Thinking about buying your first enameled cast-iron dutch oven? There are only two brands that make the list, Le Creuset and Staub. Cheaper alternatives exist, but they may not have the tight-fitting lids and even cooking temperatures as these two giants in the field.
So which one should you get? It depends a lot on a few different details. If you aren’t sure where to start, I’ve got you covered. This is a comprehensive examination of which cast iron cocotte is best for you and how to choose. Let’s take a look.
Before we get started, let’s make something clear. Both of these companies make a truly outstanding product. They’re both from France, and both use a traditional process to make their cast iron while ensuring the enamel lasts a lifetime. Here are some similarities:
- Design – Both have the basic design down. Cast iron is excellent for cooking evenly and slowly, turning even the worst cuts of meat into something tender and flavorful. Their enameled exteriors ensure that the cast iron is protected and they provide show-stopping serving when food is ready.
- Price – There may be some slight variations in price, but overall they’re both in the same price tier. I do see Staub on sale more often than Le Creuset, as a side note, but generally, they’re both on par in this area.
- Usage – Both Staub and Le Creuset are dishwasher and microwave safe, making it easier to reheat and clean. They’re both oven-safe as long as you have the integrated handles and a metal handle on the lids. As far as versatility, each brand is capable of multiple cooking uses and easy to clean either by hand or the dishwasher.
- Origin – They’re both made in France and have a long history of excellent crockery. The companies have been rivals for a while, and each has followers dedicated to their own usage.
Le Creuset – The Review
Le Creuset is a classic with its volcano orange color. It uses a light-colored interior for easy cooking and to make it simple to eyeball when your food might be done. The lids fit tightly, especially with the signature series, but they will allow more moisture to leak out than some other companies.
The colors are what draw most people to the line. Le Creuset has debuted many colors over the years and currently has nearly 20 colors, including unique partnership colors. You can find them all on the Le Creuset website, though you might have to head to your local Williams and Sonoma to find that one particular color.
The sizing can be a little strange with numbers and letters, but plenty of resources are available online to help you figure out how big you need your crock to be. You can also easily find past colors in secondhand shops and sometimes even on the Le Creuset website.
- lots of color choices
- light interior helps make it easy to check on food
- lightweight cast iron compared to other models
- interior shows scratches easily
- the lid allows a lot of moisture to escape
- plastic handles on lids
Staub – The Review
Staub is another French company that uses enamel-covered cast iron. The interior of the Staub is a textured black enamel that helps cut down on food sticking and hold in heat for a longer, more even temperature.
The lid of the Staub helps baste your food by concentrating condensation so that it can fall back on the food instead of running towards the sides. This could help prevent moisture loss for those tough dishes, but you may need to tilt the lid to the side if you need excess moisture to cook away.
The handles are all metal so it can withstand a higher amount of heat right out of the box. The handles on the body of the crock are narrower and may require more maneuvering for those of you with larger hands (or large oven mitts. Their crockery is easy to size because they use standard centimeter measurements — no hunting for the meanings of letters.
- colors don’t get discontinued as quickly
- self-basting lid
- textured interior doesn’t stick
- not as many color choices
- hard to visually check your food with dark interior
- the lid is too tight to cook off excess moisture
Staub vs. Le Creuset
They may be similar, but there are a few different options that might help you decide between one or the other. Let’s take a look.
Both of the companies use an enamel coating on their cast iron, but there’s a big difference. Le Creuset interiors use a white coating while Staub sticks to a black. Le Creuset’s smooth, white interior is easy to clean and makes it simple to check on pieces of meat by sight alone to see if they’ve browned well or are done. However, the light interior may not provide the even cooking you need at higher temperatures.
Staub’s black interior doesn’t show scratches or marks and ages beautifully. It’s not as smooth, so the durability is there. It cooks evenly and slowly thanks to the dark interior, but it may be more challenging to check on the progress of your dish just by sight alone.
The Le Creuset is going to be much easier to clean overall because it’s smooth and there are no ridges in the top enamel. The Staub’s enamel may cook a little better, but the texture and ridges will be more difficult to clean, especially if the material is caked on.
Le Creuset has a vast color line. There are classic colors and trendy colors as well as unique partnership colors for individual retailers like Williams and Sonoma. The company also carries discontinued and retired colors for a time on the site as long as inventory is available.
Le Creuset is continually bringing out new colors in response to trends and popular design choices. They offer a handy color coordination guide right on their site to help you figure out what colors pair well together. The downside is that aside from their classic orange color, almost everything in the line is subject to discontinuation, sending you searching secondhand shops.
Staub has a range of colors but not nearly as expansive as Le Creuset. There may be less to choose from, but Staub tends to keep their colors around for longer, giving you the chance to collect everything in the line before losing a color. However, they don’t keep past inventory around as long, and you may not find colors secondhand as commonly.
Le Creuset has a classic style lid that fits tightly over the oven to hold in moisture while cooking. However, it does still allow moisture to escape from the sides of the crock, so you may have to re-baste your food if you’re cooking.
The knobs on Le Creuset lids aren’t metal, but they are treated to withstand a higher amount of heat. You do have the option of a stainless steel knob, but it’s going to be a separate investment from the pot itself.
Staub lids have metal handles so they can handle a higher heat in the oven. A Staub lid also has knobs in the bottom of the lid that help collect condensation as your meal is cooking and drop it back onto the food instead of collecting around the lid. It’s like automatic basting during cooking and helps keep food moist.
Staub lids fit much tighter as well. This may not always be a good thing, however. If you want to cook off excess moisture, you’ll have to sit the lid sideways or off sided to help release an excess. With a round lid, that can be tough to do.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Both of these are going to be heavy because of the cast iron. However, Le Creuset is one of the lightest options with this type of cookware. Staub’s choices are easily two to three pounds heavier than a comparable Le Creuset.
If you’re going bigger, you may appreciate all the weight reduction you can get with Le Creuset. Small to medium-sized cocottes may not matter as much, and you’ll get a slight edge with temperature regulation than you would with Le Creuset.
The Le Creuset handles are more comfortable to hold because they’re round and wide. You can easily fit your hands on them even with thick oven mitts. That bit of extra space can make it easier and safer to carry the crock around.
Staub’s handles are big enough, but they aren’t quite as roomy as Le Creuset. For some of you, you might have to maneuver your hands in oven mitts a little more to get a steady hold on the crock.
Which Should I Buy?
Both would be suitable investments for your kitchen. They have excellent functionality and can cook down a sturdy piece of meat quickly and efficiently. There could be a few ways to tell which one should be in your future.
Buy Le Creuset if:
- you frequently visually check your food
- you cook a lot of dishes that have excess moisture
- you want a bigger size and weight matters
- you need large handles for your hands
you don’t care about the plastic handles on the lids
Buy Staub if:
- you frequently purchase less than ideal cuts of meat
- you don’t like basting while cooking
- you want a non-stick interior and don’t care about visual checks
- scratches on the interior drive you crazy
- you’re looking for a small to medium size
Either investment would be a worthy one, but you may want to check around for cheaper options if you don’t cook that much. However, if you spend lots of time in the kitchen trying to get a specific cut of meat to tenderize or you like to put one-pot meals on the table, both of these would be excellent choices.
Le Creuset wins the color option, hands down, while Staub’s unique lid helps make cooking a snap. Those of you that cook at very high temperatures may need to upgrade the Le Creuset top handles, but at least you do have that option. No matter which one you decide to buy, your cooking is about to transform.