A Dutch Oven Cooking Primer, Part 2: Cooking Tips & Recipes

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image by Dakota O

There are several tools you will need to begin cooking in your Dutch oven.

  • Lid lifter and/or long-handled tongue and groove pliers
  • Gloves
  • 16” or longer tongs
  • Charcoal chimney starter (optional but almost a must-have)
  • Newspaper and/or lighter fluid
  • Matches
  • Long handled spoon
  • Charcoal
  • Vegetable oil and applying clothes or paper towels
  • Bricks for lid cooking

When cooking in your Dutch oven it must be on a flat surface clear of dried weeds, grass, etc.  This is where a Dutch oven table is nice but not necessary. An inexpensive item to cook on is a 12” square concrete stepping stone. Get two so you have one for the charcoal chimney. After the briquettes are hot, what comes next?  You will need to place the hot coals (they are ready to use when they have a white ash on part of them) evenly spaced around in a circle the size of the Dutch oven.  Place the top coals evenly spaced on the lid.  Use the tongs to do this.

Each recipe tells you how many briquettes to use. The basic rule is this.  If it is a 10” oven, use 20 coals, 12” oven use 24 coals, etc.  Just double the diameter of your oven and that is the amount of coals you will need to cook with.  This equals about 350 degrees.  For a cooler oven (like with granola) use less, for a hotter oven (like with rolls) use more.  When baking you need twice as many coals on the top as you have on the bottom.  This is because heat rises, therefore more heat is needed on the top.

With your Dutch oven you can fry, bake, boil, or use the lid as a griddle.  Anything you cook in your kitchen oven or on the stove top, you can cook with a Dutch oven!

Recipes

I would like to share our story about how we came up with recipes using only food storage items. My husband Archie decided we needed to write a book about cooking food storage in Dutch ovens. We had cooked many different foods in Dutch ovens: biscuits and gravy, upside-down cakes, cobblers, chicken with rice, beef stew, rolls, and even Chicken Cordon Bleu.  But we didn’t have any recipes using just dried and canned food, since that is what we had stored. In an emergency there would probably be no fresh meats, no fresh vegetables or fruit, no fresh milk products, and no frozen microwave meals if the power was out and we could not get food from the store.

We were pretty good at Dutch oven cooking, but I had never used just food storage items to cook with, and had never even thought of cooking food storage in Dutch ovens.

That is when I got to work.  I wanted to have recipes that we were used to, so I got out some of my favorite recipes and modified them to use only food storage items.  Here are some very basic recipes to get you started.  I hope you like them!

 

Chocolate Cake

10” or larger Dutch oven, 8 or 9 inch round or square pan; serves 9

24 – 26 briquettes; 10 on bottom, 14- 16 on top; pre-heat 5 minutes; bake 30 minutes

Good:

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. vinegar (white or apple cider)

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup water

1/3 cup oil

 

Directions:

Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Mix the vinegar, vanilla and water together and then add to the dry ingredients.  Add the oil and mix well until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Grease and flour pan, pour batter in pan.  Place pan on foil ring and cook around 30 minutes. (check after 20 minutes). Cake is done when it has pulled away from sides of pan.

Better:

Use white flour in place of whole wheat

Best:

Use melted butter in place of oil.  Dust top of cooked cake with powdered sugar

 

Banana Bread

12” or larger Dutch oven; 1 loaf

24 briquettes: 8 on bottom, 16 on top; cook 1 hour

Good:

1 cup sugar

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

1 cup dried bananas, broken into very small pieces, soaked until tender, and drained

½ cup oil

¼ cup reconstituted powdered milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Lightly grease loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients (first 5) together.  Cream together remaining ingredients, then add wet ingredients to dry.  Mix well.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake on foil ring for 1 hour.  Check for doneness.  Cook until done (bread has pulled slightly away from sides). Do not add more briquets.

Better:

Replace whole wheat flour with white flour

Best:

Replace oil with butter or butter flavored shortening.  Replace ½ of sugar with brown sugar.  Add walnuts.

 

Note: You might say, “Banana Bread out of dried bananas?”  Yes, this works really well. It is better the next day too, since the banana flavor has had time to permeate the whole loaf.  Enjoy this one!

 

One of my favorites on a cold day is Chicken Noodle soup.  Here is my version:

Chicken Noodle Soup

10” or larger Dutch oven; serves 6

20-25 briquettes, all on bottom; cook 30 – 40 minutes

Good:

5 cups water

2 cups egg noodles

½ tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. dried onion

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1-3 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

 

Directions:

Bring 5 cups of water to boil over all the briquets in your Dutch oven.  Add all ingredients, making sure chicken is broken up into pieces.  When soup boils again remove half of coals and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until noodles are tender.

 

Better:

Add 1 tsp. celery powder or 1 Tbsp. dried celery

1 Tbsp. dried carrots

Best:

1 can chicken, liquid too

 

Note: This soup has lots of noodles.  If you like more broth, just cut back on the noodles or add more water and bouillon.  Enjoy this with a slice of whole-wheat bread.

