Oval vs Round Dutch Oven: Who’s the Best Contender For Your Kitchen

D.G. Zoe Sciortino
D.G. Zoe Sciortino

D.G. Zoe Sciortino

Dina is a seasoned journalist and food writer with over 16 years of experience, specializing in the food, home, and lifestyle topics.

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Oval vs Round Dutch Oven

In the beginning, all Dutch ovens were round. At least, that’s what we assume based on historical records and the simplicity of making a round pot over casting iron in any other shape.

But when Le Creuset, the famous enameled iron cookware manufacturer, wanted to revitalize its brand in the 1950s, a host of new Dutch oven shapes appeared. I haven’t been able to track down whether this is when the oval Dutch oven was invented, or whether Le Creuset had one in existence already, but we do know that both shapes have a dedicated fanbase today.

So which camp will you join? Is a round or oval Dutch oven better for your kitchen? Our guide will cover:

  • Round vs oval Dutch oven pros and cons
  • Recommended recipes suited to each shape
  • Weight and cost differences
  • Size recommendations for each shape

Pros and Cons of Oval vs Round Dutch Ovens

Oval Dutch Oven Advantages:

Oval Dutch Oven
  • Larger cooking capacity: Because of the elongated shape, oval Dutch ovens accommodate roasts, rib racks, and whole chickens. Some people prefer oval ovens for bread baking, especially for soft doughs like no-knead bread.
  • More surface area: The increased surface area at the bottom of oval Dutch ovens helps food crowding, so browning meat won’t be a problem.

Oval Dutch Oven Disadvantages:

  • Takes up a lot of space: The elongated shape might make it a touch harder to store in your kitchen because it takes up more space and won’t stack with other pots.
  • Shallow walls: Oval Dutch ovens may have shorter walls than their round counterparts with the same capacity. This may put them at a disadvantage for simmering dishes like stews or soups.
Tramontina Covered Oval Dutch Oven

This enamel cast iron cookware offers superior heat retention for perfectly cooked, flavorful dishes. The self-basting lid ensures moisture stays inside, resulting in tender, juicy results. It's compatible with all stovetops, including induction, and oven-safe up to 450°F. Hand-wash to maintain its pristine appearance.

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Round Dutch Oven Advantages: 

Round Oval Dutch Ovens
  • Higher walls: Round Dutch ovens tend to have higher walls than oval ones of the same capacity. This helps keep splatter in the pot and prevent it from getting on the stovetop.
  • Efficient heating: Round pots heat faster and more evenly on the stovetop than oval ovens, as they are the same shape and size as stovetop burners. This allows the entire bottom of the piece of cookware to heat efficiently.

Round Dutch Oven Disadvantages:

  • Smaller capacity: Cooking large pieces of meat, like a whole chicken or turkey, can be difficult in a round Dutch oven since it has less interior length than an oval one. 
  • Limited surface area: Round Dutch ovens typically have a smaller cooking surface area than their oval counterparts of the same size. This can be more challenging when caramelizing onions or searing large pieces of meat or veggies.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven

The cast iron construction ensures superior heat distribution and retention for perfectly cooked dishes. The durable sand-colored interior enamel resists wear, while the large composite knob withstands temperatures up to 500ºF. Choose from a variety of vibrant exterior colors that resist chipping and cracking for lasting beauty.

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Which Recipes Are Better Suited to the Different Shapes?

So, as we’ve said, if you have a large piece of meat you want to braise or broil whole – like brisket, pork loin roast, or even fish– an oval Dutch oven will work best. You can cook whole birds, such as duck, in an oval Dutch oven. They can also be used to cook layered dishes like lasagna.

Since round Dutch ovens heat efficiently and have higher sides for the same capacity, they are great for cooking soups and chili. You can also slow cook and tenderize small cuts of meat, like beef chuck, or braise stews in a round Dutch oven. The depth of a round Dutch oven makes it perfect for safely deep-frying foods. 

Bread can be baked in round and oval Dutch ovens, depending on the shape you desire. The bread will take on the shape of the oven. 

Artisan bread in a Dutch oven

Related: Best Dutch Ovens for Baking Bread

Can an Oval Dutch Oven Do Everything That a Round One Can?

Yes. Both Dutch oven shapes are suitable for stewing, baking, searing, braising, and roasting.

The round Dutch oven might come to temperature a bit faster than an oval one. But, to be honest, most Dutch oven recipes involve low and slow cooking – and both a round and an oval Dutch oven will achieve even heating across the pot within an hour or so in the oven. The shape won’t affect the final result too much if you’re making a stew.

baking on a dutch oven

Is There a Typical Weight or Cost Difference? 

Dutch ovens are sized by the number of quarts they hold and typically range from 3 to 7 quarts. 

The weight and cost of a Dutch oven depends more on the brand, materials, and overall size than a round vs oval shape. 

For example, the 5.5-quart oval enameled cast iron Dutch oven by Tramontina costs about $75 and weighs over 12.3 lbs. It’s about 15” wide and 7.25” high. Its 5.5-quart round counterpart costs $80, weighs 11.9 lbs, and is 13” wide and 7.5” high. 

Le Creuset’s 5-quart oval French oven has dimensions of 9.5 x 14 x 6.5 inches and weighs 12.1 pounds. Le Creuset’s 5.5-quart round French oven measures 12.8″W x 5.9″H and weighs 12.7 pounds. The two shapes are priced similarly, with color affecting the price more than shape.

What size Dutch oven do you recommend in either shape? 

Most families find Dutch ovens between 5 and 7 quarts to be the most suitable for their everyday needs. If you do a lot of entertaining or big-batch cooking, you might want to go up in size.

Check out our article on “What is the Best Size For a Dutch Oven?” for more details. 


What’s the best shape for a Dutch oven?

The shape of your Dutch oven depends on your cooking needs and the types of dishes you often make. People like to say that oval Dutch ovens can be used for anything round ones can be, but the reverse is not true. Oval Dutch ovens are better for casseroles or long pieces of meat. 

Can you fit a whole chicken in a round Dutch oven?

A 3-4 pound chicken can fit into a round Dutch oven that’s 7 quarts or larger in size. However, it may be able to fit into a 5-quart oval Dutch oven. Larger birds like turkeys will need significantly larger Dutch ovens or roasting pans.

Do you get hotspots in an oval Dutch oven?

Oval Dutch ovens don’t fit perfectly on a burner, so you could get hotspots if you’re using it to sear meat. But if you’re cooking something low and slow, the hotspots will be much less of an issue as the heat spreads across the iron pan and the contents. They can be reduced by frequent stirring. 

Can you bake sourdough bread in a round or oval Dutch oven?

Both round and oval Dutch ovens are suitable for baking sourdough bre­ad. The choice depe­nds on the size and shape of your loaf. Wetter doughs will take the shape of the Dutch oven more readily than stiffer ones, like sourdough. Since the height of the Dutch oven can affect crust and crumb development, bear in mind that oval Dutch ovens often have lower sides than round ones of the same capacity.


The choice­ between an oval and a round Dutch ove­n mostly depends on your cooking nee­ds, kitchen space, and budget. Both shape­s have unique bene­fits and can produce delicious results. If you’re­ ready to take your cooking to the ne­xt level, check out our re­commendations for the best nontoxic Dutch ovens and e­mbark on an exciting culinary adventure! 

Fe­el free to le­ave a comment if you have any othe­r questions or insights to share. Happy cooking!

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D.G. Zoe Sciortino
About The Author
Dina is a seasoned journalist and food writer with over 16 years of experience, specializing in the food, home, and lifestyle topics.

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