The Dutch oven is an unsung hero of the kitchen—a workhorse in every sense of the word.
From casseroles and soups to braised lamb and roasting meat, Dutch ovens can take a meal from dud to delicious. But what size Dutch oven should you buy?
It really depends on several factors. Are you cooking for a large family? You might need a larger pot. Will you be primarily using it for side dishes? You might want something smaller. Are you short on storage space or plan to cook single servings? You might need a mini-size Dutch oven.
These questions and more all affect which Dutch oven you should buy. In the end, the best Dutch oven size is the one that matches your cooking needs.
So the big question is, what size Dutch oven is best for you? Keep reading to find out.
What Size Dutch Oven Should I Buy? At a Glance
As a general rule of thumb, plan to assign 1 to 1.5 quarts (.95-1.42 liters) per person. This can obviously change, depending on what food you’re cooking.
For a quick reference guide, consult the chart below:
|Dutch Oven Size||Servings||Ideal Dishes||Examples|
|2-3 quarts||2-3 people||Side dishes, vegetables, desserts, sauces||Le Creuset|
|5-6 quarts||4-6 people||Roasts, poultry, potatoes, stews, chilis, beans, rolls, bread, desserts||Le Creuset Signature|
|7-8 quarts||6-8 people||Whole chickens, larger roasts, potatoes, bread, soups, chilis, beans, rolls, desserts||Staub Cocotte|
Round vs. Oval Dutch Oven
Size is not the only consideration when buying a Dutch oven, though. You also have to think about the shape. Oval and round ovens are the most common shapes for Dutch ovens. I previously did an in-depth review of whether a round or oval Dutch oven is best.
But if you want just the summary, oval Dutch ovens tend to be shallower and are fantastic for baking casseroles, veggies, or a whole chicken or turkey.
Round Dutch ovens, however, are deeper and suited for cooking on the stovetop. This shape Dutch oven is better for cooking soups and stews, loaves of bread, and pies.
Enamel vs. Non-Enamel Dutch Ovens
You might also be wondering if you should go with an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or stick to a plain cast-iron Dutch oven.
Enameled cast iron is the most common material nowadays. It has the heat retention, oven safety, and versatility of a plain cast-iron Dutch oven. But it has the added benefit of being non-reactive and easier to clean. Plus, you don’t have to season enamel.
Still, plain cast-iron Dutch ovens are great because they can last forever. Cast iron cookware won’t chip or peel like enamel and can handle high oven and campfire temps.
If ease of cleaning, a beautiful finish, and non-reactiveness are important to you, go with enameled cast iron. Yet plain cast iron will be your best choice if long-lasting durability is the top concern.
My enamel vs non-enameled cast iron guide has more information.
While there are several reputable brands on the market, the three most well-known are Staub, Le Creuset, and Lodge.
The first two are French brands that specialize in enameled cast iron. They tend to be more expensive, but their longevity and performance is hard to match.
Lodge is based in the U.S. and is known for its bare cast iron. Lodge is generally more affordable and minimalist in appearance, but a powerhouse in durability.
Dutch Oven Sizes: Product Reviews
Mini (.25 Quarts)
Dutch ovens smaller than one quart (.95 liters) are called miniature Dutch ovens. These minis are just the right size for a single person. They’re great for making individual servings of scrambled eggs, cheese fondu, french toast, scalloped potatoes, crème brûlée, and much more.
Many people also like to use these as ramekins to take dinner parties to the next level.
With a variety of colors and the reputation of a time-tested brand, this Staub Mini Cocotte (their term for a Dutch oven) can help you whip up your favorite fancy dessert in no time.
Buyers liked using their Staub Cocottes for all sorts of small-batch dishes, and one person even used it to store their salt and pepper. Although at that price range, I would want to use the mini pot for more than storage!
Very Small (2 Quarts)
For those that need something slightly larger, there are also 2-quart (1.89 liters) Dutch ovens available. These small pots are best for 1-2 people.
This smaller size has enough room for making side dishes, desserts, vegetables, and sauces. You could also use it to heat up leftovers on the stove.
