On the face of it, you have a Dutch oven heavy weight in Le Creuset pitted against a mid-ranger in the Cuisinart…What’s the real difference…let the Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset comparison begin.
Today, I will run you through a comparison based on real world testing of the Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset. Based as part of the best enameled cast iron Dutch oven test I conducted, I will offer a more detailed comparison of the two.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart
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Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart
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Before I begin, I probably need to set your expectations. Although I am comparing two Dutch ovens which fundamentally…let’s face it…do the same thing, they serve very different markets. On the one hand you have Cuisinart which retails at approximately $90, compared to the Le Creuset which costs around the $360 mark. That is a significant difference. Roughly 5 times the difference.
I will try and explain why you may pay the larger amount of money for the premium Le Creuset and also why you may opt for the lower priced version. I will also try and explain why those price differences exist.
Back to the comparison for the Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset, I produced a Beef stew using the exact same ingredients and process. This allowed me to test the performance along specific criteria. Specifically;
- Cooking performance
- Build quality
Cooking performance – Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset
As I mentioned earlier, these two Dutch ovens were compared in an in-depth test in my Best Dutch oven test. I made a Beef stew as it allowed me to test the stovetop searing performance after which it was transferred to the oven to finish.
I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Cuisinart enameled cast iron Dutch oven. It performed amazingly well…much better than I had expected. My expectation was based on the price, surely something so cheap in comparison couldn’t compete…I wouldn’t make any sense. As it turned out, it did compete and more.
The searing process was a dream, it seared beautifully. Very evenly and consistently, it was clear the heat was distributed and delivered evenly. The performance in the oven was just as good. The final beef stew was thick, tasty and the meat incredibly tender. The thickness of the sauce was due to evaporation, the more the liquid evaporates, the thicker the sauce. However, the evaporation was only marginally more than the Le Creuset.
For a Dutch oven costing approximately $360, you can understand my initial expectation…this was the most expensive and therefore it should easily win. After all, Le Creuset have nearly a hundred years of experience to fall back on, they clearly know what they are doing.
It didn’t disappoint. The cooking performance was marvelous. The searing process was beautifully done and you could see why they are a premium brand. The meat browned evenly and quite frankly…perfectly. Transferring to the oven, the end result was perfection. Tender beef, flavorful sauce and a wonderful texture. It really was a pleasure to use the Le Creuset.
Build quality – Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset
The reality is that the price difference should mean we see significant differences in the quality of the build. Was this the case…let’s find out.
The build quality was good when I compared to the others I tested. Everything was as it should have been. You could see the difference in finish when you compared to the Le Creuset or the Staub, but that was to be expected.
An area of concern that has been reported by some users is the paintwork. When used in a dishwasher, the color has been known to dull. Although they are defined as dishwasher safe, the dulling of the glossy finish is to be expected. Cuisinart are not on their own with this issue. Avoiding this is simple, hand wash only.
Aside from that, the only other thing to keep an eye out for is the care cast iron rim on the main vessel. This might be an area for rust to form if not looked after properly. It’s unlikely to be an issue but worth keeping an eye on regardless.
When it comes to setting the benchmark, it’s a real toss up between the Le Creuset and the Staub. They are both fantastically made products and clearly, they battle for the crown.
The Le Creuset Dutch oven was wonderfully made. The finish was exceptional, the paintwork flawless and the enamel was flat to the touch. You can clearly see that there was a great deal of attention paid to the final product.
Clearly this was to be expected to justify the five fold price difference against the Cuisinart dutch oven. The question you will have to ask yourself is whether you want the pay the difference. In fairness to some people, it is more than the actual product…It’s the history, the image or the brand. Ultimately it is for you to decide the worth of the Le Creuset.
Design – Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset
Here I was assessing the design factors that helped the performance and ease of use. I looked at three areas…the body, the lid and the handles.
The simplicity of the shape is an attractive feature in the Cuisinart. The straight lines mean that the shape of the vessel enhances the surface area in the base. This makes it more functional when searing large amounts of meat. Additionally, the shape also meant that food did not get stuck in the crevices.
The lid was another success area for Cuisinart. The lid fitted tightly and was well constructed. There was limited movement when placed on the main body. It did evaporate more liquid than the Le Creuset though but not sufficient enough to be a cause of concern.
If there are any disappointing areas, it is the handle. It is much smaller than the others which made handling and moving the Dutch oven was less comfortable. This is especially true when using oven mitts. Although it is easier to store with smaller handles, it makes little sense in designing it like this.
Le Creuset set the standard of design nearly one hundred years ago and not much has changed since…there is no reason too. Sure, there has been minor updates to design but nothing too dramatic. Le Creuset set the standard…the others follow. The body has a lovely straight side which enhances the surface area and leaves little room for food to get stuck. The rim is covered with black enamel to prevent rusting.
The lid was tight, the best out of all the Dutch ovens I tested. It was a perfect fit with no wobble. This takes real skill and craftsmanship to achieve, hence why not all manufacturers deliver this.
The handles were simply perfect, the right size and shape with plenty of room to fit your fingers inside. Transporting it was a breeze with oven gloves and strangely enough, it weighed less than most the Dutch ovens.
