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Le Creuset vs. others. Why is it better?

  • k

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 www.winterberry.com. 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.

                2. I bought the Calphalon cast iron enamel 5 qt dutch oven from a store going out of business for $31. My father gave me a Martha Stewart cast iron enamel 7 qt dutch oven for my birthday. Both of these were in the past year. I bought a 30 yr old cast iron precision pour Le Creuset sauce pan off of ebay. The Calphalon and Martha Stewart bubble, chip, and stain. Both cook decently though. The Le Crueset does not bubble or stain and cooks better than both. I do not know what makes the Le Creuset better, it just is.

                  1. Our 6-qt. Le Creuset dutch oven is approaching ten years old, and it still looks great and does what it's supposed to do--no chips, and the heavy cover still fits perfectly. I haven't compared others, but I have no cause for complaint.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                      Short answer: They're not. I have a set of LC that I've had for 15 years that's preformed well and that I'm happy with. That said I tried Staub a couple of years ago when it was on deep discount and found that I loved that product even more. I think they're are also other good enameled cast iron brands out there that work just as well. I agree with the poster above: as long as it's not made in China I'll give it a whirl.

                    2. I have several pieces of Le Creuset and just love them. Zero complaints about performance and durability, and they clean up so easily. I also love their design and the mystique, for lack of a better word, of their being made in France. I'll buy more when I can find a good, discounted price.

                      I'd pass on cheaper knockoffs even if they performed equally well. I don't want to see this great manufacturer go the way of Wedgwood. And for that reason I wouldn't buy the Le Creuset ceramics made in...Thailand?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Angela Roberta

                        Angela,
                        There is a discount of 25% of on Le Creuset but it is only temporary. Look at this posting http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6160...

                        1. re: Angela Roberta

                          This is off subject but for anyone who does not know how to pronounce Le Creuset it sounds like this:

                          Luh, crew say

                          1. re: krbtv

                            I've heard people call it leh crew see aye, but I agree with your pronunciation

                            1. re: krbtv

                              I've heard it pronounced as Le Cruise-Ay and Cruis-ette.

                              Would be nice to get a definite answer ...

                              1. re: pass

                                it's basically the first, not the second. I found out by typing "pronounce le creuset" into google, and playing a sound file :)

                                1. re: pass

                                  Just called Le Creuset in the U.S. The correct pronunciation is "Luh Crew Say."

                                  The best way to hear is pronounced is to go to the link below, click "Chef Demo", then click the play (-->) button. You might have to press the play button twice.

                                  http://www.cheftools.com/prodinfo-new...

                            2. The short answer is, you wouldn't. When braising, well seasoned naked cast iron will usually do just fine. If cooking something unusually acidic and a non-reactive surface is needed, go for stainless. It is much easier to clean and care for than Le Creuset or any other enamelled metal. Be sure to choose pieces without rubber or plastic handles, even if they're billed as heat resistant, so you can go directly from stovetop to oven. Should there be a need for something a bit more formal (what-- you don't want a giant dutch oven on the diningroom table?) to cook and serve with, many excellent options are available in Pyrex or porcelain. No unique properties of Le Creuset will justify the expense of buying it new. If you're dead set on owning some, be patient and buy it at a yard sale. Otherwise, use options described above or try that Tramontina...

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: rubysdad

                                You can regularly get insane bargains on LC. All my cast iron I got for less than you'd get any other lodge etc equivilent.

                                1. re: Soop

                                  Where do you buy your LC from!!!?

                                  1. re: krbtv

                                    Amazon - they hooked me right up. I ordered a really good (second hand) deal, but it was out of stock. I mailed them and said that I had my heart set on it, and that they had all the pieces available as separates.
                                    I got a 26cm frying pan for £15, a 24cm casserole for £28, and 2 stoneware dishes at regular price. About £100 in total inc shipping. I'm still stoked!

                              2. Le Creuset just has a certain...I-don't-know-what :p

                                1 Reply
                                1. I have a "food network" brand one and I wish I spent more. Not positive if you have these same issues with the more expensive brands but so far:
                                  - the handle gets very hot. I need to use a dish towel to lift the cover once it starts cooking.
                                  - The enamel didn't take long to start staining. There's marks I can't get rid of.
                                  - The iron part that peaks out between the outer and inner coating of enamel (up at the rim) is showing some rust. Not sure if I can curtail it by oiling and drying immediately after washing?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: azygrl

                                    This is an old post you're replying to, but these are generally typical issues for lower-end enameled cast iron, unfortunately. Even the ones with a famous chef's name often aren't very good at all (I'm looking at you, Mario Batali).

                                    For enameled cast iron it really is worth the cost of Le Creuset or Staub (I like Staub a lot). If you spend some time and effort deal hunting you can save a lot - I picked up a new 7 quart Staub French Oven for $150 or so at the Williams Sonoma outlet with an additional coupon from the outlet mall.

                                    1. re: azygrl

                                      See the guide that is too long to retype here but you can see it near the bottom of http://www.centurylife.org/2014/11/21... The gist is to use a small amount of suitable oil, preferably flaxseed oil as it becomes very tough when heated, and lightly rub a little into the rim of the pot as well as the rim on the lid. Bake and cool, repeat, and you will have a very tough, waterproof rim (but treat it as if it were still bare, in case you missed any spots). If you already have rust you may want to rub off whatever rust there is first, before trying this. And yes, dry off your cast iron after use. The other stuff you mentioned, well, it was a cheaper enameled cast iron pot, don't be surprised if it stains or cracks sooner than Staub/Le Creuset.