How to Use Your Dutch Oven As a Cooler This Summer

Your Dutch oven will come in pretty handy during all those backyard cookouts.
Put your Dutch oven to work this summer.
Put your Dutch oven to work this summer. / CSA-Printstock/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

You’ve seen a Dutch oven, but what about a Dutch cooler? The next time you’re having friends and family over for a cookout, don’t stress about misplacing that old icebox. Just head into the kitchen and grab your trusty old Dutch oven.

As Lifehacker reports, Dutch ovens can do more than simmer veggies and sear meat. It can feel a bit odd to use something that typically heats up your food to keep it cool instead, but there’s actually some science behind this hack.  

Dutch ovens are made from thick, heavy materials like cast iron, which are excellent for insulation. And insulation isn’t just good for keeping things warm: When you pre-chill the insulated material, it also helps whatever you put inside maintain a cold temperature.

Helpful Tips for Using a Dutch to Chill Food and Drinks

The first step is to get your Dutch oven nice and cold. Either let it sit in the freezer with the lid on for a few hours—which is the preferred method—or simply fill it up with ice (or ice water) and let it sit for a bit.

Once it’s been sufficiently chilled, fill your Dutch oven with some fresh ice to keep it consistently cool. Organize whatever food or drinks you’re trying to chill between layers of ice so everything remains cold all the way through. 

Once the Dutch oven is filled up, simply pop the lid back on to keep all the cold air trapped inside. Open the lid as little as possible—the longer the top stays off, the more cold air escapes.

Make sure you keep your Dutch oven in the shade throughout the day and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight. Place it on a trivet or piece of wood so that the heat from a conductive surface, like a metal patio table, can’t transfer to whatever you’re trying to chill. 

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