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May 19, 2009 03:23 AM

what size Dutch oven should I buy?

I need some advice on which Dutch oven size would be best for me. For the next few years I will be cooking only for my husband and myself plus the occasional couple of guests. However we love left over’s so cooking extra is half the point. Ideally I’d like to be able to cook 4 lamb shanks using the same Dutch oven. I think I would be looking at a round 6qt Dutch oven. Any advice would be appreciated.


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  1. Mine is 24cm, which I think is just less than 4qt, and that's plenty massive. When I made chili, I cooked 1kg - enough for 4 people, or realistically, leftovers for later. It came up to about half the pot, so I think I could probably double it.

    If you have bones, I think you could safely cook for 4, so the lamb shanks should be good.
    Suppose it depends how much you eat too. I've heard people on here have 12 qt DOs, which I find incredible. I don't think that could realistically fit anywhere in my kitchen

    1. I have the 7.25 qt one, and love it. Often I'm just cooking for two of us (with maybe a little leftover), and it works well though I could certainly use a smaller one for that cooking. But, it also can cook six pounds of short ribs, etc. I'd go w/ a larger one.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        Good point Ruth. Tell you what though, bear both our advice in mind; if you find a 4qt at a bargain price, I'd get it rather than hold out for a bigger one.

        Oh, and mine is pretty managable for me, but you might want to bear in mind the weight of the heavier ones.

      2. I have a round Le Creuset oven in the 5-1/2 quart (26 cm) size. I mainly cook for 2-4 people, and definitely wouldn't want anything smaller. In fact, I sometimes regret not opting for a larger one, as much for the additional width as for the additional volume.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Priss

          I am in the exact same situation as Miss Priss here. Normally 2-4 people with a 5-1/2 quart. Anything smaller would definitely be too small for me. I have only occasionally found myself wishing for something a bit bigger in terms of cooking surface (not in terms of volume). Overall I am quite happy with the size. When I need more surface area, I simply go with my 4.9 quart (11") sauté pan; if I need more volume, I go with a large stockpot.

        2. A larger one will also make it easier to do large cuts like a whole pork shoulder or a brisket. With a larger one you can make double batches and freeze half, since braised dishes usually freeze well, but then you might want a smaller one when you're ready to reheat the smaller batch.

          A common mistake that people make when braising is to brown the meat in too small a pan before adding the liquid, so that the meat starts putting out too much juice before it really browns. There are ways around this with a small pot--browning in batches, browning in a large skillet--but it is handy to have a big dutch oven and do it all in one pot if you can. It's also nice to have a really big dutch oven for sauteeing lots of onions, since a pint of carmelized, reduced onion confit might start as about eight medium to large onions.

          I'd say go for the biggest you can afford, and then add a smaller one later, if you find you need it. I used a couple of 24cm dutch ovens (one cast aluminum, one Le Creuset) for years, but when I got a 32cm heavy copper rondeau, I found I used that one a lot more than the smaller ones.

          1. I have a 7.5 quart or maybe 6 but definitely bigger than 5 that I know. I love it. I would hate anything smaller. If I make chili, I make chili for 4 and then lots of leftover. I want 4 or more bowls left for either lunch of dinner a few nights later. Also I want to freeze a couple of containers. Same with soup. I just made some chicken sweet potato, cannellini and kale soup. Made enough for the 3 of us one night. Then 3 bowls left for lunch and dinner one night, and 2 to freeze. I would never cook less than that. I love leftovers. Beef tips with port, wild mushrooms, onions, potatoes, etc. a month ago. Dinner for 4, lunch, and 2 freezer containers. Had one for lunch the other day.

            My point I gave away my small one. It is just me, but I cook for more quite often but I would never trade my big pot for the small one.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kchurchill5

              Agreed. It's always been the two of us (plus company now and then). I invested in a 6 or 6 1/2 qt. Dutch oven and I love it. When I cook something time-consuming, I make enough to freeze. It cooks beautifully even if it's just enough for two, as well.
              Go with the big one!