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Meet The $65 Dutch Oven That's "As Good As Le Creuset," According To Reviewers

Amazon/Bustle

Dutch ovens are among the most versatile pieces of cookware you can own, capable of doing everything from braising to baking bread. But shopping for a Dutch oven can be a little unnerving. Two of the most popular brands, Le Creuset and Lodge, each make Dutch ovens with hundreds if not thousands of glowing reviews. But, if you're looking into buying a Dutch oven and evaluating the Lodge vs. the Le Creuset, there are a few things worth knowing.

Firstly, both are made from cast iron with vibrantly-colored porcelain enamel coatings. The one glaring difference? Cost. The Lodge is priced modestly below $100, and a Le Creuset will run you well into the hundreds, depending on the capacity.

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Of course, budget is a key consideration when making any purchase, but there are some other things to look at when deciding which of these Dutch ovens is right for you. Below, I'll take a look at the differences between the Le Creuset and the Lodge Dutch ovens, namely price, weight, and the range of size options they offer.

But, first, a quick word about the Lodge and Le Creuset featured below: For the purposes of this review, I'll compare the 5.5-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven and the 6-quart Lodge Dutch oven. For most cooks, a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven will give you the most flexibility in the kitchen. (For background: This size offers enough capacity to make classic recipes like stews, sauces and braises, and can even fit a small chicken or bake a loaf of bread.)

The Le Creuset 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven

Le Creuset prides itsself on quality and craftsmanship and its Dutch ovens are no exception. In fact, their iconic Dutch oven may be the best example of the brand's dedication to artisanship. To this day, the company still manufactures their enameled cast iron in the same French foundry they used in the 1920s. Each piece is even hand-inspected by French artisans.

When you're buying a Le Creuset Dutch oven, you're not just buying quality cookware, you're buying a piece of French culinary history. Which is why they're often passed down from one generation to the next, like an heirloom.

But how does that quality compare to Lodge? It's hard to say. Most reviewers (professionals and home-chefs), praised Le Creuset's enamel finish for being both flawless and extremely durable (perhaps more durable than other brands like Lodge, but not conclusively), and some side-by-side comparisons argued that Le Creuset had better heat retention than Lodge. However, many others found the two comparable.

One clear difference between the Lodge and the Le Creuset is the weight. Because cast iron is, by nature, heavy (one of the key reasons it offers even heat distribution), finding a lightweight Dutch oven is important. And, in that regard, the Le Creuset claims to have the “lightest weight per quart of any premium cast iron cookware” brand.

Side-by-side, the Le Creuset weighs 11.2 pounds, compared to the heavier, 14-pound Lodge Dutch oven of comparable capacity. While these are hardly lightweight options, every pound counts when you're carrying a heavy stew or a full-sized chicken. If you're cautious of laborious kitchen tasks or you know you have a lot of heavy recipes in your future, this size discrepancy might push you to favor of the Le Creuset.

Beyond the differences in weights, most of the other specs are identical. Both the Le Creuset and the Lodge Dutch ovens feature a pot, self-basting lid, and knob that are heat-resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of ease of care, both Dutch ovens are dishwasher safe, but both manufacturers recommend hand-washing to preserve the life of the enamel.

Each Dutch oven has two handles (roomy enough to grip while wearing oven mitts) and a tight-fitting lid that keeps moisture inside the pot, ensuring your food stays juicy and delicious.

The Lodge 6-Quart Dutch Oven

While the Lodge Dutch oven is slightly larger both in capacity and in weight than the Le Creuset, it offers a lot of the same benefits of its pricier lookalike. Similar to the Le Creuset, the Lodge’s porcelain enamel coating is non-reactive, so it can cook acidic foods and maintain its luster and effectiveness. It also boasts a similar warranty to the Le Creuset, which will cover the lifetime of the Dutch oven, so long as you have followed their use and care recommendations.

When it comes to their enamel coatings, the Le Creuset is often touted as "chip-resistant." But, keep in mind, no enameled Dutch oven, even that of Le Creuset, is immune to chipping or cracking under extreme impact. And, most chips and scratches won't affect the pot's performance, just the aesthetics. For the longest life, both Dutch ovens should be treated with care in usage and maintenance.

Lastly, the Lodge dutch oven comes in a wider variety of sizes. Like the Le Creuset, it comes in 11 different enamel colors, but it has the added benefit of being available in five sizes ranging from 1 quart to 7.5 quarts. That's three more size choices than the Le Creuset, giving you a wider range of options when finding the perfect Dutch oven for both your needs and kitchen space.

With the backing of over 10,000 Amazon reviewers who used it for all manner of cooking, the Lodge Dutch oven is a great choice that will save you a lot of upfront money. You'd be in good company when choosing this affordable Le Creuset alternative.

Should You Buy The Lodge Or The Le Creuset?

While the Lodge Dutch oven is a bit heavier, it comes in more size options and boasts many of the same specs and features as the much more pricey Le Creuset. Ultimately, Lodge the better choice for most people — it's comparable in almost every way and for a fraction of the price. But for those culinary romantics out there, who not only want a Dutch oven but a piece of history they can pass down to their grandchildren, go ahead and invest in a Le Creuset. You won't regret it.