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Best 3 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
Le Creuset, Staub, Combekk Review & Comparison

By About Chef Austin 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, Staub, and Combekk.

If you're new to the Dutch oven world, check out 5 features to consider when choosing the best dutch oven.

 


Points of Comparison


 

Top Dutch Ovens Comparison and Review

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 size options, lid design, interior design & wear, color choices, and enamel finish style. These features greatly vary from Le Creuset, Staub, and Combekk. You'll want to think about and consider these points when choosing on how you plan to use your new Dutch oven.  

Click here to jump straight to the individual reviews & performance results of Le Creuset, Staub, and Combekk Dutch ovens.

 


Size Options


 

Top Dutch Oven Comparison Sizes

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: 

Size LeCreuset Staub Combekk Good Size For
0.5 qt   x  


1-2 Servings:

Individual servings for side dishes or desserts like creme brulee.

0.75qt   x  
1qt x x  
1.5qt   x  
1.75qt   x  
2qt x    



2-3 Servings:

Serve sauces and gravy family-style at the table. Also good for small side dishes. Fits a 1-2lb cornish hen.

2.25qt   x  
2.75qt x x  
3qt   x  
3.5qt x x  
3.75qt   x  
4qt   x  


3-5 Servings:

Make small batches of soup and one-pot dinners for a couple people. Can fit 2-4 lb chicken.

4.25qt   x x
4.5qt x    
4.75qt x    
5qt x    
5.25qt x    


5-7 Servings:

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.

5.5qt x x  
5.75qt   x  
6qt   x  
6.3qt     x
6.75qt x    




8-14 Servings:

Make large pots of chili, big batches of soup and big loaves of bread. Fit a whole goose. 

7qt   x  
7.25qt x    
7.5qt x    
7.75qt x    
8qt x x  
8.5qt      
9qt x x  
9.5qt x    
13.25qt x x  

15-20+ Servings:

Best for catering & holiday dinners. Can fit a 15 lb turkey or bone-in ham.

15.5qt x    

 

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 or the 13.25 qt Dutch oven from Staub will be big enough to fit a bone-in ham or 15lb turkey. 

Should you get a round-shaped Dutch oven or an oval-shaped Dutch oven? Find the answer in our guide for 5 features to consider when choosing the best dutch oven.

 


Lid Design


 

Top Dutch Oven Lid Comparison

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.

Combekk's lid is similar to Staub's with a large, flat design. It also has raised rings and spikes to help condensation drip back onto food but does not have as many spikes as Staub's. It is heavy as well, so it will keep steam and moisture inside the pot.

 


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. 

 Best Dutch Oven Review & Comparison

Light interiors like in Le Creuset Dutch 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 and Combekk Dutch ovens have a dark a textured matte, Combekk's being slightly rougher. 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 a porous 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 with Staub & Combekk Dutch ovens. Having an overhead light turned on would be ideal while cooking in a Dutch oven with a dark interior. 

 


Color Choices


 

Color may not make your Dutch oven cook better, but enameled cast iron made to last a lifetime (literally, 2 out of 3 of them have a lifetime warranty, the other has a 40-year 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

LeCreuset Dutch Oven Review Colors

Le Creuset BlackLe Creuset Oyster GreyLe Creuset Marine BlueLe Creuset Caribbean BlueLe Creuset Marseille BlueLe Creuset Cassis PurpleLe Creuset Provence PurpleLe Creuset Hibiscus PinkLe Creuset Cherry RedLe Creuest Flame OrangeLe Creuset Soleil YellowLe Creuset Palm GreenLe Creuset Truffle BrownLe Creuset WhiteLe Creuset Stainless Steel
 

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

Staub Dutch Oven Color Comparison

Pictured from left to right: Grenadine, Basil Green, Matte Black, & Cherry Red

Staub's color choices are much more subdued and mature. They have six deep solid color options - Dark Blue, Black Matte, Graphite Grey, Grenadine, Cherry Red, & Basil Green. There is a faint gradient effect in the enamel finish. 


Dutch Oven Comparison Staub Knobs

Staub also offers interchangeable knobs for the tops of their lids so you can truly make this your custom Dutch oven that matches you!

 

Top Staub Dutch Ovens

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.


Combekk

Dutch Oven Comparison Combekk Colors

Embracing its Dutch roots, Combekk is very utilitarian and minimalistic in design and in color. Their Rails series Dutch ovens come in black, concrete grey, and green. Interestingly, the concrete and black color are the same inside the pot, as well as outside where the green Dutch oven is green on the outside and black on the inside. 

