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Jul 30, 2014 06:17 AM

Which Le Creuset to keep vs exchange?

I've been shocked by the amount of le creuset and all-clad that we've received so far through our registry and I'd love input on the LC items to make sure we have the cookware that best fits our cooking needs.

My main question is about the 6 1/3 in, 9 in, and 10 1/4 in skillets pictured, but I'd love any other advice too. I know many hate LC skillets, but we want them to use for eggs and some other dishes. Are these sizes redundant? If so, which should we exchange? Is the 6 1/3 just way too small to use? If we return, should we get the 13 inch LC skillet or is there some other LC piece we should consider?

Our cooking habits: we cook mostly chicken (1-2 whole or 8-16 pieces at a time), ground turkey, fish, grilled sandwiches, and sometimes pork or steaks along w rice, pasta, veggies. For breakfast eggs we usually scramble 1-2 or 6-8 eggs. I prefer cooking in larger quantities either because we're entertaining or so we have leftovers (so cooking 2 whole chickens in an extra large roaster filled w potatoes and veggies is normal for us). I don't want nonstick pans because we never ever replace them and it seems that if 8+ Yr old "nonstick" pans worked well enough for eggs, then ECI or AC D5 should be fine too. We can't use bare CI as our only option for eggs because my husband doesn't want to mess up that skillet and we need something that he can throw in the dishwasher. I make tons of pies and desserts.

What we currently have (all can be exchanged still):
LC: 7 1/4 qt round oven; 6 1/3 in, 9 in, and 10 1/4 in skillets; rectangular grill pan w panini press

AC: D5 saucepans, soup pots, 4 and 6 qt essential pan, French skillets in 2-size set; triply 8 and 12 qt stockpots. These all seem to be perfect for us.

Lodge: we had a 12 in skillet that I used for cornbread or steaks/chicken that went from stove to oven but it got lost when we moved. Should we replace it or just get an LC instead? I don't fry food at home and my husband won't use it because he doesn't want to hand wash it and he's scared of mistreating the bare cast iron.

Other stuff: we have tons of rectangular, round, and square Pyrex dishes for baking macaroni & cheese etc. and I have tons of pie dishes. We regularly use our pressure cooker, large crockpot, large ricecooker, and XL williams-sonoma flared roaster. We have a cuisinart griddler.

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  1. i don't see anything pictured - is something missing from your post?

    also, why do people hate the LC skillets?

    now, to the post - a 6 1/3 inch skillet sounds very very small if you like to cook in quantities. you can do 1-2 eggs in one of the smaller skillets. i think you could probably also choose between one of the other two skillets, especially since you have the AC french skillets.

    (P.S. i think i might be jealous of your storage space! :))

    1 Reply
    1. re: poochiechow

      Sorry, the pic should show now. I know you've got to be right abt 6 1/3 being way too small and unnecessary. Between the 9 in and the 10 1/4, I'm wondering if we should exchange the 10 1/4 for a 13 in?

      I've seen ppl saying they hate the skillets because the large skillets don't distribute heat evenly enough on small burners or because they prefer something else- often bare cast iron. But bare won't work for us since my husband wants dishwasher clean up.

      As for storage space, we're in a ny apt so there really isn't much, but I love to cook (and recipients of my cooking like to gift to encourage it) so we've been very creative ;). This is also why we tend to get only the biggest size or 2 of things we might ever need. So we don't have to store smaller versions that we barely use.

    2. IMHO LC and other ECI makes wonderful Dutch ovens and marginal skillets - they are pretty, and non-reactive but they heat unevenly, don't take high heat well and are "sticky" they do not replace a raw Cast Iron skillet like Lodge the main benefit of which is non-stick and the ability to high heat sear.

      LC skillet is not good for eggs If you don't want to use your Lodge for eggs keep a cheap non-stick pan for that purpose replace as needed - they sell very thick aluminum ones fairly cheaply at restaurant supply stores they will perform well.

