You love Le Creuset’s color collections, and you’ve heard that once you invest in it, you’ll never want any other enameled cast iron. The problem? Le Creuset is a considerable investment, and before you drop hundreds of dollars on a single pot, you want to know if it’s worth it. Since you can always head down to your local big-box store and pick up an off-brand cast iron pot for a fraction of the price, let’s examine if it’s really worth all the hype.
So What is the Price Difference?
Le Creuset isn’t just a minor difference. For a standard enameled cast iron dutch oven, you’re looking at spending around $200 up to just under $1000 for their largest sizes. In contrast, a typical Lodge cast iron pot starts at about $50 depending on sales. Other options in Le Creuset’s collection are frying pans and skillets to tiny crocks, but all of them are going to fetch a premium price.
So What’s the Difference?
Let’s look at a few different aspects of Le Creuset’s line to figure out if the investment is worth it and whether you’re paying for just the name or quality you can’t get anywhere else.
Le Creuset is more than just simple cookware. They’re an entire brand dedicated to high-end French Cookware. They started in France in the 1920s and have enjoyed a more upscale reputation since then.
It all started with the classic Flame color. Le Creuset established itself with a dramatic color choice and since has taken pains to put out color choices that reflect both trends and timeless elegance. It’s not just about the cookware. People often enjoy collecting and matching colors together for sets that tell a story. Many even pass the cookware down to the next generation.
These aren’t your typical mass-market pots. Le Creuset manufactures its cookware to be impervious to damage and uses a tried and true method to create not only the cast iron but an enamel that won’t wear or chip with time or age. The coating is the highest quality and no less than three coats are used, ensuring yours will never chip or crack even with years of use.
Fifteen pairs of eyes look over each one, and pieces that don’t meet quality control are discarded. Le Creuset’s cast iron is never recycled from other materials and is the highest grade possible. Your bargain manufactured cast iron may come recycled from other metals, which could cause impurities and weaknesses in the material. Le Creuset’s should have none of that.
While Le Creuset has invested in some modern production methods to help streamline the process, the majority of production still focuses heavily on human intervention. Human hands direct the process and inspect each piece during the production phase to ensure each is made up to standard.
Le Creuset also uses unique molds for each dutch oven, a practice they started in the very beginning. While there is consistency with size and capacity, each one is a unique piece you won’t find anywhere else.
So Is Le Creuset Worth It?
Investing in this kind of cookware is completely worth it if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen or use your dutch oven more than once a week. Le Creuset is versatile enough to go from the oven to the microwave to the dishwasher and doesn’t require a complicated seasoning process. It uses only the best materials, and your Le Creuset collection will only get more valuable over time, especially if you’ve collected some hard to find pieces.
I definitely recommend investing in Le Creuset. You don’t need the entire line (unless cooking is your full-time gig), but a few key pieces could go a long way to making your dinnertime exploits much easier. Consider how many people you’ll be serving and if you like leftovers to find a range of two to three pieces that could function as your go-to pieces of cookware.
Plus, when you love not only the function of a piece of cookware but also the form, it can make cooking that much easier. If you love your dutch oven’s look, you might be more inclined to get it out instead of heading to that restaurant at the end of the day. Invest in tools that make cooking more comfortable and more worthwhile, and you’ll make your money back in the end.
Alternatives to Le Creuset
If you aren’t sure you want to take the plunge for Le Creuset or you want to know what’s out there, here are some alternatives you might consider.
Staub isn’t budget-minded, but if you can’t quite manage the budget of Le Creuset, this option could be worth it. Staub is also made in France using a similar process, but the cookery is just a bit cheaper on average for the same capacity. It also more frequently goes on sale from either the website or partner sites, so you may get lucky.
Lodge is a good budget alternative. It’s sold in most mass-market stores and features a similar type of cast iron and enamel combination. However, they are all mass-produced with not as much oversight as Le Creuset, and the colors can be more limited. Also, Lodge manufactures their cast iron pots in China, which can be a controversial choice for some.
Investing in Le Creuset
Ultimately, the value depends on what’s important to you. Le Creuset products tend to be long-lasting and with a lifetime guarantee, you’ll be covered if you happen to be the very few that get a dud. They’re also the lightest cast iron on the market, and with such versatile usage, you’ll probably be using your dutch oven often. You may not have the budget for Le Creuset, but if you can invest, we recommend doing so. You may find the investment is the best thing you’ve done for your cooking.