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How big for a HUGE Le Creuset oven?

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As I've always gotten great, sound advice when making my other LC decisions, I'd thought I'd turn here first for guidance . . .

I'm trying to decide WHICH SIZE huge LC round oven to buy. Is there such a thing as just too big?

I'm wavering between the 9qt and the 13-1/4qt rounds. It certainly won't be used on a daily, or even weekly necessarily, basis. But, I'd love a large one for cooking for a crowd (think chili, spaghetti sauce, etc). The biggest I have right now is the 6-3/4qt oval, and it really suits my needs pretty well, but I'd love a bigger one for those times when there's just a larger crowd than that! I'd likely be buying either at the outlet w/ a coupon, so price isn't quite the factor it would be for either of those at full retail (I think there's a $100 difference at retail, less than $50 at outlet sale price) - in case that influences anyone's answer!

Thanks for any/all input y'all might have!

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  1. I had a similar question about two years ago when the LC all purpose round oven I had used for ten years became too small for my evolving soup making.
    My soups are good, really good, and I wanted to make enough to freeze some before Mr Shallots devoured it all.

    I measure my double oven, played with sizes that would fit on my cook top, and then went to the outlet store. (I thought about taking along a five pound sack of flour.) I tried out the different sizes. Held them as far away from my body as I would a hot oven. Tried them with the lids on and off, and with a smaller LC piece in to mimic the weight of the food being cooked.
    I also reminded myself that I'm getting older and my upper arm strength will not improve with another decade.

    And I chose what I can lift, safely, that works oh so well for me.

    As langniappe, I'm finding that some things I squeezed into Olde Dependable are a bit improved by having more air move around them as they brown/roast in the new oven.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shallots

      Yeah, the lifting part is an important consideration. It can't be pleasant to handle a 13-1/4 qt. cast iron pot filled with food. If I occasionally needed something that big, I would buy a second 6- to 7-quart pot and divide the food between them.

    2. I have a 7.5 round LC and regularly use it for dinner parties of 10 people -- with enough for leftovers. I don't cook meat, though -- but if you're using it for chili, sauce, curries, pasta dishes, I think the 9 qt would be all you need. Like I said, I do pretty well w/the 7.5, but maybe you'll have bigger crowds. Plus, you already have th 6.75, and I think I'd rather use two smaller french ovens in a pinch, rather than trying to maneuver that monstrous 13.25!

      1. As other posters have said, weight becomes a factor.. could you consider an alternative approach - brown materials in batches, and then cooking in a large stockpot? The stuff you mentioned - soups, chili, sauce, would fit fine in that type of pot. I would think a larger LC would be more useful for things like braises, where you need surface area and the ability to stuff the thing into the oven - so if you wanted to cook 8-10 veal shanks at once, you'd have the space...

        Or you just might want to buy another of the same or close size, that way you could split the usage for 2 different dishes if need be..

        1. I agree with those who would use two LC fairly large pots versus one LC *extra-large* pot.

          I can see myself purchasing a 9 quart in the future, for bigger roasts, but I've decided that, for me, the 13-plus-quart capacities are just too big to work with safely.

          The largest LC I have right now is the 7.something bouillabaisse pot. It's been *extremely* useful to me, even in the short time I've had it. It's not *horrible* when I'm lifting it full on or off the cooktop. But it takes a little doing to get it into or out of the oven when it's full. If I approach it "head on", the oven door is down and makes for a little bit of an awkward distance. If I approach it more from the side...well, I can tell that's not so good for the back, since one has to twist a little.

          So I vote for two moderately sized vessels, versus one gargartuan. ;-)

          5 Replies
          1. re: Normandie

            Although I'd love to have one larger than my largest (a 7.5 qt) I don't think I could lift it comfortably. I'm arthritic in my wrists, already....

            I went with the 10 quart All-Clad Rondeau, instead, for my gigantic cooking sessions. Not quite as "low heat" friendly as the Le Creuset, but much lighter to haul around.

            http://www.amazon.com/All-Clad-Stainl...

            (I didn't pay that price, however. I got "seconds" for about 1/2 price, from the All Clad outlet site, during their sale this past August)

            1. re: Beckyleach

              This would be my recommended approach. The weight issue is a serious one when you handling hot food, particularly if you are putting it in and out of the oven. My biggest LCs and Staub are the 7 quart variety, and then after that it is all high quality stainless steel. Even copper is very heavy. My largest pot is a 24 quart Tramontina stainless steel stockpot. I use it about two or three times a year, but when you need a big pot, this is a good idea. I am not counting the big graniteware lobster and seafood pots, as I use them only for steaming shellfish. Those are even bigger.

              1. re: Beckyleach

                Check out this puppy from Demeyere, Becky: 33.8 quarts. Uhh...what would *I* make that I need a 33-quart pot for? http://www.abesofmaine.com/item.do?it...

                Yes, one solution is to go for a somewhat lighter material when we need bigger vessels. (I like Demeyere, so I went to look for a 12-quart jobbie or so and that's how I found the linked monster.

                )

                Often enough, I have dinners with either two entrees or an entree and another dish that needs a good size pot for cooking. So multiple seven-quarts make sense for me. I don't can or preserve, though. I doubt I have a pot that's big enough for someone who does. So maybe if someone cans or preserves foods or grows tomatoes and puts up sauce a 10-or-plus-quart pot would make more sense for them?

                Yes, re your wrists. People have to really be aware, before they make the investment, of how heavy those pots can be when full. Even on the 7.+ bouillabaisse pot and the 5-quart casserole, I've learned to remove the lids before moving them around. I just can't imagine handling the larger pots when they're full of food.

