HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Used/Vintage Le Creuset--Downside?

I am poised to purchase two used Le Creuset dutch ovens (enamel over cast iron). They appear in good condition. One has a slightly chipped handle. Both have slightly discolored inner surfaces from years of use. The enamel is in good shape on both.

What are the downsides, if any, to buying these pieces used?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. As long as you are OK with the chipped handle and the interiors are in good condition, I do not see a down side.

    1. <What are the downsides, if any, to buying these pieces used?>

      The fact that someone else has used them. Seriously, most cookware last for a long time (aside from nonstick Teflon cookware), so the downside of an used cookware is the fact that it has been used.

      As long as the enamel is in good shape, you don't have much to worry.

      1. Hi, Hallie:

        There really is none, except perhaps your own subjective feelings concerning new vs. used. LC isn't going to ask for receipts as a condition of granting you warranty service.

        I hope you get a good bargain.


        1. Some of the older, vintage pieces in red, flame and yellow contained cadmium in the glaze. Their new pieces do also but LC claims it has been contained in their new glaze and it's not possible to be affected by it.

          6 Replies
          1. re: blondelle

            Blondelle, I'm confused by this post. Are you speaking of the colored glaze on the exterior of the LC pots or the interior?

            1. re: Sherri

              The glaze on the exterior. Particles of cadmium are released into the air on some older pieces while heating.

              1. re: blondelle

                Fascinating, Blondelle! I knew nothing about this until you told me, and I have been doing some reading up on it. These pieces are in very good condition, so I am going to proceed with the purchases. But I'm not as gung-ho about older LC pieces, now. I appreciate the info.

                1. re: blondelle

                  Some of the colors in the Copco line were also discontinued due to cadmium content when EU rules tightened. That's why I'd only buy pieces in which the interior of the lid is white enamel (some of the lids are colored enamel inside and out).

                  It's a little late in my life to be worrying about cadmium particles dispersed into the air in the oven, so I'm happily using a collection of gratins and casseroles that together cost less than half of what a new LC piece would.

                  1. re: ellabee

                    [E]llabee and I are walking on the wild side. Happily, the interiors of the ones I purchased, both lid and vessel, are white (whitish, actually, due to use). Not to discount the toxicity of cadmium, though. It's nasty stuff.

                    1. re: HalliePM

                      Agreed on seriousness of cadmium toxicity. I haven't read up much on the EU rules, but would not be surprised to learn the no-go for cadmium in glazes had as much to do with the workers' exposure and disposal issues as any release of cadmium during cooking.

            2. If the pieces are not cracked or the inner enamel worn and the price is very right, why not!

              1. Assuming the enamel is in good shape, beyond the fact of previous use? None.

                There are quite a few advantages:

                -Many sizes, shapes, and colors no longer produced are available used.
                -The price is vastly more reasonable than buying new.
                -Properly used and cared for, they should last decades.
                -The re-use of existing equipment is greener than buying new.

                1. Great responses, all. Thank you.

                  1. Where do you find good used cast-iron pots and pans?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Bstnbear

                      I have bought good used CI from ebay, flea markets, thrift stores, and especially estate and yard sales. It has always amazed me that no family member wants grandmas cast iron. Often they are sold in multiples for one price. As little as $10 for three skillets.

                      Look for Wagner, Griswold and the unmarked ones made in the US. As long as they are smooth, sit flat, and are not cracked, they can be brought back to better than new.

                      Every not and then you will stumble across a collectible piece.

                      1. re: Bigjim68

                        Great idea. HalliePM mentions craig's list too.

                      2. re: Bstnbear

                        Echoing what BigJim already said--ebay, Craig's List, and thrift stores are my favorite venues for straight cast-iron. I have found some lovely old Griswolds. I wasn't as sure about used Le Creuset, as the enamel is so crucial to its purpose.

                      3. For me, it's the skeeve factor....just some things you don't buy used. Did you end up buying them? Get a deal?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          Yes, and yes, BB.

                          I am an inveterate thrift shopper, especially for non-porous cookware.

                        2. There is no downside. Unless you are grossed out by the idea that someone has used the cookware before you, these pieces are meant to last a lifetime and were handed down through generations. A few chips in the enamel will have absolutely zero effect on the final product and I see these "defects" as a sort of biography. Who used it before me? How did scratch get there? What did they cook in it? Where? My favourite LeCreuset pot is one that I bought at a charity resale shop for $14. It's blue and has a few nicks out of the enamel but whenever I use it I feel like I'm adding to its history. Call me goofy, but that's the way it is. I'd rather have that pot, with all its warts, than a brand new one.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Nyleve

                            Agreed, Nyleve. And $14? What a deal!

                            1. re: HalliePM

                              I know! It's one of those regular sized pots with a lid AND a steamer insert (which I never use because who steams in cast iron?).

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                I would like to buy your cast iron steamer insert, depending on its size/color. Will you sell it?

