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Oct 22, 2013 06:58 PM

Le Creuset - First Timer

Hi All,

I like to dabble in cooking and have had LC on my wishlist for quite some time. I'm not interested in having a big collection of ECI because I don't have the storage space. So, I was trying to determine which pieces I really need, whether they should be oval or round, what sizes, etc. This past week I visited the LC Outlet. I purchased the 5.5 round french oven, the 7.25 round french oven, and the 3.5 braiser at the LC outlet The color I liked was on sale for 40% off at the outlet. (Which is why I purchased more than just one piece.) These were all first quality, and I paid a total of $494.00. I think I got a good deal. But, I've heard that the best deals are at TJ Maxx and Homegoods, etc. In any event, I know LC lasts a lifetime, and I would like your input as to whether or not I should consider different pieces than the one I chose. (I've got 45 days to return the items if I need to :)). This is a pretty expensive purchase for me (Christmas and Birthday Gift!), so I'm not interested in starting a vast collection of LC. I just want a few good pieces. Please give me your opinions.

In case the below is helpful:

I like to cook soups, stews, beans, etc. I've never braised meat, but there's a first time for everything! I currently cook meals enough for two, but I can see in the future having to make meals for 3-4 people (shout out to my future kids! LOL). Also, when I cook now, I usually make enough for leftovers for the next day. Also, I currently have the Emerilware stainless steel cookware set.

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  1. I've Staub, but approximately the same pieces, I believe you have chosen well.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Chilidogs

        I'm compelled to elaborate a bit more on the size of the pieces I have and how and how often they are used. My pieces are Staub, just what I happend to prefer, so the sizes are not exactly the same as the LC sizes. Also I would like to add that I strongly believe these two brands to be superior quality to the lower cost brands. A conversation with a store owner convinced me of this when she explained that she wouldn't handle the low cost brands as she didn't want to deal with customers who were unhappy with the performance (chipping mostly) of the lower cost brands.

        I have a 2.75 qt. round cocotte, a 5.5 qt. round cocotte, a 8.75 roudn cocotte, and a 2.75 qt. braiser. The small 2.75 round gets the least use, it's a great cocotte, but only for side dishes, it's just too small for what I consider to be "regular" french oven use. The 5.5 round gets the most use, it's just a great size and has a lot of flexability with what will fit in it. The 8.75 round is all the cocotte you want to handle, it gets used more than one might think, it's great for making large recipes of stews and soups, and for things like shrimp creole. The 2.75 qt. braiser gets used quite a bit, but sometimes I wish I had the larger 4 qt. model. The one I have is great for a fratata though.

        Good luck with your new cookware and enjoy!

    1. I see that this is your first CH post so I don't know if you've searched this board for any of the scores of threads on LC and cast iron cookware in general.

      LC keeps putting out new colors as a way to induce people to buy more pieces than they need. Handled with care, cheaper brands (the ones I have) will last more than a lifetime, so I consider buying LC to be frivolous and spendthrift. Unless you have a family of 8 or more, you'll never need more than one 4qt and one 6+ qt Dutch oven.
      Period. Either the smaller one should be naked cast iron, or you should also have a 10-12" naked frying pan.

      15 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        Thanks for responding. Yes, I am new to the CH community. I've lurked this site over the last two weeks and have read a few threads on dutch ovens. This is how I came to the three items I bought. While my family is small and the 4qt would work if I cooked every day or so, I'd rather cook only once or twice a week. Also, I have four siblings and plenty of nieces and nephews! So, whenever the Thanksgiving rotation comes to me, I figured I could use the three pieces in conjunction. However, I don't host often enough to justify the price/storage space of a larger piece (of any brand) - nor do I want to bench press my cookware!

        I completely agree that a LC brand dutch oven is not a "need." I bought this brand because it was what I wanted. :)

        I'm going to look into getting a naked frying pan. That's a good idea! Here's a beginner's question - what do you mean when you say naked frying pan? I'm assuming you mean no enamel, right?

