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Jan 12, 2008 04:16 AM

Aldi Dutch Oven--anyone have experience?

We got the Aldi ad for next week in today's newspaper--they are advertising a "Crofton" 5 quart cast iron enameled Dutch oven for $30. Has anyone bought their cookware and have an opinion?

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  1. Oh please someone tell us, because that caught my eye as well and I was just looking here to see if anyone had tried. I can imagine it's some cheap junk, but I actually have never shopped in Aldi and haven't paid attention to the stuff. Normally I barely glance at the flyer before trashing it, but the red enamel cast iron Dutch oven made an impression.

    Indeed, I searched "Crofton" limited to the Cookware board here, and the only thing that came up was this very thread! But I know some CHs do occasionally shop at Aldi and may have tried. Or maybe they've never had these before and we need to be a guinea pig. Dunno. I won't have anything to have compared it to because I've never owned any enameled cast iron, but I could consider dropping the 30 bucks on it to see. I was just thinking to myself that I wonder if they pretty much guarantee everything like Trader Joe's (the companies' ultimate ownership is the same), but the site says non-food "Special Purchase" items do not fall under the typical guarantee that they give everything else.

    You can't see much from this, but here's the link showing the item

    I'm going to drop by the store today to see if they are out on the floor yet. Not sure if they normally don't put them out until the sale starts (which is tomorrow).

    4 Replies
    1. re: CrazyOne

      Well, as I said I don't have anything else here to compare it to, but I do now have one of these for 30 bucks. We opened a box while at Aldi, looked at it, and it seems okay. There were only 3 there at the time, and when we left we had the last one.

      I can tell you it's made in China and carries a 2-year warranty from its "manufacturer", M.E. Heuck Co. of Ohio. That company has existed for 85 years supposedly, but I don't know if it's gone through any odd iterations or what. At Aldi it carries their own Crofton house brand. It's entirely possible the Heuck Co. simply makes private label housewares, not sure. I will do some more searching on that later. I want you to know what I know now if you still want to run out and buy one of these today.

      These are red on the outside, white on the inside. The edge at the top of the bowl and around the edge of the lid is not enameled at all. The lid is oven safe to only 350 degrees F and without lid the rest is safe to 500 degrees F. (There is a composite handle of some kind on the lid which accounts for the lower temp.) The lid is smooth on the inside, no pieces in there designed to do anything special.

      With the only 2-year warranty I suppose it's possible these could wear a lot more quickly than a Le Creuset or Staub or whatever brand. They are also cheaper, of course. While I don't like the idea of a throw away piece, we do see this as a "starter" piece. We'll see how much we use this one. If we use it and like it a lot and/or like it but find shortcomings then we'll know it'll be worthwhile to spend on better quality unit.

      Hope this helps!

      1. re: CrazyOne

        I noticed the ad this morning, too. I had been looking at Rachel Ray's, Mario's and Lodge's enameled cast iron for MONTHS but the price had been holding me back. Since I would only use it once or twice a month, I hesitated plunking down that $99 bucks (and up). When I saw the Aldi ad, I RAN to Aldi's to take a look at it. Having seen, close up, the lodge 6qt dutch oven, THIS non-name 5qt comes MIGHTY close - in fact - I can't really tell them apart. Both tops are only oven proof to 350 and both vessels are oven proof to 500 degrees. The enamel looks thick enough both inside and out. Since the Crofton is $30 cheaper than the Lodge, I bought it. And it's a good thing I did. At 10am this morning, there was a line of women fighting to get their hands on it. When I left, there was only 3 left on the shelf. For MY needs, this will suffice. This piece will not get HEAVY use at our house. For those who intent to use it quite a bit (and don't mind putting out $100 and up for a 'name' brand), better to go with better brands. But I'm glad I noticed this ad this morning.

        1. re: CrazyOne

          It may be simple to "upgrade" the lid by getting a porcelain or metal knob from Home Depot or Lowes. When you say it could "wear," I don't see how. It would be really hard to do enough cooking and cleaning of this pot to actually wear the enamel away. And that's layered onto cast iron. I suppose they could have put on some kind of inferior enamel. There's always people looking for a slick way to slide. But really, if you don't bang it around or ding it up, you'll probably be using it twenty years from now.

          1. re: yayadave

            We shall see. I'm not too familiar with these things. On a second visit to a relative's house where we once again used a Le Creuset 5.5qt round on the stove, we kept saying we could probably use one. But it seemed hard to justify the huge cost yet. I'd been looking at something in between. There's a Tramontina I've seen at Target that's $50-60 that might have been a decent choice. (Note, that one is 6.5qt which might be a nicer size for some.) But when this ad came out, well, this seemed like a decent compromise for now. And the red is even a color that we would have wanted (we get stuff in red and yellow preferably in the kitchen).