                1. re: Normandie

                  Holy moly! That's one hefty hunka steel. My wrists are what's holding me back from investing in a replacement for my old Revereware 12 qt. stock pot, in fact. I just can't decided if I could comfortably move and lift a CLAD version of a stock pot large enough to hold the large batches of soup I routinely make. However, I've gotten so used to the great simmer on my LC and All-Clad, over the past decade or so, that I have to be eternally vigilant when using the old RW, because things scorch so easily....

                  I'm just in a quandary. : /

                  1. re: Beckyleach

                    Oh, forgot to add: I do make lots of pickles, relishes, and jams every year. I find I easily need at least 10 quarts--12 or larger is preferable--to do this in the amounts I find worthwhile.

            2. How big a crowd are you talking about?

              I have an 8qt oval. I don't use it daily. But on sundays I do cook sunday dinner at my mother's hosue for 8 of us. I'll use this pot for soup, stew, chili, etc on those occasions. For 8 of us, I've neve come close to filling it. I don't make leftovers...maybe about 12 servings...enoguh for people to have seconds if they wish and there's usually a serving for my husband to take for lunch the next day. I could easily imagine getting enough out of this pot for 15 + if I filled it.

              It's a heavy pot. When transporting from stove to fridge to car to parent's house I have my husband handle it. I couldn't handle anything heavier than this.

              I agree with the others that 9qt is probably all you want sizewize. And depending on how you define a crowd it's probably more than enough capacity.

              1. Thanks y'all!

                I knew you'd have some sound and sage advice on which one made more sense - and I agree with the points made: the 13 is just too gargantuan! The 9qt should be plenty on its' own for most of my needs, and on those that it's not I can simply use it along with my 6-3/4qt oval!

                And it'll save a few $ too!

                1. I've got the 8qt oval too. I used to use it for baking no-knead bread until I discovered how much better suited a tagine was and occasionally I do that much chili. But not often.

                  It's big so it has to be stored out of the way. And, as everyone's already said, it's *heavy*!

                  I got a great price on it at Costco. I don't think I'd buy one that big at a conventional price. The size I use *constantly* is about 3 quarts.

                  1. Now I'm curious--who *does* use those monster Dutch ovens? (Staub makes them too.) What kind of kitchen do they have? Popeye forearms? Do restaurants buy these--they seem made for home cooks because of all the pretty colors...
                    I mostly use an oval 2 3/4 qt. -- it's nicely chicken sized! I store potatoes and onions inside my larger 5 1/2 qt. because I rarely use it.
                    I'd get another 6 qt. or so size, Girly_Qs, maybe a round one this time?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BangorDin

                      That's my plan - another big, but not enormous, round one this time (just for variety's sake). Still considering the 9qt, but certainly no bigger than that.

                      I just got a 3-1/2qt oval, which I'm hoping works well for chicken and other more day-to-day things. Other than that I have: the 6-3/4qt oval, a 3-1/2qt buffet casserole, a 4-1/2qt soup pot, and a square grill pan. I've acquired them slowly, and gotten some amazing deals on them (especially the oval oven and the soup pot that started my collection). I'm sure I don't always 'maximize' their use (still learning here!), but they're definitely helping me get away from using my non-stick (really just for scrambled eggs and/or omelettes these days). Plus, they look nice on display on my pot stand, lol!

                      So, next on my radar are a large round oven and possibly a smaller one (I think the 2qt round would fit nicely on the last remaining shelf of my pot stand, that won't fit anything much larger, and it would get used for more 'mundane' day-to-day things too).

                      I really appreciate all the guidance though - like I said, I'm still learning!

                      1. re: Girly_Qs

                        Girly_Q -- not sure if you have a specific need for a 2 qt, but Le Creuset has a promotion going on now for a 2.75 qt round french oven. You can find them everywhere (Williams Sonoma, BBB, plus online) for $110, which is about $30 cheaper than the 2qt. Plus, if you can get a BBB coupon (as I did!), you'll get another 20% off. These days everyone has free shipping, so it works out to be a great price for a nice little piece. Though you may want to measure if your pot stand is a real concern...I'm sure you can find the measurements online. Happy shopping!

                      2. re: BangorDin

                        Who does use the really big one?

                        People with decorator kitchens whose decorators are buying the monster pots for decoration.

                        (I live out in the country and it's an area that's become horse-ified in the past decade. I'd swear that some of my neighbors have horses in their multiacre front yards for decorations because those horses are never ridden. )

                        1. re: shallots

                          *raises hand* I do (well, did...see below).

                          I had a 16qt round monstrosity (not LC, though) that I used almost weekly. I FoodSave and freeze individual and dinner-sized portions so we can have home-cooked meals when we get home late on weeknights. I also prefer "leftovers" to frozen "tv dinner" meals for workday lunches. Strangely, we lost the thing during a move from one apartment to another. How someone manages to lose a gigantic iron pot, I don't know, but we did. Either way, I full intend to replace it. Seven quarts of Brunswick stew is good; 16 is better. :)

                          Oh, and we're a couple with no kids/roommates to feed. We also don't host large parties. If we were opposed to leftovers or freezing, it would definitely be wasted on us. No designer kitchen, either. We kept the thing in a closet, since it wouldn't fit anywhere in our typically awful apartment kitchen, so we didn't even get to show it off.

                          1. re: shallots

                            I have a 13 1/4 quart that my mother bought me for Christmas one year. I was mistaken in the size since I wanted another 9 quart. At the time I couldn't fit it on my stove but have since gotten a Viking cooktop. I use it for things that I subsequently can like marinara sauce or beef stew.