        1. re: Chilidogs

          Naked -> Lodge cast iron from your favorite big box store

          Or De Buyer Mineral cookware ... I know it's a sickness really ..... :-D

          1. re: Sid Post

            Ok. Thanks for explaining to me! I'll check into that.

          2. re: Chilidogs

            I agree most of what greygarious has said. You have bought the most useful pieces from Le Creuset. Among the 3 pieces, most people will find the 5.5 Quart to be the more useful one.

            Le Creuset enameled cookware, in many ways, are as much cookware as they are art pieces. This is both a praise and a criticism. It is a praise because the cookware are well made and are beautiful. It is a criticism because a major attribute has nothing to do with cooking, but has to do with fashion, and much of the extra price tag has to do with that.

            Greygarious probably meant non-enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, like bare cast iron Dutch Oven:


            Or cast iron or carbon steel fry pan. Good examples are Lodge cast iron and DeBuyer carbon steel. Though, they are far from the only choices.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks! This was a really helpful explanation!

              1. re: Chilidogs

                When it comes to Le Creuset, the best cookware to get are the Dutch Ovens (or they are called French Oven) and the casseroles and braisers. This is because enameled cast iron is a relatively good design for slow cooking.

                Fry pans and skillets are not ideal. The worst is probably the Le Creuset woks.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Yes, that's what I have been reading about their pans and skillets. I never paid attention to their woks, but sounds like I should stay well away from them! LOL. Thanks again.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    We have an older, non-enameled, cast iron LC wok.

                    It is great.

            2. re: greygarious

              I respectfully disagree with you regarding size. I generally cook for 3-4 and have no problem using the 7.5 quart quite often. I love having leftovers, inviting friends for stew or chili and I make a lot of vegetable stews that have bulky ingredients. I think the o.p. made excellent choices. The other think I'm enjoying is my grill pan with the panini press topper.

              1. re: debbypo

                Thanks! I have a grill pan, but I don't have the panini press topper. That sounds like a fun piece of equipment!

                1. re: debbypo

                  I completely agree, and I cook for 3 on a daily basis. My 7 1/4 qt is my most used piece ( and I have quite a collection) I actually wish I'd gotten the 9 qt and have eyed the goose pot for years. But I tend towards batch cooking and planning for leftovers and my husband is a hunter. I rarely cook food for just one meal.

                  1. re: rasputina

                    I also wish I had the 9qt (I made soup in the 7 1/4 qt on Friday and it was filled to the tippy top AND I was admonished by my oldest for not having enough broth.). I lust for the goose pot as well.

                    1. re: rasputina

                      Same here Rasp. I always cook for leftovers and use big pots. I use my 4.5 qt LC the most for dried beans. Makes enough for my husband and I to eat on for about 3 or 4 days. My 7.5qt is used for big batches of chili, soups and stews. If I need more, I will use my 4.5 qt too. I think an LC bigger than 7.5 would be more than I want to handle. I have to wash my 7.5 in the bath tub as it is. I also use my lower sided wide round oven a lot too. It is the size that was discontinued. I think it is 6.5. The only other size I want is a 5.5 qt and the cast iron rectangle baker. Since having my LC, I seldom use my bare lodge DO. I only use it to roast or braise meat. And for convenience sake, I often go with my slow cooker for that. Though cooking in the CI def taste better.

                    2. re: debbypo

                      I have a 5.5 round and a 7.5 oval and use both of them all the time. If you don't cook meat on the bone, as Sid Post says, you probably don't need an oval in any size - and sometimes I wish my 7.5 were round instead of oval. I also have a 3.5 Martha Stewart dutch oven which is kind of a POS (inside of lid chipped in multiple places, etc.) but honestly it's kind of an odd size for a dutch oven - too small for anything but side dishes - and I don't feel any need to try and replace it with a superior one in that size.