                          2. The only problem I see is I never liked the stuff. In the dark ages, 1966, I received a few flame pieces as wedding gifts. Food stuck to it, was shortly discolored on interior and a pain to clean. I way preferred my inherited cast iron and Magnalite pieces. Just saying.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: NOLA_Pam

                              Hi, Pam:

                              Welcome to the LC apostasy club. It works, after a fashion, some items better than others.

                              But IMO, Flame'll put anyone off their feed.


                            2. OK, here's the deal. I have always thought that LC was way way way overpriced. All it is is cast iron cookery with a pretty colored coating. You would be better off just buying new cast iron pots and pans.

                              All you need to do is season them which is super simple. Simply coat the pan with a thin layer of olive oil ad stick in a 300 to 400 degree oven until the pan turns shiny. If food should stick to it during cooking, all you have to do is remove the food and pour a little water into the pan and "scrub" it with a wooden utensil or whisk, (make sure pan is still very hot for this method to work well).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: bob3443

                                Both LeCreuset enamelled cookware and bare cast iron cookware have their uses. I use LC when I want to stew or braise something that contains an acidic ingredient like tomatoes or wine. The enamel prevents the acid from reacting with the cast iron. Bare cast iron, well seasoned, is great for searing or frying or doing whatever else you'll want to do in a heavy pot. In fact, I recently made a bourguignon where I browned the meat in a cast iron skillet, then braised the stew in my LC. You can love both kinds of cookware. And if LC isn't in your budget, then buy another brand if you want enamelled cast iron. I can tell you this: you can cook well in crappy cookware or great cookware. As a young person, I learned to cook in the worst kind of cookware imaginable - stuff I wouldn't use now to hold dog food. But I still learned to cook - all this focus on cookware is crazy, in my opinion. I'm not saying you shouldn't strive for great tools, but tools alone don't make a great cook.

                                1. re: Nyleve

                                  If your cast iron is properly seasoned you don't have to worry about any interaction between the acid and the iron. Another added advantage is that the black iron always looks new and shiny. I had a large chicken fryer that had been put in storage for several years. When I finally "found" it again it was totally orange from rust. I thought it was permanently ruined because it still had a definite orangey color to it after I scrubbed it with steel wool. I decided to season it anyway, using olive oil (all over inside and out) and baking it in a 400 degree oven until it got shiny looking. When I finished with it the fryer looked glossy black. I even tested it by frying an egg (using butter) and the egg slid all over the pan just as though it was coated with Teflon. This pan was probably over 70 years old but you would think I just bought it yesterday. I have even made Hollandaise in a small well seasoned sauce pan and it came out perfectly.

                                  Robert Hayes Halfpenny

                              2. I have had much luck / success with the "experienced" cast iron.

                                As noted only white / grey / cream / black interiors as other colors may pose a health risk due to chemicals used in certain colors.

                                If buying non enameled iron I suggest running it through a self-cleaning oven to bring it back to raw iron. you will have to re-season it right away to prevent rusting.

                                1. I have several pieces of beat up old enameled cast iron - there are chips, discoloration etc but in some ways I love them more than my bought-new LC. They are workhorses and I don't worry if i scorch them baking no knead bread or stain them etc. The only drawback I see is that ultimately ECI does have a life-span and it will eventually deteriorate and older is, theoretically at least, closer to failing than newer - but I would take a worn le creuset, copco, or coucances over a new MIC pan any day.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JTPhilly

                                    Cousances is a brand name I haven't seen in a long time. Back in '74, when I won the full LC line, a number of the pieces had the Cousances logo on them. Back then, with no interwebs and no Wiki page to give me LC's history, I had no idea what that was about.

                                  2. If you're considering buying used, look on eBay and don't be a slave to the Le Creuset brand name. There are a couple of now-extinct European brands (my favorites are the Belgian Descoware, which Le Creuset took over years ago, and the Danish Copco Ware) that often turn up in like-new condition, or close to it, and for less money than used Le Creuset. Until recent years, when TV chefs made enameled cast iron hip, relatively few people outside Europe knew what to do with it. In America, decades ago, a lot of pieces were received as gifts and stayed in closets or basements. Descoware has at least the quality of Le Creuset (one of its styles, the oval gratin pans with scalloped handles, is still part of the Le Creuset product line). Copco Ware is better made and better finished than Le Creuset.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: emu48

                                      Hi, emu:

                                      I inherited several pieces of Descoware, and agree they tend to be at least as high in quality as LC and Staub. I have a few in a cornflower yellow and a few in the autumn leaf pattern.

                                      The stovetop pieces aren't any better performers, IMO, but that's the nature of all cast iron. I still cook in them a little, when I want to think of Mom.


                                    2. Looking to buy a vintage cast iron enameled Le creuset Dutch oven with steamer insert - size 24 or 26, preferably white. Would consider it as part of a set.

                                      1. i have an unsual colour set of le creuset casseroles, can anyone identify the colourway for me, they are a grey colour with a pattern of small triangles, they have 1970s design handles and I have searched the internet to no avail,