Best 3 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens - Le Creuset vs Staub vs Combekk Review
Best Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens Le Creuset & Staub Review and Comparison
By Chef Austin
Some of my favorite dishes taste the best out of a dutch oven-braised short ribs, beef bourguignon, and of course fried chicken! A Dutch oven is an essential pan to have in your kitchen arsenal. My grandma passed down her enameled dutch oven to me, but if you don't have one or are looking to have another in the kitchen, we have you covered. We've tested and compared our best three enameled cast iron dutch ovens from Le Creuset andStaub
To put our best Dutch oven brands to the test, we made Chicken Adobo in the Le Creuset and Staub Dutch ovens. We chose this recipe because it requires multiple cooking techniques including searing chicken, sauteing vegetables, and simmering all the ingredients together for a long period of time. We've recorded the results below along with the major benefits and a quick review of each Dutch oven.
Best For: People wanting the perfect color dutch oven. You'll be looking at this pan for a lifetime, so be sure to pick something nice to look at!
Lightest Enameled Cast Iron - Le Creuset cast iron is the lightest weight per quart in the industry
Most Color Options - Perfectly match or accent your kitchen and your cooking style with over 10 colors to choose from
Need matching colors? - Le Creuset also offers everything from pepper mills to pie pans in the same designer colors of their dutch ovens.
Chef Austin's Le Creuset Dutch Oven Review:
One of the first things I noticed when using the Le Creuset is how much lighter it was compared to the other guys - Le Creuset's 6.75qt pan weighs only 12 lbs while Staub's pan weighs around 16 lbs on a similar size. I learned they use the purest iron ore available which translates to the lightest weight cast iron on the market. Being so lightweight makes it easy to move around, from stove to oven, and from the sink back into storage.
The enamel on the Le Creuset is, in my opinion, the most beautiful of the three best dutch ovens. It's not too thick, not too glossy, and their gradient color pattern makes this so aesthetically pleasing. I'm a fan of the smooth, tan interior as well. I like that I can see what's in my cooking pot, the light color gives good color contrast, so much so that I can see when my butter browns and I don't burn it. I also the smoother surface for deglazing - when scraping my wooden spoon across the smooth surface, there are no bumps along the way like I'd get with the competition's.
We put Le Creuset to the test (along with each other dutch oven) and did a cooking test. We made adobo style chicken - legs and thighs cooked with ginger, garlic, onions, and mushrooms then simmered in sherry and vinegar. Le Creuset's dutch oven did an excellent job searing the chicken skin with no sticking after a proper sear. The tan interior made it very easy to see my food cooking - I could clearly see if the fond - the flavorful brown bits of food - at the bottom of the pan was getting too dark, something that was not easy to see on the competition's pan's interior. My only complaint is Le Creuset's lid isn't self-basting like the others. It does make some difference for sure - the chicken had the slightest bit of tacky dryness to it compared to the other dutch oven's chicken (that's the chef in me splitting hairs), but I still was not the least disappointed with the end results.
Best For: Chefs and cooking enthusiast. Staub loads their Dutch oven with features like a matte interior finish that is seasonable like bare cast iron to a lid that is self-basting.
Self-basting Lid -The lid is specially designed with small spikes on the underside so that condensation drips back down onto your food to keep it from drying out
Designer Shapes and Sizes - From pumpkin shapes to tomatoes, Staub offers fun limited edition shaped dutch ovens that really are a showpiece
Black Matte Interior - Hides scuffs and scratches better than smooth enamel. Also, the black matte also works similar to traditional bare cast iron where it can develop a seasoning over time and become more non-stick
Chef Austin's Staub Dutch Oven Review:
It's clear that Staub put much thought and engineering into their Dutch oven. They've designed it for chefs who are going to be using this pan on a regular basis. The black matte interior is an excellent cooking surface that will develop a natural seasoning over time - that's going to add an extra layer of flavor to your dishes to take them to the next level of flavor. If a pristine look is important to you, the dark interior is also going to hide scuffs and scratches much better than the light tan interior of Le Creuset's.