            I guess that's true that it shouldn't wear per se. I suppose I'm thinking that something may go amiss given what should be obviously inferior construction given the price. But maybe it's not *that* inferior.

            I was thinking of the knob hack myself when I was looking at the lid earlier this afternoon. It's just held in there with a screw. I'm sure you could put a metal one on there that could withstand higher heat if you really wanted to.

            I was out later today in Bed Bath and Beyond and took a good look at the Calphalon enameled cast iron ware that they had there. The Calphalon has a much nicer handle on the lid that is made of the same stuff as the rest (actually a loop rather than a knob), and it has the bumps on the inside of the lid that are supposed to help self-baste or whatever. The rest of the construction is pretty similar. The edges of the pot and lid are never enameled, I guess(?), so that's not a difference. The only thing that came to mind is that the Calphalon gave the impression that it might be thicker/heavier. Whether that is thicker enamel or a heavier gauge of cast iron I'm not sure. It wasn't a direct comparison because the display model was an oval bigger pot, though Calphalon does make a 5qt round that would be a direct comparison.

            We should be trying it soon enough. We aren't going to have really much performance-wise to compare it to, so only time will tell if it's really so inferior that there are problems in a couple years.

      2. I will continue to add info to this thread as I find it. Just a couple things I found interesting:

        This writeup from Fortune on "cool new kitchen gear" from small companies highlighted the Heuck panini press: They said it would cost $50 so I guess $30 from Aldi is a good deal. It says Heuck has been around since 1922 (which is what their site says), but they started doing the enameled cast iron in 2005. Some of their smaller gadgets are apparently still machined in Cincinnati, but this enameled cast iron is made for them in China. One thing we both wondered is if we should worry about lead! Heh.

        Here is one place so far I've found that you can buy one of these for $35 if you don't find one at your local Aldi:

        Note all these are also made in blue, but Aldi appeared to only be carrying red pieces.

        1. Just an update since I brought it up in another thread as well. We've used the $30 special several times and have had it hanging around on or near the stovetop where it gets bumped a bit on the outside. Yes, perhaps the enamel isn't as perfect as some top brands, and yes it may be a slightly lighter weight iron. But so far it works fine and doesn't seem particularly prone to chipping or anything like that. So far, so good. Only real problem is it makes us want more sizes, which probably means pricey Le Creuset! Ah, well. :-)

          1. I am not familiar with the Aldi brand but I got an Innova dutch oven for $30 a couple of years ago. I worked very well but took some abuse when doing the no knead bread with the 500* preheat. Over time I started to get some crazing of the enamel on the inside. I never really affected the performance until recently when a small bubble formed under the enamel and a 1mm square piece of enamel popped off the bottom. Okay, it wasn't as good as a LC but I got 2 years out of it for 30 bucks. I just purchased a Lodge enameled dutch oven for $50 and we will see how long this one lasts. The Lodge looks more like a LC. At the current rate it would take me around 18 years to recoup the cost of the LC at the rate of $15/year.
            So bottom line, for $30 use it and throw it away. Still a good deal.

            2 Replies
            1. re: scubadoo97

              I have a Lodge enamel too, works great. I did the No-Knead at 500 degrees, the Lodge survived. Next time I made the bread I used 450 instead , came out just as good, so I am using 450 degrees from now on.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                I received a set of Le Creuset cookware the year before my son was born...27 years ago now. About a year ago the enamel started pitting in the bottom of the dutch oven, which is one of the hardest used of the pots I have. I returned it to Le Creuset as per the instructions in their warranty and they replaced it for me for the cost of shipping. There is no doubt in my mind that I have more than recouped the gifter's expenditure through the use of this one pot alone, but I may be into the "profit zone" with the replacement of the dutch oven for the cost of shipping.


              2. Hi .. I just bought one each of their pots and a pan today. While I was there, I ran into some friends of mine who were buying them for gifts for their kids. They love them. They have a Le Chasseur pot as well and claim there is no difference in cooking with the Crofton to cooking in the Le Chasseur.

                We have a very flash kitchenware shop here and they have produced their own brand of cast iron cookware, which I have looked at often. These from Aldi and by far a better finish than their brand, and about one third the price! I am very happy! I am looking forward to using the Dutch oven to cook some of my Moroccan recipes.