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Le Creuset Outlets- worth it?

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see/check out any Le Creuset outlet stores, but I see on their website that there's a good number of them around. Just wanted to see if anyone has been to them recently- was it worth going to, or is it mostly random pieces in the unpopular colors? Particularly want to hear if anyone's been to the Leesburg VA outlet or any of the ones in NY/NJ, as those would be the ones that are most convenient for me.

I'm specifically in the market for my first dutch oven, so if anyone has any suggestions on what size to get, that would be greatly appreciated also! (I'm cooking for two most of the time, but is the 2 3/4qt. too small even for two?)

Sorry for rambling, and thanks in advance for any input!

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  1. I personally would go larger. 5-6 qt is a good size for soups, stews and braises. You can save yourself some $ and try a similar item by Martha Stewart, Chefmate, Calphalon, Lodge and others. I have a 5.5 qt Innova enameled dutch oven and it is a work horse in my kitchen. I think I got it from SmartBargins.com for $39 shipped. Before dropping $200+ even at the outlet stores give one of these inexpensive ones a try.

    1. When I sell people their first piece(I work in a kitchen store) I recommend the 5.5 round unless they have a big family. This is a versatile piece...big enough without being too big for just a few people. Not too small.

      I cook for two myself and my 3.5 buffet and my 5.5 round are the two I use the most.

      As for the outlets, I've done well at them myself. The one here in AZ has a good selection of firsts in the full range of colors and a very well stocked seconds wall. The flaws on the seconds are really minimal(most of mine are "seconds"...in all cases it was missprayed paint. Check carefully of course). They often have additional sales and that's how I've picked mine up...the last spree I went on was an additional 30% off...I picked all seconds so ended up doing really well.

      Otherwise if the full retail price is a stretch you might look at either the Chefmate at Target or the Mario Batali pieces. I've used both and they perform very well and don't seem to chip. Also check Home Goods and the like for LC at a discount(usually comparable to the first quality outlet pricing)

      1. The outlets are spectacular. They have a great selection including some pieces that are difficult to find anywhere else and I've always found great prices on some items each time I've gone. (I've been to the one in Leesburg...that's a "Premium Outlet" mall, right?...it's good and very much the same as the two or three other "Premium Outlets" I've been to.) Especially if you're flexible on what color you get, the outlet is a brilliant way to save some money.

        I agree with the other posters that a 5.5qt round dutch oven is the one to start with. Large enough to handle a chicken, small enough to actually pick it up when full.

        1. I guess they're like most anything; some folks like them and some don't. I believe those that don't are more fond of finding deals at Marshall's and perhaps e-bay. Personally, I'd rather just go to the outlet. They have firsts and seconds and a wide variety of LC poterie, too. Plus all sorts of accessories and gadgets, some of which are deeply discounted. If you go be sure to get your name on the mailing list (you may be able to do this on their website as well) and they will send a mailer alerting you of upcoming sales. They had a pre-Christmas sale last year in November if I recall that offered an added discount to folks on their mailing list. It's worth a shot. Nothing ventured...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cpt Wafer

            Yes, getting yourself on the mailing list is a great tip. They often send out coupons with those flyers that can be for as much as 30% off.

          2. I went to the one at Tanger Outlet out in Riverhead, LI this summer and I was stunned to see that it was MORE expensive than buying at Bed Bath and Beyond with a coupon. They weren't having a sale though, so maybe that would make a difference, but they all looked like full retail prices to me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tkln

              I think the outlets are only worth buying from when they are having sale, especially a sale coupled with a coupon (see post above).

              Also the outlets will often stock seconds at good discounts. I have found pieces that were indistinguishable from firsts.

              1. re: tkln

                For the first quality, not-on-sale items that can definitely be the case. As flourgirl notes, the deals/steals at the Le Crueset outlets are the seconds and the on-sale items (they've always had a color of the month sale going on when I've been). Even then, always pays a bit to shop around when you're looking at dropping $150 or so on a pot.

              2. I have a friend who's bought several pieces from the LC store in Leesburgh (it helps that she lives 15 min. away!) I agree with the others that the 2 3/4 is probably too small -- I just bought the 5.5 and it's great (and I'm usually just cooking for myself). The 2 3/4 is good for side dishes etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                  My first Le Creuset was from an outlet 40 some years ago (an ouch moment to do the math). I still use it. Except for a purchase at Sam's Club, all my Le Creusets are from out let stores, and the larger oven piece I added last fall too advantage of seconds pricing as well as an in store markdown.
                  I recently found out that they've discontinued their larger covered 'fry pan' that verges on being a dutch oven and I need to get to an outlet to get them before they're totally gone.

                  1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                    Oh, fwiw, the 5.5 qt was bought during a one-day 50% off sale at Bloomingdale's--not bad at all! :)

                  2. Thanks for all of the responses! It's not that money is THAT much of an issue, but it seems stupid (for lack of a better word) to just buy it full price, when it seems like there's other ways to buy the same product. Even Williams-Sonoma's website looks like they sell pieces for much less than the MSRP, and it's not like they are on sale or anything. I guess my game plan for now is to check out the other options listed, and keep those in mind when I eventually make it over to the outlets. And I will definitely make sure to get myself on the mailing list even if I don't buy anything that day- thanks for the tip!

                    Also, thanks for the input on the size, the 2 3/4 DID seem very small, but I didn't know if it was just me that thought so.

                    1. i too bought my le creuset pans at the outlet stores. perfectly fine pans even the seconds are fine. i am planning to get a 5 qt dutch oven too, and was thinking of different brands so i made an interesting discovery. the le creuset dutch oven i want is over 200 at williams sonoma/sur le table website but a 5 qt staub cocotte is priced at 200 at ws. so will jump in and buy the staub since pricewise they are pretty competitive and i have been yearning to own one staub pot.

                      1. I also cook for two, and I prefer using a 5 qt oven proof non stick pan with a lid. I think it is Caphalon. I find Le Creuset heavy. However I think I am a minority.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: scharffenberger

                          I don't think you're a minority in thinking that it's heavy. It's heavy. I don't use my Le Creusest every day, but for some things, it's the only pot that will do.

                          Staub is also a great brand, by the way.

                        2. Le Crueset is cast iron. Heating properties of cast iron make it superior for stews, braises and roasts. It's all about technique....

                          Before you purchase from an outlet store, go to a major seller of LeCrueset to see what the most current lines are. From there, compare sizes,colors, etc. As with all cookware, the manufacturers offer their best deals on sets.

                          1. I think it's like any other shopping. You figure out what you want to buy, then check some prices and have them in hand when you go to the outlet. Then you look at what you already decided was right for you. In you current circumstance, no matter how good the price, a 13 quart oven is not a deal.

                            I think you might find a 5 qt. oval more useful than a round. They'll cook the same amount of stew or soup or chili, but the oval accepts things that are not conveniently round. Think chuck roast or whole chicken.

                            1. I have had excellent success with the outlet in Wrentham, MA. But I only buy cosmetic seconds (same with All Clad), as I see no reason to pay full price for something that'll end up as a "cosmetic second" after just a brief time in my kitchen.

                              I have 3 round french ovens, all blue, all bought there. The largest one (9qt) cost $140. Quite a steal.

                              I cook for 2 with leftovers and use my 7 quart most often. It's also good if you are cooking a larger amount of food for a party or something. The 5 quart is good for everyday for 2 people but is limiting if you ever want to make more portions.

                              The 2 2/4 is much too small.