The Best Way To Clean A Burnt Dutch Oven

Dutch ovens are easy to appreciate. These pots, made of ceramic or cast iron, are versatile kitchen favorites, perfect for outdoor cooking and making the most delicious fall soups. The only significant drawback is their too-efficient heat retention, which often leads to burning.

Why does this happen? It's a common mistake. Food in Dutch ovens should ideally be cooked over low or medium heat, never high. Excessive temperatures are typically to blame for scorch marks and burnt food sticking to the bottom of these often enamel-coated pots. If not cleaned properly, these scorch marks can become permanent.

Fortunately, proper cleaning is straightforward. The best method requires minimal supplies and effort. Essentially, you need water, dishwashing soap, a soft sponge, and a wooden spoon — items you likely have in your kitchen. The key is to heat the water. Boiling water is the secret to removing most burn marks from the bottom of the Dutch oven.

A quick and easy cleaning solution for Dutch ovens

The process of cleaning a burnt Dutch oven starts with water — specifically, half a pot of boiling water. Let it boil for three minutes uncovered before turning off the stove. Leave the water in, and begin scraping the sides and bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon — never use metal utensils with enamel-coated Dutch ovens — as it cools. The burnt material will start to come off.

After giving the Dutch oven a thorough scraping, pour out the water and leave the pot in the sink for a few minutes. Any remaining burn marks will soften and begin to flake off. To easily clean off the rest, add dishwashing soap and some warm water, and wipe the pot clean with a sponge or dish towel. The entire process, including drying, should take about 10 minutes, and will leave your Dutch oven looking as good as new.

If 10 minutes seems too long, there's a slightly quicker variation: Add two tablespoons of baking soda while the water is boiling, which helps expedite the removal of burnt residue while the water is still in the pot.