Are you considering a new enameled Dutch oven?
For many, it is, after all, the workhorse of the kitchen.
Perhaps you’re ready to make a purchase, and one brand immediately comes to mind:
Le Creuset manufactures cast iron enameled cookware, including:
Known for its craftsmanship and bold colors, this French brand has become a staple in kitchens across the globe.
But is Le Creuset worth the hefty price tag?
My answer: Yes, Le Creuset is worth it. It’s top-quality, beautiful cookware that should last. Yet, there are also more affordable alternatives to consider. I recommend starting with the Le Creuset Dutch oven and seeing if you think Le Creuset is worth it before buying more.
Keep reading for more detail and affordable alternatives.
About Le Creuset
Le Creuset is a company from Fresnoy le Grand, France, that has been around since 1925.
They define themselves as a company that provides more than just cookware; they create memories and traditions for families and food lovers worldwide.
Before this French company was founded by two Belgian industrialists, Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq, all cast-iron pots were a dull grey color and made entirely out of cast iron. Le Creuset came up with the concept of covering the iron in a colorful enamel glaze that made their product more functional, beautiful, and versatile.
The Le Creuset enameled Dutch oven with a flame-red gloss soon became the company’s signature product. When World War II ended, most of Le Creuset’s competitors switched to steel and aluminum materials, but they stayed the course and continued working with iron to create more products and enamel colors. Today, there are crocks, casserole dishes, tagines, and dinnerware with over 20 colors to choose from.
Is Le Creuset Worth It? Let’s Get Into Detail
Nearly 100 years after its founding, Le Creuset continues to hand make its cookware. Does this still produce the same quality? Let’s find out:
The Pros of Le Creuset
Le Creuset has become a household name for good reason: Much of their cookware is unrivaled by alternative cookware brands on the market today. Here are a few reasons Le Creuset is worth adding to your kitchen collection:
Le Creuset pots have been handmade in France since 1925. The rigorous production process sees each piece inspected by over thirty craftspeople before leaving the factory. This ability to oversee quality control distinguishes Le Creuset from many other manufacturers that outsource production to save costs.
If a piece falls short of the exacting standards, it goes back into the melting oven, and the process starts again. Nearly a third are refused on first inspection and returned to the fire to become molten cast iron again. Nothing but the best will do!
The pots themselves are made from a mixture of molten pure and recycled iron. They are baked in sand molds, left to cool, and then sprayed with two protective enamel layers.
Next, they are baked at 1400°F and finally sprayed with a last coat of colored enamel.
Each piece goes through a human quality inspection, at least 15 people, to be exact, so you can be sure you’re getting excellent quality in every Le Creuset purchase you make.
The iconic enameled exteriors are not only crafted by machine, but also by hand. After a tried-and-true creation process and rigorous quality testing, up to 30% of products don’t make the cut. This means you’re getting the absolute best of the best when it comes to craftsmanship.
Le Creuset’s cast iron allows heat to be distributed evenly as well as hold heat in after cooking, so your food stays warm longer. Every part of construction in a Le Creuset pan is performed with customer use in mind, from the ease of cleaning to the versatility.
If you’re ever unlucky enough to find a flaw in one of your Le Creuset pieces, you can rest easy knowing that much of their cookware is protected by a limited lifetime warranty. Warranties vary by piece, but they will replace your item free of charge if any damage occurs (subject to proper use and care.)
An iconic look
There’s no denying it; a Le Creuset pot is a thing of beauty. These iconic, flame-colored pieces sit proudly on kitchen shelves around the globe.
While other, more run-of-the-mill pots and pans tend to get returned to the cupboard after use, Le Creuset cookware owners like to show their cookware off.
The famous ‘Volcanique’ flame-orange hue has become synonymous with Le Creuset cookware. However, many may not realize the range of other available colors. From rose to teal, meringue to cerise, there will undoubtedly be a Le Creuset color perfect for your kitchen. Most of them have a beautiful two-tone gradient, their color fading from light to dark.
