Staub vs Le Creuset (2020 Guide): Cocotte vs Dutch Oven

Imagine serving your guests a stew in your new enameled Dutch oven, straight from the stove to the table. Picture yourself basking in your guests’ admiration for your beautiful, color-matched, enameled cookware. That could be worth the price alone!

Do you want a nice, high-quality Dutch oven, yet find yourself wondering Staub or Le Creuset? 

Both are made in France, and are expensive, high quality, durable and attractive Dutch ovens.

OK, Staub claims its pot is a cocotte – yet it’s the same thing – more on that below.

Both are amazing – I’d be happy with either Dutch oven.  So, I’m going to walk you through both options, as well as some alternatives, and let you decide.

Yet if you don’t want to read the whole Staub vs Le Creuset article and just want a recommendation: I would choose Le Creuset for its incredible quality.

Read on to find out why.

Things to consider before buying an Enameled Dutch Oven

Cocotte vs Dutch Oven

Staub calls their Dutch oven a “cocotte”.  What’s the difference between a cocotte and a Dutch oven?

Nothing!  A cocotte is the same as a Dutch oven.  You can take cocotte as the French word for Dutch oven.  

OK, “four hollandaise” is literally the French word for Dutch oven, but the words have merged in modern times.

While they have slightly different histories, these days, it’s the same idea:  A large pot, often of enameled cast iron, that can be used as an oven when heated.

I sometimes see that some manufacturers call their smaller Dutch ovens  “cocottes” – but that’s just a matter of convenience.  Cocottes can be just as big as Dutch Ovens.

Sometimes manufacturers also differentiate on shape – but you can ignore that.  Both a cocotte and a Dutch oven are round, sometimes circular, other times with an oval shape.

Both Dutch ovens and cocottes are great at browning, baking, roasting, deep-frying, or broiling.

Of course, most manufacturers use the term “Dutch oven” as it’s easily recognizable.  On the other hand, “cocotte” sounds a bit fancier and can be used to differentiate a product.

Porcelain Enamel Coating

Cast Iron is one of those magical materials.  It’s very cheap, yet it can last forever.  It’s pretty efficient at heating, and its high heat retention gives you more options when cooking.

When well seasoned, it’s naturally non-stick.

So why isn’t all cookware made of cast iron?  Well, to cut a long story short, it could rust if you don’t look after it. So it’s a bit more hassle.  Plus, well, it’s not quite as non-stick as Teflon.

This is the advantage of an enamel coating: It “protects” the cast iron layer underneath.  So you get the superb heating efficiency of cast iron, without needing as much care.

Even better, enameled cast iron comes in a range of beautiful colors.  It’s one of the few cookware dishes you’d be equally comfortable using for both cooking and serving.

Now, the biggest issue with the porcelain enamel coating is the risk of chipping.  There simply isn’t a way of repairing it if that happens.  Sure, a few chips aren’t the end of the world, but at some point, you will need to throw the pot away.  It isn’t “fixable” in the way bare cast iron is.

So you mustn’t compromise on quality with an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.  If you are going to get one, get a quality product where you expect the coating to last.

Honestly, if you want a cheap Dutch oven, don’t get an enameled cast iron one – just get a stainless steel stockpot and be done!

Size

You need to think about what you want from a Dutch oven, and how many people you are cooking for.

If you are using it for baking bread, I suggest 3 quarts for every pound (450 grams) of bread.

For most other uses, I’d suggest 1 to 1.5 quarts ( 0.9 – 1.4 liters) per person.

So, 5 – 7 quarts (4.7 – 6.6 liters) is usually a decent-sized Dutch oven that lets you cook for a family of around 3 – 6 people. 

Who should buy an enameled Dutch oven?

Enameled Dutch ovens are best suited to those who want to cook tasty, healthy food as smoothly as possible.  

If all you are doing is reheating dinners – get a microwave!

If you enjoy the idea of spending time looking after your dutch oven – consider a cast-iron Dutch oven.

On the other hand, if you want:

  • A healthy cooking surface
  • Easy to use and manage cookware
  • Long-lasting pots
  • The benefits of cast iron without the hassle

Then an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven is ideal for you.

Are enameled Dutch ovens safe?

If they are from a reputable manufacturer – then yes, enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens are safe.

The enamel is a hard surface that doesn’t leach toxins – as long as you are using a high-quality product.

I’d never recommend cheap knockoff imports for any cookware.  Get a quality product to make sure it’s safe.

Le Creuset Signature 5.5 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Review

Le Creuset makes its Dutch Ovens in France to an exacting standard.  These high-quality pots are designed for you to pass on to the next generation.

For me, the 5.5 Quart (reviewed) is just the right size for my family of four.  If I have guests, I will cook more than one dish – so the 5.5 quart (5.2 liter) still works.

