Ina Garten's Go-To Dutch Oven Is Probably Yours, Too

When it comes to cooking low and slow, Dutch ovens are essential. Their heavy bottoms and thick sides allow them to distribute heat evenly, making them perfect for simmering hearty soups and stews, whipping up one-pot casseroles, and even baking bread. Their snug lids also enable them to better retain moisture, making them great for braising meats like lamb shanks and beef short ribs, the latter of which just so happens to be Ina Garten's favorite recipe she's ever written.

However, not just any brand of this sturdy cookware will do for the reigning kitchen queen — the Barefoot Contessa favors the Le Creuset brand over any other. The celebrity chef revealed her go-to choice for simmering and braising on the Q&A section of her website. When asked which Le Creuset Dutch oven size she uses most often in her recipes, Garten wrote that she uses "the Le Creuset #26 Dutch oven more often than everything else."

Garten's favorite Le Creuset cookware

It's not hard to see why the round oven is a favorite of Ina Garten's. Beyond the obvious fun perks — namely, the plethora of vibrant colors to choose from — the Dutch oven's versatility in the kitchen has made it a household staple for many. Despite its relatively high price tag of $420, it offers more bang for your buck because its uses extend far beyond simmering soups and stews. For one thing, Le Creuset is actually two pans in one. Unscrew the handle on the lid, flip it over, and you have yourself a second pan, which makes for a pretty stellar baking sheet.

Additionally, your Dutch oven can double as a punch bowl, helping to keep your party beverage nice and cool without the need for ice. Handcrafted in France and made of chip-resistant, enameled cast iron, Le Creuset's Dutch oven can certainly be well worth the investment — so long as you know how to take good care of it.

How to make your Dutch oven last

If you've recently splurged on a Dutch oven, making it last as long as possible is probably a top priority. When it comes to extending the life of your new favorite pot, properly cleaning the cookware is important. First and foremost, you should never put the enameled cookware into cold water when it's still hot because thermal shock can occur, potentially causing the pot — whether heavy-duty or not — to crack. Instead, let it cool down before you wash it.

For a quick clean, you may be tempted to toss your Dutch oven in the dishwasher — but you shouldn't. High heat may permanently bake the food you're trying to wash off onto its bottom. To avoid this, Ina Garten opts to soak her pots overnight in the sink with hot, soapy water instead. Gently scrub your Dutch oven the next morning using a sponge or other non-abrasive scrubber to wash away any leftover residue.

However, if you've got a particularly grimy pan, baking soda works miracles for sticky, dirty Dutch ovens. Simply boil a little bit of the white powder in water and let it simmer for about five to 10 minutes to clean the gunk away.