Ooh la-la, Le Creuset is a premium brand. But why are Le Creuset pots so popular? Born in France in the early 20th Century, Le Creuset subsequently perfected the cast iron cooking pot and ever since has sold millions of them to discerning chefs and serious, middle class types who value good build quality. An unexpected twist occurred around 2020, however, when Le Creuset cookware also began to trend on Instagram and TikTok, as a sort of upscale cooking equivalent to Gucci handbags or Beats headphones.
Any brand that has been going a long time, selling premium products with great success will inevitably attract criticism that it has reduced the quality of its products or otherwise 'sold out' in order to appeal to a wider market. Certainly, Le Creuset has massively expanded the number of products it offers, and brings out new colours every year in order to keep things à la mode, as the French say. However, Le Creuset's core offering – ie: the cast iron cooking pots and grill pans – does not seem to me to have diminished in quality at all, and many of its pan sets, bakeware, stoneware and accessories are pretty good too.
However, given that there are considerably cheaper alternatives out there, should you buy a Le Creuset? With holiday entertaining in mind, let's cook up an analysis. For more inspiration, take a look at our current best cheap Le Creuset deals. Also our guides to the best saucepan sets and best non-stick pans contain plenty of Le Creuset but also their many high quality cookware rivals. You may also wish to ponder the mistakes everyone makes with Le Creuset and other premium pots and pans.
What does Le Creuset make?
Peruse Le Creuset's website and you'll find it makes a huge array of kitchenware items. The ones most people home in on are the cast iron cooking pots. They're known as casseroles in most of the world and Dutch ovens in America but other names for them include the original French cocotte and also French oven, presumably because the French don't want the Dutch to get credit for their cooking pots.
The pots are cast iron, covered in a layer of enamel. Le Creuset's signature exterior colour is 'Volcanic' orange but the brand keeps numerous options on the go – there are currently no fewer than 13 colour choices for the Signature round casserole/Dutch oven for instance. The interior enamel comes in a choice of a light, cream-like colour or black. The light option is more attractive but black is easier to keep clean, although if you take good care of the pots, cleaning should be easy anyway.
Le Creuset also makes some excellent grill pans in a similar design, and has long been known for earthenware/stone cooking vessels for baking and roasting. Since the 90s, Le Cresuet has moved into making practically everything you can cook in, including stainless steel pans, non-stick pans, roasting tins, and a huge range of bakeware. There's also a vast array of kitchen utensils, plates, mugs and glasses and limited edition collections such as the Star Wars collection and the Harry Potter collection. The latter probably appall purist Le Creuset fans but appeal to a much wider audience, including younger fans who have been introduced to the brand via social media, where these upscale cooking pots had a period of massive and rather surprising popularity.
Is Le Creuset any good?
I would say the cast iron and stoneware, 'core' Le Creuset products are absolutely excellent. Being cast iron they heat up rapidly, but the enamel coating makes then easy to clean – including in the dishwasher. You can easily get great cooking results every time, especially once you realise it is not necessary to whack the heat up to the max. Although being cast iron, the pans can resist high temperatures, the casseroles/Dutch ovens are best for cooking at a moderate heat, or low and slow. The grill pans you can go as hot as you like with, to sear meat, fish and veg.
Le Creuset's cast iron and stoneware products look great, which certainly doesn't hurt, but thir strongest point is that they last for years. My mum has got Le Cresuet roasters and casseroles dating back to the 80s and 90s and apart from some minor design changes since then, they look like they could have been bought yesterday.
The brand's saucepans and 3-ply stainless frying pans are also excellent although there is considerably more high quality competition in these areas, and Le Creuset's pans can feel a little overpriced next to some of their rivals.
In particular, given that all non-stick pans will lose their non-stick qualities in 5-10 years, you may be better off getting a cheaper but high-quality option from someone like Tefal. However, Le Creuset's pans undeniably always look very good and have a lot of cachet.
Because of the huge quantities of product Le Creuset makes, not every item comes off the production line perfect. It's important, then, to buy from a reputable retailer and to check your spanking new cookware carefully before using it and after its first few uses. Don't be shy about sending it back if you detect any cracks, visual defects in the finish or see any flaking of non-stick or enamel surfaces.
Just to be clear here: these are not commonplace issues and if you need to replace a new Le Creuset pan, in all likelihood the replacement will be perfect. It's just something that's worth looking out for.
Le Creuset offers a lifetime guarantee on all of its core cooking products, although you should bear in mind that this does not cover 'normal wear and tear', which includes the gradual loss of non-stick coatings, and damage caused by 'overheating', which is left slightly ambiguous. I have never had to return a Le Creuset product but anecdotally I have heard good things about their willingness to replace or repair products, including quite old ones.
Is Le Creuset worth the money?
For the main cooking products, based on the above, I say Le Creuset is worth the money, if you're willing to pay it – which clearly a great many people are. An obvious caveat here is that there are almost always cheaper versions available of practically everything Le Creuset sells and if they're from reputable brands, they are usually not noticeably worse.
Amazon, famously, does a cast iron Basics range that looks remarkably like Le Creuset but at a fraction of the cost. Judging by the reviews, people love it.
The value of Le Creuset is that it has a deserved reputation for longevity and quality – and that lifetime guarantee, although as noted, this will not cover every possible form of damage and you will have to take some care of your Le Creuset items. As with any renowned branded good, you are also buying something intangible that says, "I have good taste, I value quality and I have lots of money to spend." That isn't something I would ever criticise, but if you prefer much cheaper pots and pans by other brands, there's also certainly nothing wrong with that. No really. I won't judge you. Amazon Basics is fine.
At the other end of the cost argument, Le Creuset is not by any means the only expensive cookware brand. It's not even the most expensive cookware brand – not by a long way in fact. There are other brands out there that make Le Creuset look like, well, Amazon Basics. When it comes to brands in roughly the same cost ballpark, my favourites are fellow Frenchies Staub – their cocottes are even sexier than Le Creuset's in my eyes – and, for pans of all kinds, the UK's Samuel Groves. Smeg recently started doing some great pans as well.
So, why are Le Creuset pots so popular?
Partly it’s recent hype. Partly it’s a long-standing and deserved reputation for quality. People come for the great looks and luxe associations, but stay for the ease of use, great cooking results and long life.
Particularly if you shop around and don't pay the full price – see our best cheap Le Creuset deals page for inspiration, Le Creuset cookware is well worth the purchase. Most of it should last you a lifetime, with care, and it's very attractive, well made and truly cherishable.
You shouldn't feel, just because its the hype cookware of Instagram, that you must buy Le Creuset. There are numerous other great options out there. But if you do opt for this high quality French brand, it won't let you down.
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