Typically, I would not be influenced by a pot’s color. I like to think that a pot should be selected for its cooking capabilities rather than its palette.
However, I love the fact that a few strategically placed Le Creuset pots and pans can be an innovative and simple way to revamp your kitchen’s décor
There’s a reason that they feature in the backdrops of so many TV cooking shows!
The Cons of Le Creuset
Like every product on the market, Le Creuset does have its flaws. While there aren’t many, there are a couple you should consider before making a purchase decision.
The most notable downside to Le Creuset is its price. While the performance and quality of the brand have earned the higher price tag, it does deter many people from purchasing pieces for their own kitchen. Prices vary, but you can typically expect to be anything from 2 to 5 times the cost of an entry-level cookware piece when buying Le Creuset.
But it’s normal for top quality to be more expensive than entry-level. Le Creuset tends to be more costly than other top-quality cookware out there. Its nearest competitor, Staub, also offering high quality French made cookware, is usually more affordable.
Do I think Le Creuset is worth the usual price premium over Staub? Yes. But not everyone agrees with me, and sometimes you can find deals on Staub that are hard to resist.
Though the overall construction of Le Creuset remains high-quality and durable, there are some tradeoffs to these benefits. The light color of the enameled interior in the Dutch oven is great for monitoring the cooking process, but it stains easily, and any scratches are clearly visible.
If you find your Le Creuset staining, then here is a video that might help you clean it:
Slow to Heat Up
This isn’t something that Le Creuset alone suffers from; rather, it’s typical of enameled cast iron: you need to pre-heat the pan or pot for quite a while. Equally, when cooking, the pan or pot will retain heat, so you can turn it off before you finish.
Harder to Cook With
Going hand in hand with slow to heat up, enameled cast iron is harder to cook with. It’s a different cooking style, and you need to get used to it.
This makes me question whether Le Creuset is suitable for beginners. Would you learn to drive in a Rolls Royce?
A beginner might be better off looking for a more affordable enameled cast iron brand, such as Tramontina. Or Staub if it’s on sale.
With the 5.5-quart Dutch oven coming in at over 11 pounds, Le Creuset is a heavy piece of cookware.
Lifting the pot could be problematic if you have joint or muscular issues. This is especially true when you consider having to turn it over to drain or to clean.
If you plan to purchase a Le Creuset, be prepared to handle the cast iron’s weight plus any food inside.
When its cookware needs lids, Le Creuset offers two types of handles – metal and plastic.
The plastic knobs, while cooler to touch and able to withstand up to 400 °F, still don’t hold up as well as their metal counterparts. They aren’t as oven safe and break much more easily.
If buying Le Creuset, I recommend always getting metal handles. I’ve used their plastic handles before, and they are the first thing to break.
While the Le Creuset enameled Dutch oven is easier to care for than traditional cast iron, there are a couple of caveats.
Can you put a Le Creuset in the dishwasher? Technically, the answer is yes.
However, the enamel can wear over time as a result. This won’t affect its performance, but it might dull that beautiful glossy finish.
Is that a deal-breaker? Probably not, but you should be aware before buying.
Also, remember to use silicone, wooden, or heat-resistant plastic tools to avoid damaging the enamel.
In theory, you can use metal utensils but avoid scraping the bottom or sides of the pot. My recommendation: Skip the metal altogether and use only silicone or wooden tools. Save yourself the worry of damaging your gorgeous cookware.
Le Creuset Reviews
Sometimes it’s not enough to talk about a brand in general–you need to get into the details of their products to really understand them.
When asking, “Is Le Creuset worth it?” People are really asking, “Should I buy Le Creuset products?” We need to look at some of Le Creuset’s products in more detail to answer that.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven Review
If you were to get one piece of Le Creuset cookware, I would recommend the Le Creuset Dutch oven.
It’s the most famous component of the Le Creuset collection and something I would suggest for every kitchen.
