What should I buy…6 qt vs 8 qt Dutch oven?

6 qt vs 8 qt Dutch oven?

It is a question I get asked many times here, 6 qt vs 8 qt Dutch oven – what is the difference and what should I get?

I will discuss what we mean by quarts (qt), what you need to think about before choosing a Dutch oven and then briefly finish by letting you know what brands to consider.

Why are Dutch ovens measured in quarts?

5 or 7 quart dutch oven
5 or 7 quart dutch oven

Before I answer that, let me just clarify what I mean by quart as it is not a universal measurement. Officially, a quart is two (2) pints or 1.13 liters. The use of quarts as a measurement is traditional, especially is the US where it is common.

Increasingly though, there is a move towards liters, Le Creuset for example list their product sizes in liters.

The use of quarts is used to distinguish between the sizes of Dutch ovens. The generally accepted view is that one (1) quart is equivalent to one (1) serving.

Therefore, to cook for two people, your Dutch oven would need to be a minimum two (2) quarts.

The reality is that you would need to get a bigger Dutch oven anyway as that assumes you fill it to the top. Obviously, that is not viable so to cook safely, you would get the next size up.

What do I need to consider before choosing what size Dutch oven I need?

Before you make a decision about what you need, you need to consider a few factors. Once you weigh up all of them, you will be able to make a better buying decision.

So, what factors do you need to think about?

  • The number of people you cook for
  • The diameter and depth of the Dutch oven
  • The shape
  • Your conventional oven and stovetop size
  • The weight

Let me run through the list, hopefully it will give you some food for thought.

The number of people you cook for

Dutch oven size for family of 4
What size dutch oven for family of 4?

I can break this down into two questions…the number of people you cook for normally and how many people you have to add when you have guests over.

If I work on the basis of 6 quarts, that is equivalent to 6 servings. However, that does not include any leftovers based on that calculation…people like leftovers! It’s convenient for the next day and they can be frozen for another day.

Therefore, think about how many people you need to cook for and how much you want left over at the end.

It is also worth saying at this point that it is better to err on the side of caution and get a bigger Dutch oven. You can cook less in a larger oven but you cannot cook more in a smaller oven. Give yourself the maximum flexibility.

The diameter and depth of the Dutch oven

Depending on the range of foods you cook, this will become a relevant factor. The smaller the Dutch oven, the smaller the surface area of the base.

Therefore, if you are searing larger cuts of meat, this will have an impact and may limit what you can do in your Dutch oven.

The depth becomes relevant if you are baking. You need to give bread the room to rise, this is obviously more limited in smaller Dutch ovens.  For this example, 6 qt vs 8 qt Dutch oven, the 8 qt will have more room to do this.

The shape of a Dutch oven

They are generally available in two shapes…round and oval. Obviously, the oval shape has a wider diameter which is more suitable for a leg of lamb for instance.

It goes without saying that the larger the oval Dutch oven, the more room you have for a wider cut of meat.

Your conventional oven and stovetop size

This point is linked to the shape of your Dutch oven. If you do use them on a stovetop, the wider oval versions may produce heat spots as the heat is centered in the middle. This may impact on the end result of the dish you are cooking. Consistent and even heat is necessary for a well-cooked dish.

The larger the oven, the longer it takes to heat and the more energy it takes. Having a suitable sized one is obviously more efficient.

You might also want to consider the size of your oven…will you be able to get it in their comfortably?

The weight

An aspect that is often overlooked is the weight of the Dutch oven. They are heavy with some reaching twenty (20) pounds. That doesn’t even include the food in them!

Obviously, the larger the oven, the heavier it gets. Can you handle the weight safely? The difference between a 6 qt vs 8 qt Dutch oven can be 4 – 5 pounds.

**Always remember that it is not a good idea to overfill the Dutch oven. It needs room for the moisture to circulate.

What is the average size sold

Based on my own experience and looking at sales data, the best-selling sizes tend to be around the 5.5 to 6-quart size. This is based on numbers of items sold and reviewed online on places like Amazon.

The numbers reflect this and it makes sense based on average family sizes and the measurement methods I have stated above.

However, like with all things, it is worth checking dimensions for each product as each will be different. Some will be taller or wider so please check first.

Le Creuset round Dutch oven sizes

Version Weight Size Serves
5 ½ Qt 10.5 pounds 13.6 x 10.8 x 6.8″ 5 – 6 View
7 ¼ Qt 12.8 pounds 11.6 x 14.1 x 7″ 6 – 8 View
9 Qt 16.5 pounds 12.3 x 14.9 x 7.8″ 8 -10 View
13 ¼ Qt 21.3 pounds 14 x 16.5 x 8.2″ 10 – 12 View

What are the best Dutch oven brands?

There are a number of very good manufacturers of Dutch ovens but at the end of the day, it is your budget that will determine what you buy.

The premium end of the markets is held by Le Creuset and Staub.

The mid-range has brands like Calphalon, Cuisinart and Chasseur, and the budget end has Tramontina and Lodge.

Recommendations for 6-quart Dutch ovens (or closest)

Click to view latest prices on Amazon

Staub 5.5 Cocotte

Le Creuset Signature 5.5

Lodge 6 Quart



Frequently asked questions

How many quarts are in a 12-inch Dutch oven?

This question normally refers to outdoor Dutch ovens. When people normally refer to outdoor Dutch ovens, they do so in inches. For a 12-inch version of the Lodge cast iron, they are normally 6 quarts.

How many quarts is in a 10-inch Dutch oven?

There are normally 4 quarts in a 10-inch outdoor Dutch oven.

What is the size of a large Dutch oven?

Assuming we are talking about indoor enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, the largest are around 13 ¼ quarts. This is the case with Le Creuset bit you may be able to get bigger if you shop around. Just consider the weight if you do, you need to be able to handle it with care considering they get very hot.

What Dutch oven size for family of 4?

For a family of four (4), I would recommend a minimum size of 5 ½ to 6 quart Dutch oven. However, I would recommend you go through the process above to see what your needs really are. You may be surprised at the results.

6qt vs 8qt
6qt vs 8qt

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Thank you so much,

What should i read next?

How to Buy Cast Iron Skillets and Dutch Ovens



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