Dutch Ovens: Legs Or No Legs

Have you ever noticed how some cast iron dutch ovens have little legs on the bottom of them and how others don’t? Ever wonder what purpose those little legs serve? Well, believe it or not, those little legs make the difference of how you are going to cook with your cast iron dutch oven.

For those new to cast iron dutch ovens, there are two types of ovens you can buy, ones with three legs and ones with a flat bottom and no legs. Cast iron dutch ovens without legs are best used for indoor cooking because you can use them on your stove top or inside the oven. You can cook some very delicious recipes in these types of ovens, such as roasted chicken and rice, roast beef and potatoes, and the always popular soups and stews. However, flat bottom dutch ovens can be used over a campfire but only if they are hanging from a tripod.

But now, what about those cast iron dutch ovens with the three legs, what are they for and how do I cook with those types of ovens? Well, first things first, these ovens are created and best used for cooking over campfires, or to be more precise, in campfires. The purpose of those three little legs is to create space between the bottom of the oven and the hot coals it is sitting over. That space between the bottom of the oven and the coals is to help create a space for air flow to reach the coals. When using an oven with legs, you will either want to make a separate fire pit for the oven to be placed in or let your original campfire burn down to coals so you have enough room between the bottom of the oven and the coals so air can circulate over the coals. Now, you can use a flat bottom dutch oven over a camp fire but you will need to place it on some rocks so you don’t burn the bottom of the food inside, depending on what you are cooking. But sometimes finding a rock is easier said than done, which is why if you truly are a cast iron dutch oven lover and an avid camper, an oven with three legs works the best.

Just like indoor ovens, there are a ton of delicious recipes you can make with your outdoor oven. The next time you go camping, no longer will hot dogs and hamburgers be the meals of choice. With your new cast iron dutch oven, a world of meal possibilities become available to you. You will be able to cook everything from scrambled eggs for breakfast to a delicious pot roast for dinner. And don’t forget about dessert, you can make desserts like apple cobbler. I’ve even read that you can make a deep dish pizza with your dutch oven!

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