Le Creuset, a French company, has been crafting enameled cast-iron cookware since 1925, including Dutch ovens (which the company refers to as "French ovens").
Its most popular model in reviews is the Le Creuset 7.25-Quart Round French Oven (*Est. $290), which one cooking magazine describes as the "gold standard" for this type of cookware. In tests, it performs flawlessly, producing evenly browned meat and perfect rice. Although testers note that the pot requires a lengthy soaking, most user reviews say that cleanup is easy. Owners say this pot delivers very even heat, looks great and is very durable and award it near-perfect ratings at both Amazon.com and Williams-Sonoma.com. Its biggest drawbacks are its high price tag and heavy weight.
Although Le Creuset is the top performer in reviews, recommendations for the much less expensive Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven (*Est. $60) are nearly as strong. J. Kenji López-Alt of SeriousEats.com names this Dutch oven a good budget pick, saying it's "nearly as functional as the Le Creuset, though sautéing and heat distribution suffer just a little bit." In professional tests, this pot fares just as well as the Le Creuset, producing crunchy fries, fluffy rice and flavorful Belgian stew. However, user reviews for the Lodge pot are not quite as good. Although many owners say this pot can do everything the Le Creuset can, we saw quite a few complaints that its enamel coating chips easily.
Lodge also makes Dutch ovens in non-enameled cast iron, which comes preseasoned from the manufacturer (coated with a thin layer of oil baked into the metal). We found the best reviews for the Lodge 5-Quart Double Dutch Oven (*Est. $35), a 10-inch pot with a lid that doubles as a small skillet. Owners at Amazon and Walmart.com say this Dutch oven is very versatile -- great for searing meats, making stews and baking bread. The seasoned cast iron does require more maintenance than an enameled finish, but most owners say it isn't burdensome. However, many owners say the original factory seasoning is insufficient and users need to season the pot themselves before using it -- a process that takes time and can be messy.