Dutch Oven Cooking 101

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 14, 2010

about 2 inches square — which is important for predictable heat.

Rule No. 2 Once you know this, everything else falls into place. Take your oven’s diameter in inches and double it. This is the number of high-quality, standard-size charcoal briquettes you will need to heat your oven to 325 degrees every time.

  • For a 10-inch oven, you need 20 briquettes.
  • For a 12-incher, you need 24 briquettes, and so on.

It’s that simple.

Individual Dutch ovens vary slightly in cooking temperature with the same amount of charcoal, depending on their shape and thickness. These guidelines get you close enough so that, with practice, you can discover exactly what works for your oven.

Rule No. 3 Because heat rises, briquettes heat the bottom of a Dutch oven more than the top. Consequently, you will need to divide your briquettes between the top and bottom for even heating. How many more briquettes will you need on top? About twice as many — two-thirds up, one-third down.

  • To heat a 10-inch oven to 325 degrees, you need seven briquettes below the oven and 13 on top.
  • To heat a 12-incher, you need eight below and 16 on top.

Rule No. 4 Briquettes should be spaced evenly below the bottom of the oven. On top, place one briquette on each side of the center handle and space the rest evenly around the perimeter.

No matter how evenly you space briquettes on the bottom of the oven, there will be hot spots. To compensate for this, lift the oven and turn it 90 degrees every 15 minutes. Turn the lid 90 degrees every 15 minutes when baking cakes and breads.

Rule No. 5 Some recipes call for temperatures higher or lower than 325 degrees. To change oven temperature by 25 degrees, add or subtract two briquettes.

If you want to bake biscuits at 375 degrees, add four briquettes to the number used for a 325-degree oven.

To slow-cook venison chili at 250 degrees, remove six briquettes.

Add or remove two-thirds of the briquettes from the top and the remainder from the bottom to maintain even heat.

Rule No. 6 Charcoal briquettes last about 30 minutes. When recipes call for longer cooking, start replacement charcoal early to avoid temperature drops.

Rule No. 7 Baked goods tend to cook faster on the bottom than on top. To avoid overcooking the

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