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Dec 14, 2008 01:37 PM

Enameled cast iron dutch oven

Been thinking about picking up a 5-qt enameled dutch oven from Bed Bath and Beyond since I have a gift card. I'm considering either Le Cruset or Calphalon. The Calphalons are much cheaper than Le Cruset but I've heard they can have problems with chipping. I know Le Cruset is the best but obviously cost quite a bit more as well. Should I just spend the extra money and get the Le Cruset or is the difference between the two is not enough to justify the extra cost?

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  1. I just bought an LC 5.5 qt. French oven (my first LC piece) 2 weeks ago and I love it. So far, I've made stew, pot roast, a barbecued pork loin and baked chicken in an artichoke and mushroom sauce. It has been a pleasure to use and very easy to clean. My understanding is that with proper care, this pot should last a lifetime. It also has a lifetime warranty, which shows that the company stands behind their products.

    1. Not to sound like a S-Ass, I think you have answered your own question. But, yes the extra cost is worth it. Consider the gift card a discount on the superior cookware.

      Yes I sell cookware. I do not work for BB&B and get no kickbacks for selling ther product in their stores. The company I work for is totally independently owned. Yes LC does allow us to accumulate sales points but only in the store I work in which is not related in anyway to BB&B.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        I appreciate your input but can you list some reasons why the Le Cruset is superior to Calphalon to justify the extra cost?

        1. re: mliew

          The porcelain enamel is less likely to chip or flake off on LC. The heavy cast iron retains heat better and the pan is going to last a lot longer than the cheaper model. Le Creuset is an investment in time. Most of my Le Creuset is over 25 years old. My Calphalon of the same vintage is being recycled through the Good Will. That is not enameled Calphalon but the supposedly hard annodized, advertised in the "80's" as "the finest cookware you will ever own". Annodization wore off

      2. I use my All-Clad 8 quart stock pot as a dutch oven. Works great, seals tightly, saves the trouble of having to store two separate things, and I never have to worry about enamel chipping.

        The only downside is, it's not oval.

        Every enameled cast iron piece will have problems with chipping, no exceptions. Enamel is merely glass powder fired onto the cast iron. And glass is, for the most part, glass. It'll break and chip if hit with a hard object, or craze because of the different coefficients of expansion if overheated. If you want enameled cast iron, I'd suggest going for the cheapest brand you can find. The differences are more in the thickness of the iron, than any quality improvement in the enamel.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ThreeGigs

          Thanks ThreeGigs. I wasn't sure if the quality of enamel was any better/worse from one brand to another (maybe the Le Cruset is more durable, etc.). Reading up on it a little more it does sound like enamel is very easy to chip and crack and thats not something I want to have to worry about. Unenameled isn't an option since I cook a lot of tomato based sauces. Maybe I will just go with a heavy stainless pot like the All Clad that you mentioned.

          1. re: mliew

            I've had several LC pots, from 2 quart to a 6.75 quart oval and the only places where the enamel has shown any sign of wear is on the rim of the pots. No cracking, no dropping enamel into food ever. you might continue to do your research to determine whether LC is different from other enameled cookware. I'm betting that it is. Has anyone had any problems with LC enamel other than the rim?

            1. re: mliew

              I've had my LC dutch oven for at least 10 years now, if not more, and it hasn't chipped so far, FWIW. Also, when I broke the lid - completely my fault - they sent me a new one at no charge, no shipping fee.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Problems with Le Creuset's enamel chipping are really dependent on how much of a klutz you are. I have about 8 LC pots, and I've had about five non-LC enamel cast iron pieces. The non-LC pieces all developed a number of chips, scratches, and discolorations quickly and when I wasn't looking. The damage just sort of mysteriously appeared.

                Only one piece of my LC has any damage. It's my most frequently used pot, and there's no mystery as to how it was damaged. I dropped the lid, which hit the pot hard and chipped the enamel. Twice. So if you're a klutz like me, expect chips in your LC enamel. Otherwise, it should hold up well. Cheaper brands will chip whether you're a klutz or not (although I've never used Calphalon's).