Used for browning, braising, stewing and even baking, the Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven is extremely versatile and can go from the refrigerator to stove to oven and to dining table. It is no wonder there’s a French oven on almost every Food Network show. A high-quality Dutch oven not only improves your cooking experience, it is a statement piece in your kitchen.
The 5 Most Important and Commonly Asked Questions about Buying Le Creuset Dutch Oven
Whether you are buying your first Le Creuset Dutch oven or expanding your “LC” collection, here are some questions and tips you should consider:
1. Is It Worth the High Price Tag?
Value and worth are subjective. Some people believe it’s worthwhile to buy nice, expensive shoes while others don’t. Some questions that will help you to determine if the Le Creuset Dutch oven is a worthwhile investment include:
- Do I enjoy cooking and using high-quality equipment in the process?
- Do I prefer to have quality or quantity (i.e.: would you rather have 1 piece of high-quality cookware or 3 pieces of poor-to-mediocre quality cookware)?
- Will I get many uses out of it?
If you enjoy cooking, cook often and prefer quality cookware, buying a piece of high-quality cookware will give you a good return on investment.
Tips: Yes, Le Creuset is expensive, but there are ways to get first-class quality Le Creuset at a reasonably cheap price. See the price range section for more information.
2. Which Shape to Get? Oval or Round?
Which Le Creuset you should get depends on what you usually make. Oval is best suited for roasting of chicken, duck, pork/lamb shoulder or leg of lamb. Round is best suited for stews, casseroles, and soups. If you’re looking to make the famous Dutch oven bread, round is the best shape to make fresh baked bread.
Another minor factor to think about is stovetop space. Oval makes maneuvering of other pots and pans on a small stovetop a little bit tricky, especially if the Dutch oven is 5 QT. or larger. However, this should not deter you from getting the Oval if your cooking demands and complements the shape.
Tips: If you do an equal amount of roasting and stews, Oval is the way to go. Oval can do everything Round does, but imagine putting a whole duck or leg of lamb in the Round Dutch oven, it might pose some challenges.
3. What Size to Buy?
Depending on the number of people you cook for, here’s an estimate on the size that will fit your needs. This doesn’t take into consideration if a person has a healthy appetite or if you like to cook with leftover for the next day.
- 1 QT. – 1 person
- 3 ½ QT. – 1-2 persons
- 5 QT. – 2-4 persons
- 7 ¼ QT. – 3-5 persons
- 9 ½ QT. – 5+ persons
- 13.25 QT. and above – a small village
Tips: If this is your first LC purchase, the 5 QT. is the best choice, as it offers the most flexibility.
4. What are the Common Problems or Concerns with Le Creuset?
There are 3 common concerns people have with a Le Creuset Dutch oven:
- Brown stain or burnt spots on the enameled bottom interior. The LC Dutch oven can be used to sear, braise or bake. Even with proper care, the bottom will take on a patina over time. This patina does not affect performance or cooking. Some people actually like it because it adds to its character. Find out how to take care and clean a stained or burnt Le Creuset Dutch oven.
- The bottom is all scratched. Using metal kitchen utensils such as folk, whisk, spoon or ladle could potentially scratch the bottom enamel interior. Some users have reported that using metal utensils without problems while others have noticed scratches on the enamel after one use. If you don’t want to run the risk of ruining your LC, avoid metal and use wooden or silicone utensils instead.
- The lid cover knob cracked. If you intend to put the LC in the oven at high temperature, you should be aware there’s a temperature limit for your lid cover knob. Le Creuset makes 2 lid knobs: phenolic (black) or stainless steel. For the phenolic knob, there are 2 versions: Classic (the old line) or Signature (the new line). Classic is oven safe up to 375°F and Signature is oven safe up to 480°F. If you’re buying the Signature series, chances are the knob is Signature, and same goes with Classic. Stainless steel does not specify a limit and comes with 3 sizes: small, medium and large. For those who don’t want to spend extra for a high heat knob, consider wrapping the knob with aluminum foil before placing it in the oven. This would help the knob to withstand high temperature and prolong its use.
5. Should I buy Le Creuset Dutch oven at Discount Stores or Outlets?
Cheap isn’t always good. You could sometimes find very cheap Le Creuset Dutch oven at your local TJ Maxx, Marshalls or outlet stores. Be warned that they are often second-quality rejects with issues visible and invisible to the eyes. Most of the issues you read on forums such as cracking or chipping after few uses likely stem from people getting second-quality LC from outlets and discount shops.
The preferred way to get a cheap Le Creuset enameled Dutch oven is to buy from a genuine retailer, and the following vendors have some of the best prices, discounts, shipping policy and customer service on the web.
Can’t decide if you want to buy a Staub or Le Creuset French oven? Here’s a Staub vs Le Creuset breakdown that can help you.