 


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.

Best Dutch Oven Brands

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. 

Combekk takes a different approach to their enamel coating. Instead of a glassy surface, they have a roughly textured matte on the inside and outside of their pots. Their pots are also handmade by artisans, so sometimes there are very small burrs pushing up through the sandy feeling enamel. 

 


The Dutch Oven Reviews and Performance Results


 

To put our best Dutch oven brands to the test, we made Chicken Adobo in the Le Creuset, Staub, and Combekk 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.

 


Le Creuset Dutch Ovens 


 

Top LeCreuset Dutch Oven Review

Shop Best Dutch Ovens

Quick Specs: Sizes: 1 qt. - 15.5 qt. | Weight: 12 lbs (6.75qt) | Lifetime Warranty

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! 

 

Top Features:

  • 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 and Combekk's pans weigh 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.

Top Dutch Oven LeCreuset

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. 

 


Staub Dutch Ovens


 

Staub Dutch Oven Comparison

Shop Best Dutch Ovens

Quick Specs: Sizes: 1.5 qt. - 13.25 qt. | Weight: 15.7 lbs (7qt) | Lifetime Warranty

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. 

Top Features:

  • 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 Top Dutch Oven

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 more moist 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.



Combekk Dutch Ovens


 

Combekk Dutch Oven Review and Comparison

Shop Best Dutch Ovens

Quick Specs: Sizes: 4.25 qt. - 6.3 qt. | Weight: 16.5 lbs (6.3qt) | 40-Year Warranty

Best For: The Dutch oven purist. Combekk is the only Dutch Dutch oven and is made from 100% iron from railroad tracks - every pot has a story behind it. 

Top Features:

  • Truly Dutch - There hasn't been a Dutch oven made on Dutch soil in 50 years. Combekk is bringing back the tradition and heritage by producing Dutch ovens on Dutch soil
  • 100% Recycled - Combekk melts down old railroad tracks to make their Rails series Dutch ovens, giving old metal new life - even the packaging is recycled!
  • Built-in Thermometer - The only Dutch oven with an available built-in thermometer, perfect for precise recipes and deep-frying

 

Chef Austin's Combekk Dutch Oven Review:

I love what Combekk is doing. They are a Dutch company (based in Holland) out to make the best Dutch ovens. There haven't been any truly Dutch made ovens sold in 50 years. Combekk is changing that and keeping the environment in mind too. They're making their Rails cookware series from recycled iron which comes from railroad tracks. They give the old iron a new lease on life. Their next series in the works is going to be made from melted down prison bars! 

Not only is their backstory for their pans great, they also deliver great performance. We had excellent searing capabilities and the heavy self-basting lid kept the steam in producing some moist and delicious food. Combekk's Dutch ovens have a rough matte finish might be off-putting to some as it reminds me of a sandy metal and can sometimes have small burrs poking out from under the enamel. These are definitely the heaviest weight per quart out of all our best Dutch ovens as well, so you'll be building muscle taking out and putting back your Combekk. 


Top Dutch Oven Comparison Combekk

The built-in thermometer is a very unique feature that no other Dutch oven has. This lets you precisely control your recipes for cooking low and slow and is perfect for deep frying and monitoring the temperature of your oil. It's nice not having to dig out the thermometer to monitor my cooking, one less thing I have to worry about. My only complaint is that the thermometer is not removable and it can't be calibrated either. 


Combekk Dutch Oven Review

During the cooking test, I'd say the Combekk performed most closely to Staub's. Combekk (like Staub) has a lid design that features raised rings and spikes for condensation to drip off of back onto your food. This produced perfectly moist adobo braised chicken thighs & legs. If you're into a tough & utilitarian design I'd say consider going with Combekk. The Rails series pot did a great job as a Dutch oven and has an amazing story of how it started out as railroad tracks but is now frying your chicken. 

 


Dutch Oven Test Results


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. Combekk and 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, Staub, and Combekk were all 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. 

Brand

Le Creuset

Staub

Combekk

Searing Ability

5/5

5/5

5/5

 

Deglazing

5/5

4/5

4/5

Heat Retention

5/5

5/5

5/5

Chicken Moistness

4/5

5/5

5/5

Ease of Use

5/5

4/5

4/5


Chef Austin's Final Thoughts

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, Staub, or Combekk you won't be disappointed. I liked features from all three Dutch ovens; I love Le Creuset's bright and poppy color options, Staub's self-basting lid made amazingly moist chicken, and Combekk's minimalistic design and story of being made from recycled railroads is amazing. 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.


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About Chef Austin

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.