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Le Creuset Essentials?

  • k

I recently purchased a 5-piece Le Creuset cookware set (3.5qt round, 1.25qt Precision Pour saucepan, & 10.25 skillet) as a Christmas present for my fiancée. I would also like to purchase a few more pieces, possibly bakeware, but I need some advice. My fiancée is a 30 yr French teacher with a new found interest in cooking. She enjoys cooking meals for two and making desserts for family and friends. What other pieces would you recommend? For the 5-piece set, I went with cassis since her favorite color is purple, and I'm looking for more in the same color. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Their supposedly non stick skillets are often discussed here, and rarely get rave reviews, so you might avoid them. Sorry if you already have one.

    Other than that, it's all great stuff. The gratin dishes get a lot of use in our kitchen:


    1 Reply
    1. re: Robin Joy

      @Robin Joy: Le Creuset's skillets are neither non-stick nor "supposedly" non-stick. No claim made in any way for non-stick-ness.

      @KFark: If I were buying LC for someone, I would get the 5.5 qt. French Oven rather than the 3.5 qt. The smallest size I'd get would be the 4.5 qt., which I used for years without wanting something larger.

      I like the skillet more than some here do, but that's partly because it's not my only skillet (though it's the skillet I reach for 90% of the time). I use mine mainly for making grilled cheese or other grilled sandwich-y things, and sometimes for scrambled eggs. It's good to choose the right size for your burner. You don't want it to be too large. I prefer the 10" you bought to the 12".

      The LC skillet is not non-stick with the eggs (it is with the grilled cheese), but it's already on the stovetop, so I just use it and clean it out with a Dobie pad afterwards (it's not hard to clean at all). I have a huge dislike for having to season and reseason and reseason bare cast iron; I really appreciate not having to do this to my LC skillet.

      If your fiancee is a real purple fan, Williams-Sonoma's exclusive Aubergine color is a lot nicer than the Cassis, IMO anyway.

      So, in review, think about returning what you bought, and check these things out in Aubergine at W-S:



      Oh, and I like the little saucepan, too.


      I also use assorted au gratin pans and the large roaster for crisps, baked pasta dishes, and roasting a chicken. The large roaster is very heavy, however.

    2. Well, you have already bought the saucepan and the skillet, so it is too late for me to tell you not to. Personally, I just do not see a Le Cresuset saucepan being a good saucepan. I know it seems like I am pouring cold water on you which I guess I am, but I am curious if you can return these items. Nothing against Le Creseut the brand. Any enameled cast iron saucepan just seems off -- potential uneven heating, definitely slow heat response, and fragile -- all for a saucepan?

      I agree with Robin. I think Le Cresuset Dutch Ovens are always good, so feel free to get a 5-6 quart Oven, stoneware/bakeware dish like the grain dish is good. Now keep in mind that Le Cresuet stoneware may not be made in France -- if that is important to you. Another thing to keep in mind is that some of Le Cresuset bakeware are enameled cast iron, while some are pure stoneware (no cast iron).


      9 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Maybe she wants that set? She is new to cooking so I'm not sure she is up for all the minutae details between products.

        Having said that, I'm not thrilled with that set either. But then I don't see the point of the skillet and 3.5 oven is tiny unless you are only cooking single meals for 2 people. I have a 3.5 but it doesn't get nearly the use of my 7 quart oven, it's not like these pots need to be filled to be used. I have the precision pour saucepan though and I really like it. It's especially nice for side dishes that you want to stay warm due to the retained heat. I've had mine for probably 5 years and it is not delicate at all. It gets heavy use at my house. I do have clad stainless also though, for when I need the responsiveness.

        1. re: rasputina

          <Maybe she wants that set?>

          I agree. That is what I was thinking too, and it is difficult to say no to a request like this.

          I just did not think enemaled cast iron is a good design for saucepans or for skillets. There are a few compliants about the skillets on CHOWHOUND. Good to know that your LC saucepan works out for you. I guess I will say this. If the original poster already has a typical cladded (aluminum or copper based) saucepan, then having an additional enamel cast iron saucepan is fine. However, if he can only have one saucepan, then a fully cladded or disc bottom saucepan is probably more useful -- and likely to be cheaper too. Of course, there is always the question that "Do you need a 1.25 quart small saucepan (whatever material it may be)", but that is really another topic too.

