The Pros and Cons of a Le Creuset Versus a Staub Versus Something Cheaper

The Pros and Cons of a Le Creuset Versus a Staub Versus Something Cheaper

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Danielle Centoni
Feb 23, 2018
(Image credit: Courtesy of Wayfair; Courtesy of Amazon; Courtesy of Wayfair; Courtesy of Le Creuset; Courtesy of Staub)

Shopping for an enameled Dutch oven isn't all that different from shopping for a car. No, really! Think about it — they're shiny, bright, and expensive. Plus, both require you to consider your budget, lifestyle, and space constraints before making a decision. And then there's durability, maintenance, and warranties to think about too.

So, as when shopping for a car, one of the most useful things you can do to clarify the muddy waters is make a list of pros and cons. And you know what? You're in luck, because we already did it for you.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Le Creuset

Pros

  • Handmade in France, with strict oversight and quality standards.
  • Widely considered a leader in the business.
  • Comes in a wide range of colors (about 17), most of which are bright.
  • Comes in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, from 1 quart to 13 quarts and everything in between, plus oval shapes and shallow brasiers.
  • White enameled interior allows you to see cooking progress easier.
  • Plastic knobs don't get hot during stovetop cooking.
  • Roomiest handles of all the brands, which make oven-to-table transport easy.
  • Excellent lifetime warranty program.

Cons

  • Expensive (the average cost for a 5 1/2-quart pot is about $325).
  • Light interior is easily scratched by metal tools and stained by food (although you can eliminate some stains with some tough cleaning).
  • Plastic knobs can't be used in the oven with high heat, but you can pay about $20 for a metal replacement.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Staub

Pros

  • Handmade in France, with strict oversight and quality standards.
  • Widely considered a leader in the business.
  • Comes in colors that are more earthy than bright.
  • Dark, black matte enameled interior doesn't stain, is more effective at browning meat evenly, and can build up a nonstick "seasoning" over time.
  • Generally at least $25 cheaper than Le Creuset, and easier to find on sale.
  • Knobs are metal instead of plastic, and can come in whimsical animal shapes.
  • Bumps on the underside of the lid allow condensation to drip into the center of the pot, thereby "self-basting" the contents (most effective when used on the stove instead of the oven).
  • Tightest-fitting lid of all the brands, which maintains even heat inside and reduces evaporation.
  • Excellent lifetime warranty program.

Cons:

  • Although it's often cheaper than Le Creuset, it's still quite expensive at about $300 for a 5.5-quart pot.
  • Comes in less colors than Le Creuset (about nine), although more than other brands.
  • Dark matte enamel interior makes it a little harder to monitor the browning process.
  • Spikes under the lid make cleanup more difficult.
  • Very tight-fitting lid means you'll likely have to reduce the cooking liquids to concentrate the flavors.
  • A little heavier than Le Creuset and the handles are not as roomy.
(Image credit: Lodge)

Lodge

Pros

  • Independent reviews consider it about as durable as Le Creuset and Staub.
  • Far cheaper than Le Creuset and Staub, and often cheaper than most other brands too. Expect to pay about $50 for a 6-quart pot at stores like Target, or around $90 at some other stores.
  • Knobs are metal like Staub.
  • Interior is light colored-enamel like Le Creuset.
  • Handles are slightly more roomy than Staub (but not as roomy as Le Creuset).
  • Interior is very rounded, almost like a wide wok, so nothing gets caught in the corners.
  • Produced by an independent company based in the U.S.
  • Comes with a generous lifetime warranty.

Cons

  • Made in China, although under strict third-party oversight.
  • Not available in as many colors (about five) and sizes as Le Creuset and Staub, although the sizes it comes in are the most versatile.
  • Light-colored interior can stain.
  • Very rounded interior results in a smaller base diameter, which means you'll have to brown meat in smaller batches.
  • Heavier than Le Creuset and Staub.
(Image credit: Macy's)

Other Bargain Brands (such as Cuisinart, IKEA, Martha Stewart, Tramontina, and Cooks)

Pros

  • Although usually more expensive than Lodge (except IKEA), they can often be found on deep discount.

Cons:

  • Made in China, often without the same strict oversight as Lodge, so enamel might not be as durable and lids might not fit properly.
  • Only available in a very limited number of colors and sizes.

Knowing all this now, which Dutch oven brand would you pick?

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