2024 Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven Review

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

  • Very affordable
  • Widely available
  • Similar cooking power to more expensive models
  • More colors than AmazonBasics

Cons

  • Enamel more likely to chip or flake
  • Heavier than others of the same size
  • Made in China (US-made versions also available at higher price)
  • Fewer colors than Le Creuset

You’ve heard of Le Creuset, the gold standard of enameled cast iron. You’ve probably heard of Staub, which is just as good as Le Creuset, if not better. However, the affordable-but-popular kid on the block is Lodge.

Lodge may not have the snob appeal that my Le Creuset has (notice how I had to mention I own a Le Creuset?), but what it lacks in prestige, it makes up for with being supremely easy to get your hands on. You can buy it at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Tractor Supply– the list goes on.

Even more important is how it performs. Lodge cooks above its price level, making it a worthy alternative to the more expensive brands.

Side by Side Comparison with Other Dutch Ovens

Lodge 5.5 Quart

Our score:
80/100

Width
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

Le Creuset 7.5 Quart

Our score:
90.5/100

Width
11.75 inches

Diameter
9 inches

Height with Lid
6 inches

Weight with Lid
8.2 pounds

Thickness
3.6mm

Country of Origin
🇫🇷 France

Amazon Basics 6 Quart

Our score:
72/100

Width
11 inches

Diameter
11 inches

Height with Lid
7 inches

Weight with Lid
13.06 pounds

Thickness
unknown

Country of Origin
🇨🇳 China

Keep in mind that Lodge sells several different types of Dutch ovens. The company is well known for its natural (or raw) cast iron. It has a small line of American-made enameled Dutch ovens, called Lodge USA Enamel. The price of the US-made enameled cast iron is significantly higher than other Lodge products.

This brings us to the focus of our review today, a simple Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven, which is made in China and well-known as a budget alternative to Le Creuset. 

The product used in our tests is a 5.5-quart Indigo Dutch oven purchased at Walmart.

Lodge 5.5-quart Indigo Dutch oven

Cooking Performance

Score0/20

The 5.5 qt Dutch oven I tested works well for everything from side dishes to casseroles. It will typically make 6 servings of whatever you’re cooking and is a great option for bread baking.

Searing

First up, I tested Lodge’s sear. I used the Dutch oven on my gas stove and set it to level six, then let my pork sear for 6 minutes. It actually outperformed my Le Creuset in the sear department, but it still wasn’t amazing. I did get some crust on the meat, but not as much as I would have on an uncoated cast iron even at the same temperature.

Searing meat using Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven

Braising Meat

I discovered that I could fit approximately 1 lb of meat per quart in the Lodge Dutch oven.

I was able to put in 5.5 lbs of pork, cut into 1 lb- 1.5 lb pieces. I set the oven to 300°F (149°C) and after an hour was pleased to see that the Dutch oven had come to a good temperature. 

After 2.5 hours, the meat smelled great but wasn’t quite done. Finally, at 3 hours, the pork was pull-apart tender. This is comparable to the other, more expensive, Dutch ovens that I tested.

Braising meat using Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven

I did notice a lot of steam escaping the Lodge from under the lid, so it is not quite as tight-fitting as I’d like.

Boiling Water

Speaking of steam escaping, Lodge didn’t fare so well in the water test. To test heat and moisture retention, I boiled 2 quarts of water at level 6 on my gas stove. The water started at 70°F (21°C), and I tracked how long it took to reach 212°F (100°C). 

Boiling water using Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven

After allowing it to simmer for 5 minutes at a steady temperature, I removed the pot from the heat. I set a timer and took temperature measurements at the 30-minute mark and the 60-minute mark to check how well the Lodge retained heat. After the water was cool, I measured the water in the pot to check the water loss. I did the same with Staub and Le Creuset Dutch Ovens.

LodgeLe CreusetStaub
Time to 212°F9 min 44 sec8 min 38 sec9 min 10 sec
Temp at 30 min156°F161°F166°F
Temp at 60 min127°F130°F132°F
Water retention87.5%91.8%95.3%

Full Comparison: Staub vs Le Creuset vs Lodge Dutch Ovens

Lodge was slow to come to temperature, lost heat more quickly than the pricey Dutch ovens, and retained less water. The differences, however, were not major. Lodge took about 1 minute longer to come to heat and stayed within 4 degrees of the Le Creuset at every temperature reading. Even the moisture loss was only a 4.3% difference. Not too bad for a pot that costs a fraction of the price.

Bread Baking

Baking bread in a Dutch oven is very popular. I probably cook bread 90% of the time I use my enameled Dutch oven! My boule from the Lodge was very good, with a great oven spring, a good crust, and a denser crumb. I was very pleased overall with its bread performance, I’d love to try it again with a slightly larger Lodge to see if that opens the crumb a bit. 

Build Quality

Score:0/10

The Lodge Dutch oven is heavier for its size than Le Creuset, but comparable to other Dutch ovens of its class. The 5.5-quart model weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces without the lid and 11 pounds, 8 ounces with the lid.

Weight of Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven with Lid

As mentioned above, the Lodge lid doesn’t fit tightly, which allows more moisture to escape. While the lid does have self-basting “bumps”, they don’t seem to work as well as those on a Staub, because of the moisture that the lid loses. The domed shape of the Lodge lid may have something to do with that, too. It feels like Lodge tried to be the best of all worlds with its lid, and fell short.

The biggest problem was the quality of the enamel. The exterior enamel developed a large area of discoloration and damage. After my tests, the interior also had a small chip. Lodge uncoated cast iron is famed as multi-generational cookware – but the budget enamel must not be made with the same quality. 

