2024 Le Creuset Dutch Oven Review – Is It Worth It?

Ellyn Eddy
Ellyn Eddy

Ellyn Eddy

Ellyn is a seasoned writer and editor with profound experience in covering culinary topics. She covers cookware guides and writes hands-on product reviews for The Skillful Cook.

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Le Creuset Review
Verdict: Excellent (90.5/100)
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature
Every Le Creuset piece is a work of art as well as an effective cooking vessel. Le Creuset is made of thinner iron than Staub, so it is a bit more responsive to temperature changes.
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Le Creuset Signature Chef’s Oven Score

Overall Score:0/100 Points
Cooking Performance 0/20
Build quality0/10
Design & comfort0/10
Versatility0/10
Ease of use & maint.0/10
Longevity & warranty0/10
Health & Safety0/10
Price & availability0/10
Company & env. impct0/10

Read how we test and review products

Pros

  • Made in France with superior craftsmanship
  • Iconic colors and designs
  • Lightest-weight enameled cast iron available
  • Heirloom quality
  • Excellent cooking performance

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Enamel stains easily
  • Rough handling will damage enamel
  • Not suitable for high heat use

Le Creuset means “the cauldron.”  

In a charming village in northeastern France, a gigantic furnace blazes constantly, turning raw iron and recycled auto parts into colorful cookware that has a cult following all over the world.

Le Creuset released its first enameled cast iron French oven in 1925, and the company is about to celebrate 100 years of dominating the market in enameled kitchenware. 

Today in the United States, almost every wedding registry has a token Le Creuset piece on it, and some people are serious collectors, with “flame” or “cerise” or “marseille“ pots and pans brightening every corner of their kitchens.

But Le Creuset pieces are costly – and there are lots of copycat items available at a much lower price. Is buying genuine Le Creuset worth it? Is enameled cast iron a good fit for your kitchen? I’ll walk you through all the pros and cons of using genuine Le Creuset in this review.

Side by Side Comparison with Other Dutch Ovens

Le Creuset

Our score:
90.5/100

Width (incl. handles):
11.75 inches

Diameter:
9 inches

Height with Lid:
6 inches

Weight with Lid:
8.2 pounds

Thickness:
3.6mm

Country of Origin:
🇫🇷 France

Staub

Our score:
92/100

Width (incl. handles):
11.75 inches

Diameter:
9 inches

Height with Lid:
6 inches

Weight with Lid:
11.3 pounds

Thickness:
4mm

Country of Origin:
🇫🇷 France

Lodge

Our score:
80/100

Width (incl. handles):
14.75 inches

Diameter:
11 inches

Height with Lid:
7.25 inches

Weight with Lid:
12.5 pounds

Thickness:
5.4mm

Country of Origin:
🇨🇳 China

Testing a Le Creuset Signature Chef’s Oven

For this article, I tested the 7.5 quart round Le Creuset Chef’s Oven in Sea Salt. But I have also had the privilege of handling and using other Le Creuset Dutch products of various sizes – including a huge 13.25 quart Dutch oven – and comparing them to Dutch ovens from other brands.

Cooking Performance

Score0/20

I own the 7.5 quart Le Creuset chef’s oven and reach for it consistently, whether I am making a stovetop soup or braising a stew in the oven. When testing it against other Dutch ovens, I boiled water in it, seared and braised a roast, baked in it, and made that classic Dutch oven recipe, beef bourguignon. My observations here are based on those tests.

Stovetop Use

Le Creuset pieces can be used on all types of ranges – including gas and induction, although the direct heat of gas or electric coils may discolor the enamel. To avoid damaging the enamel, you should avoid heating your pot when empty. Add a little food or oil and start it on low temperature, bringing it up slowly to medium heat at most. 

Since the interior enamel of Le Creuset is so smooth, and I didn’t bring it to high heat, I wasn’t able to get the sear I wanted on a roast. The high sides of the pan trapped some steam, preventing the meat from getting a great crust. 

