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Buying First Dutch Oven

Hello...

I'm looking to buy our first dutch oven and was wondering what would be the best size. There's only 2 of us, but we do entertain occasionally. Not sure what I'll be using it for, probably some braised short ribs, pot roast, maybe give that no knead bread a try. I was thinking around a 7 quart would be a good one to start with, but I'm open to all opinions. Also, is there any reason to choose oval vs. round?

Thanks!

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  1. I have a 5.5 LC which works fine.. I've cooked soups for groups with it, done the no-knead bread thing, and the capacity was there.

    But I do sometimes wish for a bit more size, for braising things like shanks.. so a 7 ought to work well for you..

    Mine is round.. you probably get a tad more even heating in a round one, but you might fit birds and other meat more easily into an oval.

    1. Amazon just had the Lodge 6 qt. enameled oven in red on sale for $34.99. The enamel is smooth, shiny, and very well done on it. Good Housekeeping compared it well to the LC. You might want to keep checking for another sale like that. It's usually $39.99 on sale but watch for another price drop. Free shipping too. I have LC, but this is really nicely done and the cover fits well. I returned the Batali I had. Not very well done lumpy enamel and the cover didn't fit very well.

      3 Replies
      1. re: blondelle

        The Lodge is back down to $34.99 in Spice at Amazon.

        http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Enameled-...

        I love Le Creuset too, but when you figure Amazon can sell this for $34.99 and still make a profit, and Lodge can make a profit, and the factory that made it make a profit, and factor in freight costs from China, and other costs, you have to wonder exactly how much profit Le Creuset is making on their 5.5 qt. oven that sells for $219.99!

        1. re: blondelle

          I was going to recommend the Batali 6-quart dutch oven which I bought on super sale from Amazon a couple years ago for $79.99. I have been extremely happy with it. It came very well-packed with rubber gaskets to protect the heavy lid from chipping the rim. I thought it might be too large, since I rarely cook for big groups, but it has worked fine for potroasts and other braised dishes -- I transfer leftovers to smaller containers for reheating or freezing.

          But that Lodge at that price sounds fantastic. Even if it did chip or discolor, you'd have the experience of learning to cook in it and knowing the pros and cons of the size and shape -- and you could buy 5 or 6 more for the price of one LC.

        2. re: blondelle

          I think I paid $39.99 for a Lodge 6 qt. enameled blue pot from Amazon I really like it, but don't put it in the dishwasher cause mine went through there unbeknownst to me, and came out with a small piece of enamel off the cover. They recommend hand wash.

        3. Yes. a 7qt will hold a lot. An oval is good if you cook elongated things, otherwise go with round.
          (For turkey, most people seem to favor a shallow roasting pan for crisper skin.) But a word of warning, probably unnecessary: Many people on this board rave about cast iron, but when these are filled with food, they are very heavy. I have an Anolon anodized dutch oven, which works fine.

          1. I have an 8 quart Chantal Talavera line enameled cast-iron Dutch Oven (round) that I found at Marshall's on clearance for $29 -- I love it -- nicely made, and cooks like a dream -- it is a little large -- but still works well on the stove top (I have just a 30" range) and in the oven. I love the size and the I think a 7 qt would be much more versatile than a 5.5 quart. I also have a 5.5 quart.. but it's a cazuela (Rick Bayless line, enameled cast iron made by Copco picked up at a TJ Maxx xlearance aisle for $10)) so it's narrower on the bottom than top... it's a nice capacity -- but for most dishes, I prefer the 8 quart.

            My advice: take a run over to the clearance aisles before you buy (I've seen LC stuff there too)... I have 2 great pieces for a total of $40.

            1. There are only two of us in my household also although we do a lot of family and holiday entertaining. I bought the 5 1/2 quart round LC, and then ended up also buying the 6 3/4 oval LC. I use both but the oval seems to be the more useful of the two. I bought both at Bed, Bath & Beyond with their 20% off coupons.

              1. I just bought my first (Le Creuset at an outlet) and went with 5.5 quart. Great for cooking for two, but can easily make larger stews & dishes for more. For example, it's just about big enough to cook 4 lamb shanks.

                1. A comment on the shape: I have both a large oval and a large round oven, not sure the capacity, but I much prefer using the round oven if I need to brown something on the stovetop first, because I have a smooth-top range. Using the oval oven to brown doesn't work great as the tapered ends of the oven are not on top of the heating element, so they don't reach the proper temperature.

                  1. I have both oval and round le creuset and le creuset knock-offs. While the oval does fit things like roasts and chickens better, I think the round ones (especially big ones) heat more evenly on the stove. After all, the average stoveplate is round... Just worth considering.

                    There are two of us at home, and I've found bigger to be better in terms of pot size. Even though we have never really cooked several meals at once, considering that a lot of the stuff you do in a heavy dutch oven is slow cooking and time- and energy- intensive, we've started to make and freeze stews, soups, braises, etc. so we're glad for the larger pots.

                    1. Wow... it's been a year and we still haven't picked one up. Going this weekend. Any last opinions on the 5.5qt v. the 7.25qt?

                      Thanks

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: white light

                        You can always cook less in a 7.25qt but you can't cook more in the 5.5 if the 7 is in your budget.

                        I have a Chantal as well that I picked up at TJMaxx.. didn't get the steal price karmalaw got, but I still paid less than $50.. somewhere around $40 I think. It works just dandy.