          A French/Dutch Oven is good. 3.5 quart is bit small for most things, but it is possible for small dishes. Like you, I think a 5 quarts or larger is probably better.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            "Do you need a 1.25 quart small saucepan (whatever material it may be)", but that is really another topic too.

            I use mine a lot! That size really works well for breakfast. Korean noodles, veggies, and eggs is something I eat pretty often. Tasty, healthy, well balanced, fast, and easy ... Yum!

            I have some Spanish rice cooking in another one right now too!

            1. re: Sid Post

              < use mine a lot! >

              Really? I guess I don't have much use for a small pot like this, but that is really more about my typical recipes and me. It is good to know people find good usage for it. Last time I read, someone said they use his 1 quart saucepan to melt better or to boil 1 egg -- and I thought they are correct, but thoguht it has very limited usage. Anyway, the original poster and his fiancee surely know what size works for them.

              1. re: Sid Post

                I too use my little 1 qt sauce pan a lot. I use my 1.5 qt quite a bit too. These little ones are not LC but stainless steel. But I love them for oats. Melting butter, warming up a can of soup, make a little bit of gravy, warm up a can of speghetti o's for my granddaughter, bring water to a boil for jello or something.....

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Before I bought the saucepan I asked my best friend that exact question, do I really need a 1.25 quart pan? She said she had one ( included in her cookware set wedding gift 20 years before) and that she used it a lot. I've found the same to be surprisingly true.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I happen to have the small saucepan and use it almost daily. It is perfect if you are cooking for one or two...I create small concoctions with rice, couscous, vetetables or quinoa. It is an easy clean up and whatever I've made stays hot. If you have a family it would likely not be the best choice. I happen to love mine. My favorite pieces are the braiser, the oval 5.5 roaster and the wide round that is a newer size.

                  1. re: ellequint

                    Evidently, a small saucepan is very useful for many others. I guess I just have a very limited usage for one. When I do make a small quick meal, it is usually of noodle or instant noodle. As you can imagine, those instant noodles do not fit in a small opening pot.


                    On the other hand, I now remember I have a tiny small sand pot of 2.5 cups (0.6 quart) which I find to be helpful from time to time.

              3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Ohh, I sooooo want an LC enameled CI baking dish. With that said, I can't say enough about how much I use my 4.5 French oven. I also have a 7.5 for when the family comes over or freezing left overs. I am now saving for a 5.5 qt. I often wish I had one.

              4. If she's mostly cooking for 2 to 4 people I would get the 5.5 round oven which is their most popular all around piece. The 3.5 qt. buffet casserole in also very useful and the bottom part could also be used to make a tartin, upside down cakes as well as other baked desserts. I'm not fond of the stoneware as there are reports of it breaking in the oven for no reason. If you do want a stoneware piece I would get a rectangle that's closest to 9 X 13 which could be used for many things.

                1. For saucepans, a multiply (not disc) saucepan is hard to argue against. I have used Tramotonia (Brazil/China), Calphalon (USA/China?), and Demeyere Atlantis (Belgium). Even heating is super nice and I really like the welded handles.

                  Next, get a small dutch oven (~4 1/2 quarts). They really get a lot of use. A 9x13 rectangular baking dish will see a lot of use in her kitchen too. From there, I would look at bakeware for cakes, breads, etc. The Paula Deen 3 piece knife set from Wal-Mart makes a great "stocking stuffer" for ~$18USD from Wal-Mart if she doesn't have good knives already.

                  1. My Le Creuset enameled cast iron must haves would be a gratin and a larger oven. But it really depends on what and how you cook.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rasputina

                      It's just the 2 of us at home. I have the 7qt. dutch oven, and the large braiser - and both of them get used all the time. I have a 3.5 qt. and hardly use it, maybe to cook a pkg of green beans or something like that. But my large dutch oven is to die for!!!

                      I also have a couple of the rectangular baking dishes, love them too.

                      I don't have any of the skillets. They don't appeal to me at all. I have my stainless & non-stick. Plus, the skillet is heavy. I know most of the LC is heavy......but somehow the skillet hasn't found its way into my cupboard.

