This article is part of our series. battle of the brandswhere we compare category-leading products against their peers to determine which ones are truly worth your money.
Le Creuset has long been praised for its iconic enameled cast-iron cookware, and the French company’s Dutch oven has become an heirloom kitchen staple around the world. Sure, it can braise, boil, and simmer just about anything to perfection. But is it really worth its several hundred dollar price tag? How much are you giving up if you saved a couple hundred bucks and chose the much cheaper, but still well-respected Lodge Dutch oven?
During our extensive Dutch oven testing, we found one glaring truth: All pans performed similarly when it came to cooking. The details that make a big difference in everyday use—the handles, lids, weight, and heat distribution—are actually what separates good from great.
And, in assessing those minute details, the Lodge Dutch oven stood head-to-head with the famed Le Creuset.
Lodge’s Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven outperforms expensive competitors. Large handles and a shape that fits over a spatula make it a breeze to go from oven to stovetop, and the finish wipes up easily. Even after years of regular use, its performance has not diminished.
Le Creuset’s iconic and colorful Dutch oven has been a go-to for serious cooks for nearly a century. While it’s much more expensive than most models we tested, its perfect heat distribution, easy handling, high performance, and durability make it a family heirloom to pass down to your children.
As far as performance goes, there wasn’t a huge difference in results between the different dutch ovens we tested. All made light and fluffy rice without burning, although the grains stuck to the sides of most of the pots.
But the Lodge’s 6-quart size was perfect for all sorts of tasks: boiling water for pasta or corn on the cob, making slow-cooked casseroles and casseroles, even putting a plain no-knead bread in the oven for fresh loaf, warm, crusty bread at dinner time.
When we tested how quickly each pan could bring water to a boil, the Lodge wasn’t nearly as fast as the Le Creuset, with the latter boiling water much faster than any model we’ve tested. The Lodge delivered a tender braised pork shoulder, slow cooked for over three hours. And our no-knead boule bread came out crispy and golden with a little more color on the bottom than the Le Creuset.
Overall though, while all of the recipes we’ve made have turned out well, Le Creuset’s results have always been a little better. For example, all of the pans produced fluffy, light rice, but while the others left at least some of the grains clinging to the pan and had variations in heat distribution when we tested different areas of the Dutch oven with an infrared thermometer, Le Creuset it left nary a trail of rice behind and showed a perfect distribution of heat.
As far as cleaning goes after each round of testing, the Lodge looked like new after a bit of a soak in soapy water, with no visible stains, chips, or cracks. (It’s dishwasher safe, but we choose to hand wash all models.) We have had a Lodge for three years and can report that it does not show its age even after almost weekly use.
The Le Creuset, even after cooking red sauce and a multi-hour slow cooker stew, cleaned up like new. Of course, any enamel pan can chip or flake, but we’ve had a similar Le Creuset model for 15 years that still hasn’t. And a lifetime warranty can be used in case of any damage.
build and design
The Le Creuset shows excellent heat retention and distribution, and retains moisture, thanks to its airtight lid. It definitely has a slight edge over the Lodge thanks to its wide, roomy handles, as well as the convenience of the lid knob, which is large enough and sits high enough that it’s hard to grab the lid with oven mitts. . Its weight, at 11.5 pounds, was the third lightest, which makes a noticeable difference when pulling a heavy, steaming roast out of the oven.
Lodge’s enameled Dutch oven also features large handles and a lid with an oversized metal knob, both of which make using a heavy skillet easy, especially when using oven mitts or handling with a dish towel. which is necessary because these pans get hot. handles and all.
True, the Le Creuset scored top marks for comfort, but at less than a fifth of the cost of that higher-end model, the Lodge came in second. The Lodge was fairly easy to maneuver, even more so than most of the lighter models. And its slightly sloped sides allowed a putty knife to scrape all along the edges.
The impressiveness of Le Creuset’s classic round Dutch oven is undeniable. But it’s more for the serious cook looking to pass down cookware to his children. For a fraction of the price, the Lodge won’t let you down – its quality and form-focused construction, along with top-tier performance, will elevate any home chef’s kitchen for years to come.