Having a good Dutch oven among your cooking pots and pans matters because it will serve as one of your most versatile pots in the kitchen. A cast iron Dutch oven can braise meats, cook soups, stews, rich sauces, and fry, it will even roast a whole chicken or large roasts. Picking the right size ensures that you will get the most out of your Dutch oven.
What is the best size Dutch oven to buy? The most popular size Dutch oven is a 5 1/2 quart round Dutch oven and a 6 3/4 quart oval Dutch oven is the top seller for the Le Creuset brand. Offers the flexibility, to scale it up to a larger size or down to a smaller size based on your needs. They’re neither too small nor too big and will easily feed a family of 4.
This short answer highlights what will work for most home cooks with an emphasis on “most”. People with larger families may find the measurements too small.
We are going to take a deeper look at the various types of Dutch ovens and how to pick the perfect size that works for you. Read on to learn more.
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What is the Best Size Dutch Oven to Buy?
Use the following to help you identify the best Dutch oven size for you.
How Many People Will You Feed?
You can measure the size needed based on this rule of thumb. For every person, add one quart of food and round up that number as needed.
Cooking experts use one quart as the measurement because people will usually eat about one quart of food.
This explains why the 5 1/2 quart types of Dutch oven have become the favorite Dutch oven choice. Families today normally consist of four people.
That makes the 5 to 6 quarts the ideal Dutch oven for most people. Leave room for leniency if you would have friends over for a meal.
What can you cook in a 6-quart Dutch oven? Whole roasts, slow-cooked meals, soups, bread, and baking.
Naturally, you may think that the biggest Dutch oven at 7 quarts will lend you the most flexibility. That may have truth to it on some level, but you’d be wise to check off the following before deciding on the ideal size of your new Dutch oven.
* Will a 7-quart Dutch oven fit in your conventional oven comfortably?
* Consider your heat source.
* You want to lift the lid easily when filled to the brim.
* Does the oven have a stainless steel knob that can withstand high temperatures?
* You want to be able to lift the Dutch oven when fully laden.
* Can you put it back in the cupboard for storage without trouble?
What Shape Dutch Oven Should I Get?
The oval Dutch oven may look like it can accommodate the whole chicken and larger meat, but a round Dutch oven of at least 5.5 quarts will cook the meat just as easily.
Round Dutch ovens have a key advantage over oval-shaped ovens: They sit better on the burners. Sitting well on the burners will ensure high heat retention and the even distribution of heat.
Let’s say that you plan to cook a feast for the holidays. Having round Dutch ovens leave room for the other burners to fire all at once. Meal preparation like sautéing, browning, and frying all work better with round Dutch ovens.
On the other hand, oval Dutch ovens work best in the oven. They won’t fit on the stovetop burner as well as the round one. You’d want an oval Dutch oven for things like braising longer cuts of meat or cooking sourdough bread, which has a better shape in a Dutch oven.
When Does a Mini-Dutch Oven Work?
Mini enameled cast iron Dutch ovens work best for individual portions. They don’t take up much table space, and they hold the heat. It is the best option for a single person.
The foods that you might put in smaller pots include:
- Braised greens
- Fruit crisp
- Deep dish pizza
- Fish chowder stew
- Rustic French onion soup
- Side dishes
When Does a Medium Dutch Oven Work Best?
A 6-quart Dutch oven is considered a medium Dutch oven. You might call this size your all-purpose Dutch oven because it can fit a variety of scenarios. It’s not so big that it feels cumbersome yet not so small as to be limiting.
This versatile style of a Dutch oven can work for a variety of situations and fits perfectly into everyday cooking – you know those recipes we make over and over – the ones we can make in our sleep.
Some of the foods that you can cook in a medium Dutch oven include:
- Browning meats
- Braising meats
- Deep frying
- Short ribs
You’d consider this the all-purpose Dutch oven that you’d use more often than a mini-Dutch oven or a large Dutch oven.
It has enough room, can withstand high temperatures, works for cooking most dishes and you will use it for a long time. Hopefully, this highlights what you can do with each size to determine your choice.
When Does a Large Dutch Oven Work Best?
The extra surface space makes it the perfect choice for the stovetop, and with the large metal handles, you can hoist it from the stove over to the dinner table. Some of the foods to cook in a large Dutch oven include:
- Coconut chicken curry
- Chicken and dumplings
- Pot Roast
- Large cuts of meat
Dutch ovens can reach up to 13 quarts. However, you should understand how the larger the Dutch oven, the heavier it becomes. A 13-quart Dutch oven has a typical weight of around 8 pounds.
Every Size Has a Use
Every size of a Dutch oven can be used for something, but given the cost, you probably want the most versatile choice like the 5 1/2 quart oven.
Mini-Dutch ovens can sit on the stovetop without disturbing too much when not in use. They make a poor choice for large crowds, however, rendered useless.
Large Dutch ovens can serve large crowds, but they have the disadvantage of heavier weight and being more cumbersome. After each cooking session, you have to haul it back to the kitchen cabinets.
Should You Get a Dutch Oven Larger Than 7 Quarts?
Generally speaking, no, you wouldn’t want to have a Dutch oven larger than 7 quarts because you wouldn’t put it to use for much.
Unless you have a large family of six or more and you like to cook in batches, larger sizes won’t have as much use.
Meanwhile, you have to check the measurements of your new Dutch oven to ensure that it will fit the conventional oven.
What Size Dutch Oven is Best for Baking Bread?
The best size Dutch oven for baking bread, as well as no-knead bread, is a Dutch oven between the sizes of 5-quart and 7.5-quart to accommodate the standard loaf of bread recipe.
Why? Because the round shape of 5-quart to 7.5-quart provides plenty of room for the loaf to rise, form, and crust.
