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Dec 27, 2006 04:10 AM

Which Le Creuset Dutch oven?

I received an oval 5-quart Le Creuset oven for Christmas. This is my only piece of Le Creuset, and I want to make sure I have the right one. I'm concerned that a round shape might be more useful.

Anyone want to comment on both the best shape and also most useful size? (Should I switch it for a similarly sized round pot, or for something bigger?) There are two of us in our household, and while we like to entertain, we don't regularly cook for an army.

Thanks in advance for feedback. Here's a link to a page with a bunch of different options:

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  1. I cook for two as well and I think the 5 qt. is great. I haven't ever wished I had an even bigger size-that would be a LOT of soup, stew, etc. I also have a 3.5 which is a little small but it still usually works for us.

    I don't have an oval shape, but it seems that if you are going to use the pot mostly for stovetop, round would be better to make sure it gets even heat distribution.

    1. I love my Le Creuset Doufeu, which is huge (7-1/4 quarts). It has moulded-in metal handles rather than the phenolic ones that deteriorate from oven heat. It's on eBay for $160. It's made for the stovetop and has an indented flat top into which you pour a quart of water to control the inside temperature.

      It's of course very heavy, but easy to handle. For smaller cuts, I use Paula Wolfert's method of putting a piece of parchment paper on top of the meat, pushed down to touch the liquid. This effectively reduces the size and prevents the meat from drying out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: KRS

        I saw this recently on sale for 149.99 and was VERY tempted. One thing I'd want to use it for besides braising though is soup...have you used yours for that? Seems like this would be perfect for the no knead bread.

        1. re: KRS

          +1 on the Doufeu. Bought one about 10 years ago and it's become my "go-to" pot. FYI - Doufeu, noun – A cooking vessel with a concave lid to be filled with ice and promote condensation. French for "gentle heat."

          As we get into braising and roasting season, we thought we'd take a look at this particular style of dutch oven. The concave lid is filled with ice to create condensation throughout the cooking process. Dimples on the underside of the lid are designed to distribute the moisture to the food.

          Cousances/Le Creuset introduced the doufeu in 1934, and the company says the condensation-creating design takes a dish from "good" to "spectacular."

        2. Round is more general-purpose. Oval is good for roasts.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I agree with this. I have the ginormous (13 qt?) oval and wish I had a slightly smaller, round one when I use it on the stove-top. If I made more roast birds in it, I might feel differently, but I don't, so I don't :-)

            1. re: Imby

              We have a #34 (13-quart), but only use it a few times a year. Very festive for a big buffet.

          2. I have an oval I've only used once.

            I cook for two...and have a 3.5 buffet size and an 8ish qt round( i forget exactly how big...maybe 7 3/4). I also have a small 2.5 qt round.

            I don't have a 5.5qt round which I think is the ideal size to have...but with so many other pieces haven't been able to justify adding it( i also have the pumpkin, the apple, and bell pepper shaped ovens as well as a grill pan LOL)

            I sell these at one of the big kitchen stores - for people buying their first piece I usually recommend the 5.5 qt round - not too big, not too small for most uses.

            Now the next tough decision...which color? :)

            4 Replies
            1. re: ziggylu

              I find the 5.5-quart round the most useful size.

              The smaller oval pans are great for pot roasts, such as Marcella Hazan's pork cooked in milk, but a 5-quart oval would be one huge roast.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston


                I agree with Robert Lauriston, above, and with his reply to JoanN, below. IMO, if you do not plan to buy any other Le Creuset pots or pans, the 5.5-quart round is the one to get. If I were you, I would take advantage of Williams-Sonoma's fair exchange policy (if your oven was indeed purchased there) and exchange your oval oven for the round one.

                ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, my wife and I received the exact same oval oven (we already had the 5.5-quart round one) you ask about back in September of this year, and have used it half a dozen times to bake the no-knead bread written about in the New York Times last month. (Please see the link at the bottom of this post for the recipe.) Our friends and family have been raving non-stop about these breads we have made in this oval oven, and we are convinced that the oval oven is due most of the credit. It bakes the bread elegantly, with a hard, crunchy crust and an appealing shape, just like the loaves you'd pay 5 or 6 dollars for at a "gourmet" bakery. I only mention this because the recipe is incredibly simple and even if I only used the oval oven to bake this bread, it would be well worth the price, and then some. Of course, although we haven't had time yet, we plan to roast/bake whole chickens and beef or pork roasts in it in the future.

                I hope this helps. No matter which way you end up going, you can't lose with Le Creuset. I'm willing to bet you will love the one you end up keeping so much you will eventually get the other one as well!


                1. re: Noice

                  Thanks to everyone! Noice -- one of the main reasons I'm considering keeping the oval is because of the no-knead bread, which I'm dying to try! If you didn't have a Dutch oven, what would you bake it in? Do you think Corningware would work?

                  1. re: stonefruit


                    I've only made the no-knead bread in my round and oval LC dutch ovens, so I wouldn't be able to advise from any personal experience. However, I believe the bread may turn out just fine in Corningware, provided it were heat-resistant to 450-500 degrees. For more information and tips, you may refer to this rather comprehensive webpage regarding the recipe:


                    Good luck!


            2. I, too, rarely use my oval. And I find I use my 7-1/4 quart far more often than my 5 quart. The 5 quart just isn't quite large enough for many of the soups and stews I make.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JoanN

                You must cook mass quantities. I regularly cook for 8 or 10 people and only exceed the capacity of my #26 (5.5-quart) a few times a year.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Usually just following a recipe--for whatever quantity it may be. Although I do cook large amounts of stock and soup for the freezer. Perhaps it's just force of habit. Perhaps my 7-1/4 quart is within more convenient reach. But 7 times out of 10, that's the one I use.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    I've never had a recipe come close to overfilling my 5.5.