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tramontina enameled cast iron?

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On the shelves of my local WalMart: nifty-looking dark green enameled cast iron skillets, buffet casseroles, etc. Tramontina (IIRC) brand, marked 'made in china'. Anyone familiar with the brand or have one of these pots? The price was killer for enameled cast iron: 3-qt covered buffet casserole (I'm using the LC name for a shallow, round-sided pot) for $40.

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  1. I've been using Staub for quite a while and recently invested in a 3.5 qt Tramontina. It's just as good (almost identical to the LC), but the Staub is better. Still, only fractionally because of the interior of the Staub has a non-enameled finish we I personally prefer to LC and Tramontina for browning.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hankstramm

      All Staub eookware has an enamel interior.

      1. re: hankstramm

        I disagree about Tramontina being "almost identical" to the Le Creuset. I haven't used the Tramontina, but I've inspected them in the store, and there's no way I would consider buying one of these instead.
        I should admit, though, to being naturally suspicious of Chinese companies that use European words (or words that sound very close to European words) for names. China is not known for enameled dutch ovens, and I don't see how it could be as good. Adequate in the short run, maybe. But it won't ast as long as my mom's Descoware from the '70s (which I used to make 4-hour bolognese the other night)!

        1. re: vvvindaloo

          I probably don't need to get into yet another discussion about this, but I do want to clarify something about Tramontina for a second. This is an almost 100-year-old company that really was started by someone named Tramontina. The company is Brazilian, not Chinese, and they make a number of high-quality, well-regarded products.

          I leave the discussion about whether or not it's worth considering Chinese-made enameled cast iron to elsewhere. I've said plenty today on that already.

          1. re: CrazyOne

            Thank you for the background info, Crazyone. I read the pdf on the Tramontina USA website, which does mention that the company began in 1911. What I don't understand is why they would make such a point to repeatedly mention their US and Brazilian factories, and not mention that their enameled cast iron comes from China. I don't mean to say that their products are necessarily low-quality. But based on the products I saw in the store, they are not as good as LC or Staub. That was the main point of my response to hankstramm.

            1. re: vvvindaloo

              I don't think that a noticeable difference is in doubt. The question is whether the cheaper stuff is good enough for you, at its much lower cost. That is a personal decision for everyone to make, not something that can be defined as an absolute.

      2. Celeste, my mother, a clearance sale scavenger, brought home a Tramontina 3.5 quart Dutch Oven that she got on sale at Wal-Mart for $15.00. I used it last night to make Chile Con Carne and it worked wonderfully. There's a short learning curve to get used to using these pots, since you have to wait until they heat up thoroughly, and fats & oils get much hotter in them, but once you make those adjustments, they're a dream to use. Last night, while I was sautéing my onions, garlic, and chilies in the pot, it actually resembled what is shown on all the cooking shows I've watched all my life. I felt like the ghost of Julia Child had inhabited my body. All joking aside, this pot inspired me to start seasoning to taste, instead of per recipe instructions and much to my own surprise, I could detect what was missing, and knew what should be added to build the flavors. I'm now a convert to enameled cast iron and will be trolling the internet for more of these Tramontina pots on clearance. I've always wanted a set of Le Creuset, since they come in such beautiful colors, but unfortunately, they're out of my price range.

        1. That 6.5QT Dutch Oven is the deal of the century...

          1. America's test kitchen/Cooks Illustrated recently gave the Tramontina enameled cast iron pots high marks and rated them a best buy.

            Just one note, the enamel can chip off, so don't bang them around too much, I love this type of cookware for soups, and long oven braises, this goes to show that you don't need to spend $200+ for the french stuff to get great quality.


            1 Reply
            1. re: bakeman

              Chip, yes... and sadly sliding off the back of an upright freezer onto a tile floor is brutal evidence that they will crack and chip and break... and not do the floor any good either. <heavy and sad sigh> It was a great deal, a beautiful and efficient pot. It was much loved. Just don't store it carelessly like I did.:(

            2. I've yet to see Chinese enameled ware that's worth binging home. It's showing up everywhere across N. America. Lagostina, a brand sold widely in Canada, started selling this schlock last year. It replaced an earlier line that was a dead ringer for Staub: heavy enamel, good fit-n-finish, and French-made. The Chinese versions are lighter castings, iffy enamel, and a few too many rough edges. The stuff is very chip prone relative to French-made enamel. Given the sticker shock Creuset and Staub can induce, the Chinese-made stuff is pre-sold as decor. Just don't expect much mileage from it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Kagemusha

                I have 4 Staub ovens and a Mario Batali 6 qt. I haven't used it long enough to comment about chipping but the China made cast iron is actually heavier than the LC. LC uses a special casting method or alloy that allows them to make thinner castings. The Chinese make them heavier and thicker so they won't break easily. It's the same as the heavy Lodge cast iron, and the lighter Griswold.

                The Chinese enamel isn't applied as nicely as LC, and seems to be lumpier, and not as smooth. People who have had the Batali ovens for a while seem to be happy with them, and someone mentioned these stain less than their LC ovens.