Smooth interior enamel of Le Creuset

But for creating a mirepoix as the first step to making a soup, the Le Creuset works great. It has more cooking surface area than a steel stockpot, and retains heat much better, making it more effective for every stage of cooking a one-pot meal. The handles remain cool on the stove. 

You could sautee veggies or cook a steak on a Le Creuset on the stove, but it would be much less efficient than a fry pan, since it takes more energy to heat a large cast iron vessel. 

Sautee veggies on a Le Creuset on the stove

Proteins and veggies won’t bond with the enamel like they do to bare metal pans, but they do leave some dark “fond” behind. Since the enamel coating can handle acids, you can deglaze a Le Creuset using vinegar or wine and use the fond to make a great sauce.

Oven Use

I discovered the true power of enameled cast iron when I used it in the oven. The iron lid radiates heat, cooking food from all sides. In my Le Creuset, a chuck roast will braise to pull-apart tender in 60% of the time it takes in my stainless steel roaster covered only with aluminum foil. Meat retains moisture much better in the Le Creuset as well.

Only one Dutch oven that I tested beat the Le Creuset in the braising department, and that was the Staub cocotte. The slightly thicker walls and self-basting lid of the Staub cooked meat just a bit faster than the Le Creuset. It also retained more steam in my tests. 

Le Creuset products are made with thinner walls than other brands of enameled cast iron. (See chart below.) This helps it come to temperature more quickly and heat more evenly, making it better for baked goods. Loaves of bread never burn in my Le Creuset, but they do in a cheap Dutch oven I got from Aldi.

Le Creuset - 7.5 qtStaub - 7.0 qtLodge - 5.5 qt
Thickness3.6mm4.0mm5.4mm
Weight with lid13 lb, 11 oz14 lb, 14 oz11 lb, 8 oz
Weight without lid8 lb, 8 oz9 lb, 15 oz7 lb, 13 oz

Full Comparison: Staub vs Le Creuset vs Lodge Dutch Ovens

Heat Retention

I tested the heat retention of three cast iron Dutch ovens by boiling water in them and tracking how quickly the water cooled off. Although the Le Creuset has much thinner walls than the inexpensive Lodge Dutch oven, it kept the water hot slightly longer. Check out my full comparison of Le Creuset vs Staub vs Lodge Dutch ovens for details. 

Build Quality

Score0/10

Le Creuset’s iron alloy is less brittle than other brands, so it can be made into thinner-walled pots, but it is also extremely durable. Le Creuset doesn’t reveal the exact percentages of carbon or other materials in its alloy, but we know that the company uses recycled steel and raw pig iron as components. And we know that the engineers behind Le Creuset have been perfecting their casting, enameling, and finishing techniques for nearly 100 years. 

All Le Creuset enameled iron products are made in France with strict quality control. At least 30 pairs of hands touch a Le Creuset French oven before it leaves the factory, checking for defects at every stage. Le Creuset has a reputation for phenomenal build quality. I docked it half a point in this category only because my Le Creuset developed a tiny spot of rust on the rim after its first wash, revealing a weakness in the enamel primer. 

Design and Comfort

Score0/10

Le Creuset French ovens get full marks for aesthetics. The Le Creuset colors are rich and nuanced, setting them apart from competitors and fakes. The pieces have elegant lines and contours, making them excellent servingware as well as cookware. You can find limited edition Le Creuset dishes in star, heart, or holiday shapes.

The handles on the French ovens form wide loops, with plenty of room to grasp them comfortably. (See the 1 ¼” handle opening on the Le Creuset, vs the narrower and squared handles on the Staub in the images below.) 

Versatility

Score0/10

Take it from me, who scratched up my first beautiful Le Creuset in a matter of minutes: do not let metal touch your light-colored enamel piece! Not metal turners, not steel wool, not chainmail scrubbers, not even metal spoons. 

But as long as you stick to silicone or plastic utensils with Le Creuset, the French ovens are very versatile. They have smooth bases that won’t scratch glass or induction cooktops. They can go from the stove to the oven to the refrigerator. 