For more information and to order Archie and Linda’s book, visit their website, Just Dutch It.

 

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 9 years.

23 thoughts on “A Dutch Oven Cooking Primer, Part 2: Cooking Tips & Recipes”

  1. Excited about this project! I have both Dutch ovens, flat bottom and w/ legs. We've used them both but not as often or w/ as many recipes as I'd like. Looking forward to trying the recipes you so graciously posted!

    Side note – I've tried to stockpile charcoal. The problem is my precious husband ramps up his grilling and smoking and uses it up. Arghhh! Love his cooking, but he won't have any charcoal when it's REALLY needed! HA!

    I'll have to check his Dutch oven baked beans recipe. I think it can be accommodated for stockpile ingredients. They're fabulous!

    1. Rightwingmom,
      You definitely need to store charcoal. We recommend a 30 gallon plastic trash can with a good secure lid. Place 2 large bags (20 lb. the best) in the trash can, then pour loose charcoal around the bags. You can store about 100 lbs. of charcoal this way. Seal it all the way around with duct tape and you have charcoal storage your husband will be less likely to sneak in to. Linda Dixon

      1. Thanks Linda. At one point we had over 200 lbs.
        The trash can and duct tape are a good idea, but he can be a VERY determined grill master. HA!

        We actually have a Rocket Stove and a camping tripod. We've suspended the Dutch oven over a camp fire before with good results. We should get similar results from the Rocket Stove. (Luckily we live in a heavily wooded area so small limbs are plentiful to fuel the Rocket.)

  2. Thank you for the recipes! We usually set up a dutch oven on cinderblocks with a grate over it. But the photo of the dutch oven table looks pretty neat, we have never used one. I get most of my dutch oven recipes from Boy Scout sites, they have tons of recipes with the correct number of charcoals to use for each!

    1. Hi Jan,
      The Boy Scouts have lots of great recipes. Our recipes use ingredients that are all dried/freeze-dried with a few canned items and spices. The recipes are geared towards emergency cooking when all the fresh foods are gone and you have no electricity or gas to cook your food. Linda Dixon

    1. It is a wadded up piece of foil shaped into a ring to keep the pan off of the bottom of the dutch oven. This is to prevent the pan from getting too hot and burning the cake etc. We use a pie tin inverted to do the same thing.

  3. The banana bread looks wonderful, but I have to ask, do they make square Dutch Ovens?? I have only seen (and own) round ones.

    1. I think they put the batter into a loaf pan and then sat it on the foil ring (or foil rectangle) inside the dutch oven. It baffled me at first too.

      1. You are correct. I wrote the recipe and that is what I did. Have the Banana bread batter in the loaf pan, then place pan on smashed coil of foil to cook. This prevents the bread from burning on the bottom (keeping it slightly off the bottom of the oven). Linda Dixon

    2. Emerald,
      The banana bread was cooked by me in my 12" Dutch oven. You can fit a square, round, or rectangle shaped pan into a Dutch oven if you use a large enough one. As you see by reading the recipe, you can bake quite nicely in Dutch ovens. Linda Dixon

  4. Hi-

    In these modern times, it seems some shortcuts are taken in the manufacture of 'Dutch' ovens. I own and use four good ones, and I've discarded (after use) a set of four bad ones. All of my good ones are made by Lodge. I have seen good ones produced by another firm. All imported ovens I have seen or purchased are incorrect.

    The difference is the fitting of the lid. A proper Dutch oven has a lead that forms a good steam seal when simply resting upon the rim of the pot. With this proper seal, that comes from a smooth planar rim and a smooth planar mating surface of the lid, the Dutch oven is actually a pressure cooker. The pressure builds up because the steam can only escape when the pressure lifts the heavy iron lid.

    Cooking times for meats and cakes is very different when comparing a proper Dutch oven to an import version with a poorly sealed lid. When cooking at high altitude, the extra pressure is a very big help.

    I don't work for an oven company, but I've used them for the last 20 years.

    Dave

  5. I get better results with lard or bacon grease for seasoning cast iron, and there are no smelly fumes form the oven such as those from vegetable or seed oils.

  6. OK I feel dumb. Regarding yesterday's question, what I thought were dutch ovens are two deep
    iron frying pans! But I just knew I had a dutch oven somewhere that I got 20 years ago. I searched the basement until I found it, and brought it up and cured it. This is made by Lodge, I am glad to read from Dave that it is a good brand.

  7. About storing charcoal, we made the mistake of trying to store it in the original paper bags. It absorbed lots of moisture from the air and we had trouble getting it to light so I think a garbage can or other container is a must especially if you live in an area of high humidity.

  8. Learn to use wood to cook with as soon as you can. Charcoal will draw dampness over time. Also check out pantherprimitives.com the cook racks that they have you set up and cook over a fire not in it, You adjust your the distance of your dutch oven up or down with hooks on the cross bar to regulate your tempature. And last but not least use the space that your using for charcoal for more food when you have to bug out.

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