                Just think of them as more rustic and you'll be fine ;-). I will settle for a little bumpiness at 1/4 of the price. The Batali was for my mom's house as I cook there when I visit. It cooks just fine and cleans up easily. The design of the Batali is beautiful, although not as pretty as Staub ;-).

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  I dunno about not worth bringing home. We bought the Crofton/Heuck one at Aldi for 30 bucks. That's a 5qt round for 30 bucks. Since a good name brand one costs anywhere from 5 (not really likely) to 10 times that much, it was worth a shot. We've used it a few times, works well, although I do have to say we're not particularly hard on it. I don't know if we've even had it in the oven. Here's the original thread on that with some additional info if interested: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478571 It may be lighter castings and less perfect enamel, but it's done well enough. It doesn't seem especially prone to chipping or such so far.

                  I do think we would like to get more pieces, so there we would be limited as the lower cost brands seem to focus on only on the most popular sizes and shapes. We'll have to catch some seconds at the Le Creuset outlet in the sale color of the month, and even then the smaller pieces will still cost far more than the 5qt. ;-)

                2. Be sure to check the kitchenwares markdown at WalMart too- I picked up a 6qt Lodge dutch oven on clearance for $9 a couple weeks ago, since they are replacing it with the Tramontina. I don't even remember what color it is- at that price, I didn't care and its still sitting in the trunk of my car. The same thing happened with Meijer's last year- they decided to carry a Mexican made brand of cast iron pots & pans, so all the Lodge stuff got marked way down ($4.75 for a 12" chicken fryer...I should have bought all they had-lol).

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: anniemax

                    oh wow, wish I could have gotten one that cheap!

                    1. re: anniemax

                      Double wow! Which/where is this WalMart -- not that we have one close by...

                      1. re: Sarah

                        I just picked up the 6.5 qt dutch oven in red, yesterday for $9.00 on clearance at Meijer. After reading the reviews, I went back today and picked up the 4.5 qt braiser for a little more.

                        1. re: jaqzdad

                          There's another part of this equation that no one is mentioning and that's the support for these enameled pieces after you get them home. I know that LC will support it's products, and the Lodge support seems to be good if you have a problem. The Batali support I read isn't good, and I'm not sure if Tramontina is supporting their products properly. These pieces are delicate, and you want a strong reliable company behind what you buy if the enamel lifts off, chips, or anything else happens to it.

                    2. Believe me, I'm not xenophobic, but I'm avoiding stuff made in China. It all sounds very similar to the U.S. meat industry a hundred years ago. The Chinese government loves foreign sales, so they overlook scurrilous practices by manufacturers.

                      1. I thought I was getting the deal of a century thru QVC and ordered Paula Deen's cast iron skillets. When they came, they were so heavy to get out of box and when I finally got it out and turned it over, on the bottom of skillet, MADE IN CHINA. So back in the box it went and back to QVC it went and I got all my money back and an apology from Paula Deen's website after the nasty letter I sent to her about where she needs to remember where she came from and why she should have those skillets made in USA. They were so pitted and nasty. I only buy Lodge. The Batili and the emeril line are so pitted also and the lids dont fit right either.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: thecountryrose

                          I think that Lodge enameled cast iron is made in China. The regular cast iron is made in the USA, though.

                          1. re: nofunlatte

                            I have never used the enameled cast iron. Seems a shame to get it dirty and stained like my enameled canning pots. I just havent ever yearned for a enameled cast iron anything.
                            I just went to Lodge website and you are right. Enameled cast iron from Lodge is from China and the reason it is enameled is to eliminate seasoning. It also creates a non reactive surface so you can cook anything in it or even freeze in it they say.

                        2. Check the clearance aisles (and the regular cookware section) of Marshall's and Ross, TJMaxx... b/c the cast iron dutch ovens are so heavy -- they don't seem to sell quickly (that and the price).. I purchased a Chantal Talavera line 8 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven for $29 recently on clearance (not to be confused with their enamel on steel line). Some smaller ones from other lines were $20.

                          Mine is identical to the one pictured on this blog:


                          It's not pitted, has a well fitting lid.. and cooks beautifully.

                          At this price I don't have to worry about customer service - if it somehow goes bad down the line... then I have saved enough money in the initial purchase to buy a new one.

                          1. well, ok, so after reviewing websites of the enameled cast iron, I might try it (only if I can find Made in USA). But I have a question about it and that would be,"I have a gas stove now, but my other house is electric and if I have to have electric, I will get a ceramic top stove. I have heard that you cant use cast iron on ceramic top stoves. Is this true?"

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: thecountryrose

                              The concern with the smooth top stove is the weight as I understand it, although non-enameled cast iron could also be a scratch threat. (That shouldn't be a problem with enameled pieces.) There's nothing functionally that doesn't work. You just have to be careful. I am currently using a coil electric, and even then the weight with a 5 or 6qt and up can be an issue if you're just banging it around on there.

                              As far as made, I'm not sure if any are actually made in the USA. The top brands are French and made there.