The Dutch oven size I use: A smaller Dutch oven, 6-quart size, with a tight-fitting lid are two important factors when making bread in a Dutch oven. I use my 5.5 Signature Le Creuset Dutch Oven to bake Dutch oven bread!
Find out more about the best size Dutch oven for baking bread in the OvenSpot article Best Dutch Ovens for Making Bread.
What Size Dutch Oven for Whole Chicken?
Having a round classic Dutch oven at 5 quarts will fit a whole chicken that weighs 4 pounds. If you wanted some extra room to cook vegetables, you might opt for the 7-quart Dutch oven because it can cook a whole chicken with some veggies on the side. Dutch ovens work especially well if you want to slow-roast a chicken.
Roasting improves texture while deepening the flavor. This style of cooking takes advantage of the natural sugars within the meat and concentrates the flavors to create a sweeter flavor. Many of the vitamins in the chicken will remain for healthier eating, rather than getting cooked away. Roasting uses dry heat to cook the food.
Expert Tip: All meat should rest for between 10 to 20 minutes after you have roasted it. You want it to continue cooking even after you have removed it from the stovetop or the oven. The main reason to let the meat rest comes from the fact that it allows time to distribute the juices evenly throughout the meat.
Round or Oval Shape
You can use either shape for all your one-pot meals including soups and stews on the stovetop and in the oven. An oval Dutch oven is a better choice for meat on the bone or longer large cuts of meat. Note that the size of your Dutch oven should be considered when using it on a stovetop. For this reason, oval Dutch ovens are better used in a conventional oven, unless you have an oval or long-shaped stovetop burner.
Dutch Oven Size Chart
|16||1.5 qt||1.3 ltr||1-2|
|18||2 qt||1.8 ltr||2|
|20||2.5 qt||2.4 ltr||2-3|
|22||3.5 qt||3.3 ltr||3-4|
|24||4.5 qt||4.2 ltr||4-5|
|26||5.5 qt||5.3 ltr||6|
|28||7.25 qt||6.7 ltr||6-8|
|30||9 qt||8.4 ltr||8-10|
|34||13.25 qt||12.4 ltr||10-12|
Camp Dutch Oven Size Chart
|8 inch||3.5 inch||2-quart||1- 2|
|10 inch||4 inch||4-quart||2-4|
|12 inch||4.6 inch||6-quart||4-5|
|14 inch||5.5 inch||8-quart||6-8|
|16 inch||5 inch||10-quart||8-10|
|18 inch||5.5 inch||12-quart||10-12|
|20 inch||6 inch||14-quart||12-14|
Budget – Do the Bigger Dutch Ovens Cost More?
The price tag of iron cookware depends only slightly on the quarts in the Dutch oven and whether it has an enamel coating or is bare cast iron for cooking on hot coals. It may increase the cost a bit, but in most cases, this doesn’t influence the price too much.
Usually, the brand that you choose will have a bigger influence on the cost. These costs can be attributed to high-quality materials as well as the ovens being hand-finished.
Favorite Medium-Sized Dutch Oven
This is my Le Creuset Dutch oven. It comfortably feeds 4 adults with leftovers. Check out similar Dutch ovens in various colors at Amazon…
Or check out my full article that goes into more detail about the Le Creuset 5.5-quart enameled round cast-iron Dutch oven
Answers to best size Dutch oven to buy.
How many people does a 10-inch Dutch oven feed?
A 10-inch Dutch oven gives 2 – 4 servings and has a 4-quart capacity. A quick reference size chart is below.
|8 inch||2-qt||3 inch||11 pounds||1-2|
|10 inch||4-qt||3.5 inch||15 pounds||2-4|
|12 inch||6-qt||3.75 inch||20 pounds||4-6|
|12 inch||D8-qt||5 inch||23 pounds||6-8|
|14 inch||8-qt||3.75 inch||26 pounds||6-8|
|14 inch||D10-qt||4.5 inch||28 pounds||8-10|
|16 inch||12-qt||3.75 inch||32 pounds||10+|
Top Picks for a Good Size Dutch Oven
What is a good size for a Dutch oven? Dutch ovens sized between 5 and 7 quarts provide servings for 4 people.
- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt.
- Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte, 5.5-quart
- Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart
- Bruntmor, Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Casserole Dish 6.5 quart
- Crock-Pot Artisan Round Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 7-Quart
Is an 8-quart Dutch Oven too Big?
An 8-quart Dutch oven will suit a large family, the standard size Dutch oven for a family of 4 is 5 to 7 quarts. This article deep dives into sizes suitable for all Dutch Oven Size Chart: What Size Dutch Oven to Buy.
Is a 4 qt Dutch Oven too Small?
a 4-quart Dutch oven is suitable for 2 to 4 people generally with no leftovers. Or will feed a couple or small family comfortably.
- Great article on Dutch ovens for families of 4
- Great article about the best-size Dutch ovens for whole chickens
- Great article dives deeper into why Dutch ovens can be so expensive
- Great article about the extensive sizes available in the Lodge Dutch Oven
Final Thoughts – What Is the Best Size Dutch Oven to Buy?
Choosing the right size Dutch oven for you is a big decision. You’ve learned that the sweet spot of seasoned or enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens is between 5-quart and 7-quart. Hopefully, this has helped you to better decide on the next Dutch oven that you want to purchase.
You now have a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each type, size, and shape of the Dutch oven.
By asking yourself the above questions you will then be able to ascertain the right Dutch oven for your particular needs.
Many times, someone can make a simple mistake by thinking that the largest Dutch oven will work best for versatility, but that isn’t always the case.
A 13-quart Dutch oven is a heavy piece of cookware and can leave you exhausted and wishing that you had bought a smaller and less cumbersome oven.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks