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Okay Le Creuset, Defend Yourself

Davwud Jul 29, 2008 05:49 AM

Hey Hounds.

On a recent trip "Down yonder" I stopped in at the Lodge Factory Outlet Store in Sevierville, Tn.
I picked up a 6qt. enamel on cast iron dutch oven from the seconds (which meant it had a dimple in the enamel on the top of the lid) pile for $40. (Regular $87.95)
Later on our trip I was in Williams Sonoma and saw basically the same pot for $220.95 (MSRP $295).
Is there really a $200+ difference?? All you LC owners/swear by it people convince me that it's a good idea to spend the extra cash.

BTW, I used it for the first time last night to make gumbo and it was fantasic.

DT

www.davwudsfoodcourt.blogspot.com

  1. g
    gnomatic Jul 29, 2008 11:01 AM

    You should check out Amazon.com kitchenware sale (every two weeks) or their Friday Sale, the Lodge enamel cast iron Dutch oven 6 qt frequently comes up for around $39.99.

    I got a green 3qt for $19.50 a few weeks ago, it's excellent for soups & curries (but I do not have a LC or Staub to compare it).

    1. lynnlato Jul 29, 2008 11:06 AM

      That price tag always troubled me too. I was in TJ Maxx and they had several Le Creuset dutch ovens for sale for about $100 bucks. I bought one, thinking that was as good a price as I was gonna find. I then went into Target and they had an enameled cast iron pot (same size) for $40 bucks. I bought it, took it out to the car and visually compared the two. I just couldn't see any difference other than the quality of the lid knob/handle and of course the imprinted name. I took back the Le Creuset and have been very happy w/ my Target pot.

      1. j
        josephnl Jul 29, 2008 01:40 PM

        Trying to upset us LeC fans are you? I have two LeC Dutch ovens that I have had forever and which I love. After many years they still pretty much look like new, and I'm pretty sure they will look the same when I leave this planet. That said...if I had seen a Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven for 40 bucks when I bought my LeC, I would also have grabbed it. I'm sure it will be just fine and I'm jealous! And if worse comes to worse, if in several years it wears out (highly unlikely), I'm sure you will still have gotten your money's worth.

        3 Replies
        1. re: josephnl
          Davwud Jul 29, 2008 02:20 PM

          And it's not like Lodge isn't a very good name and product.

          DT

          1. re: Davwud
            h
            Hungry Celeste Jul 31, 2008 10:57 AM

            The Lodge stuff looks pretty good to me--I haven't used it, only seen it in stores (specifically, Wal-Mart). I have way too much LC cluttering my kitchen to be considered impartial in this matter, but in my defense, I bought all of it at a deep discount (outlets, closeouts, Tuesday AM, TJ Maxx, etc). My young neighbor, who just set up housekeeping, bought the Lodge after admiring my LC....she says it cooks great.

            I will say, in defense of LC, that the lifetime guarantee is a great thing. Unless you've done something totally ridiculous to your pan (and then told LC about it!), you can get LC to replace it. So that's part of what you're paying for, in addition to the living wages & benefits paid to French workers as opposed to the Chinese-made Lodge (no, not all Lodge is made in the USA).

            1. re: Hungry Celeste
              MMRuth Aug 5, 2008 05:16 AM

              And even if you do something ridiculous like breaking the lid by dropping it, and tell them, they'll replace it for you! They sent it to me for free, including the shipping.

        2. ted Jul 29, 2008 02:13 PM

          We've had the Lodge for a couple of years and it's held up very well. Didn't come from the outlet (and was much cheaper then). The outlet is pretty cool, though.

          I was all psyched to have bought American. Too bad the enameled Lodge is made in China.

          1. f
            ferret Jul 29, 2008 03:44 PM

            Here's a news flash: there are items in retail stores that are at higher price points because people will pay for them.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ferret
              Davwud Jul 29, 2008 06:39 PM

              Yes, I understand that. However some things do command a higher price and are worth it.
              I doubted it in this case. Hence the post.

              DT

              1. re: Davwud
                m
                Miss Priss Jul 30, 2008 05:06 AM

                Whether something is "worth it" is an individual determination. Clearly Le Creuset isn't "worth it" to you. Just as clearly, it IS "worth it" to those who choose it over lower-priced alternatives. Personally I wouldn't pay retail price for Le Creuset, even though I think it's appreciably nicer than most of its competitors: higher quality enamel, more attractive colors, lighter weight, more finely finished, etc.--and the company provides excellent customer service. But even if all a person cares about is the status of owning a luxury-brand item, or giving one as a gift, it's a worthwhile expenditure for that person, no matter how silly someone else considers it.

                1. re: Miss Priss
                  Davwud Jul 30, 2008 09:13 AM

                  I guess you're right about the term "Worth it".
                  To me, having a name for the sake of having a name is certainly a waste of money.
                  To others, it most certainly isn't.

                  By "Worth it" I was wondering if it could possibly out perform by that much. I certainly don't think so but have never done a cook off.

                  I'm also hoping this forum will help people realize that there are some cost effective (And possibly smarter) alternatives so they don't have to blow their brains out on LC.

                  DT

            2. m
              mdelno Jul 29, 2008 09:20 PM

              I have both Le Creuset and an off brand, and have used both for several years. They both give me great results. I can't differentiate between them in that respect. Old cast iron pots also do basically the same, but can be a challenge to maintain. If yours does what you want, count yourself lucky for a good buy! Maintain it properly and it should serve your needs for many years.

              1. b
                blondelle Jul 30, 2008 05:39 AM

                Even Lodge doesn't consider their lower price Colors line to be as good as Le Creuset as they make a better, more expensive line with more layers of enamel, and use an imported French enamel on it. Even Lodge considers the French enamel to be better, and charges a premium for it in a line closer to Le Creuset in price.

                No one knows how the lower priced Lodge line will hold up over time. Just because something looks the same, doesn't mean it will wear and perform the same. I picked up the 6 qt. Lodge oven in red for $34.99 at Amazon for my mom. Even if you only get 5-10 years out of it you will still get your moneys worth, Using the LC makes me happier, as I don't care for the look of the Lodge.

                If you want known quality, you can pick up several Staub pieces cheaply. Amazon has their 5 qt. rounded bottom casserole for only $69.99 now. A set of 3 pieces just went for $129.99 at smartbargains.com. If you shop well you can get either French brands at a great discount.

                I want to buy cookware once, and have something that I will use and cherish, and that gives me pleasure each time I use it. LC has stood the test of time and has a wonderful company and warranty behind it. I really don't care for the look of the Lodge, and I would rather pay more for something that makes cooking more enjoyable.

                Some people value price more, and some people value quality more. You can't have them both usually!

                1 Reply
                1. re: blondelle
                  Davwud Jul 30, 2008 09:16 AM

                  I completely agree with you and that's why I'm putting this out there. I have no idea if LC is appreciably better than L for sheer performance but I do know they claim it is. If nothing more that the knob on top is rated for a higher temp.

                  And just as you may prefer vanilla and I prefer chocolate, both Mrs. Sippi and I commented at WS last week that the L piece looks nicer.

                  DT

                2. d
                  Dee S Jul 30, 2008 06:50 AM

                  This is going to sound strange but I don't think LC needs to defend itself. LC was one of the first to manufacture enamel over cast iron and perfected their process. I believe each piece is still individually cast. Everything else to follow is an imitation in response to the popularity/longevity of LC. It's a good product and can be made less expensive, since they're using machine/mold casts. Quality may be similar but only time will tell, as other posters have mentioned. The defense is all the competition that has come out in recent years. There was really no competition for a long time.

                  I have several LC pieces but did not pay retail; I bought them at discount stores and paid a very small fraction. My most expensive piece is a 6 3/4 qt covered oval for $60. I've been looking at the Lodge product for some other pieces but can't justify adding more cookware to my collection. I have several Lodge CI pieces and use them often. I think either company's product is worth buying.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dee S
                    a
                    alias wade Jul 30, 2008 07:06 AM

                    I agree, blondelle and Dee-- I think what you're paying for in LC is the enamel, in two ways: quality of enamel affects heat distribution; and quality of the enameling process affects bonding and therefore longevity. Granted, heat dist. isn't going to be greatly different in any kind of quality pot (esp. if you're making something simple like a stew), and $100+ is a lot to pay for longevity, but I think it's pretty clear that critiques of LC ought to be made on those grounds, and not simply price. If you get past the price issue, the only people with real cause to diss LC are owners who've had something go wrong. For some people, the extra dough is like an insurance policy that a piece of chipped enamel won't wind up in your lamb curry (and that some of the dish won't glue itself to the bottom b/c of poor quality enamel).

                    1. re: alias wade
                      Davwud Jul 30, 2008 09:21 AM

                      Let me make one thing clear. I'm not trying to dis you for having LC. If I had the $$ I'd have probaly bought it too. If you could convince me it is worth it (Such as if the enamel will wear through on my Lodge and needs to be replaced in 10 years) I may take the plunge later.
                      For me, I just can't see it but as I said above. I haven't had the opportunity to test drive both types.

                      Also, I'm really only talking about performance, not esthetics. That can be so subjective.

                      DT

                      1. re: Davwud
                        m
                        mateo21 Jul 30, 2008 10:23 AM

                        Actually... anything that is based on performance (e.g. eveness of heating, longevity, etc.) should be relatively objective -- aesthetics is where you get subjectivity. Personally I love my LC I have 6.75qt oval oven and a 3.5qt braiser... one purchased at retail price, the other on sale (I do have some other LC pieces; a baker and two stock pots, but those are a different matter).

                        Most of the time where you see the difference in the budget brands is the logevity and fit and finish. I've seen cheaper brands start to chip after a year or two... I've seen whole sides of enamel come off after it was dropped (not just a chip) and the pot was almost perfectly straight and not bend from the fall!! Fit and finish is huge, I regularly see pots that wouldn't be in a LC outlet store (where the factory seconds go) on retail shelves; a lot of chips discovered at home after the product was purchased the brand sticker was removed; uneveness and ripples in the enamel -- all are signs of sloppy, cheap work.

                        My 2 cents.

                  2. r
                    Rand Aug 3, 2008 07:50 PM

                    LeC is amazing...but it is quite expensive. I recently looked around the Internet for reviews (like on Amazon) on the Lodge enamelled ware, and the upper-quality Lodge enamelled ware gets really good ratings. Places like Target and WalMart also sell the line, at about the same price that Amazon does. Target's cheap (non-Lodge) enamelled ware gets a general thumbs down, though.

                    Lodge has, unfortunately in my opinion, somewhat recently begun to have some of their ware made in China. They state that they maintain strict quality control, though.

                    I couldn't find any LeC for a price I could afford, so I went with the Lodge; but if you can EVER find LeC at a very inexpensive price, for the God of Cookware's sake BUY IT!!!

                    1. Kagemusha Aug 4, 2008 06:03 PM

                      Too bad the cheap Chinese enameled cast-iron tsunami smacked you. QC on this stuff--whether no-name or celeb chef branded--is south of Staub or LC. Poor fit-n-finish, chip-prone enamel, and iffy waranties win this merch the "false economy" cookware trophy. I see people buy this stuff more as decor since the real deal crowds the sets of most celeb-chef programming. Can't cook, well then look like you can! Too many opportunities through outlets and online vendors to get LC at reasonable prices compared to extortionate Williams-Sonoma pricing. Somehow cookware made by a Shanghai manhole cover plant just might not be serviceable 10 years out--same goes for the manhole covers.

                      1. c
                        chuckl Aug 5, 2008 08:18 PM

                        can you get enameled cast iron cheaper than LC? certainly. will it be as good? time will tell. I can only say that generally speaking, you get what you pay for. I've had several LC pieces for probably over 20 years and they are still going strong. When you amortize it over the life of the pot, I think you actually end up getting a better value than if you have to replace them ever.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chuckl
                          j
                          josephnl Aug 5, 2008 09:59 PM

                          I agree completely. LeC Dutch ovens are an investment which with proper care should last a lifetime, especially with their excellent customer service. If you can afford LeC, I would definitely bite the bullet re the cost and get one. Search for sales if need be to make it more affordable. You will definitely not regret your purchasing what has passed the test of time, and has pretty much become the gold standard (as has Staub, but I am less familiar with it, and have heard negative comments re their customer service). On the other hand, if you cannot afford LeC, there are other less expensive options mentioned on this thread that will probably be just fine.

                        2. Gooseberry Aug 8, 2008 02:48 AM

                          I have a small oval LC pot and an identical chinese-made no-name knock-off (given to me as a gift). Two years down the line, I use both weekly, and although the LC is actually 3 yrs old, it's been interesting to see the comparison. The enamel on the bottom of the Chinese version has stained and worn down, although it's still cookable. Its plastic handle on its lid has twisted/warped slightly (although it's supposed to be ovenproof). There is some mild staining on the bottom of the le creuset pot, but the enamel is a smooth and thick as the day I bought it.

                          So I'd say the LC pot is better quality, but the Chinese number is by no means useless!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Gooseberry
                            d
                            DGresh Aug 8, 2008 06:07 AM

                            Interesting comments. When I got married 18 years ago, I had on my registry a LC dutch oven. Some frugal relatives gave me a knock-off one instead (french name; can't remember offhand and I'm not at home to look). Around the same time my (non-frugal) mother-in-law gave me several smaller authentic LC saucepans. The knock-off has significant staining and it does look rather worn, but I still use it a lot. The authentic ones are nearly pristine. I had never really given it much thought until reading your comments.

                            1. re: DGresh
                              Gooseberry Aug 9, 2008 02:32 AM

                              I don't really care about the staining (you never see it - it's inside the pot), as long as it doesn't affect the cooking. I think it boils down to how much money you have to invest. My mum recently had to get rid of a le creuset stock pot. it was 40 yrs old, but through some bad handling (being put on highest heat, scratched by metal implements, etc) the bottom was screwed up. So even LC won't last forever if you don't treat it properly. Still, 40 years is a good run.

                              1. re: Gooseberry
                                h
                                Hungry Celeste Aug 10, 2008 07:33 AM

                                Generally, LC stockpots are enameled steel, not enameled cast iron (like the round & oval ovens). The cast iron stuff will last way longer than 40 years...

                                1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                  Gooseberry Aug 10, 2008 01:18 PM

                                  Well, it was unbelievably heavy, whatever it was. And the problem wasn't the cast iron - it was the scratching on the enamel, food was sticking to it. I agree that it should last longer - in this case, years of the housekeeper scratching it with metal spatulas shortened its life.

                            2. re: Gooseberry
                              t
                              tmso Aug 10, 2008 07:23 AM

                              Good to know! I love enamaled cookware for making risotto, but all that stirring does eventually wear off the enamel. I had to replace my hand-me-down because after a few decades the enamel got so thin that the surface was getting sticky. It was a LC, but by the time it happened I was in a financial position to buy my own and choose a color I liked better, so I opted for that rather than having them replace it. My current risotto pot I plan to keep for life ... or rather, when it wears out, to have them make good on that lifetime warranty. If more reasonable use can wear out the cheaper ones, I'd hate to think what effect I'd have on them.

                              1. re: tmso
                                Klimbim78 Aug 10, 2008 08:23 AM

                                Does LC give free replacements? If so, then I suggest you should replace it anyway, and then you would have 2 usable pieces. If you have no space, give it to a loved one or sell it? I really hope you didn't chuck it.

                                1. re: Klimbim78
                                  t
                                  tmso Aug 10, 2008 11:17 AM

                                  Not free replacements, but they have a lifetime warranty. I was going to move, so I gave it to a charity with a note attached to the effect that they should try to get the manufacturer to replace it with a new one.

                                  1. re: tmso
                                    Klimbim78 Aug 10, 2008 09:59 PM

                                    Awww that's sweet.

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