America’s Test Kitchen Knows the Secret to Cleaning a Burnt Dutch Oven — And It’s Both Brilliant and Simple

published Aug 29, 2023
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Someone holding $50 Dutch oven.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Fall is the perfect time for cooking up big batches of chilis, stews, and braises, and there’s no vessel that gets the job done quite like a Dutch oven. Those heavy-bottomed pans are great for evenly distributing heat and (usually) keeping food from burning. But sometimes a recipe gets away from us, and before we know it we’ve scorched food onto the bottom of our best Dutch oven. We’ve all been there! Even after a night in the sink those spots are stuck, and you begin to despair that your pristine Le Creuset will be forever soiled.

Fortunately there’s a simple solution for cleaning a burnt Dutch oven: America’s Test Kitchen recently shared a TikTok showing how to easily tackle this problem.

Here’s what to do:

1. Fill the Dutch oven halfway with tap water, and bring it to a boil on the stove. Let it boil for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat. 

2. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the burned bits on the bottom and sides. Then pour out the water. 

3. As the Dutch oven dries, any remaining particles will start to flake off. 

4. Wash with warm, soapy water, and your Dutch oven will be restored to its original glory!

This technique is brilliant in its simplicity. Using heat and water — two powerful natural cleaners — the Dutch oven gets sparkling clean without the use of abrasive chemicals or materials that can scratch the surface. Le Creuset also suggests adding a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the water when you soak your Dutch oven to help break up even more stubborn spots. 

Because Dutch ovens can be an investment, it’s important to treat them properly. Le Creuset cautions against cooking over high heat. The thick walls and bottom of the oven should distribute heat evenly so that high temps are unnecessary. Staub recommends allowing your Dutch oven to cool completely before cleaning to avoid any cracking that can happen when there are extreme temperature differences. Kitchn editors, likewise, have plenty of helpful suggestions for keeping your Dutch oven in tip-top shape, including scrubbing it between uses with a bit of kosher salt. For extremely dirty Dutch ovens, former Executive Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman, shares a tip for using oven cleaner that has pretty miraculous results. 

Any time you clean a Dutch oven, use a non-metal sponge and a mild dish soap. Make sure to clean the inside, outside, lid, and bottom thoroughly before putting it back in its spot so it’ll be fresh and ready for your next cooking project.