If You’re Only Going to Get One Dutch Oven, This Is the Size You Should Buy

updated Nov 16, 2023
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Dutch ovens can get pretty pricey — especially the ones from iconic brands like Le Creuset and Staub. While many people dream about having a complete set that’ll rival a display at Williams Sonoma, it’s just not practical without a bottomless bank account. And that’s okay! Because when it comes down to it, you really can get by with just one — as long as you’re smart how you shop for it. If you’re only going to have one Dutch oven, here’s how big (and what shape) it should be.

The Best Dutch Oven Size

Dutch ovens can be teeny-tiny (think: just one quart) and monstrously big (think: 13.5 quarts). If you’re looking for the Goldilocks suggestion, we recommend getting something that’s at least 5.5 or 6 quarts. This way, you’ll be able to make all those amazing stews, soups, and no-knead breads that you come across online. Something this big will be large enough to help you feed a crowd and you can absolutely still braise a chicken in there. Opt for something smaller and it tends to be too small for most of the recipes out there.

For a pick you can’t go wrong with, check out Staub’s 5.5-Quart Cocotte. A beloved option, this Dutch oven is a longstanding Kitchn favorite (it tied for first in our Best List testing and has had a home on our Kitchn Essentials list multiple years in a row!) A couple things we really love about this pick is its black enamel interior (which shows less wear and tear), the tight-fitting lid, and the self-basting spikes that keep moisture in the pot. It’s truly *chef’s kiss* perfect.

The Best Dutch Oven Shape

Torn between a round or an oval Dutch oven? While you might be tempted to get an oval one because it looks more likely to be able to accommodate a whole chicken and larger pieces of meat, get a round one. You can still fit meats inside a round Dutch oven (as long as you heed our advice and get something that’s at least 5.5 quarts!) and it will sit better on a burner, which means better, more even heating. Plus, if you have all the burners firing at once, the round one is smaller and leaves room for the other pots.

More Dutch Ovens We Love

Available in a whopping 26 colors, Le Creuset’s Dutch oven also tied for first in our Best List testing. While it may be on the pricier end, with a lifetime warranty and almost 100 years of trusted performance to its name it’s a worthy investment for brand devotees and cooking fans alike.

Lodge’s Cast Iron Dutch Oven is not only an editor favorite, it’s a KT reader favorite! An especially great option for bread bakers, it features impeccable heat retention, a durable build, and you can pick it up in a bunch of fun colors.

If affordability is what you’re after, it’s hard to beat Amazon’s own 6-quart Dutch oven. Like the other choices on this list, it features a cast iron construction and is available in a host of colors so you can pick the perfect one for your kitchen palette. But with a price point of just $50, it’s easily one of the most affordable versions around!

How many Dutch ovens do you have and what size/shape are they? Tell us about your kitchen favorites in the comments below!