Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.

Scouting Forums

Dutch oven cooking

How do others define Dutch Oven cooking for the Cooking merit badge? I have scouts asking to use the ovens on a stove, i.e. making pasta, as meeting requirement 5d, 3rd meal.
I’m thinking that the intent is using the oven on a fire or with charcoal (traditional use).
Seemed obvious to me-

1 Like

Think you are reading too much into the requirement - a DO is just a pot and can be used in many different ways, and heated in many different ways.


Yes, and no- it says dutch oven, kabobs or tin foil dinners. I’m thinking the intention is to use fire, not a stove. Curious what others think, so thanks for sharing.

1 Like

Since the requirements don’t specify use over a fire or with charcoal, as a counselor I can’t require that. However, that’s how I teach scouts to use the DO, so they tend to use it that way by default. It does specify “in the outdoors” for requirement 5, however, so using it on a kitchen stove would not be consistent with the requirements.


The scout intended to use it on a camp stove, which seems redundant to the other 2 meals.

I dunno. It might teach them that cast iron cookware is heavy and takes a lot of energy to heat up. It could lead to a good discussion about why it’s usually used with high heat intensity sources on sturdy supports.

None of our troop’s camp stoves would support a camp oven at all.

ETA: To be clear, I tend to agree that the intent is to use a non-stove cooking method outdoors. However, that’s not what the requirements actually specify, so as counselors we can only enforce the requirements as written, per the Guide to Advancement. This is, IMHO, one of those situations that occur because we have rules for everything.


The question is, is Dutch oven cooking a method of cooking or is it just another pot for purposes of the Cooking merit badge?

While merit badge counselors (MBCs) cannot add to or subtract from the requirements, the Guide to Advancement also says: “In situations not specifically covered in this guide, advancement chairs, coordinators, or other administrators should make decisions based on the aims and mission of the Boy Scouts of America as well as the Scout Oath and Scout Law, other applicable current and official BSA resources—and common sense.”

Boiling, simmering, and use of a Dutch oven are listed as different cooking methods in Cooking merit badge requirement 3. Dutch oven cooking methods can also be used to bake, boil, fry, and simmer food.

Personal growth is one of the BSA’s aims and methods. What is the personal growth in using a Dutch oven as just another pot on a stove to boil pasta for requirement 5d? If they don’t want to use the Dutch oven cooking method, they can instead choose to cook the third meal using a foil pack or kabobs. JMO.


This is a good conversation and a couple of comments from @CharleyHamilton have rightly concluded, IMO, that any method of heating the DO in a camp setting is within the requirements. @JenniferOlinger makes an interesting point from the Guide to Advancement that I hadn’t considered but I also like @CharleyHamilton’s comment about trying to see what doesn’t work. As long as its safe I’m happy to see a failure as a valuable learning tool.

I can tell you about a failed Mac and Cheese attempt if you want.

I had a patrol of 1st class scouts that decided they wanted Macaroni and cheese on a winter camping trip. Its was cold enough that the use of propane was causing icing problems. But they pushed on and tried to heat 2 gallons of water, I kid you not, in a thin steel pot. the water never boiled enough to cook their meal so they ended up having the breakfast meal for dinner. And I didn’t mention that they also put the noodles and cheese sauce in the pot before it boiled, so it was a sloppy mess as well. They learned a couple lessons that day. But they still talk about it 10 years later. It’s funny how failures are more memorable than victories.)

Personally I’ve used a DO indoors as well for some of its qualities of baking and retaining moisture, also a valid tool to have.

I’ve found that a good way to challenge the scouts to explore possibilities like DO over a fire, is show them what is possible. A demonstration or just an adult patrol cooking plan for a camping trip that makes cookies, pie, 1 pot meals, pizza, or other fun foods will draw interest to the DO. I found pizzas to be a particularly popular food choice among the scouts, but I always favored a great pie.

1 Like

Our troop has (historically) run periodic Dutch Oven Gatherings (DOGs). The patrols and individuals compete for fame, fortune, and bragging rights (and of course to eat the best tasting meals). Each DOG is themed, and the only rule is that to compete the dish must be cooked entirely using a Dutch oven. Clam chowder in bread bowls? Basmati rice and chickpea curry? Ham and cheese sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls? Impress us with your skill, stamina and intestinal fortitude!

This sort of event reinforces the traditional method of using a DO.

