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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.

              2. Oval rules. While there is next to nothing the round cooks that the oval doesn't cook as well, there are lots of long, narrow things you can cook in the oval but not, or not as well, in the round (many roasts, whole birds, whole rabbits, a slew of drumsticks, whole veal shanks, small legs of lamb, pork and beef tenderloins, whole fish, even vegetables like whole leeks and bunches of celery). I have an oval and a slightly larger round Dutch oven and reach for the oval nearly every time. I also use the oval as a skillet for entrecôtes and fish since I have yet to acquire an oval skillet. I've even pressed it into duty as a roasting pan. Unless you already have a couple of pieces of oval cookware, keep it. There are times when any other shape will be a compromise.

                1. Count me in on the 5.5 round oven as probably being the most versatile piece.

                  Though I do use my 7.5 round more often and I cook for 2 with maybe 2 days of leftovers for freezer.

                  I find the round shape more versatile than the oval shape as it accomodates a wide range of foods and perfoms well on both cooktop and in the oven.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    How so more versatile? What can you fit into a round oven that won't go into an oval oven? See above for a list of things that an oval oven handles with ease but that a round oven doesn't. Also, oval ovens perform equally "well on both cooktop and in the oven."

                    1. re: carswell

                      A round oven fits better on a round burner. Esp. when you are talking 5 quarts plus in size. Unless perhaps you have a "professional" stove with gigantic burners. IMO there is no food that is more suited for an oval oven than a round one unless it is a single item, very disproportionately oval or rectangular.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        >>A round oven fits better on a round burner. Esp. when you are talking 5 quarts plus in size. Unless perhaps you have a "professional" stove with gigantic burners.<<

                        I have a very run-of-the-mill electric range and find no advantage to using my round Dutch oven on the cooktop over my oval (a five-quarter by the way). The extremities of the oval may be slightly cooler than the centre, meaning food there tends to brown slightly slower, but that can easily be addressed by stirring vegetables like onion and switching around pieces of meat as they brown. Indeed, it can be counted an advantage, a place to shunt smaller pieces that brown faster. For braised dishes, there is absolutely no difference from a practical standpoint.

                        >>IMO there is no food that is more suited for an oval oven than a round one unless it is a single item, very disproportionately oval or rectangular.<<

                        Exactly. There's a large range of single items such as I listed above that can easily be cooked in an oval oven but not in a round one. So far, other than a pig's head, I've not come up with any that are better suited to a round oven. Given that fact, given the negligible difference in the ovens from a cooking standpoint and given the unlikelihood that stonefruit already has a pan in the useful oval shape, there is no reason for him/her to trade it in. Personally, since acquiring the oval oven, I rarely use my round oven. But I do covet larger oval ovens (the perfect pot for a seven-hour leg of lamb, among other things).

                  2. I only have the 5.5 qt. round one, but it's great for all-purpose anything. Unless you have a very large family or want enough leftovers to keep you going through the week, it's probably the right size. And, as others have noted, it works well on the round stovetop burners most of us have.

                    1. I love my oval which is 6 1/2 quarts i think. It has a lovely shape that I prefer over the classic round shape, that looks good in the oven and on the table. I cook for two to six people at most, and I find it's a little large for stews. However, it poaches a whole chicken, and also holds a braised beef shank beautifully. This is the only one I use and I have had no problems with heat distribution, though, in the oven, the shape maybe doesn't matter much....

                      1. It depends on your usage. I have several 5 quart round and a couple of 7 1/4 quart ovals. I use the oval when doing chicken or osso bucco. I normally use the rounds for doing soups or stews.

                        1. You might want to try buying Le Creuset cookware at Marshalls, if you have one in your area.
                          I picked up 4 pieces at different times there for half the money they sell for elsewhere.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: janzy

                            Thanks again to everyone. I decided to keep the oval shape -- figured it didn't make much of a difference, and it's pretty. Plus, it was the perfect vessel for the Lahey/Bittman no-knead bread, which turned out very well. Thanks!

                          2. I have a #29 5 qt oval and I love it. I got it at Tuesday Morning in Orlando for $99!! If you have Tuesday Morning near you, they often have lots of pieces of LC for half price or better.

                            1. I have a very large oval and a slightly less large round... I use them almost interchangably. For me, it doesn't matter, I only pick depending on the capacity I need.

                              I make soups, stews, roasts etc in both on stovetop and in the oven. I think it's a non-issue.

                              But. For GREAT deals, see if there is a LeCreuset outlet in your area. They always have seconds that may have a teeeeeny tiny cosmetic problem, but will save you almost 1/2.


                              1. My Christmas present to myself this year was a discounted 5.5 qt round LC dutch oven that I got off a website tip from the chowhnds a few weeks back. Made a pot roast dinner in it last night for the in-laws and some of the seniors in the condo complex to bring in the New Year. Oh Lordy it was good. Happy New Year everybody.

                                1. I know you've already made your decision, but I just wanted to add that the shape shouldn't affect cooking, since the heat should distribute evenly, a reason that I'm sure a lot of people love LC. I got the wide round 6.5 (shorter Dutch Oven, sort of like a taller risotto pan w/o the rounded bottom?) because I wanted the larger surface area & the 3.5 round can occasionally be too small. LOVE IT. :)

                                  1. I admit to having too much Le Creuset--yes it is possible. In the round "Dutch ovens" I have the 2 qt., 3.5 qt., 4.5 qt., 7.25 qt., and the 13.5 qt. whopper. I also have an oval 5 qt. They have all taken a beating over the 35-year span I have had most of them. If you were only going to have one I would go for the round 7 qt. I think that the round is much more versatile than oval. The oval is nice for smaller and long-shaped roasts or fowl. My oval gets used the least. The 13.5 qt. gets used surprisingly often. It is perfect for entertaining and serving soups, stews, and cassoulets.

                                    1. Just for reassurance, on oval 5 qt (new ones, which I probably won't buy, don't come in 5.5 sizes):

                                      Whole chicken, up to roaster size/duck, snug so no jus burns, plus a side slot or two?

                                      I saw two mentions above, but am agonizing, of course. If no replies I'm just going to bring a damn bird into the shop.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rbraham

                                        You'd need a pretty big chicken for it to be snug in my 29 oval. The footprint would almost fill a piece of 8.5" x 11" paper.

                                      2. I got my first PC of new le creuset in ebay for $55 in the 4.5 qt soup pot which has a rounded bottom. As convenient as the rounded bottom is for stir frying food before making the soup, I found the rounded bottom surface not spacious enough to sautéed the food before stewing or making soup. So my next piece is a 5.5 qt Dutch oven which has a bigger flat surface for frying my ingredient before stewing. I bought it in an outlet for $150+. I enjoy it very much. The third piece is a 2 qt Dutch oven which I bought it at ebay also for $55 (what a co -incidence) which I mainly used for making sauce, wonderful in retaining the heat long after it's off from stove, but not often used. All in flame orange.
                                        The last piece I got is a heart shape pot which I bought in goodwill shop for $65. I love how it looks in cherry red, but not handy to cook in because of the funny shape. I only use it on valentines day. Maybe I should sell this last piece.

                                        1. I use the oval for a lot of game - works great for braising ribs or farm butchered bone in meats. The rounds get the stew/soup treatment.

                                          For breads I go raw cast iron.