What are the + and – of Le Creuset versus high-quality stainless steel cookware?

Any differences (such as ease of use, cleaning, dishwasher safe, etc.) are helpful. We don’t plan to buy cookware a lot of times. We’re considering a Le Creuset 9-piece enamel-over-iron set versus three-ply stainless steel (Emeril Pro-Clad, Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, Marcus Samuelsson, Le Creuset) and five-ply discontinued cookware from Spring of Switzerland (Dr. Weil brand)).

The more I look, the more confused I get. Maybe I just can’t go wrong with any of them and should just decide.


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    5 Responses to “What are the + and – of Le Creuset versus high-quality stainless steel cookware?”

    1. Holly says:

      Most experienced cooks will tell you not to purchase a set of anything, and that is good advice. Start with a very small set of stainless steel (because it is less expensive than single pieces). I bought a 7-piece set of Emerilware stainless, and was so pleased with it, I added a few more pieces. Love the glass lids. I have a couple pieces of Le Creuset, but it is too heavy even before the food goes in and I don’t like dealing with it. I regret buying the Le Creuset now—should have just bought the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron stuff for about a fourth of the cost. I do have a Lodge 5 qt. dutch oven that I use to deep fry and it is a nice piece and easy to clean. The LC dutch oven does a nice job when I want stew-type recipes. But I use my Emerilware stainless steel 6 qt. pot more often.

      I gave up a really nice set of Magnalite aluminum cookware because it was not dishwasher safe. My stainless goes right in, and after years of use, it looks nearly new.

      Non-stick surfaces are OK in skillets, but in general, I don’t like them because food does not develop enough fond and pan sauces are a bit pale and bland. Also limits the life of the cookware–once the coating wears off, the pan is useless. Great for eggs, though. Also, you do need to consider weight. I did not purchase the Emeril 5 qt saute pan because it was too heavy. Purchased a Calphalon stainless pan instead and it does a fine job. Also didn’t like the Emeril 10" everyday pan because it was too small—purchased the Calphalon 12" stainless everyday pan. Love that it has two little handles instead of the big long one.

      Then I purchased a plain stainless 14" frypan from a restaurant supply store, and loved it so much I got another 14" with a non-stick coating. Works great for chicken marsala where the chicken is pounded to the size of a luncheon plate.

      See what I mean? Lots of choices and lots of reasons to seek out specific pieces that work for you. And you don’t need to see how much you can spend. I can personally recommend stainless Emerilware as a basic start, although I don’t think it is available in a small set anymore—10 pieces is now the basic set.

      My friend in Ohio has crap depression-era cookware from her grandmother and puts out the best meal in the world. If you are a good cook, you can make a great dinner using a piece of foil over a campfire.

    2. lorenzo says:

      I own and use both of them, each based for their strong points. If I’m making a large batch of chili, cream soup, or stew, or something which is going to cook/simmer for a long time, you can’t beat Le Creuset. Especially when it’s clean-up time.

      If I’m making rice or cooking some veggies, the stainless is fine.

      If I am roasting a game bird in the oven, back to the enamel-clad cast iron. Anything in the oven goes into a Le Cruset piece.

      I have some Le Creuset skillets also, but I don’t use them for eggs. For those I prefer my Calaphon non-stick pieces.

      Basically, you heating, cleaning and maintaining an even heat, any cast iron pieces will beat any stainless pieces. Le Creuset gets expensive however, so any of the other companies producing an enamel clad line will be just fine. Assuming you can lift it……lol

    3. sweetroll says:

      Le Creuset is nice but expensive and heavy, Just because their is a celebrity name attached to a set doesn’t mean it’s high quality. Here is a site with reviews.
      I cannot recommend Calphalon anymore. My husband bought me a set last Christmas before last and by this Christmas, the coating – if that’s what you call it, is almost completely rubbed off and looks terrible. The 2 pans I bought by themselves a year prior are just fine, from the same manufacture. The cooking surface is fine but they look ugly.
      I have a Kitchenaid set – stainless steel for over 10 years and I love it and it still looks great.

    4. Sew What? says:

      The only piece of Le Creuset cookware I’d care to own is a 4 quart Dutch Oven. I like it because it’s heavy and attractive to bring to the table.

      My cookware is my chief kitchen too. Generally, I want pots and pans I can bang around. I don’t want anything I have to worry about denting, warping, or the finish coming off.

      I want my cookware to just about last forever (and mine nearly have). I have good quality stainless steel. I have metal lids. I don’t want glass lids. I have one stainless steel skillet that I bought for searing meat and I also use it as a saucier. I have three cast iron skillets that I use for everything. Take care of your cast iron and you’ve got great non-stick. I’ve made crepes in my small cast iron skillet.

      It’s fine if you want a starter set of cookware. Buy the rest of your cookware as the need arises.
      Your stock pot doesn’t need to match the rest of it. I picked up a used one many years ago at a yard sale for $6. Today that same Farberware pan is $69.00 new. I don’t own a double boiler.
      A stainless steel bowl set over my 3 quart saucepan works great.

      Consider that every pan you own has to fit somewhere in your kitchen.

    5. Karen L says:

      These days, If I wanted a basic set, I’d go for a high quality stainless set, something with a good weight to it and with metal lids, not glass. Metal cannot break and leave you running all over town looking for a replacement. We all need the pans that usually come in such a set which are usually a frypan, a stockpot and 3 or 4 saucepans. Past that, I wouldn’t buy a set at all. I would choose Le Creuset for one or two frying pans, a large stock type pot, a smaller sauce-making size saucepan and perhaps an oven-to-table casserole dish or two. Depends what kind of cooking you do. I would buy them as you find you need them unless you find a great deal on a Le Creuset set with most of what you want. The trouble with sets is that they usually have most of what you want but never exactly what you want. I just bought another mid-size stinless saucepan because I often found I needed two simultaneously. Ikea has very good single pans in stainless.

      I’ve had Le Creuset for 30 years and it’s lovely. It is somewhat more fragile than stainless and if you abuse it by heating it too hot with no food in it, or leaving food in it way too long, or burning food into it, you can ruin the enamel. It will still work fine but things will stick easier. I have never had a dishwasher so don’t know how it is in them.

      Stainless is more bulletproof, can certainly go in the dishwasher. I bought a good stainless set about 10 years ago and find I use both that and the Le Creuset all the time, just depending what I’m doing. The cooking qualities are very similar, though I just got an induction hotplate and have noticed that the Le Creuset works unbelievably well on it though the stainless works fine too.

      Yes, you’re right, you can’t go too far wrong with any of them, but I’d come down on the side of stainless for the initial basic set and buy the Le Creuset later as a bit of a luxury. There are other enamelled cast iron makers and I got an 8" frypan from one recently. It wasn’t exactly cheap($60) and it isn’t as nicely finished or designed as the Le Creuset but works fine so far though I don’t think I’d buy another. Le Creuset has been making their stuff forever and is the Roll-Royce of enamelled cast iron.

      And as one other poster said, don’t ignore a plain old cast iron frypan. They’re cheap, extremely durable and work very well for a lot of things. I won’t cook tomato sauce in it and I now fry bacon in the stainless for easy clean up but the cast iron pan is very useful and you cannot ruin its looks. Buy a metal handled one, not wood, and it makes a superb roasting pan for a chicken or roast.

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