They’re great for baking, steaming, roasting, braising, and even deep frying. They’re not, however, great for searing. Using enameled cast iron – even a top-quality product like Le Creuset – on high heat to sear a steak may cause the enamel to crack. When I tried searing a roast in my Chef’s oven, the slick enamel coupled with low-to-medium heat made it more steam than sear. 

Ease of Use and Maintenance

Score0/10

Le Creuset makes the lightest iron Dutch ovens available for their capacity, so they are surprisingly easy to handle and wash. I dreaded getting my 7.5-quart oven out of the box, since I thought it would be a pain to wash – but it really isn’t! The ergonomic shape of the handles and the moderate weight of the pot itself makes hand cleanup easy. 

I do find stains difficult to remove from my Le Creuset without using an acid-based cleaner, like Bar Keeper’s Friend. But I would 100% recommend using an acidic cleaner over a harsh manual scrubbing pad if you need to remove stains. Scrubbing the enamel too hard will damage it. (Yeah, this was my mistake, too.)

If you really want to, you can also put your Le Creuset in the dishwasher – but that will dull the enamel. Check out our full write-up on the pros and cons of running a Le Creuset piece through the dishwasher.

Longevity and Warranty 

Score0/10

If you’re a rule-follower and treat your Le Creuset like it’s meant to be treated, it can last for generations. One of our writers at The Skillful Cook has a heavily used 20-year-old Le Creuset piece that functions beautifully and hasn’t chipped at all. Compared to the much newer Lodge Dutch oven I tested, which had chipped and cracked enamel in several places, I believe that Le Creuset is worth the investment.

I haven’t personally redeemed a Le Creuset warranty. But anecdotes across the web report success with having Le Creuset enameled pieces replaced under their limited lifetime warranty. The warranty requires you to pay for shipping your product to Le Creuset, which usually costs about $25-$35 if you live in the US.

Health and Safety Considerations

Score0/10

What is Le Creuset Made Of?

Le Creuset Signature French ovens are made of an iron-and-steel alloy cast in sand molds and coated with glass-like porcelain enamel. There is no Teflon, PTFE, PFOA, PFAS, or other synthetic chemicals found in these pots. The enamel that coats Le Creuset pieces is different from the sol-gel coatings found on ceramic nonstick pans, and doesn’t carry the same concerns.

Given this information, enameled Le Creuset cocottes and skillets are likely very safe to use. They comply with EU regulations for cookware. 

Since they are sold without labels warning of “unsafe levels” of leachable lead or cadmium, we can assume they are California Prop 65 compliant. However -- the Le Creuset company has not clearly denied the use of lead or cadmium to achieve the bright colors in some of its enameled products, at least not that I’ve found. The company did not respond to my request for comment.

Health and Safety Considerations when using Le Creuset

For a more thorough exploration of this issue, see our post on “Is Le Creuset Non-Toxic?”

One final safety concern: Le Creuset is susceptible to thermal shock if used unwisely. Practices like putting a cold Dutch oven on an induction stove or adding ice to a hot Dutch oven while baking bread can make a Le Creuset piece shatter. It doesn’t happen often – but you’ll need to treat your Le Creuset with respect.

Company and Environmental Impact

Score0/10

Le Creuset was established in 1925 and continues to operate out of its original foundry in Fresnoy-le-Grand, France. All Le Creuset enameled cast iron and stoneware is made in this factory. But Le Creuset branded products that are not made of cast iron or stoneware – such as its nonstick cookware (which, by the way, contain chemicals from the PFAS family) – are made in China or Thailand. 

Le Creuset is vocal about its quality control and renewable energy sources at its US and EU locations, but we know less about its commitment to sustainability in its Asian factories.

Price and Availability

Score0/10

Yes, Le Creuset is expensive. Very expensive. But considering the innovative design, the quality materials, and the reliable warranty behind a Le Creuset enameled iron piece, I’d suggest it’s worth the money.

