An enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven is a wonderful addition to any kitchen, but this is a significant purchase and it’s not clear which one to get. Two of the top brands are Le Creuset and Staub. Which should you buy?
- Made in France
- Heavy lid has a tight fit, which means less liquid loss than other brands
- Underside of the lid has little “stalactites” that cause condensation to turn into drops that spread uniformly over the entire dish (no more wet middles)
- Dishwasher safe (but not recommended)
- Matte black interior browns food better than lighter colors
- Black interior doesn’t stain or brown with age
- Cheaper than Le Creuset, usually by about 10%
- Only sells metal knobs
- Rooster knob option
- Lifetime warranty
- Lack of water loss because of the lid means you might add too much water
- Usually heavier than other enamel-coated cast iron pots
- Color selection is not as good as Le Creuset
- Black interior makes seeing browning and color change hard
- Stalactite spikes under the lid are uncomfortable to clean
- Black interior is harder to clean than a smoother, white surface
Le Creuset Strengths
- The most prestigious and desirable cocotte – makes the best gift
- Made in France
- Lifetime warranty that actually works – a market leader
- The best color range
- Widest size and shape range — including oval, heart, and speciality
- Interior off-white enamel is easy to clean
- Lighter than most cast iron brands
- Large, comfortable handles
Le Creuset Weaknesses
- Most expensive enamel-coated pots
- Many models still have plastic knobs which can’t take high oven temperatures. Upgrade metal knobs are about $25
- Interior is off-white and will darken and stain over time
- Interior is prone to scratching, which are quite visible
I’ve used Le Creuset pots and cocottes for decades and have a few years of Staub usage under my belt as well. With this experience I can say I went into this comparison expecting Le Creuset to be a clear winner and the Staub to be a nice pickup if it was on a big sale. Having used a Staub full-time for some time now I can say I actually prefer it to the Le Creuset under many circumstances.
Not all dutch ovens are created equal, but the Staub and Le Creuset are really close. I have to say that after dealing with Le Creuset’s staining interiors and many scratches from when I accidentally use a metal utensil, I’ve started to prefer my 4 qt. Staub to my similar Le Creuset.
The Staub isn’t perfect, but many of its strengths come across in areas where the Le Creuset is weak, so it’s great change of pace for me.
So lately I do prefer my Staub, but I’m sure the tide will turn and eventually I’ll just have a mixed set with one or two of each in my kitchen.