If there are a group of kitchenware that may serve as the greatest tools of the kitchen, the Dutch ovens are it.
They have a design that can transform any worst cuts of meat and tough vegetables into a delicious wonderful meal. More to that they heat the food evenly which is good news, right?
They are perfect for soups and stews because of their size, shape and thick construction. The heavy metal or ceramic conducts well and can keep food warm for long periods of time.
They are very favorable for slow cooking. You can also use them for frying and roasting.
The Dutch ovens will heat evenly allowing the cook to closely control the temperature of the oil.
They are quite versatile and would easily pass for many cooks favorite. So you probably do not get anything I may be saying but if you have never used a Dutch oven before, then this is the article for you.
Below you will learn of the three top Dutch ovens in the market.
STAUB vs Le CREUSET
Both Staub and Le Creuset are popular for their Dutch ovens. Some people refer to them as French ovens, while others may call them cocotte.
In addition, historically the Dutch oven is made of cast iron and was derived from a Dutch manufacturing process in the 17th century hence the name.
The French took the cast iron pots and glazed them with enamel which then gave rise to French ovens. Staub and Le Creuset are only brand names which we will compare.
THE STAUB DUTCH OVEN
- Tight fitting flat lid features self-basting spikes for continuous
- even distribution of juices throughout cooking
- so food is moist and flavorful^Interior black matte enamel finish produces a natural non stick surface that is more resistant to scratches and chips. It won't discolor or rust and never needs seasoning^Smooth bottom is suitable for use on any cooking surface
- including induction^Made in France and developed in conjunction with France's most celebrated
- world renowned chef Paul Bocuse
The Staub cocotte is made in France and you can find it in various sizes and colors.
The smallest of them has a diameter of 18cm with a capacity of about 1.8 quart.
The largest go all the way to 34 cm in diameter to fit a volume of 13.25 quart. Moreover, there is also an oval-shaped Staub cocotte.
They also have enameled cast iron and have great heat retention and distribution properties.
They are suitable for all heat sources including induction. Im sure you like the sound of that! The interior features a matt black enamel layer which is durable and ideal for searing and stewing.
This helps to enhance the natural flavor of the food as the heat is released lowly and evenly for your food to cook gently. It also helps to protect against burning which mean a Staub Dutch oven would be suitable for a beginner cook.
To go with the pot is a flat lid with spikes on the bottom. As the food is heated up, the moisture from the condensation falls back onto the food as a rainfall cycle which has been found to be an efficient basting system than a traditional lid as it retains 10 moisture during cooking.
The knob on the lid is made of nickel-plated or made of brass and can withstand heat up to 500F. Without the lid, the pot is oven-safe up to 900F.
The pros and cons of the Staub Cocotte
There are 2 things that people like about the Staub Dutch oven and that is the lid and the black enameled part. The lid is mostly because of the spikes and the self-basting system which keeps the food from drying out.
This is a feature that sometimes is a determinant when people are purchasing a Dutch oven.
The black enameled interior prevents sticking and there are no stains to worry about so if washing dishes is always a nightmare then welcome to easier washing days!
Other things are that the metal knob for the lid has a higher temperature threshold and despite the high quality it has a variety of colors that would make your dinner table look ravishing.
The cons are the high price and the weight.
I hope you didnt think you wouldnt be spending a fortune on this. Just a single mid-size Staub Dutch oven will cost about the same price as a 10-piece Anolon Nouvelle copper cookware set while a Lodge Dutch oven, which we will look at in a few will only cost a fraction of the price of a Staub.
Being of cast iron construction, the pot is heavy because a 7-quart Staub Dutch oven will weigh more than 15 lbs. Now imagine it with food too.
To reduce the weight, people often take away the lid when you need to move it from one spot to another.
The other complaint s the clean-up of the lid because you have to clean around the base of the spikes which is not so easy as cleaning the traditional one.