Le Creuset is easy to find at one of its many outlet stores around the US and the world. It’s also easy to purchase online. Bargain hunters love to search TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and other similar retail stores for Le Creuset “seconds.”  

What Do People Say About It?

I have huge regard for the pros behind America’s Test Kitchen – and when they say that Le Creuset is the best Dutch oven you can buy, I take it seriously. Check out their side-by-side tests of various Dutch ovens in the video below.

Alternatives to Consider

As amazing as Le Creuset is, there’s a large contingent of home cooks who prefer Staub’s dark-enameled Cocotte to a Le Creuset French oven. Many of these cooks echo my negative experiences with Le Creuset: that the enamel stains easily, and that LC’s French oven lacks just a bit of cooking power compared to the Staub.

In the words of one commenter on the video embedded above, “I would not trade [my Staub] for a million dollars.”

What About Less Expensive Options?

Unfortunately, both Staub and Le Creuset Dutch ovens can cost hundreds of dollars, putting them out of range for many home cooks. But a quick glance at Amazon reveals more than a dozen enameled cast iron alternatives, ranging in cost from $60 to $150. How do these cheaper options compare?

Usually pretty well! In my experience, mid-range alternatives like those from Lodge or Cuisinart are more prone to thermal shock and chipped or cracked enamel than Le Creuset. They are heavier to handle and less visibly attractive. But their heat retention and cooking power are comparable.

Great Budget Choice (80/100)
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The “Essential Enamel” Lodge Dutch oven is affordable and a great introduction to cooking in enameled cast iron. It releases more steam when cooking and takes a bit longer to heat up, but it retains heat almost as well as higher-end models.

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Very cheap Dutch ovens (like the Aldi brand I mentioned above) are made of less pure iron and heat noticeably unevenly.

Check out our posts on Le Creuset alternatives and our head-to-head Le Creuset vs Lodge vs Staub review for full details.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Pronounce Le Creuset?

Most Americans pronounce Le Creuset as “Luh kruh-ZAY.” But listen carefully to French pronunciation expert Julien Miquel pronounce the brand name in this video. The emphasis is more on the middle syllable than the last one. You can hear a Le Creuset brand representative from France pronounce the name at minute 2:48 in this factory tour video.

Where Can I Buy Le Creuset?

You can buy genuine Le Creuset from the Le Creuset store on Amazon or the Le Creuset website. Le Creuset has a presence at many outlet malls across the US. It’s often available at department stores and big box retailers like Costco, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Crate & Barrel. 

Le Creuset pieces with visual imperfections can be found at retailers like HomeGoods and Marshalls – but these are rarely Dutch ovens. If you see Le Creuset for sale from third-party sellers on Ebay or Amazon, check seller ratings to try to avoid buying a counterfeit. 

What Size Le Creuset Dutch Oven to Buy?

Le Creuset makes a variety of Dutch-oven style cocottes; some round, some oval, in sizes ranging from an 8oz capacity to a giant 15.5 quart. The most popular size is 5.5 quarts. This size is perfect for baking bread and making a one-pot meal for a family of four. It’s not too heavy to use for serving or heating up leftovers. Check out our post where I tested three sizes of Dutch ovens to determine the best size to buy.

The Wrap-Up: Is Le Creuset a Good Brand?

I’ve rarely heard anyone regret buying a Le Creuset, despite the high price. Almost every home cook can find a color that delights them and a multitude of uses for these heavy-duty cooking pots. Le Creuset is not only the original brand of enameled cast iron pots, but undeniably on a very short list of the best Dutch oven manufacturers in the world. 

(Excuse me, I mean, French oven manufacturers.)

What’s your opinion? Did your Le Creuset hold up to your expectations? Want to show off your collection? Let us know in the comments!

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Ellyn Eddy
About The Author
Ellyn is a professional writer and a short-order cook for her family of four. As a mother, her spare time is filled with investigating all things food and wellness. Equipped with a pantry of exotic ingredients, a shelf full of nutrition books, and a bit of international travel experience, she loves creating healthy and beautiful meals.

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