      Your all clad will be a much MUCH better skillet the only benefit of LC is for going from stove to oven - I would keep one of them , perhaps the large one as it will make a nice roasting pan/large gratin/ paella pan etc but if you have tri ply skillets you don't need too many. In place I would go with LC for things like Dutch ovens, roasting pans and tagines where they actually do preform well.

      As far as mistreating bare cast iron - well its virtually impossible to hurt the stuff - it can last for centuries and worst case scenario you have to re-season and properly seasoned no real washing is required - salt and wipe - LC on the other hand is hard to clean and fragile. DH is afraid of hurting the wrong cookware ;)

      11 Replies
      1. re: JTPhilly

        Thanks for your thoughts. We cooked eggs in our all-clad D5 skillet and it went well- barely any egg stuck or left in the pan. You think the D5 skillets will work better for eggs than LC? If so, that's good to know because we don't need LC skillets for ability to high heat sear (we can still just use the D5 skillets for that).

        If D5 will be much better for eggs than LC ECI, then maybe we'll exchange for the 13 in LC for my cornbread and the other uses you mentioned. I'm not sure that I'll need/use a LC roasting pan or tagine . . . (are tagines an every day type item? is there some time I'd want to use an LC roasting pan instead of our WS XL flare roaster?)

        & believe me, I am not worried about bare cast iron - my husband is. And he should be. He insists on soaking nearly every pan, usually overnight, regardless of whether anything's stuck to it. And he wants to put everything in the dishwasher. So bare cast iron just isn't good for him and he actually would ruin it.

        1. re: Shkra11

          LOL - not tagine is super-specialty I guess - but those suckers are cool (I don't own one but I would) I

          Re: Roasting pan - , I really meant more "lasagna Pan" - not that you can't use glass or ceramic but its a good application of the heat retentive quality of CI and the non-reactive enamel. I guess my bigger though was ECI is great for oven uses but not so wonderful on the burner.

          as for eggs - I have not cooked them in anything but cast iron for years but stainless is IME is less sticky than ECI for what its worth.

          1. re: JTPhilly

            haha, sorry to tease about the tagine. full disclosure- I kinda wanted one just b/c it looks so cool even though I have to figure out whether I'd ever use it (I do eat great couscous from a moroccan restaurant that they make in one of those). also, - I was seriously trying to convince myself that the tiny le creuset skillet might be useful, just because the micro skillet looks so so cute.

            hmm & good point, maybe I could have a use for a lasagna-pan type LC. I'd never thought about how the heat retentive qualities of ECI might work better for some oven dishes than my pyrex or all-clad d5.

            it's decided- we'll do stainless and bare cast iron for our eggs. no more LC skillets.

          2. re: Shkra11

            I'd exchange it for a LC gratin, personally.

            1. re: rasputina

              thanks- those look like they might work for us. is there anything in particular you think the gratin works well for?

              and you mean a CI gratin, not stoneware right? I'm seeing the LC CI gratin in 7 3/4 and in 14 in sizes. Do you think there could be a purpose to having both or is one size probably more useful?

              1. re: Shkra11

                Yes, I mean the enameled cast iron one. I have a couple of them, both the large and the smaller size. I mostly cook gratins and mac and cheese in mine but I've also use them for cobblers, shepherds pie, dressing for Thanksgiving and roasting. I use the larger one most often but it really depends on the size of your usual recipes.

            2. re: Shkra11

              >He insists on soaking nearly every pan, usually overnight, regardless of whether anything's stuck to it. And he wants to put everything in the dishwasher.<

              I think I am married to your husband's twin!

            3. re: JTPhilly

              maybe I've started wondering if I need any LC skillets at all.
              - I've already got a few all-clad D5s to go from stove to oven
              - I loved my bare lodge just fine for cornbread, so I can just replace it
              - if all-clad D5 will be as good or better for eggs, then we can just use those

              so do I need zero of these 3 LC pans we registered for? oops

              I feel bad exchanging gifts if it's not for something similar- are there any other LC pieces that are good for us? Is there an LC worthwhile for times we're only roasting one chicken? I can't tell if it'd make any sense for us to get a braiser. We don't ever make casseroles or roasts. hmmm

              1. re: Shkra11

                If you want the advantages of cast iron and dishwasher safe, consider These are my go-to fry pans. But I don't use them for eggs.

