Easy to use and care for
Retains and distributes heat well
Inimitable design adds flair to your kitchen
Excellent lifetime warranty
Steep price point
Resin knob is only oven-safe up to 500°F
They say the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart is through their stomach. While Le Creuset’s signature Dutch oven can certainly help with that, the eye-catching cookware also adds a lovely pop of color to any kitchen. Without a doubt, the iconic Dutch oven pairs form and function, but is it really worth its steep price tag? If you’ve been sitting on the fence trying to decide between Le Creuset or a more affordable alternative, read on for our verdict.
Design: A utilitarian dream
Le Creuset’s Dutch ovens are all made in France and feature ergonomic knobs and handles that were specifically designed for easy carry with pot holders. The exquisite design and wide array of vibrant, nuanced color options—from matte sugar pink and emerald green to coastal blue and cotton—make this pot an ideal display piece for your stovetop. While the 5.5-quart version we tested takes up a considerable amount of space in kitchen cabinets, the pot is also available in 1-, 2-, 2 ¾-, 3 ½-, and 4 ½-quart sizes if you’re concerned about storage. On the other hand, if you’ve got plenty of room, it also comes in larger sizes like 7 ¼, 9, and 13 ¼ quarts.
Weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces (with the lid), the 5.5-quart pot is heavy but not unmanageably so. The Dutch oven can also be used for storing and serving food, easily transitioning from your stovetop to your table to your fridge—impressing guests in the process.
This was our first time cooking with a Dutch oven and Le Creuset pulled out all the promised stops.
Material: Functional but fragile
Le Creuset introduced its first enameled cast iron cocotte in 1925, and it seems to have only gotten better with time. The improved enamel interior coating is designed to resist staining and dulling, which means you can do all kinds of cooking in it, from frying to braising to boiling. The interior’s pretty cream color also makes it easier to monitor food and avoid burning while cooking. Some say it’s prone to staining after long-term use, but we didn’t run into this after a few weeks of testing.
The Dutch oven is designed to be chip-resistant, however, cast iron and enamel are still relatively brittle and can chip or crack if not properly cared for. The thought of chipping a gorgeous $350+ pot makes us cringe, and it’s worth noting that Le Creuset’s lifetime warranty, though generous, doesn’t cover “damage from abuse...neglect, abnormal wear or tear, overheating, or any use not in accordance with the cookware instructions provided." Basically, we suggest being gentle with the pot when cooking, cleaning, and storing.
Performance: Top of the line
This was our first time cooking with a Dutch oven and Le Creuset pulled out all the promised stops in terms of versatility and ease of use. We loved having the option to use the Dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven. Though the Dutch oven can only be heated up to 500°F due to its phenolic (AKA resin) knob, we found that served most purposes. If you know you’ll regularly be cooking above 500°F, you can always purchase a $20 replacement gold or silver knob which is oven-safe at any degree.
At 5.5 quarts, we found the pot was quite spacious, affording us plenty of room for the 4-pound chicken we roasted in it. We put the whole thing in the oven and less than two hours later, voila, a moist, perfectly cooked chicken. We later threw the leftover carcass back in the pot and made stock which also turned out nicely.
In terms of longevity, versatility, and ease of use, there’s no doubt you’ll get a substantial return on your investment.
Heating Capacity: Lives up to the hype
Le Creuset’s enameled cast iron pot is known for its superior heat distribution and retention and the cookware didn’t disappoint in this category. The pot’s high sides and heat-conducting properties made evenly browning a whole chicken a cinch. The lid is also made of cast iron and sits tightly on the pot locking in heat, moisture, and flavor.
Cleanup: Easy as un, deux, trois
This Dutch oven is dishwasher safe, which we know will be a huge plus for some people. Because it is such a special and expensive piece, however, we opted to wash it by hand. Luckily, doing so was super easy. After gently scrubbing the Dutch oven with a warm, soapy sponge, it looked good as new in mere moments.
Price: On the high end, but worth every penny
Ranging in cost between about $150 for the 1-quart option to $560 for the 13 ¼-quart option, Le Creuset’s Dutch oven is much pricier than its competitors. The 5.5-quart pot we tested retails for $350 MSRP—about 6x the price of its main budget contender, the Lodge.
That said, in terms of longevity, versatility, and ease of use, there’s no doubt you’ll get a substantial return on your investment. Can you make equally delicious meals in a less-expensive Dutch oven? Perhaps, yes. But if you look at this as an heirloom piece that could stay in your family for generations, it might be worth paying up.
Competition: The battle of budget vs. high-end
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Another highly trusted cookware brand, Lodge makes its own quality Dutch oven at a fraction of the cost of Le Creuset. Ranging in price from about $70 for the 1.5-quart pot to $150 for the 7.5-quart pot, this porcelain-enameled cast iron pot can do most anything the Le Creuset can do. The Lodge also has a lifetime warranty, comes in a variety of colors, and has a creamy white interior. At 16 pounds, it is heavier and bulkier than the Le Creuset and its design lacks the same elegance. The Le Creuset also uses higher-quality enamel that’s less likely to chip over time. That said, the Lodge is a wonderful option for people who prioritize performance over Le Creuset’s signature aesthetic.
Staub Round Cocotte: Like the Le Creuset, this high-end pot is also made in France and considered a leader in the field. Staub offers similar-sized pots and their price points are comparable with MSRPs from roughly $170 to $450. Staub’s cookware is known for its ability to brown meat evenly, and its black interior which helps conceal food stains. The Dutch oven also features self-basting spikes under the lid, which supposedly create more succulent dishes. It’s an aesthetically pleasing piece, as well, though it favors a more masculine design than Le Creuset’s French country style. Devotees say they prefer Staub for its sturdier enamel and ability to withstand higher heats, while those in the Le Creuset camp love its striking colors and white enameled interior, which allows you to better see cooking progress.
- Product Name Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Product Brand Le Creuset
- SKU LS2501-2667
- Price $150
- Weight 11 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 10.5 x 14 x 6.5 in.
- Material Cast Iron
- Heat Source Ceramic, electric, gas, halogen, induction, outdoor grill, oven
- Cleaning Dishwasher safe
- Warranty Lifetime
- Price (13 ¼ quart) $560