LE CREUSET FRENCH OVEN
- 45% larger handles that provide a sure grip, even with oven mitts. Heat Source-Ceramic Hob, Electric Hob, Gas Hob, Grill, Oven safe, Induction hob
- The superior heat distribution and retention of le creuset enameled cast iron
- An advanced sand-colored interior enamel with even more resistance to wear
- A larger composite knob that withstands temperatures up to 500ºF
- Colorful, long-lasting exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking
This is specifically from the Signature line which is an upgrade from the Classic. In terms of the differences when it comes to the Signature and Classic is the knob, handles and the lid.
The Signature has a thicker knob that can withstand a higher temperature of 500F. A thicker knob makes it easier to grab hold off.
The lid has a tighter fit for the Le Creuset Signature compared to the Classic. The enamel interior is sand colored and is supposed to be more resistant to wear and tear while the exterior is designed to resist chipping and cracking. It is also induction compatible and dishwasher-safe.
Being an enamel cast iron pot, it retains heat evenly. It also locks in an optimal amount of moisture with its heavy and tight-fitting lid.
Like the Staub, the Le Creuset Dutch ovens come in various sizes ranging from 2-quart to 13.25-quart and a variety of colors.
Pros and cons of the Le Creuset
We will start the pros which are that the Le Creuset Dutch oven cooks very well and you can slowly simmer your food to get the flavor out with the even heating.
Many users find the light colored interior easier to cook with and cleaning up is easy with little stickiness. The big looped handles are a plus and users also like the wide range of bright and vibrant colors for them to choose from and I am sure this is a plus for you too!
If you are going to pay a good amount of money for a pot, you might as well get one that suits your taste. The downside of it is that it is expensive cookware and they both sell about the same price range with the Staub.
Although prices do fluctuate from time to time.
Different colors may also attract a different price at different times so its best to check out the prices for both brands before you buy.
After all this evaluation the following are some notable differences between the 2 brands:
The lid for the Staub is flat and spiked on the inside while the Le Creusets lid is dome-shaped and smooth.
You should get slightly more moisture for your food if you cook using the Staub cocotte but cleaning may not be as easy as the Le Creuset.
The Staub Dutch oven is heavier. In fact, the Le Creuset has the lightest weight per quart of any premium cast iron cookware.
A 7-quart Staub Dutch oven would weigh about 2 to 3 lbs. more than the Le Creuset of comparable size.
- Cooking surface
Le Creuset has a smooth and sand-colored interior compared to the rougher black color of the Staub. What this means is that it is easier to check the status of your food with the Le Creuset Dutch oven.
The light interior makes it easy to see how much your food has browned compared to a dark colored surface.
For instance, if you add butter to both the Dutch ovens, the Le Creuset will enable you to easily see when it has turned color compared to the Staub.
On the flip side, the Le Creuset light interior will result in more obvious wear and tear. Stains and scratches will be more noticeable compared to the darker Staub.
It also tends to be a little stickier because of its smooth surface.
Le Creuset Dutch ovens have more colors to choose from compared to Staub. The colors are also more vibrant for the former compared to the darker shades for the latter.
Some Le Creuset Dutch ovens also spot an obvious gradient color with a darker shade at the bottom and a lighter one towards the top of the pot.
THE LODGE DUTCH OVEN vs THE LE CREUSET
THE LODGE DUTCH OVEN
- The original Lodge Camp Dutch Oven does it all - and it's been everywhere. A flanged lid holds hot coals and flips over for griddling, while the legs keep the oven at an ideal distance from hot coals. Includes Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101 cookbook.
- PRE-SEASONED COOKWARE. A good seasoning makes all the difference. Lodge provides pre-seasoned cookware with no synthetic chemicals; just soy based vegetable oil. The more you use your iron, the better the seasoning becomes.
- MADE IN THE USA. Lodge has been making cast iron cookware in South Pittsburg, Tennessee (pop. 3,300) since 1896. With over 120 years of experience, their cast iron is known for its high quality design, lifetime durability, and cooking versatility.
