Le Cruset VS other enameled cast iron pans
I've seen the high price of le cruset, and people I know that have them like them.
But in the end they are enameled cast iron, and they are not the only brand. So, are the other brands any good?
This has been debated here so many times and there is no shortage of opinions. I would suggest you search the subject and pick a slow night to start reading all the posts.
To sumerize what I've determined from reading the posts over the past couple of years there are three schools of thought: 1) Le Creuset is the best, 2) Le Creuset and Staub are of similar quality but different in interior finish, but better than the field, and 3) It's enameled cast iron and it doesn't matter. There are strong arguments for all points of view, so pick your poison. I'll just say they're great to cook in.
Let me put it this way. From a pure cooking point of view, there is no major difference between Le Cresuet and other enameled cast iron brands. The argument has always been that Le Cresuset is more durable and has better warranty. Staub also has the same great reputation being made in France.
In term of the non-French made enameled cast iron cookware, Lodge Color, Tramontina and Chefmate have reasonable good reputation, and cheaper as well.
Finally, you have mentioned enameled cast iron pans. I think it is fine to have enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, but I don't think the enameled design is nearly as good for a frying pan or a skillet.
Any good in what way? It really depends on what you use them for and how you cook with them.
With French enameled cast iron, I don't have to worry about lead leaching from the enamel or any other cost cutting or deficient manufacturing process that the unscrupulous can come up with.
If you have the $$$ BUY BUY BUY LC or Staub! If you don't have the $$$ save the $$$ and BUY LC or Staub! Trust me it's just that SIMPLE! They are worth every penny u spend.
If you are patient, keep checking TJ Max. I just got a big, I think 6 or 7 qt. Le Creuset for $70. I know they are factory 2nd's but I could find nothing wrong and it's a LOT less than the factory outlets I've been in. As far as what's better, like everyone said, not much. I think Le Creuset is lighter and have heard they are easier to clean, that might be debatable. I wouldn't worry about lead leaching as I've read the high temps burn it off. I really would have loved a Staub because of the black interior but I have never been able to find that cheap.
I only own Le Creuset and Staub, and most of my pieces were bought on sale, from a discount retailer or on ebay. I tend to look at purchases like this on a lifetime cost analysis. I know Le Creuset just came out with supposed improvement but I have no desire or intention of replacing any of my pieces with the new stuff. I'll likely be handing these down to my kids.