Should you spend $300 on a Le Creuset or $50 on a Lodge Dutch oven?

Nobody needs heirloom cookware—but it sure is nice to have...

Credit: Lodge and Le Creuset
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Dutch ovens are great for slow cooking. Cast iron ones retain and radiate heat, which is perfect for braising meat or making soups, roasts, and casseroles.

That’s why Le Creuset’s iconic Dutch ovens aren't just kitchen staples—they're family heirlooms.

Le Creuset with gumbo
Credit: Le Creuset
A Le Creuset can be a family heirloom

We love the classic, 4.5-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven, but we don't love that it costs $300. So we found out why—and then searched for cheaper options.

Our favorite? The Lodge 4.6-qt. Dutch Oven (available at Amazon). Whether you should buy it or a Le Creuset depends on your needs.

Why you might want a Le Creuset

Le Creuset's classic round dutch ovens come in 17 colors and 7 sizes, and that's not counting special editions and unique designs. You won't get that kind of selection from any other brand.

You also won't get the intangible satisfaction of owning a product made by a company that's been around for four centuries. (Then again, there's also an intangible satisfaction from getting a great deal.)

"Sakura" cherry blossom Dutch oven
Credit: Le Creuset
Only Le Creuset has limited editions like this "Sakura" cherry blossom Dutch oven

Most of the more affordable cast iron Dutch ovens we evaluated—including the Lodge—are also considerably heavier than the venerable Le Creuset, and none of them have as high quality a fit and finish.

Finally, while Le Creuset is made in France and has a lifetime warranty, most alternatives are made in China, and warranties vary (not that you'd be likely to need one on cast iron).

Why you might want a Lodge

For a fraction of the price, you can buy any number of Dutch ovens with similar specs to Le Creuset. All of them are a similar shape, all of them have similar ridges in the lid that channel moisture back into the food, all of them can be used on all cooktops—even induction, and almost all of them are oven safe up to 500ºF.

Lodge Dutch Ovens
Credit: Lodge
Lodge Dutch ovens come in multiple colors, but they're heavier than a Le Creuset

If you don't use your Dutch oven often enough to justify the cost of a Le Creuset—or if you plan keep it hidden behind a cabinet door—there's no need to spend more than $50.

Our favorite affordable Dutch oven comes from Lodge, a company well known for making cast iron cookware in the U.S.A. Lodge’s enameled Dutch oven, however, is made in China, only comes in three sizes, and feels a lot heavier than competing models from Le Creuset and Staub.

It also costs significantly less: We found it on sale for under $50, which makes it one of the least expensive enameled cast iron pots on the market.

Mac and cheese Lodge
Credit: Lodge
Mac and cheese is still delicious, even if you only paid $50 for your cast iron Dutch oven

That value proposition has made it a hit with consumers, who praise the Lodge for even cooking, moisture retention, and durability. Additionally, Lodge offers a limited lifetime warranty on its enameled cookware.

The bottom line

Personally, I love Le Creuset—but I couldn’t justify spending that much, so I bought a Lodge instead. It probably won’t end up a family heirloom, but I do love baking this no-knead bread recipe from Serious Eats in it.

Do you love your Lodge, or swear by your grand-mére’s Le Creuset? Let us know in the comments.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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