On the other hand, if you have a bigger family or just want more capacity, then consider the 7.5 quart (7.1 liter) Le Creuset Dutch Oven.  It’s great for 5-7 people.

They are so easy to use as well.  They are naturally non-stick and dishwasher safe, so clean up is a cinch.

I love the selection of colors, including a color that matches my kitchen (a similar design to this website).

Some customers report it cracking with extreme temperature changes.  When cooking on the stove, I would suggest not going straight to a high heat but warming up first on a medium heat.  This advice applies to any enameled cast iron cookware.

It’s tempting to go straight to “pre-warm” on the high heat because it takes so long to warm up.  Yet repeated extreme temperature changes void the warranty and risk the enamel cracking.

Also, keep it below the oven-safe temperature of 260°C (500°F).  Honestly, I never go that high anyway!

I love the sandy white interior of the Le Creuset.  It makes it ideal for serving food in – saving on dishes and time!

It can be a bit more effort to get the white interiors looking spotless – if you find this is the case, consider buying a special cleaner.

This Dutch oven is a quality pot.  As with any product, you need to treat it right, but it will be such a piece of cake to use if you do.  (As well as baking you many cakes!)

If you are a patient person who wants a high-quality Dutch oven that lasts then I would recommend this pot to you.

Pros:

  • Made in France
  • Superb quality
  • Beautiful enamel
  • Efficient & even heating
  • Holds the heat well
  • Attractive range of colors
  • Easy to clean
  • Naturally safe non-stick
  • Tight-fitting lids stop food drying out
  • Dishwasher safe – in theory
  • Metal Utensil Safe
  • Oven safe to 260°C (500°F)
  • Light for cast iron

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Reports of cracking with extreme temperature changes
  • Takes time to warm up
  • Heavy – as with all enameled cast iron

Staub Cast Iron 5.5 Quart Round Cocotte Review

Another high quality French Dutch oven cocotte, this time from Staub, the main Le Creuset competitor.

There’s no doubt that Staub has done a fantastic job here, and there’s a lot to love about this beautiful cocotte.

At 5.5 quarts (5.2 liters), it’s the same size as Le Creuset – i.e. family-sized.

It is available in a range of colors and ticks all the boxes in terms of non-stick, being dishwasher safe, and oven safe.

Without the lid, it’s actually oven safe to an incredible  480°C (900°F).  It’s a more standard (but still useful) 260°C (500°F) with the lid.

Speaking of the lid.

The lid is well designed with little pointy bumps dotted about the surface.  These help water condense and fall back into the food – trapping the moisture inside.  Staub calls this a “rainforest effect”…

Yet Staub may have been slightly too clever here as those little bumps do make the lid a bit harder to clean!

The matte black interior is actually enamel (not bare cast iron).  I don’t think it looks quite as nice as the Le Creuset white interior.  Yet, on the other hand, it’s a bit easier to clean as it doesn’t show stains. (Just make sure you have cleaned it).

Overall this is a fantastic Dutch oven at a slightly more affordable price than Le Creuset.  Make sure to register the warranty, though, as there are occasional reports of cracks or the coating flaking.

Pros:

  • Made in France
  • Good quality
  • Versatile
  • Attractive enamel with a range of colors
  • Cleverly designed lid helps trap moisture
  • Even & efficient heating
  • Conducts heat well
  • Non-stick and easy to clean
  • Dishwasher safe – but not recommended
  • Oven safe to 260°C (500°F) with lid,  480°C (900°F) without lid
  • Reports Staub do honor warranty – make sure to register
  • More affordable than Le Creuset

Cons:

  • Still Pricey
  • Bumps in the lid make it harder to clean
  • Lid doesn’t seal as well as Le Creuset
  • Reports of cracking

Le Creuset vs Staub: What’s The difference?

Let’s be clear: both Staub and Le Creuset make beautiful, high-quality, enameled Dutch ovens.  They will last you decades, or longer if treated right.

And yet.

I feel Le Creuset’s Dutch oven is just a bit higher quality than Staub’s cocotte.  The Le Creuset is a bit easier to clean and less prone to chipping.

At the time of writing, Le Creuset is significantly more expensive than Staub.

So maybe they are equal on a value basis.  Staub, while still an expensive top quality product, is just slightly more affordable but not quite as good as Le Creuset.

