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3.5 qt round Dutch oven too small for everyday use for 1-2 people?

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I just bought a Le Creuset 3.5 qt round Dutch oven at the outlet, but now that I've sat it down on my stovetop it seems so... small. Should I go through the trouble of exchanging it for a 4.5 qt?

I'm intending it to be my go-to pot for everyday weeknight cooking for myself and occasionally my boyfriend. (I also just got a 6 qt Lodge for Xmas, but it seems so unwieldy, I've yet to use it...)

If you do think a 3.5 would suffice, I'd be grateful for any suggestions for dishes (ideas or actual recipe links) that I could cook in this size without it being in danger of brimming over. (I've actually never used a Dutch oven before and am not exactly sure what it's good for besides NKB... total n00b!)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. 3.5 quart is sufficient for 2 person if you don't expect much leftover. In other words, it is good for 1-2 meals. If you want to cook for 4 meals worth of food, then it is small.

    1. To Chems thoughts I will add, it depends on what you want to cook in it. For example, it's great for a roast, you can brown stovetop and stick it in the oven, but that would be a small roast. Probably won't fit a whole chicken either. But, if you are thinking stews and soups and other smaller pieces of protien, then it will be fine, but you may have to cut the recipe down from serving 4 to serving 2. Many of us like to cook oversize and have left overs for another night, there's a lot of times I just cook and we don't even eat it that night, it all gets devided and we heat it up later in the week.

      1. I would definitely get the 4.5 instead. It's the size I use most often. I cook for one, but I make enough for two (or a little more) nearly all the time.

        I use my 3.5 qt to make small portions of cream soups. I like it for that a lot, but I only bought it because I like the color, which was nearly impossible to find at the time.

        1. I cook for two, and think the 3.5 qt casserole will be plenty. In fact, I often use a 2-quart casserole for a batch of chili, or tortilla soup, or a potato gratin. The 3.5 would just provide a bit more in the way of leftovers.

          But it really does depend on what you cook. If you often do a whole chicken, or a good-sized roast, then a 4.5 qt might be what you want, particularly an oval.

          1. I have 2 3qt DOs, one cast aluminum, the other stainless steel with glass lid. Both get a lot of use when cooking 2. It's a good size for cooking 2-3lb of meat. That's about 4-5 servings.

            The other day when I cooked a 5lb chicken, I had to cut it into major pieces, and set aside the back for stock, in order fit it all in the aluminum DO. And last night to braise a 5lb pork roast I had to use a 5qt enameled steel DO. I also have a 6 qt pressure cooker that will hold a whole chicken. So something larger than 3qts is nice to have, but it doesn't get weekly use.

            I don't think I've seen this rule of thumb before, but my experience suggests 1qt capacity per pound of meat.

            1. Bloomies has the 4.5 LC oval for $99.99. I would call and see if they have any left!

              2 Replies
              1. re: blondelle

                At 9:20 am eastern time, Monday, 2/6/12, what I see on bloomingdales.com is that all the 4.5 quart ovals cost $295. The rounds are $305. Do you get a discount for being on their list/in their computer, Blondelle?

                http://www1.bloomingdales.com/search/...

                1. re: Jay F

                  The 4.5 qt. is $99.99 in store. I don't know why it's 3 X as much online. I know because I've seen the signs there with that price and I also got one there for that.

              2. I cook mostly for 1-2, and I have 2 LC dutch ovens - 3.5 and 5.5 qt ovals. The 3.5 is indeed smallish - just big enough for a small stew or braise using cut-up ingredients, but if I'm making a soup or a whole chicken I need the 5.5. (Also, because mine are oval, the small one is big enough for a couple of lamb shanks, which I don't know would fit in a 3.5 round.) If I only had one, I would def. want it bigger than 3.5, and if you want to be able to do things like a pot roast or chicken I would recommend oval rather than round.

                1. Given the fact that you have the 6 qt Lodge if you ever want to do a large roast or whole chicken, you do have an alternative to the 3.5 qt, which is smallish. It's certianly large enough for a number of cooking tasks, especially if you don't want much in the way of left overs. It depends on what you like to cook, if it's true braises, then that's probably going to be smallish, but if you want it for soup, small batches of stews, etc. then it going to be fine. But again, if you are only going to braise one chicken breast, it should still be just fine, two would be tight and 3 likely impossible.