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Dutch oven cooking

Well, I guess it’s time for that kitchen remodel…

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Sure there are other pots that hijack the name “Dutch Oven” but there is only one true dutch oven that is to be used and it is the American Dutch Oven.

A camping, cowboy, or chuckwagon Dutch oven usually has three integral legs, a wire bail handle, and a slightly concave, rimmed lid so that coals from the cooking fire can be placed on top as well as below. This provides more uniform internal heat and lets the inside act as an oven. A Dutch oven without integral legs can be used as a conventional pot on a stove or may be set on a separate welded steel or cast iron tripod stand or on small stones when cooking on hot coals. These ovens are typically made of bare cast iron, although some are aluminium. The bail handle facilitates lifting the Dutch oven onto and off the coals, using a metal hook. Dutch ovens are often used in Scouting outdoor activities. See Wikipedia
It’s nice to see Scouting referenced by Wikipedia.

A Dutch Oven is not just a pot. It is this Cowboy, or chuckwagon Dutch oven is the one referenced in the Cooking merit badge requirements I am sure because it has been the tradition since 1896. Our troop has two of them. We just follow the recipe and leave them unattended until meal is done allowing us to finish setting up camp or complete other chores.

I think context is important. As the dutch oven is discussed in requirement 3. “Cooking basics” to “Discuss EACH of the following cooking methods” including use of a Dutch oven. There is a basic skill set which goes with dutch oven cooking (including cleaning one). 5 is Camp cooking and .d is special techniques which would include traditional dutch oven use. Otherwise it would just say “cook in a pot”. Our troop tries to encourage the scouts to use dutch ovens with mixed results in all honestly. Some boys are “let’s just boil hot dogs” then sometimes you get a little “top chief” out there showing easy good food can be.


@DavidProvenzano parsed the requirements succinctly and correctly and this should be the solution.
thanks to you @DavidProvenzano

I think the requirement is poorly written and could use an edit. It doesn’t say “pot” cooking, but “dutch oven” cooking. The implication is rather clear in the spirit of cooking that is should be over charcoal or campfire coals, but the way it is written is rather ambiguous. I will not let them use the dutch oven as a regular pot to meet this requirement. The method of cooking is what is behind the spirit of the requirement and we should hold our scouts to that higher standard!

Let’s look at the full requirement from the Cooking Merit Badge Pamphlet:

  1. Camp cooking. Do the following:

d. In the outdoors, using your menu plans for this requirement,
cook two of the five meals you planned using either a lightweight stove or a low-impact fire. Use a different cooking method > from requirement 3 for each meal. You must also cook a third
meal using either a Dutch oven OR a foil pack OR kabobs. Serve
all of these meals to your patrol or a group of youth.**

**Where local regulations do not allow you to build a fire, the counselor may adjust
the requirement to meet the law. The meals in requirements 5 and 6 may be prepared for different trips and need not be prepared consecutively. Scouts working
on this badge in summer camp should take into consideration foods that can be
obtained at the camp commissary.

First you can cook foil pack Kabobs over an open fire as was indicated in an earlier post on this thread. When you look as this requirement and the fine print “**” notes it very clear that the Dutch oven is supposed to be used over some type of open fire. I can’t believe there is a debate on this. The requirement is pretty clear as to the intent.


The BSA does not monitor these forums. If you wish to provide feedback on the wording of the Cooking Merit Badge, please go to membercare.scouting.org (To create a new account, email address should be used for user name)

There are two requirements that touch on Dutch over cooking. One is, as you mentioned, 5d. That one is clear that it’s cooking outside over a fire if you decide to use a Dutch oven to meet the requirement.

There’s also requirement 3a, which says in part,

That one isn’t quite as clear, since it obviously isn’t talking strictly about outdoor cooking (unless you have a solar-powered microwave). Were I counseling a Scout on this merit badge, I would expect for “discuss use of a Dutch oven” to include how one would use it over an open fire, AND when cooking in the kitchen at home. I would argue that people interpreting this to only mean “cooking over a camp fire” are missing part of this requirement.

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Since the discussion appeared to be more about the “use” of the Dutch Oven I chose to not add the “Discussion” requirement because, as you properly stated, is not clearly worded. With that said, I completely agree with you on your position as to what you expect as a Coking MBC for a Scout to discuss about the use of a Dutch Oven.

I’m not pointing fingers, but sometime I feel people rely to much on the Worksheets and only skim over the requirement than properly review the Pamphlet.

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Suggestions for new merit badges, or suggested updates to existing ones, should be directed to merit.badge@scouting.org.

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I don’t mean to sound flippant, but when the subject of merit badges are brought up this message appears to say that we shouldn’t make and comments about new ones here or suggested updates but rather sent it to an email that you will not get anything other than a canned reply from.

The header says “A forum for discussing the Scouts BSA Program”. That suggests a open discussion on BSA matters is what this forum is for. I agree that discussion and dissent needs to be done in a respectful manner. I’ve read the FAQ and need a little clarification apparently.