Staub really impressed me in the cooking test. The self-basting lid is really the coolest feature of Staub's dutch oven. I wouldn't think that it would make too big of a difference, but it did. The adobo chicken that we cooked in this dutch oven was moister than Le Creuset's - when I lifted the lid during cooking, you could see the water droplets rain down the spikes on the lid. If you're wanting chef-quality results in the kitchen, Staub's Dutch oven is a solid choice.
Best Selling Staub Dutch Ovens
Dutch Oven Test Conclusions
Overall, all brands of Dutch ovens did an excellent job. All Dutch ovens did a great job searing the chicken thighs evenly. I will say that the lighter color interior of Le Creuset's Dutch oven made it easier to see into while I was monitoring the brownness of the chicken and veggies and the smooth bottom made it easier to scrape my spoon across as I deglazed the pan. Staub did make a slightly more moist chicken thigh thanks to their spiked lids that self-basted the dish while it was cooking. Le Creuset and Staub were easy to use - Le Cresuet has a slight advantage with the light interior and lighter weight. There were no losers in this test, every Dutch oven made a great chicken adobo.
Ease of Use
Differences Between Le Creuset and Staub Dutch Ovens
We're comparing the most important features of Dutch ovens so you can find the perfect pot for your kitchen. We'll take a look at sizeoptions, lid design, interior design & wear, color choices, and enamel finish style. These features greatly vary from Le Creuset and Staub. You'll want to think about and consider these points when choosing on how you plan to use your new Dutch oven.
How big of Dutch oven should I buy? Well, do you need to cook for a family of 5 or are you only cooking for you and your main squeeze? Think about this when choosing the size of your Dutch Oven. Here's a quick chart of what our best Dutch ovens offer:
Good Size For
Individual servings for side dishes or desserts like creme brulee.
Serve sauces and gravy family-style at the table. Also good for small side dishes. Fits a 1-2lb cornish hen.
Make small batches of soup and one-pot dinners for a couple people. Can fit 2-4 lb chicken.
The sweet spot size. Most recipes made for this size oven. Small enough to make dinner for 2 and big enough to feed a small crowd of 7. Fits a 5-8 lb chicken.
Make large pots of chili, big batches of soup and big loaves of bread. Fit a whole goose.
Best for catering & holiday dinners. Can fit a 15 lb turkey or bone-in ham.
How big of a Dutch oven should I get? My recommendation is to think about the future. If you plan on cooking for the holidays, get-togethers, or if your family ever expands, you may want a larger vessel. I'd say if you wanted the best size dutch oven, for most recipes, I would look at sizes between 5-6qts. This size will feed multiple people (around 5 people comfortably), will fit a whole chicken and most recipes designed for dutch ovens.
Smaller dutch ovens around the 1 qt size are great for cooking individual mini-dishes and for making amazing presentations of individual side dishes or desserts. If you're catering to 20+ people for a holiday party, the massive 15.5 qt Dutch oven from Le Creuset will be big enough to fit a bone-in ham or 15lb turkey.
Some Dutch ovens will offer specially designed lids. Although not necessary, they can make some dishes even tastier. Spiked lid designs have the underside of the lid covered with rounded metal spikes. These spikes are designed to help the condensation evenly drip back onto the food to keep it moist. Some lids may also have raised rings to help condensation baste your food as well. Other lids without this sort of feature just have the condensation drip back down the inside walls of the pot.
Le Creuset has a traditional domed lid with a large, easy to grab knob at the top. The lid is the lightest weight out of our top three dutch ovens.
Staub's lid design has many functionalities built into it. Theirs is a very heavy and flat lid, designed to keep the steam and moisture inside of the pot. The underside is covered with small metal spikes which can keep your food from drying out.
Interior Design & Wear
The difference between a flavorful pan sauce and a scorched tasting pan sauce is a few shades of brown. What the inside of the Dutch oven looks like may not be the first thing you think of when researching the best cooking pot, but it can effect how you cook and ultimatly the recipe you prepare. The interior of the Dutch oven will fall into either a light interior or a dark interior. Both have benefits and drawbacks that we'll discuss below.
Light interiors like in Le CreusetDutch ovens, the interior is as smooth as the exterior and typically a pristine light tan color. The light interior makes a brighter environment which lets you view easily the contents of the deep cooking vessel. A lighter interior is going to let you see when your butter has properly browned and you can easily monitor the color of your fond - the brown bits of food that creates the rich flavor for sauces. In dark colored interior Dutch ovens, it is much harder to monitor the color of the foods you're cooking.
