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Which Dutch Oven should I buy?

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fantasyjoker Jan 18, 2011 09:38 AM

I've been looking at dutch ovens for a long time. I didn't need to buy one before, but the other day as I was making pulled pork, I realized that I'll have to switch to a bigger pot with oven capabilities if I'm going to keep my growing children satisfied. I've looked at LC and Lodge. I don't know if I want to pay LC's price, so I also looked for some on ebay. Lodge now offers enameled dutch ovens, but if my grill pan is anything to judge by, it'll probably be pretty heavy. So, based on your experiences, who makes a better dutch oven, and should I get a vintage one from ebay?

  1. m
    mikie Jan 18, 2011 10:06 AM

    Without question LC and Staub, both from France, make the highest quality enameled cast iron dutch ovens. Both are relatively expensive, unless you can find one on sale or at the outlet or TJMax or similar. These two manufacturers dutch ovens are different in appearance and color of interior, but both are very high quality products. Which you prefer really comes down to personel preference, both perform the same task equally well. Some prefer the looks or color of one or the other. ALL other enameled dutch ovens are made in China and are at best of questionalbe construction and quality of finish. They will cook just as well to the best of my knowledge, but they tend to chip the enamel quite easily. A store owner I know won't carry them, too much hassle dealing with the chips and the PO customers. If you want a high quality product that will last with proper care, save your money and shop around for one of the French brands. I managed to find Staub on sale and bought one for each of my adult childern as well as a smaller and larger one for personal use. I found a really good deal that made them less expensive than many of the MIC models. I will also add they are fabulous to cook in.

    10 Replies
    1. re: mikie
      f
      fantasyjoker Jan 18, 2011 10:19 AM

      I thought Lodge made their items here in the U.S.

      1. re: fantasyjoker
        kaleokahu Jan 18, 2011 10:26 AM

        fantasy: No, Lodge has moved its enameled CI production to the PRC. And LC has moved its ceramicware there.

        1. re: kaleokahu
          hobbybaker Jan 18, 2011 01:14 PM

          Kaleo, Are you sure that LC stoneware is made in China? It is made in Thailand or Indonesia if I am correct.

          1. re: hobbybaker
            m
            mikie Jan 18, 2011 01:23 PM

            Thailand is what I recall seeing recently in the store. I pick up any item I'm interested in to see where it's made. Frankly, if I'm buying LC, I want it made in France, if I'm buying Wusthof, I want it made in Solingen Germany, if I'm buying All-Clad, I want it made in the USA. I probably won't buy All-Clad pots when the time comes because they have some of their stuff made in China. It's a socio-economic political thing for me at this point.

            1. re: hobbybaker
              kaleokahu Jan 18, 2011 01:27 PM

              hobby: Gee, I'm pretty sure I saw Made in China on the pieces I looked at on Saturday. Could be early-onset Alzheimer's though. Definitely made in the Far East, away from prying eyes and regulators.

              1. re: hobbybaker
                Chemicalkinetics Jan 18, 2011 01:34 PM

                I think it is a mix. Porbably the lowest bidder get to have LC contact business and the lowest bidder changes.

            2. re: fantasyjoker
              Jay F Jan 18, 2011 10:28 AM

              Lodge makes its _bare_ cast iron in the USA, enameled in China.

              I like Le Creuset. I've been cooking with it for 31 years. I've never had any Staub, but I know from using a friend's Calphalon that I prefer LC's light beige interior. It's easier for me to see what I'm doing.

              Le Creuset offers a lifetime guarantee. In 1999 or 2000, they replaced my entire 20-year-old set with brand new ovens, skillets, and saucepans. One of my family members dropped an oven this year, which cracked, and which LC will replace at a 75% discount from list price. What's not to love about Le Creuset?

              But this is just me.

              1. re: Jay F
                apple342 Jan 18, 2011 11:11 AM

                Second the Le Creuset....while it is an investment...it is a great one, imo. Have been cooking with LC for over 15 yrs....I just purchased a LC dutch oven on sale at Williams Sonoma to add to my collection. You might check there too. Let us know what you decide!

                1. re: Jay F
                  hobbybaker Jan 18, 2011 01:17 PM

                  +1. I am also happy with LC. MSRP of LC is higher than lodge but you will find discount at outlet stores, TJMaxx etc, or Bloomies home sale weekend etc. If lodge costs $60 and LC costs around $100 ( average price I paid for my LCs) , I would choose LC. I would rather maintain one quality item for longer period than replacing things twice. I personally don't consider buying LC at ebay. I want to see things I buy in person and make sure the condition is good. You never know if previous owners took good care of it. ( but it is my opinion.)

              2. re: mikie
                TroyTempest Jan 19, 2011 10:21 AM

                "ALL other enameled dutch ovens are made in China ..."

                Well, this is mostly correct, to my knowledge. At Bed, Bath and Beyond you can get Fontignac, which is made in France, and technically is Staub, i guess, because it is a subsidiary of Staub, or a sister company, or something like that.

                http://www.staub-fontignac.com/index....

                It is about half the price of the LC.
                Up until recently this was the only other dutch oven i had seen made in France. The other day I saw one at Costco, their own Kirkland brand, which was made in France. Obviously it is made by some other company for COSTCO, but I couldn't tell who.

