Alternatives to Le Creuset?
August 16, 2010 12:56 AM   Subscribe

Alternatives to Le Creuset?

We want to replace our old pans. We can afford Le Creuset (which we both love) if we spread the process out a lot. I'm sure, though, that we'd be paying a lot for the name.

Since we can do it, we don't want to compromise on the quality; so we're after recommendations for stuff at least as good.

Last thing - available in the UK. I've seen a couple of previous questions like this, but the top recommendations all seem to be US companies, and either not available, or much more expensive here...
posted by monkey closet to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
One alternative is... the Le Creuset Factory shop in Fresnoy-le-Grand, if you fancied a cheeky day trip over to France. There are quite a few factory shops in that neck of the woods to make the trip worthwhile.

Amazon sell quite a few cast iron pans, and sell the Lodge brand.

My take on it is that if there was an obvious, decent, cheaper alternative to Le Creuset then John Lewis would sell it, and it looks like they don't.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:18 AM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought one of these on the recommendation of Cook's Illustrated to the more expensive Le Creuset dutch ovens. I have never cooked in a Le Creuset but this IS a very nice pot. I use it braise shortribs, slow cooked brisket and roast chickens and it performs extremely well.

I find it holds heat extremely well and cooks evenly.
posted by Saminal at 1:29 AM on August 16, 2010

After asking about this on AskMeFi a while ago I bought a cheapo Chinese-made Martha Stewart brand 7L Dutch oven from a local discount chain for $79. I've had it for three years, use it several times a week for everything from bread to ribs to casseroles to curries to soups and it's still in great condition. If it gets chipped, meh. If it gets scratched, meh. If it explodes, I'll get another one exactly like it. Can't say I'd feel the same if I'd spent hundreds on something French.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:02 AM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mum got some cheap AGA branded very similar products from the Fired Earth factory shop in Adderbury in Oxfordshire. They were reduced by 60% so she says £18 instead of £45 for a casserole dish for instance. Here are some examples of the range - though direct from AGA in this instance so expensive. If you are near a Fired Earth factory shop it may well be worth giving them a ring.
posted by multivalent at 2:40 AM on August 16, 2010

I have a Le Chasseur casserole which was about half the cost of a Le Creuset and performs just as well.
posted by girlgenius at 3:19 AM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding girlgenius - I defy anyone to look at a non-branded le creuset product next to a le chasseur and tell the difference.

If you want to save even more money, go to a camping store and buy the plethora of rock solid cast iron camping fry pans, dutch ovens etc they have for a sliver of the price that you would pay in a department store - bonus, non-ceramic cast iron puts iron into your food, and most of us don't have enough iron.
posted by smoke at 4:18 AM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought a nonstick enamel dutch oven from Ikea for $30. It is exactly the size and shape of a Le Creuset, only bright green instead of red/orange. I use it all the time and it works perfectly.
posted by miyabo at 4:35 AM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Like Saminal, I have a Lodge enameled dutch oven and I love it deeply. I also have a Lodge cast-iron skillet that I am a big fan of.
posted by sugarfish at 5:10 AM on August 16, 2010

I have two of the small Le Creuset Dutch ovens, and one larger Chinese knock off (bought from Target.) After four+ years, the only important difference I can detect is in the durability of the finish - the Le Creuset ones don't nick or scratch as easily, and the enamel really does seem to be of a higher quality.

The LC ones may also retain heat slightly better, but if you're mainly concerned with performance, I think you can bargain shop here.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:12 AM on August 16, 2010

I too have some Chasseur cookware and it's indistinguishable in quality (to me anyway) from Le Creuset stuff.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:29 AM on August 16, 2010

Ha! I love that on the Amazon page for the Lodge Dutch Oven saminal recommends, the "frequently bought together" combo is the Lodge pot and a replacement Le Creuset knob. Ah, the humanity...
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:34 AM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Do you have Costco?
posted by snowjoe at 5:38 AM on August 16, 2010

We've got the Lodge enameled dutch oven. Works great, had it for three years and so far no problems.
posted by electroboy at 6:06 AM on August 16, 2010

Um, AwkwardPause, the point of the replacement knob is for the making of no-knead bread, not so much for the brand name. Plastic knobs and 450+-degree ovens do not get along.

I almost bought a big Le Cruset Dutch oven this weekend at an outlet store near me, but couldn't quite bring myself to pull the trigger. Do you have outlet stores in the UK? The prices were discounted about 25% off the list price, more for the less popular colors. The black was something like 40% off.
posted by libraryhead at 6:17 AM on August 16, 2010

I second the enamel dutch ovens from IKEA. FTR, I've never used a Le Crueset but this one seems pretty sturdy, has rocked for making no knead bread and is way the hell cheaper than the real thing.
posted by radioaction at 6:23 AM on August 16, 2010

One reason I have a lot of Le Creuset as opposed to knock-offs is the warranty, so bear that in mind. For people saying, "Oh, I have an $80 similar thing so I don't care if it chips", I don't care if my Le Creuset pots chip because I can just send them in and get a brand-new pot back. I had one Le Creuset dutch oven that had something very, very badly burned into it (operator error, I'd left it on the cook top and forgotten about it for a very long time). After quite a bit of time spent scrubbing, I'd gotten it mostly clean but realized the enamel had chipped off in the process, along with the burned bits. A quick call to Le Creuset, and I had a brand-new pot in my hands just a short while later. I'm not aware of knock-off brands that offer that kind of guarantee on their products.
posted by booknerd at 7:14 AM on August 16, 2010

I have a Calphalon Enabled Dutch Oven and it heavy, sturdy and works real well.
posted by mmascolino at 7:34 AM on August 16, 2010

Ha! I love that on the Amazon page for the Lodge Dutch Oven saminal recommends, the "frequently bought together" combo is the Lodge pot and a replacement Le Creuset knob. Ah, the humanity...

