The best size dutch oven for you depends on how many people you intend to feed and what types of meals and items you intend to cook. Dutch Ovens vary in diameter but also depth, or how much food it can hold. However, a Dutch Oven that’s 12inches wide and holds 8 quarts is the most common and reasonable size for most camping cooks.
How Many people do you plan to feed?
When searching for a Dutch Oven, the biggest factor in deciding what size to buy is determining how many people you’re likely to feed for a given meal. If you find yourself cooking for larger groups of 10 to 50 people fairly often (perhaps Scout Troops, Large Picnics, Family Reunions, etc), you’ll want to get a larger size.
If you’re typically only camping with or feeding groups of 4 to 6 people, you’re better off starting on the smaller end of the size range. However, you should factor in a little more room for hungry individuals or if you need room to make enough for seconds and leftovers (For example, being limited to 8 biscuits vs 12 biscuits at a time when cooking in a 10inch Diameter vs 12 inch Diameter Dutch Oven)
What types of meals will you be cooking?
The second consideration is to factor what meals you anticipate cooking in your Dutch Oven. For some outdoor cooking enthusiasts, you may only prefer to cook dinner rolls, breads and desserts. If that’s the case and you’re only cooking for a small amount of people, you may want to go a size down (unless you’ve got some dessert loving friends of course).
However, if you intend to use your Dutch Oven for cooking all types of meals, we suggest starting at the standard 12 Inch Diameter that holds 8 Quarts and going a size up in diameter or quart volume based on how many people you’re feeding.
But even so, if you plan on doing any deep frying, we certainly suggest a Dutch Oven with Higher walls or more Depth. These will ensure there’s more room for oil and ability to submerge anything you’re frying while also having additional height to help avoid oil from splattering.
Sizes of Common Dutch Oven Brands
Below you’ll find a chart of the Dutch Oven Sizes offered by two of the most popular Cast Iron Dutch Oven brands, Lodge and Camp Chef
Key Differences in Dutch Oven Size Between the Various Brands
When looking at these two brands, the key differences in size are going to be in their “D” or “Deep” sizes. If you’re looking for a deeper size, you may want to go with Lodge for your 12 inch Diameter Dutch Oven. Furthermore, if you’ve decided to go for the 14 in Diameter, Lodge offers nearly 1 additional inch of depth.
The best Dutch Oven to buy for camping is the one that makes the most sense for you based on how many people you’re cooking for and what you plan on cooking. If you’re looking for a deeper Dutch Oven and plan on frying, we definitely suggest the Lodge Deeper Depth options over Camp Chef.