There are also some smaller differences worth noting

  • As reviewed, Le Creuset has a smooth white “sandy” interior, yet Staub has a matte black interior
  • Staub traps moisture through bumps on the inside of the lid, Le Creuset through a tight-fitting lid

I feel that they are more alike than they are different, though.  Some more things they have in common are:

  • Made in France
  • 5.5 Quarts – family-sized pot
  • Dishwasher safe – but only in theory, I wouldn’t use the dishwasher!
  • Oven safe to a high temperature
  • Available in attractive colors
  • Possible to crack / chip if subjected to extreme temperature changes or dropped
  • Good at retaining moisture
  • Efficient heat conductors

The thing I like about both products is where they are made.  Sometimes you see other products advertised as American or European, and it turns out they are made in China.  Where is Staub made?  What about Le Creuset?

Both Le Creuset and Staub are made in France.  That doesn’t, on its own, automatically make them high quality.  Yet I think, by now, you will have realized that the manufacturers have focused on quality.

What else is out there?

If you aren’t convinced by Staub or Le Creuset, and want an alternative, here are a couple of more affordable choices:

Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven

Lodge is a well known US cast iron cookware manufacturer.  If you live in the US you may prefer American Made to French-made, but are Lodge products American made?

I think some are, yet Lodge’s enamel cookware is made in China.  Lodge is a reputable manufacturer, so there’s nothing wrong with made in China, but it’s not the same as made in France!

This is a nice enameled pot that, like Staub and Le Creuset, comes in a beautiful range of colors.

At 6 quarts (5.7 liters), it’s slightly bigger than Staub or Le Creuset but still family-sized.

Lodge makes excellent cookware, but their enameled cast iron is on the “budget” side in terms of quality and price.

Sure, if you can’t afford to buy the Le Creuset or Staub, this could be the right choice.  Yet what would rather -to save some money in the short term or to have a pot you can pass on to your children?

Pros:

  • Nice selection of colors
  • Affordable for enameled cast iron
  • Oven safe to 260°C (500°F) with lid

Cons:

  • Famous American Manufacturer but made in China…
  • Enamel chips too easily
  • Exposed cast iron rim prone to rust 
  • Lid doesn’t seal well over pot

Tramontina Dutch Oven

Tramontina, similar to Lodge, is another budget choice.

Funnily enough, Tramontina is a well known, high-quality Brazilian manufacturer.  Yet these Dutch ovens are made in China!  Another thing in common with the Lodge, but not Le Creuset or Staub.

It is available in a great selection of colors and is certainly an attractive choice.  In a way, it’s an excellent way of getting the “enameled cookware” wow factor on a budget.  Serve your guests soup in this, and they will fall off their chairs.

But it won’t last; this pot is more challenging to clean than Le Creuset and Staub and not as durable.

It’s a nice pot, and if you really want an enameled cast iron Dutch oven but can’t afford something better – sure.  Go for it.

The risk is you fall in love with having one and need to buy a replacement after a few years, as the Tramontina wears away.

Pros:

  • Nice selection of colors
  • Condensation ridges on lid to capture moisture – similar to Staub
  • Affordable for enameled cast iron
  • Oven safe to 232°C (450°F) with lid

Cons:

  • Reports of not responding to warranty claims
  • Food prone to sticking – hard to clean
  • Customers complain enamel wears off the pot – and into their food
  • Prone to chipping

Which is better – Staub or Le Creuset?

So these are both beautiful cast iron enameled Dutch ovens with two key differences:

  • Staub is, usually, cheaper (but still expensive).
  • Le Creuset is probably better quality (but both are still top quality)

Which you go for is up to you.  I think that when spending this level of money, it’s worth spending a bit extra to get the top quality.

Investing in quality in the short term often means saving in the long term.  I believe this is one of those cases.

This is something you can pass on to your kids.  It’s something you will use time and again and really appreciate.

Both Staub and Le Creuset are amazing Dutch ovens – if you prefer one over the other – get it, and you won’t regret it.  They are both made in France with love and care, resulting in quality products.

If you want my opinion, then I would say – go for the best quality, get Le Creuset, and enjoy it.

Affordable Alternatives to Staub and Le Creuset

Do you think Staub and Le Creuset are just too expensive?  Perhaps you’re worried about smashing one of them by accident?

Having two children, I completely sympathize with the idea that cookware can be too expensive and high quality.  Yes, sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing.

If you buy more affordable cookware, then it won’t sting as much if breaks.

Yet, I find that cheaper alternatives are more likely to break.  This isn’t just because of the quality, but because I might not take quite as much care of them as I do a more expensive option.

If I know something is meant to last generations, then I’m going to treat it with a bit more TLC.

But that’s me.

If you’re looking for some affordable alternatives to Staub and Le Creuset then I’m happy to help!

Both Lodge and Tramontina enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are made in China.  This isn’t the end of the world, but it may be why they are cheaper.

Quality wise I think they are both OK, but definitely a budget choice.  Just like the price.  Yet Tramontina feels like a slightly better design.

So if you want an affordable, short term, alternative to Le Creuset and Staub, consider Tramontina. 

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