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Nov 22, 2006 03:18 PM

Best enameled cast iron cookware?

Le Creuset, Staub, Mario Batali, etc. Does one brand perform better than another? If so, Why?

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  1. Lodge just introduced a enameled cast iron product range. It is not as extensive as LC or has has many colors, but the price point is much less than the imported French products.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Kelli2006

      I did notice that on the Target website, Lodge has two lines of enameled cast iron. 5 qt dutch ovens are $50 in one line and $100 in another. The difference is 2 coats of enamel vs. 4. I don't know anything about the performance of either and would love to know if anyone's tried one. They're not in stores yet, and I don't like buying things on line. Otherwise I might have one by no.

      1. re: Pei

        Saw some Lodge enamled cast iron the other day. Nice looking even coating, good lid fit, but the lid handle was not made for easy gripping with a pot holder.

        The lid handle is a fancy swirl of SS which looks to be about an inch off the lid top, and about 3 1/2" long. I can't but imagine it would be impossible to grip with a mitt, and even a regular pot holder would be too bulky to allow good purchase. Another instance of good looks trumping practicality? I'd like to hear if anyone has one of these. The one I saw was a gorgeous lime green, at $199 fro 7 qt size.

        1. re: toodie jane

          The 2-coat Lodge is $50 from Amazon, has a normal (LC-style) knob, and mine has held up like a tank. For $5-$10 extra you can go to the hardware store and replace the knob with stainless steel -- presto, now it's good to 600 degrees. I'm pretty sure it is the cheapest fully enameled cast iron DO on the market (the Tramontina and Chefmate models have a thin rim of un-enameled iron where the lid meets the body, if I remember correctly, which rusts if it is left unseasoned)

        2. re: Pei

          I dont' think you can go wrong with anything made by Lodge. My cookware is almost all Lodge black cast iron and LeCreuset enameled cast iron and I'm happy with all of it . Nothing cooks like cast iron so I think Lodge would be a good place to start buying some enameled cookware. The prices are cheaper than LC and the quality it right up there. Try going to and putting Lodge Enameled Cookware in the searchbox to get the reviews from those that have actually used the product.

        3. re: Kelli2006

          I love Lodge cast iron and have a very large skillet which is fabulous. Lodge is the only brand of cast iron that is made in the USA (as far as my research has found) and it is excellent quality and very reasonably priced. I researched their line of porcelain on cast iron but it is made in China - too bad.

          I've been looking for a porcelain on cast iron French or Dutch oven for some time. While there are many options out there, they are made in China and I refuse to purchase them. They are junk. Check a few boxes of the Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray line, chips galore.

          I have a set of Le Creuset which includes the 6qt Dutch oven but I usually have many pots going at once and needed another. Being frugal, I did not want to shell out >$250 for another LC. Today I found a 6qt Staub Basix at TJ Maxx for $49.99 and can't wait to try some Chow Hound winter braising suggestions!

          1. re: botanical

            botanical: I have several pieces of LeCreuset cookware, all of it purchased at their outlet store in Gilroy, California. There are outlets throughout the country so you may be close to one. Their "seconds" are what I purchase and neither the saleperson nor could find the flaws. The pieces are heavily discounted and the "flaws" if you can find them, don't compromise the quality of any of this cookware.

          2. re: Kelli2006

            I have a Lodge 5qt Dutch Oven I bought a couple years ago at Walmart and I'm not overly happy with it, yes it cooks great and I use it almost daily but it chipped the first week I had it and after two years of use the enamel is almost worn out of the bottom, I'm saving for a LC.

            1. re: tidecreek

              I got a Lodge dutch oven at Christmas last year, have used it maybe 2 dozen times and the rim is chipping where the lid contacts it. Also a few chips on the side handles. I'm so careful when I handle it. It also stains and I can't get the discoloration out.

              My 2nd hand Copco chipped maybe once in 15 years, and Bon Ami kept it very white inside.

              1. re: toodie jane

                My experience is the same as tj's, and for that reason I'd encourage anyone looking into cookware for themselves [as opposed to gifts] to scour ebay for used Copco and Descoware -- excellent quality at sharply reduced prices. There's the added benefit of green-ness: re-use has a lot smaller footprint than new production.

                1. re: ellabee

                  This thread may be old, but it's still showing up on google searches so people are still reading.

                  I second your nomination for Descoware. I've owned mine for 30 years, and my grandparents had it for another 20 before that. Narry a chip or crack. And they are still affordable on Ebay, and come up in estate sales all the time. A fraction of the cost of LC, and the handles are all integrated into the pots n' pans, not resin that can crack and pop off.