                1. re: Shkra11

                  I find the five quart round dutch oven to be a real workhorse in our kitchen. I would also say that a braiser or what I believe LC is currently calling an "everyday pan" would be be a superior version of the skillet.

                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                    Yes, I'm done with the skillet ideas. I'm also no longer sold on braisers for our purposes. Seems like they're just more expensive than ovens of the same sizes and have less depth? I've seen sites saying that there's no braising difference with braisers vs. DOs. So if DOs are cheaper for the size and have more height (since we cook in more volume than many), then maybe I'll stick w/DOs and gratin or roaster and maybe a terrine. Good to know that 5 qt works for many. It is looking pretty good to me.

              2. Personally I wasn't happy with the outcome of using enameled cast iron for eggs. But then, I also don't see the point of putting any large pan in the dishwasher just because it had eggs in it. It takes 2 seconds to wash, even with bare cast iron which is what I use daily for eggs. I haven't owned a nonstick frying pan for years, but isn't it generally advised not put them in the dishwasher?

                1 Reply
                1. re: rasputina

                  thanks- it seems that maybe we won't try ECI for eggs after all. I can just use the AC D5 or bare cast iron and he can use the AC D5.

                  not sure about nonstick care, but we don't have any nonstick anymore and aren't buying any more. I'm not arguing in support of dishwashers, but I have no need to argue with him to try to make him handwash anything either. it's just one of those quirks- he's busy and makes time to cook, but not to do cleanup. that works just fine with all-clad when he uses it, so there's no problem there. it seems his dishwasher use is a serious issue on this site ;)

                2. Thanks to all who have responded so far. UPDATE: we are going to exchange all three LC skillets. For eggs, we'll use all-clad D5 or bare cast iron.

                  Now I've got to figure out what to exchange the LC skillets for:

                  Any suggestions on what LC pans/roasters etc might work for us? (I think we're probably set as far as very large LC pieces or LC ovens go).

                  I only had a 12-in lodge bare CI before. Now I'm thinking of replacing that lost one - we definitely need a 13.5 inch, but I'm not sure which others we should get - 8 in? 10 inch? both?

                  Has anybody had good experiences with any other lodge bare CI? maybe the round griddle, double-burner reversible grill/griddle, or fajita set?

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: Shkra11

                    Size of skillet is going to depend on purpose. In bare cast iron, I use my number 6 for individual omelets and scrambled eggs for up to two people. I use my number 12 for all things you use a skillet for. I mainly use my number 9 round griddle for cooking small amounts of breakfast meats, frying an egg or two if the small skillet is occupied, french toast, pancakes and for grilled sandwiches. I use my d5 12 inch when I need a non reactive pan.

                    The main problem with the double burner reversable grill is uneven heating in the middle between burners. I have both cast iron and all clad ones and they both have the same issue. I don't use them anymore. Plus I bought the all clad one back when I still used non-stick. An electric griddle that size at least heats evenly, I bought the all clad as a replacement when my electric one died.

                    1. re: rasputina

                      alright, perfect. we have the cuisinart griddler, so I'll leave these double-burner grills alone.

                      for bare CI, I'm thinking maybe we'll do the 8 and 13.5 skillets and a round griddle. or maybe just the 8 and the 13.5.

                    2. re: Shkra11

                      I'll have about $350-380 to put into other pieces. and I realize that I forgot to mention that anything "braised" is my husband's favorite, so I guess that should influence choices- we've just never really braised at home before except whatever braising can happen in a crockpot.

                      With discounts, we'll be able to get 2-3 LC ECI pieces. Which seem the most useful for LC ECI out of:

                      - 3.5 qt braiser
                      - 5 qt braiser
                      - Medium roaster
                      - Large roaster
                      - 7 3/4 in gratin
                      - 14 in gratin
                      - 2 3/4 qt curved oven
                      - 3 1/2 qt round wide french oven

                      1. re: Shkra11

                        I have a ton of Le Creuset and my most used pieces are 7 1/4 qt round oven, the 14" gratin and the 3.5 qt wide oven ( I have the oval one). I do have both the 3.5 and 5 qt brasiers and I do use them and like them, especially the 5 qt. But size really depends on how much food you need to cook. The reason I like the wide oven more than the smaller brasier is the taller straight sides mean less risk of spilling when stirring. I use my wide oven most of the time for curries or cooking other saucy things.

