When you're shopping for a dividend stock for your retirement portfolio, it pays to choose wisely. If you search for companies that issue the largest dividends on the basis of yield alone, you'll likely end up with a handful of highly unstable stocks that might not maintain those dividends when economic conditions change. On the other hand, if you look for stocks that have an ironclad history of issuing larger and larger dividends with each passing year over the course of decades, you'll find more winners than you know what to do with.

Each of the stocks I'll discuss today is notable for three reasons. First, all three have increased their dividend each year for at least the past 25 years. Second, they're some of the largest and most established companies out there, with market caps in excess of $90 billion. Finally, these companies are responsible for making timeless products that tend to experience steady demand, so they're protected from some of the turbulence in the economy. In short, they're great dividend picks for your portfolio whether you're saving for retirement or not.

A pair of older adults consider a retirment portfolio.

Image source: Getty Images.

Procter & Gamble

As perhaps the largest and oldest consumer-goods manufacturer around, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) is among the safest stocks to keep in your retirement portfolio. Importantly, Procter & Gamble has a formidable trailing annual dividend yield of 2.23%, which is expected to increase to 2.33% over the next 12 months. What's more, P&G also grew faster than the market over the past five years, expanding by upwards of 80%, so it's a great choice for retirement investors who want a combination of growth and dividends. The only downsides are that it's a bit pricey, and its resilience against market downturns means that it might never be available at a bargain.

3M

Boasting diverse product offerings ranging from industrial materials to healthcare supplies as well as a constantly growing collection of more than 110,000 patents, 3M (NYSE:MMM) is one of the most consistently innovative and profitable public companies. Investors also appreciate its higher-than-average dividend yield of 3.5%. Dividends aside, though, investors seeking growth may balk at 3M's recently shoddy earnings performance, which has contributed to its underperformance of the market over the past 10 years. On the other hand, management's emphasis on continuous research and development is inherently a long-term strategy, so it should eventually recover from the doldrums and return to consistent growth.

Medtronic

Surgical tool and device company Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) probably isn't on the radar of most retirement investors, but its perpetually growing trailing dividend yield, currently at 2.12%, makes it worth noticing. Thankfully for bargain-seekers, Medtronic's stock has taken a bit of a beating this year after missing Wall Street analysts' predictions for its second-quarter earnings, so it's a great time to buy it at a discount. In the long term, the company's array of medical products and implantable devices will continue to evolve to match the needs of clinics, so don't be surprised if new developments in medical science spur sudden growth.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has a long history of stable leadership, effective competition within crowded consumer-goods markets, and steadily rising dividends. Right now, the company's dividend yield of 2.71% looks particularly strong, especially given the stock's growth of 52.5% in the past five years. Johnson & Johnson is far more than a consumer-goods company, however. It's also an innovative developer of pharmaceutical products and other healthcare goods. In particular, if the company's coronavirus vaccine effort is successful, the market will respond positively, massively increasing the company's stock price while also injecting it with more cash to pay out dividends.