- CAMP COOKING 101. Lodge knows that cooking is about more than just the food; its about the memories. Whether youre roasting a chicken in the oven, or cooking chili over the campfire, Lodge has you covered with the included Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101 cookbook.
- FAMILY-OWNED. Lodge is more than just a business; its a family. The Lodge family founded the company in 1896, and they still own it today. From environmental responsibility to community development, their heads and hearts are rooted in America.
Another famous brand of the Dutch ovens is the Lodge Dutch oven which sums up the three mostly reviewed Dutch ovens year in year out.
Lodge is famous for its cast iron cookware while Le Creuset Signature is often touted as having one of the best Dutch ovens on the market.
So, what we are comparing is their enameled cast iron Dutch ovens so the next question then would be what is enamel cookware?
Basically, enamel cookware has an additional layer that is fused onto the metal which in this case, is cast iron. This layer is a form of glass which is known as porcelain enamel which is bonded onto the cast iron using extremely high temperatures.
This would then result in a smooth cooking surface that you often see in enameled pots and pans. There are a few reasons why one would choose an enameled over raw cast iron Dutch oven.
The additional layer gives a smoother finish that is easier to clean and the light-color makes it nicer to look at. It is also easier to check on the progress of your cooking with a light-colored surface especially when you are browning food.
The enamel layer also prevents alteration of food flavor as there is no exposed metal and it is non-reactive to both acidic and alkaline food.
Perhaps the strongest motivation to get an enameled cast iron cookware is that it doesnt require high maintenance, unlike raw cast iron cookware.
You dont need to worry about seasoning and baking it in the oven to maintain its slickness. With less work needed, it is not surprising why many people are willing to pay more to get an enameled cast iron Dutch oven rather than the bare version.
The following are some key distinct differences of the two:
Price is also what most people would pay attention to first when evaluating 2 choices, especially when they have to work within a budget.
The price differential is huge here. One Le Creuset Signature Dutch oven costs about 6 to 7 times the price of a Lodge of comparable size.
You may totally think the high price is just not worth it. Others feel that the better quality justifies the high price.
- The manufacturers
The Lodge is actually made from China compared to the Le Creuset which is from France.
If you need a really big Dutch oven to cook for 10 people or more, Le Creuset would have the sizes that you need which is a 9 and 13.25-quart.
For the Lodge, its biggest capacity Dutch oven is only 7.5-quart which can serve about 7 to 8 people. The largest Le Creuset Dutch oven is an oval-shaped one at a whopping 15.5-quart.
The Le Creuset Signature has a flatter lid compared to the Lodge which has a taller dome-shaped lid. There are good and bad for both of these designs.
If you have very limited vertical space in your cabinet or oven, a shorter pot and flatter lid might fit better.
But if you are cooking a large volume of food or a whole chicken which sits a little higher than the rim of the pot, then a dome lid would be more practical because your food wont get squashed when you close the lid.
Handles really matter when it comes to Dutch ovens because of their weight.
Both the Lodge and Le Creuset have large handles and you can fit your fingers through them for a good grip. But Le Creuset has roomier handles because the loop is larger. With oven mitts, the Le Creuset might be easier to manage when taking it out from the oven.
Best browning - Staub
In the Le Creuset and the Lodge pots, the browning was a bit spotty and took longer to achieve a truly good sear and tiny flecks of burnt food emerged in the oil. The slightly rough black matte enamel on Staub made browning so effective and the meat cubes achieved a deep, rich, evenly burnished sear on all sides and faster too.
Least amount of evaporation - Staub
After their stints in the oven, all three batches of beef bourguignon seemed to have lost the same amount of liquid though the Staub looked the most concentrated. Because the liquid was a deeper brown.
Overall taste - 3-Way Tie
Despite the difference in how tight the lids fit or how well the pots browned, it didnt seem to make much of a difference in the overall result. Each beef bourguignon was delicious and rich, wonderfully tender no matter the pot it was cooked in. According to performance, none of these pots will let you down!