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Mar 7, 2010 05:00 AM

Cooks Illus. April 2010 Issue Tests Staub dutch oven Against Le Creuset

Since the Staub v. LeCresuet debate has no signs of ending, i thought i'd throw this stick onto the fire. The April 2010 issue tests the Staub against the lecreuset, and here is a summary:

1. CI compared 7 1/4 qt lecresuet to the Staub 8 qt

2. Both browned meat beautfully and created flavorful fond.

3. BUT...CI said the black interior made it diffucult to see if fond was developing or burning AND the pot and lid weighed 6 pounds more than the lecreuset.

CI concluded that Staub comes in 2nd place to lecreuset.

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  1. Which issue. I cant seem to find the article

    1 Reply
    1. re: yellowrose3502

      As the OP said, March/April 2010. See "Equipment Corner" on page 52, the last page.

    2. Funny, the black interior, basting spikes and weight of the pot is why I prefer Staub to LeCreuset

      5 Replies
      1. re: kariface

        I can understand why someone might like the basting spikes, but why would you choose an interior color that makes it hard to see what you're cooking?

        1. re: Jay F

          The only thing I can think of is that a black surface looks "newer". A white surface is impossible to maintain. From the ease-of-cooking, a white surface is better to see the foods.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Its light-colored interior is one of the things I've most liked about LC over the years. I have friends at whose house I've cooked lots of times, and I just hate using their Calphalon. It feels like a handicap. I have a 14", 7 qt Calphalon sauteuse from the original line, and I think the only way I would use it is if my LC and AC Dutch ovens were full.

          2. re: Jay F

            I don't have a hard time seeing what i'm cooking at all. Either chalk it up to culinary school, and years of experience on a line, but i've never had a problem seeing how anything was coming along.

            I find I get a much better sear with my staub than LeCreuset, and my LeCreuset shows wear and has stained over the years, where the dark interior of a Staub hides all of that.

            1. re: kariface

              I've never cooked in anything Staub. Never even looked inside one, TTYTT. But I've felt hobbled by the Calphalon I've cooked in (1980s, second anodized series, matching dark lids replacing original silver-looking lids), and it's because it's dark, dark, dark in those pots. I like being able to see everything when I'm cooking.

              Not to say I couldn't become acclimated to Staub, but I like my LC just fine. If it ain't broke...

              Maybe I'll take a look next time I'm at In the Kitchen.

        2. I do a lot of woodworking and every magazine does tool reviews. I rarely agree with all of their findings. In many cases what they consider to be most important isn't all that important to me. I never find them totally wrong, but in many cases I prefer #2 or #3 pick over #1. In this case I sure both are very good pieces of equipment and it comes down to personal preference on interior color, top knob material, spikes on the lid, and overall design and finish. Pick one or both and enjoy. Since we put ours in the oven, I prefer the metal knob as standard equipment. I don't think you can go wrong with either one, just avoid the China CRAP.

          9 Replies
          1. re: mikie

            Actually, after their standard thorough battery of controlled cooking tests CI rated the Chinese made Wal-Mart Tramontina brand as being nearly as good as the Le Creuset. The only real drawback was the smaller size of the Tramontina... 6.5 qt was smaller than CI's preferred 7.25 qt size.

            In fact, Wal Mart seems to be taking CI's recommendations seriously, since they began offering an all Tramontina cookware set that almost identically mirrors CI's "Ideal a la carte cookeware set".


            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              My take on magazine reviews of products is rather simple, it's a spot check, a snapshot in time and they rarely if ever test durability and longivity of a product. Casting iron is not all that difficult, but doing it well is. Iron ore, energy and labor are all less expensive in China. Chinese products for years and the cheaper ones still, had difficulty with their cast iron pieces. Magazines like CI, when they do their testing, don't typically evaluate equipment after a year of use. So the pot could warp and no longer perform well on a stove top and their test would never uncover this. Enamel is more or less the same story, to fire a glaze uses a lot of energy, which again is cheep in China. But, properly firing the glaze and using all the proper ingredients in the proper proportions is critical to the long term performance of the product. I have first hand experience with my costomers having products made in China and then asking me why the part failed. More often than not, it's because the Chinese manufacturer did not use the correct material. A few incidents like this and I have no faith what so ever that things made in China are what they are supposed to be. Just because a company tests a pot and says it's lead free doesn't mean they all are. And there are also heavy metals in pigments such as Cadmium and Chromium, that you need to be concerned with.