The cream interior of this round Dutch oven is a great help when I am braising batches of meat. The light cooking surface enables me to monitor browning with a great deal more accuracy than a darker pot allows.
As we all know, there is nothing worse than burning your meat at this early stage. That bitter, scorched flavor will ruin your whole stew.
The Le Creuset Dutch oven is incredibly versatile–I frequently use it to quickly fry something, instead of a pan.
When heating oil for frying, the lighter interior allows me to position my cooking thermometer correctly: It can be easy to let the tip touch the sides with other, darker options. You can often find yourself taking the metal’s temperature rather than that of the oil itself!
Another reason that I relish cooking with my Le Creuset is its low, straight sides. These make stirring comfortable and allow me to quickly and easily see into the pot. Some Dutch ovens on the market can be very tall and narrow. Because of this, they tend to have smaller cooking areas, and you can struggle to get them in and out of the oven.
One of the most essential features of any Dutch oven is its handles. Even empty, my Le Creuset weighs over 11 lbs, so tough, reliable handles are a must.
Le Creuset Dutch ovens have large, robust looped handles that enable you to move them around the kitchen with ease – even while wearing thick oven gloves!
- Iconic Le Creuset look
- Light-colored interior helps cooking
- Robust, wide handles
- Quality construction
- Available in multiple colors – a wide range of choice
Alternatives to Le Creuset Dutch Ovens
The first alternative I would suggest looking at is a Staub Dutch Oven. Staub is quite similar to Le Creuset, also made in France, and usually more affordable.
Staub Dutch ovens are sometimes on sale by their manufacturer.
But Staub is typically still pricey. On the other hand, Lodge offers super affordable Dutch ovens made in the USA.
Lodge offers both enameled cast iron and bare cast iron Dutch ovens. I don’t recommend their enameled cast iron Dutch ovens as I believe the coating is actually applied in China. However, for a quality US-made, affordable cast iron Dutch oven, you can’t go far wrong with Lodge.
One thing to watch out for is that bare cast iron is more work than enameled cast iron. Although the Lodge Dutch oven I recommend is pre-seasoned, I still suggest some maintenance.
Since the Lodge cast iron isn’t protected by an enamel layer, it can be damaged by acidic foods, damp or overly vigorous cleaning.
If you are still not sure what to get, then have a read of some of my Le Creuset Dutch oven guides, as well as some more affordable alternatives:
- Le Creuset vs Cuisinart (Cuisinart is an intermediate Dutch oven between Le Creuset and Lodge, not quite as good as Staub).
- Staub vs Le Creuset
- Enameled vs non-enameled Dutch oven (basically Lodge vs Le Creuset). I labeled this guide Dutch oven vs French oven because when people talk about French ovens, they usually mean an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.
- Le Creuset’s classic Dutch oven is round, but they also offer oval options, check out which is best for you in my oval vs round Dutch oven guide.
- I’ve even compared Le Creuset with a slow cooker!
Le Creuset Skillet
Le Creuset offers a range of skillets, but the interior is usually a dark or black surface, like this 11.75 inch skillet. This is still enameled; it’s just skillets are more likely to stain with a light-colored surface.
When it comes to frying pans, heat distribution is critical, and Le Creuset has undoubtedly managed that there. There are almost no hot spots–as long as you take the time to preheat your skillet, that is!
Again available in a range of attractive colors, with a beautiful design, you will enjoy this frying pan.
Do bear in mind that it’s heavy, though; fortunately, Le Creuset includes a helper handle to assist you.
The thing about this skillet is that it’s harder to use than a light non-stick pan. It’s not quite as non-stick, a little harder to clean, takes longer to warm up, and is heavier to move around.
That’s why I think you wouldn’t use it every day. To go with my car analogy from earlier, it’s like using an SUV to go to the corner shop–it’s probably quicker to walk or bike.
This is a skillet for special occasions, perhaps when you want to go straight from stovetop to table, or maybe when you want to impress guests.
