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Why Does My Dutch Oven Smell? How to Get the Smell?

Having a smell in your dutch oven can be quite off-putting as it can start affecting the smell of your food too. It is important that you find out the cause behind it so that you can avoid such smells or get rid of them. 

Why does my dutch oven smell?

The biggest reason behind your dutch oven’s smell can be due to you not cleaning it properly as a result the smell of the food on it becomes rancid. Another reason can be if the seasoning on top of your oven has worn off which causes the food to get on the cast iron leaving a funky smell. 

Dutch irons must be taken care of properly. If you do not clean it well then there are chances that the flavors and food gets left behind in your oven and create a bad smell. There can also be some other reasoning behind the smell. 

Not cleaning it properly:

If you own a dutch iron then it is important that you clean it in the proper way and efficiently. Oftentimes cooking food in the dutch oven can leave a smell behind and cleaning it properly ensures that the smell does not stay.

There are particular methods to maintain and clean it properly and If you do not follow them properly, the smell turns rancid or affects the other foods you cook and combines the smell with it. This can make your next cooking experience quite unpleasant. 

Not giving a seasoning:

Since dutch ovens do not contain any protective layer that acts as a cover, you need to season it instead to protect it. If you do not do that to your dutch oven before cooking this can be the reason behind the nasty odor.

Not having proper seasoning means that the food particles will stick to the bottom of your oven and leave behind rancid smells over time. 

Worn out:

If you have been using your dutch oven for quite some time now then there are chances that it may have gotten a bit worn out.

This usually means that the seasoning on your dutch oven might start to disintegrate once the cooking process has started which can as a result cause the food particles to seep through and stick to the bottom of the pan. 

Amazon Basics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 6-Quart, Red

Does a dutch oven stink?

It is quite common for dutch ovens to give off a foul smell. This is because like other cooking utensils, the dutch oven does not have any protective covering or seal that stops the food particles and flavors from seeping in.

Seasoning your Dutch oven may not always work as it is common for the seasoning to wear off and the food particle to come in direct contact with the iron.

Over time, this can cause the oven to stink and the only way you can prevent that from happening is by religiously cleaning your dutch oven following proper methods. 

What type of smell does dutch oven smell like?

The most common smell is a rancid or fishy smell that can come off when you cook meat or fish in your dutch oven. This smell is very strong and can stay for a while even after cleaning your dutch oven properly which is why deep cleaning is necessary.

It can smell of the flavors you use for cooking if the food particles seep out and get stuck at the bottom. 

Your dutch oven does not have any protective covering on it which is why it is normal for your oven to smell heavy metal or chemicals due to the iron cast.

If your dutch oven has been in use for a long time and started to get worn out it can also end up smelling of rusted metal and you must stop using it then. 

How to get the smell out of a dutch oven?

There are certain methods you can follow which will help you get the smell off your dutch oven. 

Cleaning it thoroughly:

If you can smell any kind of odor from your dutch oven then the very first step would be to scrub it properly. You can do that by using lukewarm water, good quality soap, and a brush to scrub all food particles off your iron cast. 

Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Blue Enamel Dutch Oven (Blue)

Boil out method:

If you have a lot of food particles and remnants of flavoring stuck on your cast iron then the best method would be to boil water in it.

Boiling water in your dutch oven will loosen up the particles enough for you to easily scrape them off using a brush and some dish wash. 

Burning method:

If the boiling out method is not enough then you can try heating your cast iron in a traditional oven. Keeping it inside the hot oven for ten minutes can burn the odor away and you will not have to get your hands dirty.

Do keep in mind to repeat the process at least twice or thrice for more efficiency. 


This is the most hectic and long process out of them all, but it is sure to remove any kind of lasting rancid smells. Sweetening is a process where you put some charcoal inside your dutch oven and keep it on the stove at the highest heat setting.

You should also ensure to keep the top sealed. The heated up charcoal present inside the oven is sure to absorb any lingering smells off your dutch oven. 

How to clean a dutch oven?

Dutch ovens can get quite dirty after a cooking session which is why you must follow proper steps to clean it and then store it. 

Prepare it for deep cleaning:

After you are done with your cooking, once your dutch oven cools down, wipe the sticky bits and oil using a wet towel out of it. Fill it to the brim with water and add a few drops of dish soap. 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt., Cerise

Boil out:

Bring the water to a boil for ten minutes and let it cool down. This will soften up and disintegrate all the remaining food residue and oil. The dish wash will also help to remove any kind of odor.

Once the water cools down, use a brush to scrub the inside of the oven and thoroughly clean it. 


Clean your oven properly and dry it fully before adding a layer of oil to the cast iron to season it. This will help protect your dutch oven. 

How do you reseason a dutch oven?

Before re-seasoning your dutch oven, you will ensure to have it cleaned properly. The most effective method is using the boil-out method as it ensures that all the food residue and sticky oil are off the cast iron.

After you are done cleaning it, dry up your dutch oven and add a layer of oil on it, and spread it evenly. Use a paper towel to lightly dab on top and remove excess oil. 

Can you use baking soda to clean a dutch oven?

Yes, you can certainly use baking soda to clean your dutch oven. It is the most effective if you are using the boil-out method or using warm water in your dutch oven.

It combines with the warm water, turns bubbly and successfully softens up, and easily scrubs away the remaining food bits and oiliness. 

Should you ever use soap or detergent to clean a dutch oven?

Yes, you can certainly use soap such as dish soap to successfully clean your dutch oven and remove any kind of lingering odors. However, using baking soda or dish soap is better than opting for detergent.

This is because detergents are used for clothes in particular and they have a very strong smell that might end up lingering on your dutch oven. This is particularly unpleasant as it can cause your food to smell like detergent too. 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt., Cerise

How often should you clean a dutch oven?

You should clean a dutch oven every time you use it to cook something. This is because dutch ovens do not have a protective layer on their cast iron. This makes it prone to letting food particles, flavorings and oils stick to it.

This can end up leaving a rancid odor which can affect your food the next time you cook it. Therefore, always ensure to use the boil out method every time you cook something in your dutch oven to prevent any lingering smells or residue from sticking to your oven.

Also, every once in a while if you notice that your dutch oven has a strange odor despite cleaning it thoroughly every day then use the charcoal and sweetening method to eliminate any forms of odor. 

Are you supposed to wash a dutch oven?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to wash your dutch oven and you are indeed supposed to wash it in the first place. Washing it thoroughly is the first step to ensure that your dutch oven does not have any bad odor or food residues sticking to the cast iron.

Leaving it for a while in a solution of hot water and dish soap makes the washing and scrubbing process much easier. 

Final Thoughts:

Cleaning your dutch oven properly should not result in it giving off any odor. However, long-term use can make it prone to some unpleasant smell in which case using the sweetening method should eliminate the odors. Always ensure to season your dutch oven to prevent smells and make it last longer.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a Casserole the Same as a Dutch Oven?

Do You Need to Preheat a Dutch Oven?

Do Dutch Ovens Rust?

Do Dutch Ovens Work on Induction?

Why Are Dutch Ovens So Expensive?

Are Dutch Ovens Non-Toxic & Safe?