              I think you can use the CI evaluation, but you have to realize, they are not covering many of the long term issues. Just because you can cook one good meal in it doen't mean it's not China crap.

              1. re: mikie

                CI uses the products they recommend in their test kitchen. They have pulled recommendations for various products due to a lack of durability. For instance a KitchenAid blender won their top rating a number of years ago and the rating was pulled because the blenders had a problem with the bottom seals leaking.

                Chinese companies are all over the map in terms of quality. Some strive to put out high-quality products. In the case of contact manufacturers it often comes down to how much the customer is willing to demand quality and how much they are willing to pay for it.

                FWIW the situation regarding energy prices has changed. Due to the oil and gas boom the US & Canada currently have some of the cheapest energy prices in the world while prices have gone up significantly in China. This has made moving certain energy intensive manufacturing back to North America rather attractive.

                1. re: cstefan206

                  <CI uses the products they recommend in their test kitchen>

                  This is true, but not universally. I've seen them using what are clearly All-Clad MC or MC2 saucepans.

                  <They have pulled recommendations for various products due to a lack of durability. >

                  They've also dropped them down to second place, as with the Breville Hemisphere, despite a twitchy switch on 3 of 7 machines. Just my opinion, but I think they should have dropped it farther (at that price, it shouldn't be so picky) and made the $100 Ninja Professional the #2 blender.

                  To be completely fair, and reinforce your point, it wasn't CI's test kitchen KA blenders that failed, they heard the complaints from readers and CI staffers. When they retested in 2014, they included the revamped KA, which had completely new problems and came in dead last.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    True on all counts. They do update the on-line versions of their reviews over time for availability and issues that come up over extended use. Though in the latter case a removed reccomendation is usually driven by a combination of reader complaints and test kitchen experience.

                    Still their equipment reviews are pretty solid and it is rare I have a preference that runs strongly counter to their recommendations.

                    On a few things I wouldn't mind seeing them cast a wider net such as reviewing MC2 pans alongside the other options or more testing of brands found in restaurant supply stores.

                    1. re: cstefan206

                      I agree that most of their kitchen equipment reviews are good, but I've bought a lot of CI-recommended items and a few of them have been outright stinkers. I mean outrageously terrible.

                      The two worst offenders were the Whynter SNÖ Professional Ice Cream Maker, which was cheaply constructed (decals peeling off, rust on the motor, plastic outer housing looked like it was cut with an X-acto knife), stunk of petrochemicals, and was packed with such flimsy cardboard material (from the manufacturer, not Amazon) that twice the item arrived rattling with large puncture holes on the side. The machine beeped incessantly when I turned it on, and the manual (which was a flimsy pamphlet) offered no help. Customer service told me this was a motor error, and that I should return to the manufacturer for a replacement. I did, and the next machine was *exactly* the same. To their credit, the Machine did freeze my ice cream well, but for $210, I had absolutely no faith that this thing would last beyond a few weeks.

                      The second, and absolutely worst piece of crap was the Progressive steamer basket with telescoping handle. The welds are so weak, the legs fall off and the telescoping handle know popped off. I replaced it with a new model, and the exact same things happened.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        They now recommend the Oxo steamer basket. It is solidly constructed.

                        I'm not really in the market for an ice-cream maker, but I'll keep that in mind if I ever am.

                        1. re: cstefan206

                          I know. It took them 3.5 years to finally get around to updating their review, reclassifying the Progressive basket to "not recommended". In the meantime, how many countless people wasted their money based on that original review?

                          (I'm still eagerly awaiting an update for expensive ice cream makers, because there's no way in hell I foresee the Whynter SNÖ staying on that list.)

                          The real question, to my mind, is how in the world did that shitty steamer basket ever pass muster to begin with?

                          That's the thing that really confuses me. Their testing is generally so rigorous, how could something so badly constructed ever have made the cut?

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            As I said when I've followed their recommendations I've yet to be steered wrong. That said they are far from perfect, for example giving 'not recommended' ratings to items that work well for me in my kitchen.

                            But I think the same is true for any source of reviews and ratings, be it Amazon, Cook's Illustrated, or Consumer Reports.