Facts at a glance
|Dimensions||11.6 x 11.6 x 6.2 inches||10 x 10.8 x 4 inches|
|Weight||12 pounds||11.2 pounds|
|Material||Enamel cast iron||Enamel cast iron|
|Country of Manufacture||China||France|
Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset – Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart vs Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven.
It would be unfair of me to declare the Le Creuset the winner when essentially, they are competing in different customer markets. If I had to choose a winner, I would choose Le Creuset. Its better built, better designed and overall the better Dutch oven.
That being said, Cuisinart is an excellent choice with many positives, especially the cooking performance. If I was to deliver a fairer verdict, I would have to factor in the price of the two. The reality is that the Le Creuset Dutch oven costs five times more than the Cuisinart Dutch oven. That is a big difference in price.
The real question becomes what you are prepared to pay…and why. If money is not an issue, choose the Le Creuset. If money is a consideration…choose the Cuisinart.
Le Creuset alternatives
If you are looking at premium Dutch ovens, you may want to consider Staub. They too are a French company with a fierce reputation for quality.
As an alternative to Cuisinart, you may want to consider Tramontina, Lodge or Marquette Castings.
For further reading, my Best Dutch oven review covers both these Dutch ovens and more. It is worth a read to get an idea about how they performed against each other and what you think may be important to you.
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Thank you so much
Why is the Le Creuset Dutch oven significantly more expensive?
Le Creuset is the leader in the market because of their history, image and brand. They have invested more than anybody else and it was their innovation that drove this market for Dutch ovens.
Their Dutch ovens are made in France where predictably, their overheads are larger than Chinese made Dutch ovens. This makes their products more expensive. Presumably, they also spend more in their distribution network and invest heavily in their brand. Le Creuset is a more than a cookware company, it is a desirable lifestyle brand.
The question really is whether this extra cost is worth it in comparison to their lower priced competitors? That is for you to decide. The comparison for Cuisinart enameled cast iron vs Le Creuset reflects this.
Where are Cuisinart Dutch ovens made?
They are made in China…as are most enameled Dutch ovens that are not made in France.
I’ve heard people call these ovens by other names like Cocottes and French Ovens…are they the same thing?
Yes, they are exactly the same thing. The word Cocotte is derived from Belgium and obviously, French cookware companies tried to rename Dutch ovens into French ovens with little success.
Read more information regarding this here.
Is Staub a viable alternative to Le Creuset?
Cocotte Staub vs Le Creuset? Yes, some people would argue that Staub cookware produce the better Dutch oven as they have introduced quartz into the cast iron which retains and distributes heat better. They also have a self-basting lid and use more layers of enamel. They are a relatively young company compared to Le Creuset but have a solid reputation that is growing fast.
Are Lodge or Tramontina viable alternative to Cuisinart?
The Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven certainly is. Have a read of my detailed review here. It is arguable whether the Tramontina is but the Lodge is a particular favorite among buyers. For a comparison between Lodge and Tramontina, click here
Who owns Cuisinart?
It is owned by an American company Conair Corporation and is one of a number of cookware brands owned by them.
Is there a video review online for Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart?
This is a review of Cuisinart Dutch ovens. It’s worth watching if you are interested in buying a Cuisinart Dutch oven.
Is there a video review online for Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven?
Where can i find your full review on Lodge Enamel Dutch oven?
You can find the full review by clicking the following link lodge enameled cast iron casserole
Where can i find the review of the best Dutch ovens?
You can find that review by clicking the following link Best Dutch Ovens
What other Le Creuset Dutch oven sizes are there available?
Le Creuset produce a range of sizes. I have put together a post detailing the Le Creuset Dutch oven size ranges available. However, the most common sizes are 5.5 qt, 7.25 qt and 9 qt.
Are Le Creuset dutch oven dishwasher safe?
Yes, they are dishwasher safe but as with all enameled Dutch ovens, it is not recommended that you use a dishwasher. The dishwasher cleaning process will strip the glossy finish and leave a dull finish. Hand cleaning a Dutch oven is simple and effective.
Thanks so much for this! On Oct 13, 1918 , I won Le Creuset LS2501-2467MMSS Mickey Mouse Signature Enameled Cast Iron 4-1/2-Quart Dutch Oven Round, Cerise with Applique on an Instagram giveaway, and I just got notice that they have shipped. The notice came from Conair Corp and I was not aware of the relationship. , until I googled it and found you. I loved this review! and I’m sure I’ll love the dutch oven. Perfect size for 2 of us.
Lucky you…i’m soooo jealous!!
I purchased the Cuisinart 6 quart Dutch oven based on the price. Unfortunately, after the very first time that I used it to cook a chili, the rim and cover chipped when I accidentally hit the rim with the cover when placing the cover on it. If I knew how fragile this enamel coating would be, I never would have bought it and would have spent the money for the Le Creuset Dutch oven regardless of the price. I guess you get what you pay for and “Made in China” would have been a red flag for me but I didn’t do enough research!
Thank you for your comment. Undoubtedly, Le Creuset is better quality but i have owned a Cuisinart for a year or so and never had any issues with it.
I’m not sure whether it was a bad batch or how it was hit but i guess you may be able to return it.
Of course, hitting a Le Creuset the same way might also damage it the same way.
All the best…Jayne x
Great review !! So helpful for the head to head comparison.. I bought the Cuisinart and am very happy with it. The price difference is actually four times.
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