If you do a simple Google search for cast iron dutch oven accessories, you’re going to get bombarded with hundreds of different gadgets and gizmos, most of which are junk that’ll just end up in a box somewhere in your garage.
The thing about cast iron dutch ovens is that they are simple and don’t need a bunch of add-ons to make them functional. They’ve been used for hundreds of years without all of that junk (the Lewis and Clark Expedition famously carried several with them). There’s no sudden need to have it now. You’ll be able to cook just fine keeping it simple.
Below we take you through some of the basic equipment you might want, along with some handy extras. We won’t bother trying to go through everything else here.
The Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Although its not a cast iron dutch oven accessory, the logical place to start this post is with your cast iron dutch oven itself.
The best choice for a first cast iron dutch oven, in my opinion, is a Lodge 12″ Deep Dutch Oven (8 quart). They make a 10″ and a 14″ deep dutch oven, but I find the 12″ is perfect for my needs. The 10″ can be a little small for feeding a group and the 14″ is expensive and a pain to drag around.
The standard 12″ dutch oven (6 quart) will heat from the top more effectively since the lid will sit closer to the food (depending on what you’re cooking), but it won’t be as versatile, since it holds two quarts less and doesn’t have the depth to handle certain cuts of meats.
If you choose to go a different route than my recommendations above, you should keep an eye out for the following three things that make a camp dutch oven so effective:
- Your cast iron dutch oven should have a flanged lid like the one seen in the picture above. The flanged lid is designed so that you can stack coals on top without them sliding off.
- You should also try to pick a dutch oven with just a simple wire handle on it. The coiled wire handles make it difficult to use a lifter to move the dutch oven around. You generally wont be using your hands to move it when you’re cooking, only your lid lifter.
- The legs underneath are also important. They allow you to set the dutch oven on the ground with coals underneath, while keeping everything level.
Next to the dutch oven itself, your lid lifter is the most important tool you’ll have when cooking.
A good lid lifter is designed to both take the lid off of your dutch oven (keeping it steady so coals don’t fall off in your food) as well as lift the dutch oven itself.
I prefer the Lodge Deluxe Lid Lifter to the standard one they make. I like the ability to grab the lid handle with the pincer built into the deluxe lifter rather than use the metal hangar on the standard lifter. It gives me just a bit more stability.
Either works just fine.
A set of long BBQ tongs are an invaluable tool when cooking with your dutch oven.
I prefer the use of tongs over a shovel since I can grab exactly the amount of coals I want, and I don’t end up with a bunch of dirt mixed into it.
They aren’t quite as good at picking up wood coals as they are at handling charcoal briquettes, but I highly recommend that people new to cast iron dutch oven cooking start with charcoal briquettes instead of wood anyway. Controlling temperature with charcoal is much easier then using wood coals.
Metal Fire Tray
I don’t like to set my dutch oven in the dirt when I’m cooking for a couple of reasons.
- If the ground has any moisture in it (from a previous rain, etc.) it’ll make it hard to keep your coals going.
- I don’t want to be the guy that starts a fire because I’m burning coals out on the ground. Leave no trace is a good rule, especially when it applies to burning down an entire forest.
I’ve found that a metal lid off of a 55 gallon drum works perfectly. Its relatively cheap too.
Cooking tables are a great alternative to putting your dutch oven on the ground. The extra height will save your back if you plan on spending a lot of time in front of your dutch oven.
I don’t have one because I’m simply too cheap. Its also a lot more practical to haul around my metal drum lid rather than a metal table.
It could come in handy in the back yard though. Maybe someday.
I’ve honestly never had any use for a tripod. The difficulty in taking the lid on and off of the dutch oven and getting it close enough to the coals to cook properly makes them somewhat pointless in my mind.
Cooking with the dutch oven directly on the ground (or a cooking table) is the most efficient way.
Out of everything listed above, a chimney starter is one item that you can leave behind if you’re short on space in your car when heading out camping.
It’s extremely handy for getting charcoal started without having to deal with a campfire though. You can just get your charcoal briquettes going in your chimney starter and move them straight from there to your fire tray or dutch oven when they’re ready.
Like the chimney starter above, you might be able to do without this one.
Unlike the chimney starter above, the Lodge Lid Stand takes up next to no space. You might as well take it along. I usually store mine inside of my dutch oven so that I don’t forget it.
The lid stand comes in handy when you’re camping somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of rocks or wood laying around that can be easily used to create a clean, level, surface for your lid.
It’s also handy in that if you turn it over, it makes a great stand to put your dutch oven lid on to fry with (the inside of a dutch oven lid makes a great frying pan).