            2. re: Kelli2006

              I am new to this site and am enjoying the wealth of knowledge. Re enameled cast iron, why use it if it chips?

              1. re: YvonneJean

                The good stuff doesn't chip unless it hits something. Over decades of use, the odds are good that it will bang into something, but even then the damage is usually small and cosmetic (on handles or outer rim, not where food is in the pan).

                Cooks use enameled cast iron despite the weight and need for reasonably careful handling because of

                - excellent heat retention that makes for even cooking in the oven
                - beautiful color that makes it attractive for oven-to-table serving
                - smooth, glossy and nonreactive interior that cleans up easily with a soak

                Frequent use over decades results in the interior losing some of its gloss, and sometimes discoloring, but none of its fine cooking qualities. My mother's #32 Le Creuset gratin and my Copco Dutch oven are still going strong after 40 years.

            3. Creuset and Staub were out of my pricerange, so I opted for Batali's 6-quart covered braising pot. Amazon was having a sale on the persimmon color for $70 shipped so I picked one up. Comparable Creuset would be around $230. I've never had a Creuset but I know some folks swear by them. However, I really love the Batali pot: good even heat distribution, no hotspots, good quality control, heavy but not too heavy. Perfect for braising and, unlike the Creuset, it has spikes inside the lid that make it self-basting.

              I believe Amazon currently is selling the Coffee-colored one for $64. I highly recommend them.

              6 Replies
              1. re: monkeyrotica

                Thanks for your post. I was looking at LC at BBB, and calculating the 20% off, but now I might go with the Batali.

                1. re: slacker

                  Don't be surprised if LC is one of the brands that BB&B does not allow coupons for. I know they don't allow it for Wusthof, for instance.

                  1. re: HaagenDazs

                    Interesting, I didn't know that. All the more reason to go with the Batali.

                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                      They just print that about Wusthof, Dyson and such on the coupons because the manufacturers require it. Here in Chicago, they'll honor those coupons for anything in the store. I bought almost all of my Wusthof Classic knives at BB&B with 20% coupons.

                      1. re: HaagenDazs

                        for anyone reading this two years later -- BBB coupons don't exclude Le Creuset

                    2. re: monkeyrotica

                      some of staub are on but review are not good on the staub cookware, however i have tried the technique on qvc and find very good quality for cooking, have several pieces in the enamel cast iron. really love it

                    3. i remember reading that one of these, the Staub I think but could be wrong, promoted itself as having lots of dimples on the inside of the lid that aided in better disbursment of condensation when braising. Anyone know which one and if it is really a deal breaker to have?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Jack_

                        Staub is correct, not sure if it actually works or not. I suppose they can't hurt, but I'm not convinced it's the greatest invention ever.

                        1. re: HaagenDazs

                          Two years ago, while visiting my dad in Tucson, I bought an Innova pot at the recommendation of a sales clerk at Macy's who referred me to a hardware store that carried them. I needed it for braising for the dinner my sister and I were cooking for our dad in his assisted living home. I brought it home to Milwaukee with me and later bought another, also made by Innova, at Kohl's under their label. After my transfer to DC I got another one for us here. I can't compare it to the Le Creuset and have no idea how many coatings of enamel is on it. But the Innova pot certainly met my expectations. And it cost about 60% less than the French import. I think it is a good buy. Innova has a web site in case you want further details.

                        2. re: Jack_

                          Yes it is Staub, I have one, you can get the same effect by putting a piece of aluminum foil between the pot and the lid - just fit the foil so that is minimizes the space between the foil and the food - the condensation hits the foil and falls right back in, works well - you don't need the fancy pot.

                        3. Is there such a thing as BAD enameled cast iron cookware?

                          I've used both Le Creuset and Staub. The Staub seems to have a little better fit and finish. It shouldn't make too much difference in use other than the Staub seems to loose a little less liquid during cooking. On the other hand I don't like the dark interior on the Staub.

                          Of my 5 enameled cast iron pieces 4 are LC due to a 50% off close out on the traditional blue color a local kitchenware store was having.

                          The Lodge and Batali pans look decent and well-constructed as well.