                        Most of my low and slow type braising is done in an Emile Henry tagine. I have the smaller one which is 2.6 qt but it has a very wide base, straight sides and I just love how it cooks. I wish I'd gotten the larger one, but I got it on clearance and it too good to pass up.

                        1. re: rasputina

                          okay,JT, see, a tagine might be very useful and practical after all! I stand corrected.

                          rasputina, are you saying that you might like a larger tagine over your wide oven and over your braisers?

                          from your points, I'd be leaning twd whatever is best out of larger tagine or 5 qt braiser (since I don't do smaller that well). and then I'd choose between the larger gratin and a roaster.

                          1. re: Shkra11

                            That is such a hard question. I love and use my wide oven and my tagine more than the brasiers but before I had them, I used the brasier all the time.

                            But my husband and my kids cook with the LC. I'm the only one that uses the clay pots though, not that I've forbidden them, but I think they are unsure how to safely use them because I have a variety of types, from unglazed to flameware. I do think the LC is a bit more rugged and will stand up to more abuse. You can soak them, you can leave dirty food on them. My clay pots aren't soaked, some of them can't have soap and they are always washed as soon as they are cool enough to touch.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              Yes, I also wanted to chime in here to agree that ECI is in general extremely easy to clean. I've burned sugar onto both my LC dutch ovens and an hour's soak in hot water was enough to lift it off.

                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                If there is anything that doesn't come off after a soak, simmer a few tsp of baking soda in it for a while, then let it cool down, that'll get rid of everything.

                        2. re: Shkra11

                          personally I would go with the larger gratin (or two small ones) they make nice serving pieces and good cookware OR the medium roaster. The roaster is probably more versatile but the gratin is more attractive, you probably don't need both.

                          I would also get the 5qt braiser - which is a nice size/shape for stews can also be used for baked dishes and paella type dishes (also tagine type dished LOL)- also its basically a deep skillet with short handles so its pretty multi-purpose - I like mine although I don't use it too much when I do I am happy with it.

                          I assume the large round 7qt French Oven in your OP is a keeper (that is my favorite and most used LC pan of all If I could only have one piece of ECI it would be that)

                          1. re: JTPhilly

                            your assumption is correct- the 7qt french oven is definitely a keeper.

                            point taken about the larger gratin OR the roaster. I'll think about that more. and, really, ppl are still buying off of our registry, so maybe I'll stick them on there and see if someone else decides for me.

                            1. re: JTPhilly

                              I'm also realizing that the LC rectangular grill pan w panini press is probably not the best piece either? so I can exchange that one too- maybe that merits a roaster or gratin, a braiser, AND a tagine of some sort?

                              I'm wondering how large good tagines come.

                              1. re: Shkra11

                                If you want grill pan with panini press, Lodge makes a really nice square one and a ridged square press to match it. The pan is less than 20 dollars.

                                1. re: Shkra11

                                  If you use grill pans, I would actually recommend keeping the LC. I have a bare CI grill pan, and also have access to a LC one. I prefer the LC because grill pans are annoying to clean; with the LC I can just let it soak, whereas the bare CI one takes more work and the grooves never get really clean. Sure the bare CI can get hotter, but I've found that for practically all grilling applications, the LC gets hot enough and produces great results.

                                  1. re: Sirrith

                                    Ahh, I see. Maybe we will keep the grill pan then since my soaker husband is more likely to use the LC grill pan than the cuisinart griddler for a quick grilled cheese or panini . . . And based on comments, it seems best to stay away from bare CI w ridges if we don't want to dedicate ourselves to a serious effort.

                                2. re: JTPhilly

                                  I've never found it hard to clean. I just use the scrubby side of the sponge and if I need to one of the plastic scrapers.