- Dishwasher-safe (in theory)
- Large helper handle
- Helpful pour spouts
- Excellent Heat distribution
- Perhaps a bit much for day to day use
If you want more information, including some nice alternatives, then check out my Le Creuset Skillet review.
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Saucepan
Also from Le Creuset is this 1.75-quart (1.65 liter) saucepan with lid. The saucepan is oven-safe to 500°F (260°C) and compatible with all cooktops.
The two handles are especially helpful for handling the extra weight of this pan.
Le Creuset claims this pan is dishwasher-safe. I recommend hand washing to ensure the coating stays smooth and undamaged.
What’s the difference between this enameled cast iron pot and a Dutch oven? Well it’s smaller and has a long handle. The obvious use case for this is making sauces.
- Oven-safe up to 500°F (260° C)
- Sand-colored interior to see food
- Smaller size
If you are looking for alternatives, I would suggest this more affordable option by Tramontina. Tramontina makes decent, affordable, enameled cast iron cookware. It doesn’t look quite as good as Le Creuset (though that’s just my opinion–it seems to miss a certain “je ne sais quoi!”). It also may not last as long.
Le Creuset Casserole Dish
Casserole dishes are one of those areas where Le Creuset is worth more. It’s much more typical to go straight from oven to tabletop with casserole dish–something enameled cast iron excels at.
And this dish will impress your guests when you serve them lasagne in it.
Apart from the quality and appearance, the tight-fitting lid is particularly helpful. Firstly it’s nice to cover the dish with a proper top instead of aluminum foil. Better yet, the tight fit helps keep most of the moisture in the container.
- Attractive casserole dish
- Tight-fitting lid
- Expensive for a casserole dish
Le Creuset doesn’t usually command as much of a premium with their casserole dish. I couldn’t find affordable enameled cast iron alternatives that I’d recommend.
Instead, I’d suggest just getting a plain porcelain casserole dish. This set of three usually is affordable.
Le Creuset Cookware Set
This Le Creuset enameled cast iron cookware set includes:
- A 2 quart round Dutch oven with lid
- A 1 ¾ quart saucepan with lid
- A 9-inch skillet
The lids have the stainless steel knobs that I recommend.
I’ve reviewed versions of the individual pieces above (though the Dutch oven and skillet are smaller in this set.)
This is an excellent enameled cast iron cookware set for doing lots of cooking at once and then serving it all straight to the table in beautiful serving pans.
If you buy several cookware pieces at once, it tends to be better value to buy a whole set.
It can also be more immediately affordable to buy one piece of a collection and continue purchasing over time. You don’t have to buy Le Creuset in one go!
If you know you want all the pieces and will use them, then consider this set, otherwise. How about trying just a Dutch oven?
If you are looking for alternatives, check out my enameled cast iron cookware guide. Although I end up recommending Le Creuset, I do review a few brands, so it’s worth a look.
Other Le Creuset cookware
Le Creuset is most known for its enamel cookware, yet that isn’t all it produces. Here are some examples of Le Creuset’s other cookware:
Is Le Creuset worth it when it comes to other cookware like this? I’m not so sure. It’s a quality brand, so maybe. But Le Creuset’s other product lines aren’t as well known, so they are harder to recommend.
Le Creuset makes its non-cast iron cookware in other countries, including China. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but I just don’t think it’s the same thing in the end.
Is Le Creuset Worth It? The Verdict
Le Creuset cookware is worth it, but it’s also not the only option. There’s plenty of affordable enameled cast iron cookware, and it doesn’t have to come from Fresnoy Le Grand to be of decent quality.
I recommend Le Creuset products, but for beginners or those on a budget, I would also suggest looking at some of the alternatives I’ve mentioned.
If you want to get started with Le Creuset, I suggest their famous Dutch oven. It’s what Le Creuset is most well known for and is the most suitable cookware for enameled cast iron.