Dutch Oven Basic Heat Source

Dutch Oven Basics

Food that requires baking such as biscuits, breads and cakes, needs most of the heat on the top.  Coals should be placed under the oven and on the lid at a 1 to 3 ratio with more on the lid.  For roasting, the heat should be equal with the same number of coals on top as underneath.  For frying, boiling, simmering and stewing, heat should come from the bottom only.  To keep biscuits and other baked food from burning on the bottom, remove the bottom heat after two-thirds of the total cooking time.

To share heat and serve dishes that are similar in cooking time, ovens can be stacked.  This technique requires careful watching to ensure that the bottom oven does not overcook.  [singlepic id=6 w=320 h=240 float=]

Depending on the size of the Dutch oven, each briquette adds between 10 and 20 degrees of heat.  Placement of briquettes is also important, because heat is more evenly distributed if placed in a circular pattern on the bottom and in a checkerboard fashion on the lid.  [singlepic id=5 w=320 h=240 float=]

Remember that it is much easier to raise the heat in a cast-iron oven than to lower the temperature.  Also, temperatures inside the oven will vary according to altitude.  Rotating the oven every ten minutes will also help distribute the heat in a more uniform way.  The lid can also be rotated a third of a turn in the opposite direction every ten minutes.

Basic Briquette Temperature Control Guidelines

Oven Size           Number of Briquettes on Top            Number of Briquettes on Bottom

10 inch                               10 to 12                                                                  8 to 10

12 inch                                12 to 14                                                                10 to 12

14 inch                                14 to 16                                                                12 to 14

16 inch                                16 to 18                                                                14 to 16