          2. The basting spikes gather steam and drip only water onto the food--they dont really *baste*, do they??

            1. As pretty as Staub is, there's one other negative that hasn't been mentioned here. The sides of the Staub ovens are sloped which means it's much smaller on the bottom than on the top. In looking at one 6 qt. oval pot, I doubt you can get more than two good sized leg and thigh pieces in there, or more than two good sized breast pieces. Even though it's a nice sized oven, the bottom area for browning and searing is rather limited. The sides of the LC are straight giving you much more bottom area for the size, making the pot more useful.

              9 Replies
              1. re: blondelle

                I'm not sure what Staub pots you have or have been looking at, but the three we have, (2¼ qt., 5 qt., and 8 qt.) the sides are almost straight vertical. Certianly every bit as vertical as Le Creuset. I can get 4 very large chicken breasts in a 5 qt, pot for browning. We gave our daughter the Coq Au Vin, 5 3/4 qt. and my wife easily fit a 6 lb. roast in it with room on the bottom to spare. I'll be more than happy to measure the opening and bottom dimensions and report what I find.

                I was unable to add a photo to illistrate my point.

                1. re: mikie

                  I never thought of the Staubs as sloped either until it was mentioned in a review from Fine Cooking magazine. I have a coq au vin here that's going to be a gift and the the width is about 8.5" on the bottom at the widest point and 10" at the rim at the widest point. In the length it's about 10.5 " at the bottom at the widest point and 12" at the rim also at the widest point.

                  There is about a 1.5" difference from the top to the bottom measurement which means it's sloped. Nothing wrong with that except you lose bottom browning area.

                  Here is the blurb. It won for best fitting lid for some oven's lids fit better than others in each line.

                  1. Best-fitting lid

                  Staub Cocotte (5 quart, $189.95) — The richly colored high-gloss enamel, elegant design, and finial-like top handle makes this pot the most stylish of the bunch. The uniquely designed lid fits snugly and retains more moisture than other models, both on the stovetop and in the oven. The wide side handles are easy to grip with oven mitts, but the sloped sides and narrower base mean less room for searing.

                  Here's a link to the entire article comparing enameled dutch ovens.


                  A large roast or chicken fits fine but when you place unusual shaped pieces, the bottom area of this large pot it isn't all that big.

                2. re: blondelle

                  My Staubs are straight too, but I have seen 2 decorative Staubs--one shaped like a pumpkin, one with a "reclining cow" lid, that are definitely slanted, but not the regular Dutch ovens.

                  1. re: blondelle



                    Here's my LC 7¼ qt compared to Staub 5qt round, Staub 7qt oval and All-Clad 8qt. The LC opening measures 11 3/8" across and the flat bottom is 9". The Staub 5qt round opening measures 10 ¼ " and 7 3/4" at the bottom. So basically they are both smaller at the bottom and the sloping isn't that different.

                    There's also a picture of the interior of the Staub to show a "step" on the sidewall. This is so you can invert the lid and stack the pots. Brilliant!

                    1. re: pabboy

                      I measured my LC 5 qt. oval and there was only a 1/2" difference between the inside bottom and the same measurement at the rim. The Staub was another inch of difference.

                      I have no idea of the reason they do that but I'm sure there is one.

                      1. re: blondelle

                        FWIW, as a practical matter, castings need to have some slope (the foundry term is "draft" that allows for the impression to be made in the casting sand and the "core" removed. If the walls were exactly vertical, the impression in the sand would be disrupted as the core was withdrawn, ruining the casting.

                        My guess is that Staub, LC and just about every other manufacturer of cast iron cookware uses some variation of the DISA process, an automated casting system where the front of one mold serves as the back of the next mold.

                        1. re: blondelle

                          Maybe it's just easier to manufacture them that way? To release them from a mold or something?

                          1. re: blondelle

                            I measured three sizes we have, the measurements on the 5 qt. round was 10" ID at the top and 9 1/2" ID just above the radius at the bottom. I also measured the side angle with a protractor and it's slightly under 5 degrees. The 8 qt. round was 11 7/8" ID at the top and 10 3/4" ID just above the radius on the bottom. The Coq Au Vin was a little trickier, but it was 9 1/2" x 11 3/4" at the top and 8 1/2" x 10 1/2" at the bottom. When measured with a protractor all had about a 5 degree slope. I looked at a LC this evening at the store and I really can't say I could tell the difference in the angel of the side walls. As has been stated, you have to have draft to get the cast iron out of the mold.

                            In all cases I measured the inside of the pot using a technique for measuring inside diameters.