                              2. re: Shkra11

                                Don't feel bad exchanging what you were given--I exchanged some of my formal china and flatware for a Cuisinart and Wusthof knives when I got married 20+ years ago. It was one of the smartest things I did as far as setting up a new house, and those items are still going strong. I don't own any LC--some day I will just lay down the bucks and do it. I did find a Wolfgang Puck coated cast-iron dutch oven for $35, and have been quite happy with that, so I'm in no rush for the LC. The Dutch oven is really the only piece I have desired from them--I prefer to use my stainless skillets and cast-iron, which I love. I just made a hash the other day in it (also a wedding gift, so it has a beautiful patina) and decided to make a fried egg to top it. It turned out beautifully (I usually make scrambled in my stainless). It does require a bit of love, but bare cast iron is so worth it! That being said, I don't love the new pre-seasoned cast iron. We have the double-burner reversible grill, which my husband mainly uses to make pancakes. The bottom grill side has a lot of blackened char sticking to it in between the ridges from the gas flame. Since he uses it he is the one to clean it--I probably need to get in there and scrub it down. Anyway, with the coating, it still seems to need some extra attention, so I would prefer to just have untreated cast-iron. When I make the pancakes, I just use the cast-iron skillet. I also don't think the griddle would be very effective if you were cooking on an electric burner.
                                It took me awhile to train my husband how to properly clean my cherished cookware, but it can be done. Let the training begin (but start in a subtle manner in the beginning ;) )!

                                1. re: Bloominanglophile

                                  Thanks for the encouragement and your opinions. I will exchange everything for what will work best for us- I tried my best to register for it, but there are changes along the way and our friends/family would like to contribute twds whatever's most useful for us.
                                  I'll leave the reversible stovetop griddles alone.
                                  I probably won't start trying to teach my husband how to care for the "tricky/special" cookware though- it's an uphill battle just making sure he knows which things cannot be thrown in the dishwasher or thrown away, so he prefers to know what stuff he should just "leave alone."

                                  1. re: Shkra11

                                    Probably a smart way to start. After all these years of marriage, we still have a "leave alone" in place regarding laundering my clothes. He means well, and tries to lighten my load (pun intended), but he has shrunk too many of my clothes over the years that he is now not allowed to launder them. He even washed and DRIED our wool blanket when I was out of town one time! ARGH!!! I encourage all moms of boys to teach them how to properly do laundry--their future wives will thank them for it!

                                    1. re: Bloominanglophile

                                      I love it. Because I've seen what he does to his clothes, there has never been a question that he can't touch mine. I have stuff that's lasted for over a decade, more even, but his stuff can't make it through a year without looking significantly faded and shrinking in length. So all of my "this is how you use and care for cookware" efforts are channeled into "this is why you should not keep shirts with holes in them or faded beyond recognition" efforts and other related efforts. I second your urging- parents, please teach all children how to clean things and care for things.

                                      1. re: Bloominanglophile

                                        LOL my hubby is forbidden to touch my clothes. I have a lot of stuff that can't go in the dryer. Besides, he washes everything in one load regardless of material, filthiness or color. sigh

                                2. I see you're exchanging all of these pans, but I just want to comment on the size of the small skillet. I have six cast iron and three carbon steel skillets in a wide range of sizes and I use my 6-1/2" cast iron skillet quite a bit. Even though you're a couple, you will at times be cooking for one. The smaller skillet is great for a couple of fried eggs, a single burger, a single piece of fish. But what I find it indispensable for is toasting spices. Whether or not you need it for that purpose depends, of course, on how and what you cook. I do do a lot of Asian cooking; you may not. I'd get rid of my cast iron grill pan before I got rid of the small skillet.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    interesting. I see what you're saying. so far, I haven't toasted spices (probably won't use an LC for that if I need to in the future). and point taken about the range of sizes- I've just never had such a small skillet and will probably only have 3 max sizes of skillets in our kitchen. I'm not actually sure that the 6in LC can handle more than 1 egg at a time- for 2 eggs or even a burger, I don't know that I could even fit a spatula underneath to flip it.