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May 1, 2014 09:16 AM

Cookware help I'm buying new cookware for my new place and I was wondering what is better enamel cast iron or cast iron. I love Le Creuset and all but I want to find an affordable alternative...if there's such a thing. I will be cooking more now than before.

Any suggestions where to look or buy? Website I should go to? ANY help you send my way would be awesome!


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  1. There is no one, best answer. Bare cast iron is great for some items, (steaks, chops, potatoes) not so great for acidic sauces that contain wine or tomatoes for example. Acidic sauces can deteriorate your seasoning and that can discolor your sauce. Cast iron can also have hot spots and is slow to react when you need to change your heat output. I find enameled cast iron is best for oven use, braising, roasting, casseroles or wet ingredient dishes on the stovetop, chili, stew, soup. There are lots of suggestions on CH for less expensive alternatives that have decent reviews. Lodge or Tramontina ECI are a couple that come to mind.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cam14

      Thanks Cam for the information. I'll probably go with the enameled cast iron b/c I'll be cooking more stovetop and oven food. However, what are your thoughts on the Rachel Ray cookware. I know it's not Le Creuset, but have you read any reviews on them?

      1. re: Jessy382

        I would avoid the celeberty cookware like the plague, most of it is junk made in China, junk regardless of where it's made. The Martha Stewart ECI was so bad Macy's had to pull it off the shelf until they found a new source. If you don't have the money for either Le Creuset or Staub ECI then look to Lodge Color (still made in China) it's probably the best or one of the best that's not expensive. A store owner I talked to wouldn't cary ECI that wasn't Staub, Le Creuset, or Lodge Color, because she had too many mad customers when the less expensive ECI chipped. Not that you can't chip LC or Staub, it just takes more effort on your part. Trimontina has had good reviews and seem like there was another brand made in France that was more reasonably priced and well made, jsut can't think of the name right now.

        1. re: mikie

          Fontignac is a well-known French brand of enameled cast iron. Their best line is "fleur de Fontignac." Doesn't have the wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes that you find with Le Creuset, but the prices are lower and the cookware is sturdy.

          1. re: texanfrench

            Also in their favor, they're not only a French brand, they're made in France (might have been implied in your post), And they're got the same parent company (Zwilling) as Staub and Demeyere.

            I've come to see that Zwilling doesn't do cheaply made cookware. Even their popular Spirit and Henckels Tru-Clad lines begin with very high quality class steel, at least as good as, possibly better than, the always popular All-Clad.

        2. re: Jessy382

          I haven't but I've been very happy with my Costco 6.5 qt. round Kirkland enameled oven that's made in France. One size only, but it's been used a lot over the last year and held up very well.

      2. no better, just different

        IME an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is desirable for braising and a raw cast iron skillet is useful for searing and sauté

        I would not purchase a complete set of either for starts - chose the right cookware for the right task -

        I would shop the bargain stores and avoid full price at specialty shops

        1. You can often find Le Creuset "seconds" at places like Marshall's & TJ Maxx. Prices are discounted quite a lot from first quality even though I don't see a flaw on the Dutch oven I bought. Still not cheap, but perhaps an alternative for you.

          1. Thanks for the information! I really just want to find a cookware set that is affordable and will last me a long time. Any other suggestions?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jessy382

              buy a good quality SS clad for basics - stockpot, saucepan, chef's pan - Calphalon tri ply IMO is a decent benchmark but buy the best you can reasonably afford

              add one or two ECI Dutch Ovens - one big enough for a chicken and one small enough for a side dish

              purchase one cast iron skillet or carbon steel pan

              purchase one cheap non-stick skillet if you like them for eggs (or just get your seasoning right on your CI/Carbon one)

              think about what you want to make and what you might like to use to make it?

              There is no "magic set" think of cookware as tools and pick the right ones to get the job done.

            2. There is no one best type of cookware. One enameled-iron pot should be enough to satisfy your yen for Le Creuset. Then look for other cookware to fill particular needs.