With dimensions of 7.5 x 9.66 x 5 inches, this Le Creuset round Dutch oven is a popular choice. It’s oven-safe, induction-compatible, and easy to clean. Buyers made sauces, small portions of gumbo, soup, chili, and 2-3 chicken breasts.
For something different, you might like this Lodge Camp Dutch oven. It’s designed for the grill or campfire cooking. The tripod legs allow it to stand over coals, while the lid inverts to function as a griddle. It’s the perfect size for a cozy camping trip.
Small (4 Quarts)
While still considered a smaller size Dutch oven, 4 quarts (3.89 liters) is enough to feed up to four people. With a 4-quart Dutch oven, you can roast a small chicken up to 3 pounds, bake bread in small batches, cook vegetables or sides, and make a single batch of chili or stew.
This Staub Cocotte has excellent user reviews. Buyers used this smaller Dutch oven for vegetables, rice, soup, jambalaya, and quick breads.
Lodge also makes this pre-seasoned 4-quart Dutch oven, which has maximum versatility, going from the oven to the stove to the campfire. Customers made beef stew and sourdough with success.
Standard Size (5-6 Quarts)
The most popular size for a Dutch oven is 5 to 6 quarts (4.73-5.68 liters). This is generally the sweet spot for most people.
This Dutch oven size can handle enough food to comfortably feed 4-6 people, which makes it the best size Dutch oven for most home cooks.
One of the most popular Dutch ovens of any size is the Le Creuset Signature round Dutch oven. It has a capacity of 5.5 quarts (5.2 liters), the ideal size for feeding a family.
Users were able to cook rice, soup, baked spaghetti, braise meat, and even deep fry corn dogs with this Dutch oven. They liked the ability to make stovetop-to-oven recipes, and they loved the beautiful colors that look great on the table.
For maximum versatility, you might like this Lodge Multicooker. It has a 5-quart Dutch oven base with a lid that converts to a 10.25-inch (26 cm) frying pan.
Do you prefer oval Dutch ovens? This Staub Cocotte has a capacity of 5.75 quarts (5.44 liters) and a fancy steel rooster lid handle. It’s enamel, oven-safe, and has a self-basting lid. Users had great results with cooking coq au vin, beef bourguignon, and baking bread.
Large (7-8 Quarts)
If you want to cook enough food to feed a small crowd, 7-8 quarts (6.62-7.57 liters) is the right size for you. This size is perfect for making a weeknight meal with leftovers.
These Dutch ovens are best for making soup recipes, roasting whole chickens, and cooking large batches of vegetables. But be prepared, these large pots can get quite heavy. Be sure you can lift 15-20 pounds before purchasing a Dutch oven this size.
This Staub 7-Quart Dutch oven (cocotte) has a round shape and a self-basting lid, so it’s well-suited for stew, chili, and similar recipes. Plus, it’s so pretty, you can easily take this from stovetop to table as serveware.
Le Creuset’s shape makes it great for cooking whole birds or bread. This large oven comfortably fits an entire chicken or a large loaf of sourdough.
Lodge also makes this large 8-quart (7.57 liters) cast-iron pot. This is the ideal Dutch oven for campfire cooking. The tripod legs mean you can’t use it on the stovetop, but you can whip up a large batch of chili over the campfire.
Gigantic (20 Quarts/5 Gallons)
If you like to batch cook or feed a crowd, you’ll need a large Dutch oven to hold all that food. A 20-quart Dutch oven (18.93 liters) like this King Kooker can handle the job. This really is the King-size of Dutch oven sizes!
A big pot like this one has plenty of extra quarts to cook for a large gathering. Customers primarily used this to make large batches of meat, jambalaya, and chili. But be forewarned! You might need more than one person to lift this pot, especially when full.
Also, be sure you have extra room to store these larger pots. You’ll also need other burners or even an open stove to heat this size Dutch oven.
If you’re new to Dutch oven cooking, I would recommend the standard size of a 5 to 6-quart Dutch oven, such as this Le Creuset Dutch oven. This size should cover the needs of most home cooks while being small enough to store easily.
Of course; it depends on your personal cooking needs and preferences. Which of these Dutch oven sizes would you choose?