When I was in my 20’s and broke, I used to love wandering inside Kitchen Stores to ogle the beautiful Le Creuset displays. The bright vivid colors, seemingly unattainable prices, and the sheer weight of their enameled cast iron pans stirred up feelings of shameless longing. I knew at a young age that one day I would have my own collection of French cookware. Back then, I simply viewed these products as symbols of affluent exclusivity. I had no idea that their cooking performance would exceed their good looks!
I received my first piece of Le Creuset as a Mother’s Day gift in 2018. I had dropped several hints to my husband about wanting an enameled cast iron dutch oven. I was hopeful that he was picking up what I was dropping but I was afraid to hope. I am happy to say that he came through in a big way! He picked the 8qt oval dutch oven to ensure that it would be versatile enough bake a chicken or a large pot of soup. He even made sure to pick a classic color that I wouldn’t tire of in 5yrs, Oyster Gray. This pot is frequently on sale through Amazon so I included a link if you’re interested in purchasing one for yourself. (I am affiliated with Amazon and will receive a small commission for products bought through my links.)
I added my second piece, a French Oven, the following year. I am a stickler for consistency so I chose Oyster gray once again. This pot is perfect for deep frying, baking bread, and creating one pot meals. The first recipe I made in this pot was Irish Soda Bread. It is a 4 ingredient quick bread that is absolutely delicious and practically effortless! My favorite thing about Le Creuset is that their ceramic enamel is virtually “stick-proof.” They clean up like a dream. A simple spray down with hot water will removed 95% of the food residue and a simple scrub with dish soap finishes the job in mere seconds. I have NEVER had to soak a Le Creuset product.
Now that I have a good start on my Cast Iron collection, I turned my attention toward their ceramic baking dishes. I am lucky enough to live about 40min away from a Le Creuset Outlet store so I started there. I picked up their signature Lasagna pan and decided to go with the color white. I do a lot of food photography and white does the best job of featuring the food in a beautiful way. I loved this pan because it came with handles on either end. It feels more secure when placing and removing the pan from the oven. I was curious if the ceramics performed as well in the clean-up department and I can say with confidence, that yes, yes it DOES! I baked a duck at 400 degrees and it splattered mouthwatering duck fat all over the pan and then turned a deep dark shade of brown. I was afraid that it was going to take hours of soaking to get it all off. Nope, it performed just like the enameled cast iron, and maybe even better!
Since purchasing my Lasagna pan, I have replaced almost all of my metal and Pyrex baking dishes with Le Creuset. I randomly find them on sale through Amazon and occasionally find smokin’ deals at HomeGoods and Marshalls. I rarely pay full price knowing that if I am patient, it will go on sale. I love having a retail mission!
I feel like I can’t complete this blog post without sharing my experiences with other more affordable brands enameled cast iron (ECI) products. They are not the same quality as some manufacturers would like you to believe. My first ECI dutch oven was a Tramontina. I bought it at Sam’s Club and had high hopes for it. Within a few months of owning it, one of the handles broke off. I took it back and didn’t replace it because my confidence in the product was literally busted. A few years later, my husband bought me a Food Network ECI dutch oven from Kohls. It also started off strong but in less than a year, the ceramic coating started wearing thin and cracking despite the fact that I followed their cleaning and care guide to a T. I ended up donating it to the Goodwill. Since then, I have read reviews favoring Lodge brand as a more affordable option. I can’t say if it measures up as I haven’t had the opportunity to use one. Also, I have the good stuff now and I highly suggest investing in Le Creuset. If you take care of your Le Creuset, it can be passed down to your children or to deserving family members/friends. I belong to a few Le Creuset fan groups and have seen people post pictures of their heirloom pieces that are 75year old or more and they still look and perform wonderfully!
Finally, I can’t leave my readers without a recipe to make in their Le Creuset! Here is a recipe from my Mother in Law, Connie. My kids are obsessed with Gramma Connie’s cinnamon rolls and she was gracious enough to allow me to post it for you all to enjoy! (Cooked in my favorite lasagna pan!)