                          The Le Creuset and Staub are made in France.
                          The Lodge is made in the USA.
                          The Batali is made in China.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: flatline

                            A qualified, "No." Most enameled cookware is heavy and the finish is baked on professionally so it won't crack or peel or be scratched easily. The qualification is the handles; some are wood, some plastic, some metal and some actually part of the pot. I'd always opt for handles that are either metal or part of the pot because one of these days you'll have to put it in the oven for long-term slow cooking, and the heat may be too high for anything else. So Staub, Batali, Lodge, Creuset, Innova, it probably doesn't matter. That's my opinion even though I have Le Creuset that has been used for cooking for over 40 years and is working well, making wonderful braised meats and soups, etc.

                            1. re: flatline

                              Lodge enameled cast iron cookware is actually made in China.

                              1. re: josh L

                                ... And their web site claims the enameled cast iron cookware is made in France.

                                I suppose I should check the markings on a box next time I'm in a store that sells it.

                                1. re: flatline

                                  even his new book is "assembled in china."

                              2. re: flatline

                                I hated my Le Creuset. It was heavy and hard to clean. I gave it away.

                                1. re: flatline

                                  I have several pieces of Le Creuset that I received as a wedding gift over 36 years ago, and they're still as wonderful as the day I received them (signs of use and wear notwithstanding). There's no piece of cookware I'd rather use for braising than my oval French oven, and my 10" fry pan is one of the most versatile pans in my kitchen, even though it has a less-than-desirable wooden handle (I don't think they make them any longer). I love these pieces and I know they'll last forever.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    I'm extremely fond of LC as well, but my older braising pots (20-25 years old) are losing their enamel finish. I've been careful to only use wooden spoons when scraping the bottom, but there it is. My questions are (a) is it unsafe to use them (like tin-lined copper where the tin lining wears off), and (b) is re-enameling a viable option?

                                    1. re: FrancisdeR

                                      Chipping or worn enamel presents no danger, what is underneath is a simple cast iron pot, and you can cook in those just fine.

                                      As far as re-enameling, even a 25 year old pot is covered under warranty - contact Le Creuset and I would guess they would either repair or replace them at no charge.

                                  2. re: flatline

                                    I think there is. I bought a Rachel Ray Dutch Oven and I hated it. The knob is plastic and held on with a screw that came lose during every use no matter how much torque I applied to tighten it down. That's annoying but it's not a deal breaker so I kept using it until after about a year of use, the enamel cracked and peeled out of the center of the pot. It's going in the trash now and I'm shopping for a Lodge replacement.

                                    1. re: flatline

                                      Great info! I certainly will not trust Chinese quality. Thank you again.

                                      1. re: mlstuart1

                                        I have three batali pieces. They are chip free after 2 years. The finish is good except for some small 'inclusions'. The sort of thing that would send an LC piece to the seconds rack.

                                        1. re: mlstuart1

                                          Given how they cheat in manufacturing, I worry about what chemicals might leach out of Chinese coatings.

                                        2. re: flatline

                                          I wouldn't buy anything that came from China. Wasn't all the stuff with Paula Deen's name on it that was cracking from China? And can any of us forget that they had manufacturers that were poisoning their own children with melamine in milk?

                                        3. Yes, Le Creuset is pricey, but think in terms of cost per year. I inherited a much-used LC fry pan that finally gave out at the age of perhaps 35 years when the handle broke off. I was amazed that the interior enamel was still in fine shape.

                                          But beware of cast-iron's weight. I have a 12-inch LC frying pan that is manageable, but I bought an LC dutch oven that was so heavy when loaded that I gave it away. Bought a coated an aluminum one that cooks fine.

                                          Don't know if you read it, but Marian Burros in the NY Times wrote that she recently tosed her non-stick pans over health concerns and tested several other types to see which worked best with just a light coat of cooking oil. She decided Le Creuset was best.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mpalmer6c

                                            yes, she decided Le Creuset was best, but, it was the only cast iron/enaml brand she tested

                                            1. re: mpalmer6c

                                              You know, I generally agree about the weight and will occasionally decide to use a well-constructed Paderno SS instead of one of my Dutch ovens for something that isn't going to braise for hours, when making soup, for example. But, one big surprise for me over the years is that good copper and stainless steel pots can be just as heavy. I have a couple of Demeyere pots that require quite a bit of muscle to lift for their size, and I can say the same for some of the Mauviel I have. I have even had to remove the lids before lifting just so that they are manageable. I think the key is not to go too crazy getting the really big pots in enameled cast iron. I remember a sale at Tuesday morning where I actually found myself laughing when I had difficulty trying to lift a very large Dutch oven (I think it was 12 qts, or something like that) and placing it into my cart. It was laughable, and I wondered if this size pot was designed for use by body builders only. I couldn't imagine it filled with hot liquid and food. Maybe I'm just not as strong as I used to be...