It's because the handle that comes with the lodge is only oven safe up to 400F - I believe the Cooks illustrated test for dutch ovens was a no-knead bread recipe that used temps up to 500F. And if I remember correctly, they commented that they replaced the non-creuset knobs with the stainless steel creuset knobs on a couple of the test dutch ovens.
posted by nightwood at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2010

Have you thought about buying secondhand? Most Le Creuset stuff is essentially indestructible, so it will last for decades even if neglected - I got one of their small frying pans off ebay for £12 (plus £10 postage) which I have been exceedingly happy with. Failing which there are Le Creuset outlet centres - there's one just down the road from me in Gloucester, so there are probably other in the UK which might be nearer you.
posted by prentiz at 7:57 AM on August 16, 2010

If you can find a Le Creuset outlet store, this is the place to go. We bought a "second quality" 6qt dutch oven in a discontinued color and saved over $150. It's still got its lifetime warranty, and the only difference is a tiny speck of the outside color on the inside.

They unfortunately don't have second quality stainless steel or non stick pots and pans. If you don't mind splitting up brand names and sets, it can sometimes be cheaper to buy by pieces, if you pay attention to sale prices. We were also given a coupon to spend the next month, with the purchase of the dutch oven. It worked, and I love the stainless frying pan we bought. It's taken tons of abuse and always bounced back.
posted by fontophilic at 8:23 AM on August 16, 2010

Seconding obiwan that the Martha Stewart pans are great. A friend of mine has the Mario Batali-branded one (not very cheap, but maybe available on sale?) and he likes his a lot too.
posted by rossination at 9:26 AM on August 16, 2010

FYI, 'dutch oven' is a casserole dish with a lid! Really confused me to begin with.

We don't get Martha Stewart over here, I don't think. If you can't drive/easily travel to an outlet store, have you tried TK Maxx? they sometimes get Le Creuset bits in there.
posted by mippy at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2010

My advices is that if you really want Le Crueset, hold out for finding some on sale. doesn't seem to have any, but I've seen it on sale at lots of cooking stores. I picked up a bunch when a local kitchen stuff store went out of business and they were letting it go for 50% off (otherwise I'd never pay that much for a tea-pot). I've even seen decent sale prices at larger Whole Foods for cheaper stuff.

You can get 10% off at Williams-Sonoma for anything on your wedding registry that you don't get. So, you know, go register for some Le Crueset.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:07 AM on August 16, 2010

I have both a Le Creuset and the Ikea enameled dutch oven. I actually prefer the Ikea one for making no-knead bread, although I prefer the Le Creuset for soups because it's both a bit bigger and easier to clean.

We bought the Le Creuset on sale at their outlet store, and it was still crazy expensive. If I didn't have the Le Creuset I'd be happy to just use the Ikea one.
posted by togdon at 10:26 AM on August 16, 2010

There is a Le Creuset outlet at Gunwharf Keys in Portsmouth, should be a fair bit cheaper:

Telephone: 08453 137502
Fax: 02392 875880
posted by ellieBOA at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2010

I'll give a wholehearted recommendation for Lodge cast iron pieces - they are incredibly inexpensive and absolutely indestructible. If you're not so worried about what it LOOKS like, but more about longevity, cost, and cooking performance, they just can not be beat. Lodge has also started selling some enamel-ware as well; I haven't personally cooked with it, but my experience with their other products would lead me to believe they're excellent (albeit, a tad pricey compared to the plain cast iron).

I also have a Mario Batali-branded enamelled cookware that's manufactured by Copco in China (I believe they also make the Martha Stewart-branded pieces I've seen at Macy's, which are more expensive). I'm not sure where in the UK would carry these, but I purchased a 6 quart round Dutch oven for about US$80 a year or two ago. It's held up remarkably well after much use and abuse. If looks are important, these are a good alternative.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:04 AM on August 16, 2010

I have the same dutch over as Saminal and Sugarfish and I love it.
posted by jennyb at 1:32 PM on August 16, 2010

My advices is that if you really want Le Crueset, hold out for finding some on sale. doesn't seem to have any, but I've seen it on sale at lots of cooking stores.

Overstock charge a fuckload to ship to the UK. Really, it would make it more than full-price for a retail store.
posted by mippy at 6:49 AM on August 17, 2010

Is there a HomeSense anywhere near you?

It's a home version of TK Maxx that has recently started opening up here in the UK.

I've seen lots of Le Creuset and fake stuff in there.
posted by chrispy108 at 2:23 PM on August 18, 2010

Also, I've just been into a Lakeland and they seem to have a reasonable selection of Le Creuset-alike products. All are blue.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:29 AM on August 26, 2010

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