It’s no secret that a Dutch oven is an essential component of any well-equipped kitchen. These multi-functional pots are useful for searing, braising, slow-cooking, preparing soups and stews, and they also act as lovely serving vessels. Since a quality Dutch oven can last a lifetime when properly cared for, most of us want to ensure that we’re choosing a practical size before we make the financial commitment. Whether you have your eye on a round or oval-shaped pot, a classic Le Creuset or a budget-friendly Lodge, let’s take a moment to discuss which size Dutch oven is best for you. We’ll also provide a few suggestions based on price point.
Personally, I have a 24cm/4.5-quart round Dutch oven from Le Creuset. I use it all the time for everything from soups and sauces, to roasting chicken or baking bread. It is my constant cooking companion, and I value its versatility in my small German kitchen. The pot size is perfect for my husband and I, yielding generous portions for both of us, along with plenty of leftovers. I can confidently recommend this size if you do most of your cooking for 2-4 people. I probably would not go any smaller than the 22cm/3.5-quart size unless you plan on eventually purchasing more than one Dutch oven.
If your cooking tends to feed 4-6 people, you’ll likely be more comfortable with a pot between 26cm/5.5-quart and 28cm/7.25-quart size. Let’s face it: Dutch ovens are heavy, they take up a lot of space, and they’re not cheap. If you’re going to make the investment, it’s wise to choose a size that will offer maximum versatility. For families, hosting the occasional small dinner party, or meal-prep gurus who love to cook in bulk, spring for one of these mid-size pots.
For large families or frequent entertaining—and providing that your actual oven is large enough to accommodate—you’ll surely want a Dutch oven no smaller than 7 quarts. A 30cm/9-quart may be the ideal choice, while a 34cm/13.25-quart monster pot will certainly feed a crowd (though you may need lifting assistance!).
Sensible: Staub 8-Quart Round Cocotte – $389.95
Whether you’re planning to purchase a Dutch oven online or in-store, I do recommend at least taking a peek in a retail store before making your decision. Being able to put your hands on a pot and feel the weight of it ensures you know what you’ll be getting yourself into before committing. Further, and especially if you’re on a tight budget, don’t be shy about checking thrift stores and antique markets for Dutch ovens. You might score a bargain by finding a perfectly functional pot that needs little more than a proper cleaning, and pay a fraction of the price of a brand new vessel.
Whichever size, color, model, and shape you choose, we wish you many happy years of cooking with your new Dutch oven!