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Apr 22, 2009 09:17 AM

Le Creuset vs. others. Why is it better?

Tramontina makes a cast iron Dutch oven for about $50. Le Creuset cost a lot! I'm under the impression that we are just talking about cast iron with enamel surrounding it.

What's there about Le Creuset that makes it so much better?
Why would I want to spend more on this product?
Has anyone tried other cast iron enameled items to compare them with Le Creuset?

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  1. i've never cooked with a le creuset dutch oven. but i can recommend the creuset from rick bayless' cookware line. it's heavy. we call it 'the magic pan' and cook everything we possibly can in it. braises up a storm, lets just enough moisture out, and cleans up like a dream.

    1. There are some quality of construction issues with lid fit/design and country of origin.... China/Mexico/Thailand versus France. Other than that, in the simplest sense, they are all about the same as long as they are made well. It is simply cast iron and enamel. The brand names carry some weight of course.

      With that said, I have a large LC, three Staub items and, a Mario Batali (Copco) roasting/lasagna dish.

      4 Replies
      1. re: SQHD

        Which do you like best between the Le Creuset and the Staub?

          1. re: SQHD

            Same here. I own several pieces of LC but I, have only bought Staub after my first purchase of that brand. Fit and Finish is better.

            1. re: Sid Post

              Yup, Staub is the best--someone gave me one, I'd never have paid the $300. I have Tramontina, and it's pretty good--sufficiently that I like it as much as the LC's my friends have and I use on a regular basis at their homes.

      2. I've had some of my LC pieces for over 40 years... have some of my mother's which must be over 60 years old. They have been used constantly, been taken good care of but never babied, and remain unchipped, unmarred, no dings or dents, cook perfectly & clean easily. I don't have any other cookware nearly as old so can't compare...however, their durability is certainly one reason to invest in LC because the $$$ you spend really are an investment. Very very few purchases give this kind of service & value.

        6 Replies
        1. re: fauchon

          What about Lodge enameled cast iron

          1. re: krbtv

            Probably one of the better choices aside from the big names.

            1. re: krbtv

              The Lodge enamaled ware made in the US is just as expensive or more than the
              Le Creuset. I wouldn't even think about using one from China. God only knows what's in the finish or what kind of material was used in the metal.
              Not that I believe you have to spend as much as a French pot to get a good one. I always found that if you shop around and wait for sales you can get some great buys as long as you are flexible with the color.

              1. re: Fritter

                The Lodge cast iron is made in the US, but enameled ones are made in China.

                Just so you know, labels like "Made in USA" or "Made in France" only means they put in the final touches in the USA or France; it says nothing of the origin of the product and its material. So you don't really know if the French made LeCreuset didn't imported their enamel from China.

                If your goal is to avoid anything from China...good luck. Personally I just avoid things that are cheaply made. The majority of cheaply made products are from China, but blindly looking for "Made in China" sticker is going to cost you in both money and safety. Other country made bad products too.

                1. re: SY3

                  Sort of right but, you missed the most important point IMHO. Even "IF" the components for LC are imported from China, they aren't going to leach toxins into your food thanks to French product safety rules and quality control checks.

                  Glazes on a pottery are another area where people need to pay attention to where they are sourced.

              2. re: krbtv

                I have a Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven and it is great. I've used it weekly for 5 or 6 years with no issues.

            2. krbtv: "Has anyone tried other cast iron enameled items to compare them with Le Creuset?"
              Yes. Le Creuset came in a respectable second.

              We have had Le Creuset (the piece that we had got dropped, broke, so we have Le Creuset no more); we have had and do have enameled cast iron from Descoware and Morsø.

              Descoware, made in Belgium, was actually named after its United States importer (DEStanford), and was praised , often and lavishly, by the late Julia Child, who used Descoware herself. At some point, Le Creuset acquired and shut down Descoware, but there is still a lot of it available, in good condition, on eBay, at attractive prices. Our Descoware is the equal of Le Creuset.

              Morsø is a Danish company that mainly makes superb cast iron stoves. A few decades back,, the legendary Sam Farber, the founder and genius behind Copco and later OXO Good Grips, commissioned the MOMA-honored designer Michael Lax to design a line of enameled cast iron cookware for Copco, which Farber then had fabricated in Denmark and sold under the Copco brand name. Copco no longer sells enameled cast iron, but Rayburn/AGA acquired the rights to market the Michael Lax-designed, Morsø-made cast iron, and it can be purchaed new in the United States from Used pieces are also frequently available on eBay, accessed by using the search term "Michael Lax."

              Apart from the design -- some people like the Michael Lax design, others want their enameled cast iron to look like Susan Boyle or Le Creuset -- in terms of quality of finish, the Morsø enameled cast iron has the edge on Le Creuset, and cooks superbly, too. We have four pieces (all Copco-branded) of the Morsø enameled cast iron, and we love them.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Politeness

                I went to the Winterberry site - no prices listed but says to call. That usually means it's unaffordable.

                I believe Le Creuset will replace your broken item.

                1. re: krbtv

                  kbrtv: "I went to the Winterberry site - no prices listed but says to call. That usually means it's unaffordable."

                  It usually does, but not always. We are "set" for enameled cast iron, so I have not had occasion to inquire, but it could not hurt to ask. In the meantime, it is worthwhile to checkout eBay. We started with one Morsø piece, a Dutch oven that we purchased as a wedding gift for my then sexgenarian widowed father and his bride when he married for a second time, then inherited when he died a quarter century later. We matched that Dutch oven with a couple of small fry pans (one big enough for scrambled eggs for two, the other big enough for a very small stir-fry) from eBay in pristine condition that we purchased for probably less than the price they fetched when new.

                  "I believe Le Creuset will replace your broken item."

                  Heh. Not likely. We broke it 10-15-20 years ago, and it long since went to the Great Recycling Bin in the Sky.

                  1. re: Politeness

                    Yes, but if you had contacted them when it broke, I'm almost positive they would have replaced it. They have a very generous warranty, and all my experiences dealing with them on these issues have been excellent.

                    1. re: andytee

                      I've owned and used Le Creuset, bought new, for many years. Great stuff, no doubt about it.

                      But lately, being retired and poorer, I've been buying vintage Descoware and vintage Copco, which cost much less. The five or six pieces I've gotten all are very lightly used or in unused, like-new condition.

                      I have to say Politeness got it absolutely right: Both of these old brands are at least as good as Le Creuset, and Copco is definitely better in term of quality of finish. Plus, used pieces in excellent (sometimes even like new) condition show up on eBay and Etsy all the time. There's a lot of it out there.

              2. What will Le Creuset do that a regular cast iron dutch oven will NOT do?

                1 Reply
                1. re: krbtv

                  Cook acidic foods for long periods of time. You have to have enamel if you want to do that.