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I have recently been looking to buy a good Dutch Oven that will last a while, and I am a little lost since there is so many options at many different price points.

I recall a few years ago I bought a cheap cast iron skillet and it was terrible, the season wouldn't last, the finish was very rough, and the edges of the pan to the bottom were not smooth which made washing very difficult; all of that was solved when I just bought a more expensive, brand name skillet.

Is the same true for dutch ovens? I find many options on Amazon for under $100, but there are also ones by Staub and Le Creuset up to $700; and ofcourse there are options at every price in between. They all seem to have the same weight in the specifications so I would assume the classic heavy lid is not a factor, would appreciate any insight into what accounts for this price variation, and if it is a notable factor.

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    I see you're in the UK from your profile. Periodically Lidl & Aldi do no-brand cast iron that is almost indistinguishable from premium brand… except for the price & iron handles not wood. Recent example, Le C frying pan 160, Aldi 20. Guess which I got;)
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 17, 2021 at 11:06
  • In my city staub/zwilling have a store where they sell cocottes with some slight manufacturing defects (e.g. a tiny piece of dust got caught by the paint on the outside). These pots are sold for about 50% off. I have not checked if this exists online or in other cities.
    – sev
    Feb 18, 2021 at 12:20
  • you got lucky if a cheap one does as well as a high quality one long term. Especially the enamel can start cracking quickly on cheaply made stuff. And often the handles aren't heat insulated on them, making handling more difficult when hot.
    – jwenting
    Mar 18, 2022 at 9:18

1 Answer 1

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I have owned many brands of cast iron and ceramic coated pans, here's the factors I've seen that effect the price:

  • Quality of materials: better quality coatings last longer and give better results
  • Refinement: some brands are more aesthetically pleasing, better designed, and have better finish than others. Some of these refinements may improve the cooking experience, some may just be looks
  • Name: This is a huge factor these days, some brands like Le Creuset have hiked up their prices enormously in the past decade to the point they are absolutely eye watering, yet their products haven't changed in design or quality

Of all these it's name that seems to have the biggest effect on price. I have some Le Creuset that I bought or got as gifts some time back, and I have since bought some department store branded ones (Linea, House of Frasier's own brand) which are 1/3 of the price. The department store ones look good, deliver good results and wear just as well as the Le Creuset ones. There are many brands to choose from, it's worth doing some research on what's available around you before you spend money.

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