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 Oven’s vary in diameter but also depth, or how much food it can hold. In terms of popularity, a 12inch wide, “deep” Dutch Oven that holds 8 quarts is the most common and versatile size for a majority of camping cooks.
However, before you purchase new Dutch Oven, answer these two questions:
1. 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 (any where from 10 to 40 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, a 10 inch vs 12 inch Dutch Oven may limit capacity to 8 biscuits vs 12 biscuits at a time.
2. What types of meals will you be cooking?
The second consideration is to factor what types of 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 or keep with a shallow or standard depth (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, deep option that holds 8 Quarts and going a size up in diameter or quart volume based on how many people you’re feeding.
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
What’s the difference between Lodge and Camp Chef Dutch Oven sizes?
When looking at these two brands, the key differences in size are going to be in their “D” or “Deep” sizes (Lodge) and the “Deluxe” or “Deep” sizes (Camp Chef).
If you’re looking for the deepest option, both Lodge and Camp chef offer identical dimensions for their 12 inch “D” versions. However, the Camp Chef 10 inch “Deluxe” has the most depth of any 10 inch options.
Camp Chef doesn’t offer a deep 14 inch option, however Lodge does and it offers nearly 1 additional inch of depth.
Both offer a 16 inch standard depth option with Camp Chef being only marginally more deep.
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.
Once you get your new Dutch Oven, we’ve prepared several articles and guides that we suggest as recommended reading and should help you get started in no time:
- Why we recommend seasoning your pre-seasoned dutch oven
- Choosing the best oil for seasoning cast iron
- How to maintain your cast iron after every use
- Why dish soap is actually safe to use when cleaning cast iron