Light interiors will not stay pristine looking for long. Cooking will change the color slightly over time. Higher heats can also cause the pan to start showing a series of lines or cracks, which is called crazing. This doesn't affect performance, but some may not like the look of the crazing, while others may enjoy the natural, broken-in look like a worn-in leather. The smooth interior can also develop scratches when using cooking utensils, especially metal ones.
Dark interiors like in Staub Dutch ovens have a dark textured matte finish. This dark-colored matte interior is going to hide crazing, scuffs, and scratches much better than Le Creuset over time. Staub's black matte interior is also aporous material - it works similar to a traditional cast iron pan where it absorbs the fats (oils) from cooking and redistributes it when you heat it up again. So like a non-enameled cast iron pan, the more you use your Staub, the more non-stick it becomes.
As mentioned before, dark interiors are harder to see into. This makes it harder to visually see when a food has properly browned and cooked. If you're cooking a stew and over brown and scorch the fond - the delicious brown bits at the bottom - then continue, the whole stew will have a scorched flavor. You may have to pay a bit more attention to Staub Dutch ovens. Having an overhead light turned on would be ideal while cooking in a Dutch oven with a dark interior.
Color may not make your Dutch oven cook better, but enameled cast iron made to last a lifetime (literally, Staub and Le Creuset have a lifetime warranty!). You're going to be looking at this pot for a long time, so pick something that's pleasing to the eye! We'll take a look at each brand and their color options.
Le Creuset is king of color options in the enameled cast iron world. They have over 10 colors to choose from and will periodically release new colors of their cookware. Le Creuset's color palette range from cheery and bright pastels, to more subtle attractive gradients. Overall, I would say that they are definitely the brightest and poppiest colorwise.
Staub also offers interchangeable knobs for the tops of their lids so you can truly make this your custom Dutch oven that matches you!
Staub also offers some interesting designer dutch ovens. These are great for special occasions and fun to break out for the season. Check out their pumpkin and tomato enameled cast iron Dutch ovens.
Enamel Finish Style
Finnish? I thought we were talking about Dutch? Bad puns aside, the finish is referring to the feel and texture of the Dutch oven. Each enamel finish on our best Dutch oven brands are different and should be something to consider when you'll own this pot for your lifetime.
Chef Note: All enamel finish, no matter the brand, has a similar drawback. The enamel coating can chip or crack if your dutch oven is mistreated or has an accident. To avoid hurting your pan, always allow to cool before washing, never plunge a hot pan into water. Also, avoid using metal utensils, instead opt for wood, nylon, or silicon coated tools. And last, NEVER run it through the dishwasher, handwash only.
Le Creuset has a smooth and glossy finish that's not too reflective. The enamel coating is thin (but durable!) which reduces the weight.
Staub's finish is thicker and very high gloss, almost glass like. There is a high sheen to their cookware. Their black color is the only one that is different, it has a smooth matte finish, much like the inside of the pot.
We carefully selected each of these Dutch oven brands because we thought they represented the best Dutch ovens on the market. You can rest assured if you choose either Le Creuset or Staub you won't be disappointed. I liked features from all three Dutch ovens; I love Le Creuset's bright and poppy color options and Staub's self-basting lid made amazingly moist chicken. If I had to pick just one, I'd probably go with Le Creuset to match my vintage Le Creuset frying pan - which still works great even though it's older than I am! That's the other great thing about good-quality enameled cast iron, it is a lifetime piece - you can pass this investment down to your children and even grandchildren. All three Dutch oven brands are around similar price points when comparing similar size pots. If you're still thinking about which Dutch Oven is best for you, check out our article 5 features to consider when choosing the best dutch oven.
Best Selling Dutch Ovens
About the Author:
Chef Austin Merath is Everything Kitchen's Culinary Wizard, Kitchen-Gadget Reviewer, and New-Product Tester. He studied under chefs in College of the Ozarks' Culinary Program. It's his job to make sure you choose the kitchen tools that are right for you by testing the best we have to offer. When not cooking, Austin is tinkering with computers or exploring the Ozarks with his wife Amy. Click here for his full bio.