                              1. re: CrazyOne

                                I recently purchased a new GE 5-burner electric black ceramic cooktop. Their instructions specifically state that standard cast iron should NOT be used with the ceramic cook top because it would likely scratch. They do say that enameled cast iron cookware is acceptable but good sense does say that it must be handled carefully because of the weight. Their number one recommendation is stainless steel.

                                I have a Tramontina enameled dutch oven and have used it on the new cook top and it has performed very well. I do try to be very careful with my cookware --- I have an extensive selection of Pyrex cookware that I've had for twenty years or so and none of them have chips yet so I think most chipping problems are like related to the care used in handling the items.

                                Jim B.

                                1. re: CrazyOne

                                  I recently purchased a new GE 5-burner electric black ceramic cooktop. Their instructions specifically state that standard cast iron should NOT be used with the ceramic cook top because it would likely scratch. They do say that enameled cast iron cookware is acceptable but good sense does say that it must be handled carefully because of the weight. Their number one recommendation is stainless steel.

                                  I have a Tramontina enameled dutch oven and have used it on the new cook top and it has performed very well. I do try to be very careful with my cookware --- I have an extensive selection of Pyrex cookware that I've had for twenty years or so and none of them have chips yet so I think most chipping problems are like related to the care used in handling the items.

                                  Jim B.

                                2. re: thecountryrose

                                  You can find cast iron made in the USA.. but the enameled cast iron seems to come either from China.. or if you're so fortunate, from Europe. Maybe someone knows of a made in USA brand, but I haven't heard of one.

                                3. Has anyone used Le Creuset and Tramontina? Just wondering if one of them cooks better than the other one.

                                  If Le Creuset was chep like Tramontina would you think they were equal or still say the Le Creuset was better?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: krbtv

                                    I've got some Le Creuset pieces I've had for about thirty years, and it is very fine stuff, deserving of its reputation. About six months ago I got my first piece of Tramontina, the 3-quart braiser, $29.86 at Wal-Mart. It isn't as pretty or as beautifully crafted as the Le Creuset, and it remains to be seen whether it will be a durable, but it cooks just as well. So far I'm delighted with it.


                                  2. I have both and they both cook just as well--Staub is still better though. One thing I will say about the the Tramontina is that after owning it for a year and using it a lot, already it is starting to chip. Le Creuset chips a little but nothing like the Tramontina. I doubt it will last more than 10-15 years--but for the price it's pretty good. Staub, however, is better than them both...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: hankstramm

                                      Are you using the Tramontina more than the Le Creuset? I was considering the Le Creuset but if the Tramontina enameled cast iron works just as well then I'll get it.

                                      When I go to Williams Sonoma and ask what's so great about the Le Creuset that warnants spending that much money and their answer is "because it's handmade"

                                      What's better about the Staub?

                                    2. I have a 3½-4 Qt Tramontina Dutch Oven I bought to make NYT bread. I have had it a year and baked many loaves of bread in it. It has stood up well to a 500 degree preheat into which I drop a room temp loaf of risen bread dough and give it a spritz of water. I'd say if it can take that kind of abuse, it is a decent pot, especially for the price. I ended up buying 6 of them and giving them as gifts - everyone has reported loving these pot. We only wish we could get more at the original $30 price tag. The lid fits great and the finish is smooth.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: kayakado

                                        As for the Tramontina--it works identically to the Le Creuset. One benefit of the LC is that it is available in an oval shape--the Staub I have is oval.

                                        As for the Staub, I like its interior cooking surface better than both Tramontina & Le Creuset. It is similar to cast iron and I feel that things brown better than on the enamel. Also, the Staub looks nicer than the Creuset and Tram, with a coating that seems like it will last longer. I see a lot of chipping on LC's and my Tramontina. I've had my Staub for a while and has nothing even close to a chip.

                                        1. re: hankstramm

                                          Thanks for that valuable feedback. If the Tramontina works identically to the Le Creuset then I can save a lot of money by purchasing the Tramontina. I'm not sure of who makes the Staub.

                                          Have you ever tried using a 2.5 m solid copper casserole as a dutch oven? Just wondering if it works as well as the enameled cast iron.

                                          1. re: krbtv


                                            I have been using copper saute pans as casseroles and they do work, but I find they cool down too quickly when they go to the table. Some food just goes cold, some gets a skin on the sauce... not great.

                                            For this reason I just bought 2 shallow casseroles and use them for any dish that is oven bound. They don't work as well for the cooktop stage but its hardly an issue and outweighed by their performance on the table.

                                      2. I have used my great-grandmother cast dutch oven for over 30 years and Love it, cooks a pot roast to juicy and tender. I just purchased recently a 6.5 Tramontina dutch oven, I have already used it 4 times, and love it, enough to buy some other pieces. As any cast it cooks better with each use, because the lid gets seasoned where it seals. I also hve some Lodge cast enamel and I think the trmontina is a little better

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: dzh1324

                                          Made a French onion soup today in my Tramontina. Carmelized the onions for about 4 hours. works great--bought it for about $40 5-6 years ago. It's a little more chipped than my Staub, but, hey, the Staub cost almost 6 times the price and I don't care about chips.