                      1. re: chloebell

                        <I also have a couple of the rectangular baking dishes, love them too>

                        The enameled cast iron ones or the pure stoneware ones?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I have the enameled cast iron 9x13 model. It works very nicely for scalloped potatoes and similar things. As mentioned above, no cold "concrete" potatoes at my dinner table! The thermal mass works nicely for leisurely holiday dinners.

                          1. re: Sid Post

                            I have one of those also, but I think it's the slightly smaller one. I rarely use it now that I have the gratin though.

                            1. re: chloebell

                              Thanks. It seem Sid Post has the cast iron one too. The reason I asked is this. The enameled cast iron bakeware are more expensive about 2-3 times. The straight/plain stoneware sare cheaper, but I have read some complaints about them (not a lot, just a bit here and there). I just want the original poster has a general idea. Thanks again.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                The stoneware model does not impress me. I guess I'm a bit biased since I own the enameled cast iron version. It works really well for me.

                      2. I think that in a total cookware set, there is a place for one or two good pieces of enameled cast iron ("ECI"). However, if you really want some ECI, and are asking which pieces are the best to get, I would purchase them in this order. (1) a 5.5 Qt Dutch Oven, (2) a 7-ish quart Oval Oven, and (3) the large baking dish. I, personally, would not buy an ECI saucepan, and I would shy from frying pans as well. I hope this helps!

                        1. That is such a thoughtful gift - your fiancé is a lucky lady!

                          Regardless of if you decide to keep your set or not, you might consider the 5.5 qt round oven. It's a very useful size to have. For other cast iron pieces, I think the braisers are versitle. You can use then essentially as an enamled skillet on the stovetop, and they're nice for making casseroles or whatever in the oven.

                          I don't have any of their bakeware, but if you want something to match, maybe one of their stoneware sets? It comes with a little and big size for both square and rectangular shapes. Ramekins might be nice too. They're small and cute, girls like that!

                          I would skip the iron bakeware in favor of one from Staub. Their handles seem easier to grab out of the oven....

                          Hope that was helpful! I'm sure she'll be delighted with whatever you pick. Good luck!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: RoseyMiss

                            I've not used them, but the braiser suggestion is probably a very good one if you want something skillet-like. That way you can use it lidded in the oven with ease.

                            Also, you mention that she is a French teacher, so I suspect the French origin is part of the incentive here. Have you considered an LC Dutch Oven and a stainless-lined French copper saucepan? That would probably cost the same as your set, and would be a great combo. Both are classically French, and you are utilizing ideal materials for each pan's intended purpose.

                            1. re: RoseyMiss

                              I agree the brasiers are really versatile, I have the 3 1/2 and the 5 quart. Great for curries, pilaf and of course the usual braises and before I got the gratin's I also used them for that.

                            2. OK, everyone, thanks! Based upon your recommendations, I've canceled my original order (just in time). From what I've learned, I believe the starter set below is the way to go...

                              (5.5 oven + 9.5 stainless steel frying pan *and on sale)

                              I'm also looking to add a third item or fourth item... saucepan, brasier, baking dish, or gratin??? Once again, I'm asking for your advice. Again, she's new to cooking.... mostly meals for two. So far, her go-to is quiche, pastas, and chicken dishes with broccoli or asparagus.

                              Thanks for the feedback!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: KFark

                                Wow. This is a much much much better set in my opinion. Good luck. For saucepan, I think a triply or multiclad design is good. If you have the money, look into Demeyere or All Clad. If you want to save a bit, then try anything from Calphalon, Cuisinart or Tramontina.

                                For bakware, I think it is important to pick/ask the big question first. Do you want bakeware which are like ceramic type, glass type, stoneware, or do you want metal based bakeware? I always think of ceramicware or stoneware as a bit more country and a bit more old style, but really metal bakeware can work very well. Afterall, most professional bakers use metal bakeware.

                                1. re: KFark

                                  I would add an au gratin dish. I have the 24 cm and 32 cm sizes. I use the smaller one for making crisps and cobblers, and the larger for roasting fish and veg in the oven (I cook for one, fwiw). I use the large LC roaster for roasting a chicken (which I do in variations on the Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Chicken Dinner for Jeffrey, i.e., on top of a pile of roasted veg.

