The history of Dutch Ovens began in the 1600s. They were commonly used as a cast
cooking metal vessel and were used by the Dutch to make their molds and create a much
smoother surface for their pots. During the late 17th century, the Dutch system of
producing these cast metal cooking vessels was more advanced than the English system.
The Dutch used dry sand to make their molds, giving their pots a smoother surface.
Consequently, metal cooking vessels produced in the Netherlands were imported into
Britain. In 1704, an Englishman named Abraham Darby decided to go to the Netherlands
to observe the Dutch system for making these cooking vessels. Four years later, back in
England, Darby patented a casting procedure similar to the Dutch process and began to
produce cast-metal cooking vessels for Britain and her new American colonies. It is
possible that because Darby’s patent was based upon his research into the Dutch foundry
system that the cooking vessels he produced came to be referred to as “Dutch” ovens.
Just like with any other invention, the authentic type of Dutch Ovens were re-created and
developed in such a way that adapted to the various changes of people’s needs and
desires for improvement. During this time, the Americans were able to make use of Dutch
Ovens that were created to be shallower with legs added to the elevate the Dutch Oven
above its coals. Also, a flange was added to the lid to keep the top coals out of the foods
The cast-iron cookware was loved by our colonists and settlers because of its versatility
and durability. It could be used for boiling, baking, stews, frying, roasting, and just about
any other use. The ovens were so valuable that wills in the 18th and 19th centuries
frequently spelled out the desired inheritor of the cast iron cookware. For example, Mary
Ball Washington (mother of President George Washington) specified in her will, dated
May 20th 1788, that one-half of her "Iron Kitchen Furniture" should go to her grandson,
Fielding Lewis, and the other half to Betty Carter, a granddaughter. Several Dutch ovens
were among Mary’s “Iron Kitchen Furniture".
When America began to spread westward across North American, so did the Dutch oven.
A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great
American Northwest in 1804 –1806. The pioneers who settled the American West also
took along their Dutch ovens. In fact, a statue raised to honor the Mormon handcart
companies who entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in the 1850s proudly displays a Dutch
oven hanging from the front of the handcart. The Dutch oven is also the official state
cooking pot of Utah.
Mountain men exploring the great American frontier used Dutch ovens into the late 19th
century. Dutch oven cooking was also prominent among those who took part in the
western cattle drives that lasted from the mid 19th century into the early 20th century.
The Dutch Oven’s versatility and efficiency in cooking, made it very popular for all who
tried it. In the past and present, Cast Iron Dutch Ovens are used for many cooking
purposes such as boiling, baking, frying, roasting, stewing, all of which add variety for
cooking various types of foods with out a modern oven. The Dutch Oven’s portability is
one of it’s greatest features. Whether used in the kitchen, back yard or back country, the
Dutch Oven provides a means to cook amazing and delicious meals where ever it is used.
The functionality of Dutch Ovens cannot be taken for granted. That is why Dutch Ovens
remain one of the most popular in-door and out-door cooking pots in the world.