What size Dutch Oven do I need to bake bread?

While it might seem simple at first, the question “what size Dutch oven is best for baking bread?” has as many answers as there are bread recipes on Pinterest. That said, if you don’t own a Dutch oven yet, or you’re just getting started, there is one size of Dutch oven that will get the job done really well.
5.5-quart Dutch Oven: a true all-rounder
No matter which brand you’re looking at, you’re likely to find a Dutch oven between five and six quarts on offer. There’s a reason this one is spot on 5.5 quarts, after all. A true kitchen staple, it has a generous interior while still being easy to move (even when full of delicious food).

Dutch oven bread recipes often call for a 5.5-quart pot, which makes these Dutch ovens more desirable for baking, which inspires more recipes — and the delicious cycle continues.

All that to say, if you don’t have a Dutch oven yet, a 5.5-quart Dutch oven will set you up for decades of baking. Not too big and not too small, it’s the perfect size for baking a large, shareable loaf of bread.
Can I cook bread in a smaller Dutch Oven?
If you already own a smaller Dutch oven, like this 3.5-quart Mini Dutch (or you think 5.5-quarts is a bit much) then good news! You can still cook all the bread recipes that were written for a larger Dutch.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind, however. For example, if you find yourself with a lot of dough, you might want to reduce the recipe by a third to fit nicely in the 3.5-quart Dutch oven. You could also divide the dough and cook two loaves instead, one after the other.

If you do this, keep in mind that it could affect the cooking time. You can check if a loaf is done by tapping it on the bottom and listening for a hollow sound. You can also use a food thermometer — if the loaf is 190 F (or 88 C) inside, it’s done.

While many bread recipes call for a 5.5-quart Dutch oven, there are some that are written especially for the 3.5-quart, like this tasty leek and potato loaf. Another benefit of using a 3.5-quart Dutch oven for baking loaves of bread is the convenience, especially if you regularly cook for just one or two people.
So, which size Dutch oven should I choose?
The truth is, whatever size Dutch oven you have, you can make your baking dreams come true. If you’re buying your first Dutch oven, or you cook for four or more people regularly, a 5.5-quart Classic Dutch is a good choice. For those who want to have all the perks of a Dutch oven and save some space at the same time, you can’t go past the 3.5-quart Mini Dutch.
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Bread Baking Tips for Success
Now that you've selected your Dutch oven, the fun part starts - bread baking! These easy tips will help you feel like a pro in no time.
  • 1
    If you find yourself with too much dough, you can split into two separate loaves
  • 2
    Baking your bread in parchment paper makes it easy to remove the finished loaf
  • 3
    Adding a pan of water to your oven helps bread rise during baking
  • 4
    The internal temperature of a finished loaf of bread is 190F (88C)