              3. s
                sueatmo Jan 18, 2011 10:56 AM

                I own a Berndes Dutch oven which works well for me. I can start the food on the stove and carry it to the oven. It is made of cast aluminum which has non-stick characteristics. I wanted this oven because it is lighter than iron. It works fine; I think the handles should be be bigger, but you get little mittens to fit over each handle. I like the glass lid.

                But really, what works for you is for you to discover. Handle what you are considering, even if you don't buy it immediately. You don't have to pay a couple of hundred dollars to get a functional piece. What you want is something that is durable, will handle stovetop to oven easily, and is easy to maintain and clean. And it needs to fit in your oven.

                1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 18, 2011 11:06 AM

                  Fantasy. Between the two brands you mentioned, Le Creuset probably has a better quality control than Lodge. That said, a Lodge Color Dutch Oven is much cheaper than a Le Cresuet ($60 vs $240) and it performs quiet well. Among the budget cast iron Dutch Oven, Cooks Illustrated considers Lodge, Tramontina and Chefmate have favorable results

                  http://mikeshowalter.com/the-tramonti...

                  I have a Lodge Color Dutch Oven. It is good for an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven. I am not going to say great things about it just because I grow like bare cast iron cookware better, but as an enameled cookware, Lodge Color is solid. If you read the Amazon reviews on Lodge Color, you will also find very favorable results.

                  Lodge makes two like of enameled cast iron cookware. The Lodge Color and the Lodge L series. Despite the Color series is the cheaper series, the Color series has better quality control. This is based on many feedbacks from Amazon and my own personal experience.

                  1. Jay F Jan 18, 2011 01:42 PM

                    Le Creuset is introducing a new shade of green this year, Fennel. It's a Sur La Table exclusive now, but it's going national in March.

                    http://www.surlatable.com/category/ca...

                    1. f
                      foufou Jan 18, 2011 02:10 PM

                      Buy LC if $$ is not an issue or if you can find the oven you want on sale....I have had the same set of LC that I bought 30 years ago....I also have Lodge dutch ovens (not enamel) that I use for no-knead bread and frying. I did buy a 2.75 quart Martha Stewart cast iron for $19 during the holidays and will be pleasantly surprised if this pot performs as well as either Le Creuset or Lodge.

                      1. Bada Bing Jan 18, 2011 04:38 PM

                        I have a large (6.75 qt) "wide" Le Creuset French Oven and also a smaller KitchenAid branded oven:

                        http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-2-Qu...

                        The KitchenAid works as well as the Le Creuset after a couple years use with each pot. I see that Amazon is now charging $99, therefore more than the $70 that it cost a couple of years ago. And I could never find this pot on the KitchenAid website, so some kind of brand shuffling was probably afoot. But the moral of the story, from my experience, is that cheaper enameled cast iron is not necessarily disappointing.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Bada Bing
                          f
                          fantasyjoker Jan 19, 2011 08:14 AM

                          I saw KA last night for sale on QVC, and it looked real nice, but the ones they were selling were too small for my family. I'm now throwing KA into the mix. Has anyone else had experience using KA dutch ovens? Honestly, I'm partial to KA since I own a stand mixer and hand mixer. I plan on buying their food processor with all the accessories that they were selling last night after my move next month.

                        2. k
                          knet Jan 18, 2011 05:10 PM

                          Cook's Illustrated has also mentioned Tramontina enamelled cast iron as a good buy. I haven't ever owned anything but LC so can't speak from experience. There are a lot of internet comments re chipping and/or poor customer service with brands other than the venerable French LC and Staub. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider Tramontina or Lodge, just that you should accept that the lower price comes with a higher risk in the event of any chipping or damage. I like the fact that LC won't stop being in production or stop honouring its life time warranty but if price was the deciding factor, I'd definitely consider the Tramontina or Lodge and take that chance. Not sure I buy into the idea that everything US made is perfect, nor that everything Chinese made is suspect but it is a fact that the old French companies still produce to a high standard and still offer the lifetime warranty.

                          1. breadchick Jan 18, 2011 07:22 PM

                            I love my white Le Creuset dutch oven that I've had since the early 80's, and it may be a romance thing. My kitchen is old and I like nothing more than spending all my time there. I made a stewed chicken fricasee yesterday since it was a holiday. I can wax on about it, but basically we're dealing with so much ice and snow here in upstate NY that I can feel I'm burrowing in and feeding my husband with what comes out of that lovely pot.

                            I know, I know, it's a definite romance. Similar to my Sunday mornings making crepes in my carbon steel, sipping champagne and loving that warm buttery aroma - but that's another story indeed.

                            My answer is yes, go for the LC!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: breadchick
                              f
                              fantasyjoker Jan 19, 2011 08:18 AM

                              I share your pain on the ice. Down here in ATL, I was trapped all last week at home except for brief scary walks to the grocery store around the corner from me. I grew up in ice and snow, and I hate it. That's why I left Chicago, but it followed me here.

                              1. re: fantasyjoker
                                breadchick Jan 19, 2011 03:40 PM

                                Indeed. I'd mention how it's messed up my commute and taking me forever - but, you're in ATL and you have my commute issue beat in spades. :-)

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