That said, while using a DO is identified as a method of cooking as @JenniferOlinger pointed out, I actually don’t agree with that designation. If I boil spaghetti in a DO, it’s boiling. If I make bread it’s baking. If I make hush puppies, it’s frying…man, now I’m hungry! :rofl:


first thing I do with a new DO is fry in it

1 Like

(Staring at the DO on my gas range as a write…) DO’s are not spaghetti pots. However, my Syrian family does have a recipe that involves browning spaghetti noodles to add, along with rice, to a chicken/vegetable broth. So, maybe, I’d use the DO for the frying the spaghetti but not for the broth … I’d be afraid of ruining the seasoning of the cast iron. Don’t know why. We cook up some awesome chili in that thing.

Ask the scout what the MB pamphlet says. Tell him to do that.

1 Like

The MB Pamphlet has a separate section dedicated to DO’s and it’s being used on coals. I agree that it’s not a typical pot and has a unique use that should be taught. While not in writing, the DO needs to be used on coals or a fire because I interpret that as the spirit of the intent of the requirement. I see no need to have a DO requirement to simply place it on a camp stove because pots are lighter and easier to use.

Every camping trip at least one single pot meal and one baked desert gets prepared on a DO when we
are out. I either use my DO table or on the ground. There are some different ground techniques depending on location and conditions. Once you know how your DO performs it’s a fun way to cook.


Mary I absolutely agree with you. I’d let the youth know you expect it to be done in the outdoors…on a campfire or on charcoal. When I cook in a Dutch Oven it’s probably on charcoal 90% of the time…but it’s good to know both ways. Won’t hurt the youth to learn more than one way to do it, even if it isn’t required.

I would encourage a redirection. Ask the scouts are they simply badge hunters wanting the easy way out or are they looking to learn? But be prepared as I am certain some will admit that they are badge hunting. Personally - I would send them off to find another counselor.

Now that I am not wasting my time on badge hunters we can focus on expanding their horizons and actually teach some cooking.

1 Like

Cooking is an Eagle-required MB – the expectation is that every single Scout will be working on it at some point, whether they’re genuinely interested in cooking or not. Chasing them away from a required MB seems a little bit unfair to me.

Perhaps it isn’t fair. Then again there are plenty of adults trying to give away badges and ranks and they can go to one of them. Mostly I have worked with scouts in my troop and they are quite happy learning and expanding. And they have been quite happy that I am quite happy to give them credit for what they have already done.

If a scout is looking for the easiest possible way to get a badge - then the best thing is to go get it at one of the merit badge universities that give away badges. Meanwhile they aren’t wasting my time.

It sounds much harsher than the reality of my life. But seriously - I am not interested in coddling children. I am very interested in helping young adults grow.

If one takes a passing look at the requirements as published then it seems clear the intent is not to use the dutch oven as a stew pot on the stove. Then again I have also worked hard to teach my troop to make cooking easy to do and east to clean. The foil packs seem to fit both of these. Or in a well seasoned oven (or lined one works as well), then you again have very easy cleanup. Funny thing is that often the meal is easy prep too. Seems like a huge win to me.

I had an adult who wanted mostly to sit in camp. Great - then scouts can start charcoal and go busy themselves. Come back get dinner started and go off again.


Interesting. In this case I would say the Dutch oven is a method of cooking but is also the name of the pot.

Explain the Dutch oven is not just a pot and by heating water for pasta in it you will destroy the finish. Obvious if that happens, then as any good scout they would need to re- Finnish the oven.

That is a lot more work than cutting up a bit of chicken, an onion, a pepper, and throwing in a bottle of salsa. Heating for 40 minutes and eating chicken fajitas at camp.

# How To Season a Cast Iron Skillet/Dutch Oven

A dutch oven is an oven where the heat source are burning coals beneath and covering the lid. It will not perform as an oven when the heat source is a camp stove.

Great for cooking peach cobbler as we did a Philmont Scout ranch. Philmont provided the dutch oven and ingredients at a camp some where along our 50 miler. Delicious especially after eating dehydrated meals for days.

Why not teach them all ways a dutch oven can be used. Think about the intent of this requirement to teach, not just to complete a requirement. The scouting journey is one of the best parts and challenging them to learn new things for fun, enjoyment and necessity. Being outdoors and having a good Dutch oven meal and dessert - well that’s Scouting.

1 Like