Design and Comfort

Score:0/10

Lodge’s enamel is light-colored, which lends itself more easily to staining, than brands with black enamel. However, some cooks prefer light-colored enamel. It helps you watch for browning and burning and is a visual reminder to not treat it roughly with a metal spatula.

The handles on the Lodge are thinner, and the openings aren’t as wide as the Le Creuset, but I could still easily grasp the handles with pot holders. I also like the knob on the lid, as I found it comfortable to grasp with an oven mitt on and remove the lid.

Lodge openings aren’t as wide the others

The Lodge Dutch oven comes in a variety of colors, but not all are available from each retailer. You can purchase a 5.5 qt Lodge enameled Dutch oven from Walmart in blue, red, or white. Amazon sells a 6 qt Lodge in 21 different colors.  Meanwhile, Lodge’s website only lists 12 colors, with several being sold out. These are made to function – not as collector’s pieces. It can be a little confusing if you’re shopping for a specific size or color. 

Versatility

Score0/10

Lodge’s enameled Dutch oven is very versatile, creating a lovely bread, a nice stew, and delicious fork-tender pork. It’s not great for searing, but will do in a pinch if you’re trying to make a one-pot meal. It can be used in the oven and all kinds of stovetops, including induction.

Just be careful to bring cast iron up to temperature slowly on induction and electric stovetops! And don’t let it scratch ceramic or glass cooking surfaces.

cooking one-pot meal with Lodge

I found that the Lodge holds 5.5 quarts of water when filled to the very top, so large batches of soups or stews require leaving a little wiggle room or risking it boiling over. This seems to be standard among Dutch ovens I’ve used; the listed capacity is truly the maximum the pot can hold.

Ease of Use and Maintenance

Score0/10

Lodge enameled cast iron can’t – or shouldn’t – go through the dishwasher. I have a hand-me-down, less-valued Le Creuset piece that I put through the dishwasher all the time, and it honestly has held up fine. But since the Lodge is already chipping, I wouldn’t risk it.

The Lodge pot is heavy, so it’s harder than LC to hand wash. But, like other enameled Dutch ovens, it doesn’t need to be seasoned – unless it chips. I don’t recommend using badly chipped enameled cast iron, but if you do, the exposed iron needs to be seasoned.

Longevity and Warranty

Score0/10

I’d give Lodge full points for its warranty – although not for its longevity. The Lodge I tested was relatively lightly used but showed signs of damage.

Lodge offers a limited lifetime warranty on its enameled products. This warranty offers a repair or replacement of products damaged in the normal course of cooking. This does cover chips, cracks, and even damage during shipping.

Lodge limited lifetime warranty

This warranty does not cover rust, staining, scuffing, or damage due to misuse. If you drop it or the enamel changes color, you’re out of luck.

If your product has to be replaced there is no guarantee you will receive the same color replacement. Color is subject to availability.

Price and Availability

Score0/10

You can not fault the price of overseas-made Lodge enameled cast iron! It’s available everywhere from grocery stores to big box stores. 

Color and even size availability varies by retailer. Walmart has a 5.5 qt Lodge Dutch oven, while Amazon only has 4.5 qt and 6 qt (among other sizes). Target carries limited sizes and colors. My best advice is if there is a specific Dutch oven size or color you’re looking for, check multiple retailers for it. 

Health and Safety Considerations

Score0/10

We have an awesome in-depth article on the safety of enameled cookware! However, here are a few quick facts about the safety of Lodge enameled cast iron.

  • It’s not made with “forever chemicals” like PFOA and PTFE (Teflon).
  • It doesn’t react with acidic foods. You don’t have to worry about it transferring iron or other metals like copper or nickel to food.
  • Lodge claims that its products meet both FDA and California Proposition 65 requirements.
  • Doctors and experts consider enameled cast iron to be among safe cookware options.
  • At one point, Lodge claimed on its website that its products made in China are overseen by an American-owned 3rd party inspection company. This language no longer appears on the website, so it’s unclear whether this still applies.
  • Lodge did not respond to our request for comment on its safety and regulation compliance.

Company and Environmental Impact

Score0/10

Lodge has a company-wide recycling program, uses biodegradable packaging, and appears to be taking steps to make its Tennessee factories cleaner and greener, which is great for its natural cast iron and Lodge USA enameled cast iron.

Lodge Eco Responsibility

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the products made overseas, like most Lodge enameled cast iron.

As a material, enameled cast iron is generally a climate-friendly choice. It lasts much longer than nonstick or ceramic-coated pans. Enameled cast iron can last decades – though a Lodge may be in rough shape after that time. It is also made without synthetic chemicals that can pollute the environment.

What Else Do People Say About It?

Lodge is often mentioned in the same breath as Le Creuset, usually as a budget alternative. 

From positive reviews on CNN to Food & Wine – to a 4.7-star review from over 34,000 customer reviews on Amazon – Lodge proves itself time and again not to just be “good enough for the price.” 

When it goes toe-to-toe with more expensive brands, the consensus is that Lodge is not quite as good, but is a legitimate threat. It’s at the top of the pile among budget brands of Dutch ovens. 

Conclusion

Lodge is a solid choice when it comes to enameled cast iron. It does have a few drawbacks, like its heaviness and moisture loss. It also discolored easily. But – it’s also a fraction of the price of high-end brands like Staub and Le Creuset. 

Lodge enameled cast iron is perfect for casual users, bread bakers, and those who simply don’t care about the snob appeal of having a $300 Dutch oven. If you’re looking for a reliable piece of cookware at a good price, consider Lodge.

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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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