
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 3 boneless chicken breasts, or the bird of choice!
- 1 1/4 cups veg. oil
Beat egg with a whisk, then beat in beer, then dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Cover and let stand 30 minutes before using. (Waiting is very important) Cut meat into 1 inch cubes, and get the oil hot for deep frying. I use an unlit match to test it, if the match ignites when you drop it in the oil, it is ready. (360 degrees) Using tongs, dip the meat in the batter until well coated, then deep fry in the oil until done. Leftovers are best cold.
Joe’s Easy Dutch Oven Recipes
Peach Dump Cake
2 cans sliced peaches- 1 yellow or white cake mix
¼ stick butter melted -1 tsp Cyanine pepper (optional)
Dump peaches into bottom of Dutch oven. Dump the DRY cake mix over the peaches. Pour melted butter over the cake mix. Ring the top of the oven with coals, and place three less coals than the diameter of the oven on the bottom. Cook for 45 minutes to one hour or until cake is brown and sugar is caramelized.
Dutch Oven Yeast Rolls
- 2 pkgs. Dry yeast- 1 ½ cups warm water (115 degrees)
- 8 tsps. Sugar – 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. salt – 2 eggs
- 4 to 5 cups flour- soft butter or margarine
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Add sugar, oil, salt, and eggs. Cover with cloth and place in warm place for 15 minutes. Lightly grease 12-inch Dutch oven. Stir down batter and add 4 cups flour (one at time while mixing with spoon). Stir and turn onto floured board. Knead 3 minutes. If sticky, knead in ½ cup flour.
Divide dough into 16 pieces and shape quickly into balls. Arrange into pan and brush with melted butter. Cover with cloth and place in a warm place for 25 minutes. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Watch closely for the last 10 minutes. Ring the top of the oven with coals, and use three less coals than the diameter of the oven on the bottom.
Dutch Oven Spuds
- 1 lb bacon- Shredded cheese-
- 1 large onion- 2 bell peppers-
- Salt and Pepper- 3 Tbsp butter-
Cut bacon into 1 inch squares and fully cook in the bottom of a 12 inch Dutch oven. You want the oven hot so use a pile of charcoal, or a propane stove for this part. Once bacon is cooked, add chopped peppers and onion and saute until tender. Cut potatoes into ½ inch pieces and fill oven, mixing with other ingredients. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Place 9 coals under oven in a circle that is the same size as the bottom of the oven, evenly spaced. On the lid of the oven, place a ring around the outside that has the coals just touching each other, then place three coals, evenly spaced, in the center of the lid. (Just outside the handle) Cook for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. tir at a half hour, and at 45 minutes. Once potatoes are tender, remove all coals and sprinkle cheese over the top, as liberal as desired. Then replace lid until cheese is melted. Most use cheddar cheese, but I also like pepper jack. Serve from the oven.
Rocky Mountain Huckleberry Apple Pie
- The Crust:
- 5 cups flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 lb. lard
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 tsp baking powder
Blend ingredients, then add 1 beaten egg and ¾ cup of lukewarm water. Mix with a fork and knead for a few seconds gently.
- The Filling:
- 1 egg white lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 5-6 medium baking apples (6 cups when sliced)
- 2 cups huckleberries
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Make pie crust as shown above, then divide into two parts. Roll dough into circle that is ¼ inch thick. Place dough in 10 inch Dutch oven and lightly push against the bottom and sides. Let the extra hang over the Dutch oven.
Mix filling ingredients by putting apples and huckleberries in a large bowl, then separately mixing all other ingredients then pouring them over the berries and apples. Mix until apples are evenly coated.
Pour filling into the Dutch oven spreading out evenly. Roll remaining dough into ¼ inch thick circle and place on top of filling. Cut remaining dough off with a knife, then pinch to seal edges. Cut some vent holes in the top of the pie.
Cook pie with 8 coals on the bottom, and with the top rimmed with an additional three coals in the center for approximately one hour or until top crust is golden brown. Allow to cool and serve.
My dad got me into Dutch oven cooking. He used to be involved in helping with scouting events, and built an interest that he has passed on to me. At camp, several years back, we started getting into trying different recipes.
We failed a lot at first, then slowly figured some things out and built our confidence. It is a great hobby. We started with only a couple of ovens, and have now expanded to over 30! The best times cooking in a Dutch oven are in the woods while camping, but we have expanded into a few other areas as well.
Any time we see, or hear about a recipe that sounds good, we want to try it in a Dutch oven! So, we end up cooking a lot in the back yard as well. Most of the time, we cook for our families and friends, but we have also cooked for groups of over 100 people, having up to 26 ovens going at once.
Of course we had some help from our wives! We have also cooked in several competitions, including the World Championships in Utah.
While competing has been fun, and allowed us to do a little traveling, the best times cooking are when the only pressure comes from waiting while smelling the food cooking in the Dutch oven!