                      The one piece I would consider adding is some kind of round casserole/braiser, because it would be nice to have something I could use as a stovetop to oven roasting pan the way I do my bare Lodge cast iron skillets that is non-reactive. When I see some kind of deal on that kind of piece, I will probably get it - but I could happily get by without it.
                      My experiences cooking with LC have been completely positive - whether you could get the same bang for less bucks with old Descoware, etc. I don't know since I've never used them, nor have I used Staub.

                      1. re: debbypo

                        We cook for two.

                        A 7.5 LC is the starter pot. It gets filled with spaghetti sauce, chili, beef stew.

                        After a couple of meals, it gets transferred to a 4.5 qt Descoware pot and finally to a 3 qt Descoware.

                    3. I meant to post this comment elsewhere. I'll repost. First timer CH user woes :)

                      1. Hi, Chilidogs:

                        I say quit now. IMO, these are the 3 most versatile LC pieces, and show off ECI's disadvantages the least. Personally (after owning most of what LC made), the only one I'd keep is the 5.5.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Based on the replies I'm seeing (and the valuable opinions), it sounds like I should definitely quit now. No one has stated any additional pieces that I need so I'm happy with the choices I made. Thanks for weighing in!!!

                        2. You made good choices so, please don't take any of my comments negatively.

                          I own Le Creuset and Staub both. I find the oval pots most useful because I do cook boned meats. I find the 4 quart oval the most used ECI pan by far. I normally cook for one and find this size pan is great for a "reasonable" amount of left overs. Oval's cook beans, potatoes, etc. just fine though, I think beans and casseroles "present" better in a round oven.

                          When I bought my first Staub piece, I never purchased another piece of LC ECI cookware. I still use my LC but, I'm actually considering selling it to buy a few more Staub pieces. Also, don't forget to pick up a few key pieces of Lodge "raw" cast iron. It is cheap and makes a great filler for sizes or pieces you don't have in other cookware. Don't worry about storage, there is always room in the closet or garage for the ovens and pans you don't use often.

                          Will you actually use the 7 1/4 quart oven? That is a really large one and other than Thanksgiving or Christmas, I doubt you will use an oven that large on anything close to a regular basis. Consider trading down to a 4 quart oval. That one is great for chickens and all sorts of boned meats and small roasts. The 5 1/2 will cover larger stews and batches of chili or beans.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Sid Post

                            Thanks Sid Post. I asked for comments and opinions so I won't take any of them negatively. (I just weigh them differently :)). Yes, I'll actually use the 7 1/4 quart. I made a big batch of soup in my 6 qt stock pot last week and barely had enough room.

                            I'm going to take your suggestion to get additional pieces in the Lodge "raw" cast iron. I'm thinking at least I should get one cast iron skillet.

                            You guys are a wealth of knowledge! Thanks everyone!!!!

                            1. re: Chilidogs


                              I've got a suggestion for the raw cast iron. First, get yourself a 10" skillet. I imagine you'll want to cook some biscuits and cornbread to go with your soups and stews, yes? Cooking for 2-4 people, the 12" is overkill. It's great for frying, but you can just as easily batch fry in the 10".

                              I've got a 12" and frequently find myself using a ceramic baker when I'd just as soon use a skillet. I've just been too lazy to go buy and season another skillet. Maybe this winter.

                              1. re: Chilidogs

                                If you go to Walmart, look in the kitchen area and sporting goods for Lodge cast iron. I've been to Walmart stores from Virginia to California and find some stores only put the Lodge cast iron in the kitchen cookware area and others that only stock them in sporting goods.

                                A 10" Lodge skillet will run ~$20 plus or minus a little depending on where you shop and live. This gives you an ~8" flat in the bottom and is a good size for breads and biscuits. I used a 12" model more generally because I was cooking meat or frying in it. I'm probably a little out of the ordinary using a 32cm De Buyer Country Pan when cooking for one so, factor that into my size preferences.

                                If you find you need a larger dutch oven, consider getting a Lodge which is relatively cheap in comparison to French enameled cookware.

                              2. re: Sid Post

                                We have a 6 qt Descoware oval with the autumn leaf pattern.

                                It has become a display piece, as we never use it.