A Dutch Oven is a pretty helpful gear to have with you on a camping trip. It makes cooking a lot easier, especially on the higher altitudes with its airtight cooking system. A good Dutch Oven will result in tasty food. However, due to a lot of variety available in the market with respect to size and quality, it is a hard task to choose which one is the ideal size.
If you are curious about what size dutch oven should I buy for camping and want to get an answer to all relevant questions, then stick around and read till the end to find answers to all of your questions.
What Size Dutch Oven Should I Buy for Camping?
Dutch ovens are versatile, and the size you choose is going to impact the cooking quality later on. Also, you have to keep in mind the price. Dutch ovens are an expensive item, and the price increases rapidly with the change in dimensions. You do not want to spend a fortune of your camping budget just on the purchase of a Dutch oven. You should pick the oven with the ideal size for you so that it serves you well for most of the time.
Factors Impacting your Decision
There are a lot of factors that influence your decision of choosing the best Dutch oven when you enter the market. These impactful things are explained below:
- Size: The size of the Dutch oven is very important as it determines the portability as well. It is expressed in terms of Quarts.
- Weight: Having thick walls and sturdy construction, Dutch ovens can weight a lot. Made up of Cast Iron, they can weight around 10-35lbs while if made up of Aluminum, their weight would be less than 10lbs most of the time.
- Material: In the real world, Dutch ovens need to be strong. They are normally made up of Aluminum or Cast Iron or in some rare cases, Enamel.
- Level of Care they need: Some Dutch ovens require constant maintenance after every use while the others can be used for a long time without much attention.
- The shape of the Lid: Dutch oven is closed from the top using an airtight lid. The shape of the lid plays an important role in the cooking process.
- How to carry: The biggest question regarding a Dutch oven is how to carry it. Most of the ovens come with side-handles for easy transportation while others have built-in hooks.
- Seasoning: Seasoning adds to the effort of the person cooking. Nowadays, ovens come pre-seasoned, or some of them do not require seasoning at all. However, if you believe seasoning is a necessary process, you can always opt for a Dutch oven that requires seasoning.
- Extra features: Do you require legs on your Dutch oven? Are you fond of reversible lids? DO you like a Dutch oven with a non-sticking inside? It all depends on you and your personal preferences.
Ideal Size of the Dutch Oven
Although Dutch ovens are available in lots of sizes from 1 quart to 12 quarts, the ideal size ranges in 2-6 quarts. Just to get an idea about what a quart holds in the real world,
|Oven Size||Oven Capacity||Persons served|
|10 inches||4 Quart||4 to 8|
|12 inches||6 Quart||8 to 12|
|14 inches||8 Quart||14 to 18|
|16 inches||12 Quart||20 to 24|
The oven size of 10 inches depicts how deep the bottom of the oven is as compared to the top. A quart is a unit that measures how much liquid a container can hold. Usually, one quart of food is sufficient for a single person.
The smaller sized ovens are more suitable for up to 3 adults. They can be used to make regular dishes such as curry, vegetables, or even used for baking biscuits, loaves of bread or cakes, etc.
Middle-sized ovens can serve up to 8 or 9 adults. The ease of preparing a wide range of dishes also increases with size. You can cook almost anything you want in the allowed quantity.
Large-sized ovens can be used for practically anything. From roasting full chicken to baking a large-sized pizza, they give you a wide range of options to choose from. The bigger size allows a better availability of heat at all angles and results in a better end product.
The Meals to Cook
Before deciding on what size to buy, you need to decide the number of persons going with you on the trip. Also, it depends upon what you will be cooking mostly on the camping trip. If you like to cook things such as stews, curry, or beans, you will need an oven that offers a good inside volume to hold it all for you.
Similarly, if you plan to cook desserts in it, the measuring scale is modified a little bit. For sweet dishes, the serving size for an adult is taken as half a cup. That would mean one quart is sufficient for 2 adults. If a 5-quart oven can be used to cook the main course for 5 people, the dessert in a similar quantity will be more than enough for 9-10 people.
If you are only carrying the Dutch oven alongside you for baking biscuits, or fresh bread during your camping trip, the capacity you need is 5-7 quarts. You might wonder that this is big capacity, but you need to keep in mind that the loaf of bread requires extra volume on the inside to rise and become fluffy. If the volume is not adequate, you will have a flatbread to eat.
The Actual Capacity
You need to keep in mind that there is a difference between the advertised capacity and the capacity you can consume during the cooking process. To be on the safe side, it is recommended to assume the actual capacity as two-third of the advertised capacity. For example, if a Dutch oven is advertised for 6 quarts, the actual room for cooking to be kept ideally will be around 4 quarts. The remaining 2 quarts will cater to the stirring and spooning out of the food.
Usually, the camping trip comprises of people less than 10. For such a group, a 4-quart Dutch oven would suffice easily.
The Shape of the Oven
Often mixed with the size, the shape of the oven is a separate thing that also affects your decision. Ideally, your desired selected size will be available in two different shapes. One of them is Round while the other one is Oval Dutch Oven.
The round one best reflects its performance with the regular oven. It distributes the heat of the fire evenly resulting in a well-cooked product. The oval Dutch oven is more suitable for those who require a much larger space inside to cook bigger things such as roasting a full chicken or baking a bigger loaf of bread.
Some Important Considerations
Do not pick an oven with a smaller size than what you require. It might not be easy to carry, but in the end, you will suffer due to lack of volume.
Avoid buying Enamel-made Dutch ovens as they are not resistant to high temperatures as good as Cast Iron is. They might break if the temperature is too high.
No matter what size you choose, never preheat an oven and put a cold pot in it. It is highly advised against. Try to combine both of them in their cold form and then put them together in a fire, allowing them to heat up slowly.
Almost anything that you can cook at home can be cooked in a Dutch oven if you have the right ingredients and the right skill. The size also matters, of course.
The increase in size also comes with an increase in weight and the weight of the object matter a lot on the camping trip. You need to decide the size keeping all of these factors in mind. Carrying an over-sized Dutch oven would do you no good.
In the end, it all comes down to your needs and your requirements. Keeping in mind its weight as well as its capacity of the serving size, the decision is yours. If you know the number of people going on the trip and the type of meals you will be prepared using the Dutch oven during the trip, picking the right size will be a no-brainer for you.