The Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven offers the same cooking performance as the Le Creuset 7.25-Quart Round French Oven (*Est. $290) at a fraction of the price. However, it does have a few disadvantages over the Le Creuset. It's smaller, but also heavier, and its enamel finish is not as durable. Also, Lodge does not offer a written warranty, though it does informally "stand behind" the product.
Matches pricier competitors. J. Kenji López-Alt of SeriousEats.com says that this pot is "nearly as functional" as the much pricier Le Creuset 7.25-Quart Round French Oven (*Est. $290), although he finds that "sautéing and heat distribution suffer just a little bit." However, this didn't seem to be the case in tests conducted by a foodie magazine; the Lodge Dutch oven aced every test, producing fluffy rice, crisp French fries and flavorful stew. We also read many owner-written reviews at retail sites that say this pot performs just as well as the Le Creuset. Like the Le Creuset, the enameled Lodge Dutch oven is described as performing very well at a wide variety of kitchen tasks, including searing, braising, roasting and baking crusty bread. One owner at Cooking.com says the heavy pot is useful for "things you want to cook low and slow for a long time, as well as things you cook on high temperature for a shorter time without burning."
Smaller than the Le Creuset. Editors at a foodie magazine dock the Lodge Dutch oven for its smaller capacity, giving the Best Buy pick to a larger pot with a slightly lower price tag. However, Faith Durand of TheKitchn.com doesn't consider this a drawback; she says 6 quarts is "good for soups, stews, braises, breads, and more." Although this pot is smaller than the Le Creuset, it's actually heavier, weighing in at a hefty 15 pounds. One user keeps the pot on the stove because it's "too big and heavy to get in and out of the cabinet." Most owners, however, think the advantages outweigh any cons: The enameled Dutch oven cooks food without sticking and is very easy to clean. Also, this oven-safe pot can go straight to the table for serving and then to the fridge with any leftovers.
Several bright, cheerful colors. Lodge doesn't offer as many color choices as Le Creuset, but with half a dozen shades to choose from, there should be something to fit every kitchen. López-Alt says this pot is "not as pretty to look at" as the Le Creuset, but this isn't a common sentiment. In fact, "Appearance/Design/Style" is the most commonly cited plus by Chef's Catalog users. Multiple owners say they love the colors; in fact, one user who owns this pot in Caribbean blue would love to own the red and green models as well. Reviews indicate that this pot may not maintain its original appearance as well as its pricier rival. The problems with flaking enamel can leave the outer surface badly scarred. One Amazon user, who initially loved this pot's "super shiny" finish, says that after six months of fading, scratching and chipping, it looks downright ugly.
Enamel prone to chipping. Although users say its heavy cast-iron body is just as sturdy as the Le Creuset's, its enamel finish is not. We read multiple complaints about the enamel chipping or flaking off within a year, or even a few days, after purchase. One owner complains at Amazon.com that the enamel developed its first chip when the pot was being washed prior to its first use. Another weak point is the phenolic plastic knob, which is only oven-safe to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Another Amazon user recommends removing the knob and replacing it with a metal one from the hardware store.
Unlike Le Creuset, which has a lifetime warranty, Lodge does not back up its products with a written warranty. However, it does pledge to "stand behind" its products. One Amazon review of the Le Creuset French oven compared Lodge's customer service favorably to Le Creuset's, saying that when there was a problem with the Lodge Dutch oven, an email to customer service (with photos) produced an immediate replacement. Another owner had less success, however; the company insisted on seeing the pot to determine whether it had been abused before replacing it. However, the owner says Lodge did offer to send a mailing label for this purpose, while Le Creuset requires customers to pay shipping costs.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good Although it's an older report, this Cook's Illustrated test is the most thorough evaluation of Dutch ovens available. Editors compare the Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Ovenand nine other models, including stainless-steel and uncoated cast-iron products. Testers use the pots to cook white rice and beef stew in the oven after browning the meat on the stovetop and to fry frozen French fries in 2 quarts of oil. Testers prefer Dutch ovens with at least an 8-inch diameter, which allows larger batches of beef chunks to be browned on the stovetop. They also prefer enameled to uncoated cast iron.
Review: Dutch Ovens, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Jan. 1, 2007
Review Credibility: Very Good J. Kenji López-Alt, the chief creative officer of SeriousEats.com, identifies the seven most important pieces of cookware to have in your kitchen. He names the Dutch oven as "the ideal vessel for slow braises and soups" and a good choice for deep-frying. He says the Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven is a good budget alternative to the pricey Le Creuset 7.25-Quart Round French Oven (*Est. $290): a bit smaller and not quite as superior at heat distribution, but "nearly as functional" and much cheaper.
Review: Equipment: The 7 Most Essential Pots and Pans, J. Kenji López-Alt, Jan. 4, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good The Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven receives more than 1,200 reviews from owners at Amazon.com, with an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of a possible 5. Many owners describe this pot as "Le Creuset on a budget," saying its cooking performance, construction, easy cleanup and good looks match those of its pricier rival at a fraction of the price. However, others say Lodge can't really match Le Creuset in terms of durability -- especially where the enamel finish is concerned.
Review: Lodge Color Dutch Oven, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good We found about 30 reviews for the Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven at Cooking.com. Overall, it earns a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 from users, and 94 percent of them say they would recommend this model. Most users here consider this pot a great value, saying its performance is comparable to Le Creuset's. The only negative reviews came from owners who were disappointed to find that this pot is made in China and expressed concerns about lead contamination. (However, reviewers on other sites who contacted the manufacturer were assured that the cookware is lead-free.)
Review: Red 6-qt. Color Enamel Enameled Round Dutch Oven by Lodge, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good In roughly 35 reviews, this Lodge Dutch oven receives a near perfect 4.5-star rating. Owners praise its looks, construction, capacity and superior cooking performance. Their only quibbles are that the pot is very heavy and the handles get hot -- two problems you'll encounter with any enameled cast-iron cookware.
Review: Lodge Color Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6 qt., Contributors to ChefsCatalog.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Fair Faith Durand names the Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven as one of her five favorites, saying its 6-quart size is "good for soups, stews, braises, breads, and more." She also considers it a "great deal" compared to pricier pots by Le Creuset and Staub. However, unlike some of the other pots on her list, Durand doesn't mention using this Dutch oven in her own kitchen, so it's not clear that she has actually tried it hands-on.
Review: 5 Great Dutch Ovens: And 10 Recipes to Put Them to Work, Faith Durand, Sept. 7, 2011
Review Credibility: Fair This review isn't a product test; instead, it offers general recommendations for what to look for in a Dutch oven. Author Emma Christensen says the best Dutch ovens are heavy and thick, with easy-to-grip knobs and handles. She recommends choosing a pot at least 6 quarts in size, which is good for stewing a chicken or cooking a big batch of chili. Christensen names the Lodge 6-Quart Color Enamel Dutch Oven as her favorite mid-priced pick but doesn't say why.
Review: How to Choose the Best Dutch Oven: And Use It Well, Emma Christensen, Dec. 9, 2010