What We Like
Easy to use and care for
Retains heat well
Limited lifetime warranty
What We Don't Like
Rounded bottom translates to smaller cooking surface
Lower-quality enamel than competitors
The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is an all-purpose pot that specializes in slow-cooking, searing, braising, and more. Its enameled cast iron build is valued for its heat-conducting properties, ease of use, and simple maintenance, while its low cost gives it a major edge over its competitors. While the price tag is certainly enticing, is it worth going for a Lodge as opposed to investing in a high-end Le Creuset or Staub? Read on for our testing insights.
Design: Function over frills
In this design-conscious cook’s opinion, the Lodge can’t hold a candle to Le Creuset’s beautiful form and inimitable colors. While it’s definitely not an eyesore, by any means, we wouldn’t be thrilled to display this Dutch oven on our stovetop in the same way we would be with a Le Creuset. For those who share this opinion—and our limited cabinet space problem—this is a con.
That said, the Lodge’s design is still highly functional, and, like the Le Creuset, it boasts wider handles for easy carrying with pot holders. It can also be used for storing and serving food, easily moving from stovetop to table to fridge.
This Dutch oven is exceptionally affordable. In fact, it rings in for roughly 6x less than high-end competitors.
We did find that this 6-quart Dutch oven seemed smaller than Le Creuset’s comparable 5 ½ -quart pot, but that’s likely because Lodge’s rounded bottom provides a slightly smaller cooking surface. Of course, the cocotte is available in multiple sizes, including 1 ½-, 3-, 4 ½ -, 6-, and 7 ½-quarts, so you can choose which best serves your needs. It’s also sold in a variety of colors from red and indigo to midnight chrome and lagoon.
Material: Durable but not indestructible
The outer layer of the Lodge has a double coating of porcelain enamel that is chip-resistant and easy to clean. The interior is a creamy white enamel (points for prettiness!) but it’s not as high-quality as the enamel you’d find in a higher-end Dutch oven.
It’s worth noting that cast iron and enamel are both inherently brittle and can chip or crack if not cared for properly. As someone who’s hard on their cookware, it will be a challenge for us to keep this pot looking pristine. That said, we’d feel a lot better chipping a $100 pot than a $400 pot. Either way, Lodge’s limited warranty covers normal household use, so long as it’s consistent with the included care instructions.
Performance: Just as good as its costlier counterparts
Aesthetically speaking, all Dutch ovens are not created equal. But when it comes to performance, the Lodge seems to cook just as well as its more expensive competitors, including Le Creuset. This was our second time cooking with a Dutch oven (we tested out the Le Creuset first) and we were impressed with how versatile and easy to use it was. We made Moroccan chicken tagine in our 6-quart pot, which involved browning chicken thighs, dry cooking onions, garlic, and spices, and simmering the chicken in a mixture of broth and juices.
After making a few meals in the Lodge, we found that it performed just as well as the Le Creuset in terms of heat distribution and retention.
While cooking the onions and spices, we were worried that the fond (AKA the sticky brown bits) would be difficult to remove, but they loosened up easily once we added liquids and gently scraped the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. We can honestly say that this was one of the easiest and tastiest dishes we’ve ever made—and our guests agreed on the latter point.
Heating Capacity: Hot, hot, hot
After making a few meals in the Lodge, we found that it performed just as well as the Le Creuset in terms of heat distribution and retention. Like its competitor, the Lodge is also oven-safe up to 500°F, and we found that heat distributed evenly across the top, bottom, and sides of the pot.
On the flip side, heat retention can be a concern when you’re in a rush to cool down or refrigerate a dish. We cooked the chicken tagine right before we had to leave the house for three hours, so we were forced to decide between refrigerating a hot pot or leaving it to cool on the stovetop. We chose the latter and when we arrived home three hours later, the pot was still warm enough to ease our worries about the dish slipping into what the USDA calls the “danger zone.” So in the end, heat retention was our friend.
Cleanup: Easy peasy
This Dutch oven is dishwasher safe, but handwashing with warm, soapy water and a nylon scrub brush is recommended by Lodge to preserve the pot’s original appearance. Luckily, handwashing this pot is super easy. After gently scrubbing it with a warm and a soapy sponge, it was sparkling clean in under a minute.
Handwashing this pot is super easy.
Price: Sweet and low
Ranging in price from about $70 for the 1.5-quart size to $150 for the 7.5-quart size, this Dutch oven is exceptionally affordable. In fact, it rings in for roughly 6x less than high-end competitors like Le Creuset and Staub.
Competition: Budget vs. top of the line
The battle between Lodge and Le Creuset comes down to how much you value aesthetics. If you want a Dutch oven that doubles as eye candy, Le Creuset has the edge. But if you could care less about kitchen status symbols and would rather wow your guests with delicious dishes, then the Lodge is for you.
We should also point out that while Le Creuset pots are made in France, Lodge’s Dutch oven is made in China, albeit under contract to an American company, which means it still has good quality control. Nevertheless, the Lodge’s “Made in China” tag may be a deterrent for some buyers.
- Product Name Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Product Brand Lodge
- Price $70
- Weight 16 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 14 x 7 x 12 in.
- Material Cast iron
- Heat Source All cooking surfaces, including induction
- Care Dishwasher safe
- Warranty Limited lifetime
- Price (7.5 Quart) $147.50