Best Dutch Oven – My Personal Review
“Read Why I Chose This One….”
Many years ago when I decided to buy my first Dutch oven I didn’t realize the dilemma I would face. Little did I know just how many different brands there were and each manufacturer was telling me that theirs was the one to buy.
Then there were the prices and well that was another story again. They ranged from as little as $40 to as much as $300 or more! I knew there and then that choosing the right one for me wasn’t going to be easy.
But eventually I made up my mind and because I didn’t know any different, I just went with the cheapest enameled Dutch oven available and assumed it would do the job…in fact, it was so cheap it didn’t even have a brand name…not one that I can remember anyway.
I didn’t know any better…
I used this Dutch oven for quite a few years and because I didn’t know any better, I thought it was doing an okay job, but it wasn’t until I decided to invest in a Le Creuset Dutch oven that I really noticed the difference between the two.
It’s like when you always buy the no-name brand of spaghetti and then one day buy the more expensive brand by mistake. It’s only then that you realize what you have been missing out on…so it was with me and my Le Creuset Dutch oven .
Firstly the quality of the two just can’t be compared. For starters, the Le Creuset Dutch oven has a much better finish. This isn’t surprising. Le Creuset Dutch ovens are made in France to exacting standards. Each piece of cookware is formed in its own sand mold and once the cookware is made, the mold is destroyed…so what that effectively means is that you are getting a totally unique piece of cookware…that’s pretty amazing when you think of it!
But what I find even more amazing is that over 30 different craftsmen handle each piece of cookware in some way before it leaves the factory. It kind of makes me love my Le Creuset Dutch oven even more knowing that…I can almost see them carefully handling each piece and adding their own personal touch.
What impresses me most however is the overall performance of my Le Creuset Dutch oven when compared to the cheaper brand. Foods sear better and my meals just seem to taste better – in other words, the meats are more succulent, the flavors are richer and it creates the perfect ‘fond’ for making gravies and sauces. (Note: fond in cooking is the French for base and refers to those lovely yummy browned and caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan).
Even Cook’s Illustrated Rated it #1…
Cooks Illustrated ran their own tests to see which they considered the best and although Le Creuset came in second overall, they actually won the best cast iron Dutch oven category.
The All-Clad Stainless-Steel 8qt Stockpot was voted number 1 overall so if you are looking for a stainless steel version then we recommend you go with that. It’s an excellent choice if you want to avoid the weight of cast iron.
But if like me you want to stick with a traditional cast iron Dutch oven then I definitely recommend Le Creuset. You really can’t go wrong with it. This is an investment that will last you a lifetime and more…you will be handing this one down to your kids!
Let’s Take a Look in More Detail
What’s in the Box?
- One Le Creuset Dutch Oven base
- One lid
- Instruction manual.
How Much Should You Pay for a Le Creuset Dutch Oven?
The prices range from around $220 to $380 and is dependent upon the the size and sometimes even the color. So if you aren’t too concerned about having a color to match your kitchen then when checking prices on Amazon ensure that you select each color to see if one is cheaper than the other. We check prices regularly and have always found the best price at Amazon.
Here are just some of the lovely colors available.
What Size Should You Buy?
This is a difficult one to answer as it all depends on what you cook in it and also your family’s appetite. If you have two young children they are obviously going to eat less than two growing teenage boys. So take this as a guide only.
I have a 5.5qt Dutch oven but I am cooking for 2…it could handle up to 4 quite easily as long as you don’t have big eaters in the house. For 4 to 8 people I would go with a 7 quart or 9 quart oval French oven. Any more than this and you would probably be starting to look at the 13 quart or even the 15 quart oval Dutch oven.
Just remember that the bigger the Dutch oven the heavier it will be and with the added food even heavier. The 13 quart and 15 quart Dutch ovens will probably require two people to lift from the stove when full of food…or at least good strong muscles.
What is it Made of?
- The Le Creuset Dutch Oven is made from enameled cast iron with a porcelain enamel interior surface.
What Are the Lids Like?
- The lids are made from the same construction as the base and have black phenolic knobs. These are oven safe to 375F. You can also purchase a stainless steel knob which according to the Le Creuset instruction manual are safe to any temperature.
How Handy Are the Handles?
We already know that the Dutch oven is heavy when it is empty so it is even more so when it is full of food or oil. And that is where having looped handles makes all the difference. The handles are firmly molded into the base and do I like the looped handles as they make it easy for me to get a good, secure grip with my oven mitts. Do make sure you use oven mitts if you are going to move a dutch oven full of hot food.
Can I Use it on an Induction or Ceramic Stove Top?
- Yes, definitely. You can use your Le Creuset Dutch Oven on gas, electric, radiant ring, ceramic, induction stove tops and in thermic ovens. Not only that but it can also be placed in the fridge and the freezer and of course it is oven safe.
- You can also safely marinate your food in the Dutch Oven (in the fridge) and then pop it into the oven to cook.
- It’s a great looking piece of cookware so once the food is ready you can take the dutch oven to the table to serve it. Do make sure you have a trivet under it to protect your table.
- This is a very versatile piece of cookware and it’s one of my personal favorites.
Is it Dishwasher Safe?
- Yes, this Le Creuset Dutch Oven is dishwasher safe so you won’t need to hand wash this one. However, I find that it washes up so quickly and easily by hand that it hardly seems worth the effort of putting it in the dishwasher. If you do use the dishwasher just be aware that constant dishwashing with the strong detergents that are used in dishwashers may dull the enamel finish. Le Creuset ensure that this won’t affect performance in any way.
Does it Come With a Warranty?
- A limited lifetime warranty is included and covers faulty workmanship and materials when used in normal household conditions.
How Much Does it Weigh?
- This varies depending on size but the 5 1/2 quart weighs approximately 11 pounds. The shipping weight is 12 pounds
Most of the consumers who use this product are absolutely delighted with it, myself included. You only need to check the Amazon star ratings to see that consumers are happy. Some people do find cast iron cookware to be heavy, but this Dutch Oven is lighter than some of the others that we compared. If you have issues with the weight then we recommend the All-Clad 8qt Stainless-Steel Stockpot .
Where Can I Get the Best Price?
Invariably Amazon has the best prices and you can often find a bargain if you are not so concerned about color…as we mentioned previously, for some reason the Dutch oven prices on Amazon can vary based on color.