                                  Although I have the large roaster, there are times I wish I'd bought the smaller one. The large one is heavy.

                                  Here are some links:

                                  large roaster: http://cookware.lecreuset.com/cookwar...

                                  small roaster: http://cookware.lecreuset.com/cookwar...

                                  3 qt. gratin: http://cookware.lecreuset.com/cookwar...

                                  I had a small braiser (2.5 qt.), but never used it.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Another vote for a gratin. The #32 (2 qt) is perfect for roast chicken, and the #24 (1.5 qt) is perfect for gratins and shallow baking of all kinds, savory and sweet.

                                    A medium-to-large Dutch oven and a gratin are high on my list of enameled cast iron essentials. A shallow braiser is another great candidate, especially since used without its lid it's good for the same kinds of roasting and baking you can do in the gratin.

                                    I'd stay away from the larger sizes for the moment. Their weight makes them riskier to handle at every stage: removing full from a hot oven, washing without dinging the pot or your sink, and storing. Get accustomed to using the more manageable mid-sizes, and discover what if any larger items you might use. (Then put them on your registry. ;>)

                                    1. re: ellabee

                                      Correction to post above: The 1.5 qt gratin is #28; #24 is 1 qt (good for serving two, or maybe three).

                                  2. re: KFark

                                    Great gift! I really like my braiser - i think it is 2.25 qts, perfect for cooking for two. I also like the stoneware- i know some dont but they get a lot of use as baking and serving dishes. Also another option is to fill her stocking with some nice kitchen tools, like spatulas, a peppermill, woodenspoons, etc. Maybe some cookbooks as well.

                                    1. re: qwerty78

                                      One more thing- you mentioned that you are engaged- you maybe building a registry soon enough so might want to leave a little something for your guests to get you :)

                                  3. I have only one piece of LC, an oval Dutch oven that is probably about 6 quarts. I adore it. It is flame, the perfect match in my hodge podge kitchen of French steel, copper, tin, white Apilco, and assorted ceramics.

                                    1. LC is fun. The 5.5 is a staple. Small pots for small portion for slow cooking very useful. Over time, it is fun to collect pieces (they last forever) but there is a marginal return. Does anyone need a 15 qt goose roaster? Can anyone lift it?

                                      Don't worry about nay sayers, If fiance likes to cook, you will find a proliferation of utensils in the kitchen over time for all sorts of specialty uses. Cast iron skillets are for things like duck breasts, so prepare for a lot of duck.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: law_doc89

                                        Braiser. I love mine - and it's just me and DH in the house. I use it for well......braising (LOL!) and also I'll make a sauce in it and then toss the pasta in. You can use it for so many other things than just braising.

                                      2. If I could have only one piece of LC, I'd choose an oval or round French oven for oven braising. IMHO, other pieces, while nice to have, may or may not be the best choices. Forty-plus years ago I was given several pieces of LC cookware as a wedding gift. The one that got used consistently and often was the oval French oven. The ones that NEVER got used were the small skillet, the small sauce pan, the medium sauce pan and the au gratin dish (I've never been much of a baker and it's too small for a roast). Those pieces I've either given away or packed away somewhere. The large skillet I used for a while, but then found that either a good quality non-stick or an All-Clad pan was easier to handle and better suited to cooking certain foods than the LC piece, which was VERY heavy and had no helper handle.

                                        I guess what I'm saying is that I believe it's more important to buy the right pot or pan for the specific task than to have all of your cookware in a matched set.

                                        1. If you already have the dutch oven, then get the braiser. It is the most versatile piece I own, I leave it on the stovetop and use it for an everyday pan (like a frying pan), as well as using it as a traditional braiser. It cooks beautifully, is large enough to make decent sized meals and provide a wide cooking area. And it is very good looking!!

                                          1. i have lots of cookware and use it often. for my saucepans/skillets it is all clad stainless. for everything else its copper rondeau or le creuset. i find i use my braisers/buffet casseroles the most. i have 4 (1.25 qt, 2.25 qt, 3.5 qt and 5 qt) i use these as a baking pans, paella pan, skillet etc. the second most used is my 5.5 qt dutch oven. ( i live near 3 outlets! ) i cook for 2-3 with leftovers. i highly recommend the braisers.