My reply was not to anyone in particular. If folks want to discuss merit badges, they are welcome to do so. If folks want the requirements to be changed or clarified, the best way to do that is to send an e-mail to the address I listed above, because the BSA does not normally read the forums.

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I don’t know that the double-asterisk refers uniquely to the dutch oven, foil pack and kabobs portion of the requirements, nor does it seem (to me) to indicate that those must be done over an open fire. It seems more generally to refer to situations where local restrictions prohibit the building of a fire.

Two of the meals must use either a lightweight stove or a low-impact fire. The third just has to use one of the three options listed, none of which explicitly specify the use of a fire/coals in the requirements. I agree that the pamphlet only shows it that way. Based on prior direction I’ve received as a First Aid MBC, just because it’s shown one way in the pamphlet doesn’t mean there isn’t another acceptable method that still satisfies the requirements.

I teach scouts to use camp ovens and foil with coals. Since the requirements don’t specifically state that they must be used that way, if a scout comes with work purportedly completed, as a counselor I have to figure out whether or not it complies with the requirements as written, not with what I think they should say, per the Guide to Advancement and the Guide to Merit Badge counseling. It’s not even clear that we could require scouts to have read the pamphlets, since that’s not an explicit requirement. I have, however, made the point to several scouts in the past that, if they had read the pamphlet, they would know what I was asking about. That’s usually enough to get them to go bother their Librarian to at least borrow a copy to read. That’s a separate debate, though. One I’ve tried to communicate to the folks in the merit badge group, unsuccessfully so far.

We’ve had situations where open fires were prohibited for extended periods of time here in southern California. As a Cooking MB counselor, I have permitted scouts to cook kebabs and foil pouches over a gas grill, which was a permitted cooking source under the fire regulations at the time. Similarly, I’ve had scouts use a legless dutch oven on an elevated grill grate when ground fires (even in established fire rings) were not permitted. I’ve never had one ask me to use a dutch oven or foil pouches over a stove, lightweight or otherwise. Looking back on it, however, I’m not entirely sure that the wording of the requirement excludes these approaches as only acceptable if local regulations don’t permit building a fire.

It’s good for me to see how other counselors apply the requirements. It’s more feedback than I generally get from the BSA when I ask questions. I feel like the various perspectives help me see how scouts can complete the requirements. I generally agreed before about what the intent is with regard to how dutch ovens, foil pouches and kebabs are used. It hasn’t moved the ball for me, personally, as to what the requirements permit, though, which seems to be what the OP was originally asking about.

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Here’s where my head is from the Cooking MB Pamphlet:


It’s pretty clear to me what the intent of the Dutch oven as the examples in the MB Pamphlet are using.

I agree it’s the MB Counselor’s call. This is more of a philosophical discussion probably than a real issue. We don’t teach DO’s to be used as boiling pots of propane stones and we never had a Scout want to use it in that manner.

I do enjoy the round table just to see other people’s view points. The BSA certainly allows wiggle-room in the interpretation. I’m such a fan of DO Cooking outdoors that the thought of not using it to it’s full potential is a waste of use.

This is how I like to see a DO being Used:


This! This is why I love being a Cooking MB counselor. Not that indoor cooking has to be boring, but outdoor cooking is so much fun when done well…

I have to admit I’ve only ever been three-deep, and directly in a fire pit for that. I don’t have quite a sturdy enough elevated table to go too high with my larger ovens.

I’ve had a lot of success with round metal oil drain pans and ceramic pot feet to get elevation off of the ground for a single oven (12" deep or 14" standard). It saves on space for the table, but still keeps me from sterilizing the ground underneath where there isn’t an existing fire pit.

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This is my newest toy. A 14 Inch Hard Anodized Dutch Oven:

I purchased this last year on Amazon during a sale and I love this thing. It’s light and cooks very even.

I have a DO’s table very similar in the picture but when the ground is clear and not windy I have a couple of cheap metal Pizza Pans that I paid a couple of bucks a Wal-Mart and I can stack them very evenly with the largest being the base of course, The first time I showed the Scouts how you can cook and entire meal and desert in one location was neat and fun.

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@WilliamC - that is cool. I did see that GSI has the 14 w/o feet and the 12" w/ feet. Seems odd but will keep digging

Mine is a GSI 14 inch with Legs. I purchased it last year as a clearance item. I had planned on buying the 12 inch because I didn’t want to spend the 109.00 ticket for 14 but the price was about the same at the time as the 12" so it was a no brainer. I just checked my buying history and Amazon doesn’t even offer the 14" anymore. I should have bought a couple.

I love beef stew made in my Dutch oven!

“The iconic Le Creuset Dutch oven is indispensable in the kitchens of home cooks and professional chefs alike. Long recognized for its strength and durability, cast iron is the prime material for slow-cooking, braising and roasting, thanks to its ability to maintain even and consistent heat. The enameled Dutch oven needs no seasoning, and it’s suitable for both stovetop and oven use.”


PS I also love my raw cast iron Lodge Dutch ovens. :slight_smile:

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