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Le Creuset Stainless Steel

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We are considering purchasing some Le Creuset Stainless Steel pots. We looked at All Clad, but find holding the handle incredibly uncomfortable; it's a deal breaker.

Does anyone have any direct experience using this cookware? I found one post on another thread stating that he has only seen complaints. Through my online research, I have found only minimal reviews & all have been positive.

Le Creuset seems to have addressed 3 design flaws in All-Clad's stainless steel: (1) handle is more comfortable ; (2) there is a "hole" in the handle close to the body of the pot so the handle should get less hot ; (3) all the edges are rolled, making pouring easier.

The construction seems the same & is thick like All Clad's.

post #2 of 11
I was the person who saw the complaints. I went back to Google and could no longer find them with a quick search. It's possible I was mistaken, but, FWIW, I don't think so.

Also, I suspect that if there were any Le Creuset stainless users we would have heard from them. On that, I hope I'm wrong. It would be interesting to get some comments from someone to whom we could address questions.

If you're really looking for comfortable handles that don't get hot, try Vollrath Tribute. Ugly. But they're the real deal.

Le Creuset is certainly manufactured according to the same type of design and general material specs as the other high end tri-ply cookwares which is why I was surprised when I read the negative comments.

When you read positive comments, I suggest you discount anything made by people who've only just received their cookware or who make impossible claims like "it conducts heat so efficiently I used less heat." That's not how thermal efficiency works in the kitchen and certainly not how it comes into play with cookware. There it's about responsiveness -- pans get hotter and cooler faster; and about even eating -- absence of hot and dead spots.

All the high-end try-ply use more or less the same stainless for the interior inserts (18/10 or 18/09) and since it's the same, it's equally susceptible to scratching and dinging. They all polish to around around the same level, too. So people who seem major differences in terms of sticking as a function of pan design or quality whithin the narrow range of All Clad, Calphalon Tri-Ply, Gourmet Standard Tri-Ply, etc., are just fooling themselves. It would be nice if it were true, but it isn't.

This kind of leaves appearance, construction quality, price, and handles. And that puts handles into perspective. Very important those handles. If you like the way it looks, the way it feels in your hands, and you can afford it -- buy it. A set's not going to suddenly make you a good cook, or keep you out of the kitchen either.

Try and buy from someone who will give you a no BS replacement guarantee if there are latent construction defects -- for instance if the handles on your larger pans start loosening.

post #3 of 11
I wasn't going to jump in as I've no experience with LeCreuset stainless cookware, but since BDL opened the door I'll add a thought or two.

I've cooked with a number of tri ply stainless cookware brands, and have not found major differences between the way similar pans cook. The way they feel is important, as BDL said. I like the all-clad handles, but calphalon tri-ply handles work well for me also.

I've puchased a number of pieces from Bed Bath and Beyond, in part because their prices (with the ubiquitous 20% discount card they send out evry month) are good, but just as important is their warranty. Whatever you buy from them can be returned for cash, credit, or exchange, for whatever reason, no questions asked, for the life of the product. I've returned a couple of pots that were ruined because of my carelessness - the same pot actually - and each and every time (3X) BB&B gave me a new pot, no questions asked. And they did so with a smile and no comments about the damage being my fault. They're worth checking out.

post #4 of 11
One last thought: It's quite possible the negative comments I read stemmed from a bad initial run, and the manufacturing has subsequently been improved.

IIRC the negative comments centered around a bad interior insert which scratched and discolored too easily, and poorly attached interiors.

The LC stainless is made in China and not France. I'm not sure whether it's made under license, LC has its own factory, or something in between as is common there. It takes time to establish quality control when a product is made under license, especially if the licensee isn't cooperative. That too could have been the problem.

Shel's reasons for recommending BB&B for this sort of cookware is heap much wisdom.

If you're all about the cooking and not how your cookware looks -- or you're all about your cookware looking like a restaurant's -- do check out the Vollrath Tribute. I'm in love with the stuff. Even the stupid lids, which cost a mint, are better than anything else on the market.

Finally, it's a good idea to have enough stainless pieces to cook anything reactive you're likely to want to cook. That having been said, other materials do a better job and cost less. Save some room and some cash for carbon steel skillets, a regular cast iron chicken fryer, and a huge inexpensive stock pot.

post #5 of 11
I just picked up 3 Lodge cast pieces on eBay. A 6 1/2, 8, and 12 inch. All three were under $35 including shipping. The 12 inch was $3 on the auction and all were brand new. I still like non-stick for a few things, like scrambled eggs etc.
post #6 of 11
Over the past couple of years I've read quite a number of negative reviews on a variety of SS brands of cookware, especially skillets and sauté pans. Almost every one of those negative reviews dealt with food sticking to the cooking surface of the pans, and they all seemed to be centered around the fact that the reviewer didn't know how to properly use the pans. Many were expecting results similar to those obtained with non-stick cookware.

post #7 of 11
I attempted to discount those, as well as other complaints or praise that were based on a misunderstanding of normal cooking processes. The complaints that bothered me seemed to be based on poor quality stainless interior inserts (bluing and scratching possibly from a bad run or an unscrupulous licensee), and poorly attached handles (ditto).

That said, stickiness is one of the three principal reasons I don't think SS is the "perfect" pan interior, another is weight, and quality of fond is the third. Not that you can't work around SS's poor release properties with minimal technique. And, FWIW, I don't think there is a perfect pan interior, although for most purposes I'd choose carbon steel. If I were building an "ideal" cook set, I'd have one of almost everything in tri-ply stainless -- and add a lot of carbon, cast iron, enamel over cast, some lighter stainless, and a few copper/stainless cook/presentation pieces for good measure. To my mind, carbon rules for skillets, enamel over cast for braisiers and casseroles, and tri-ply for small and medium sized sauce pans. But the performance differences are subtle -- and not nearly as important as any other factor in the cooking dynamic -- ingredients, technical skill, recipe choice, etc. By way of example, if you make a better omelette than I do in any given pan, chances are you'll still make a better omelette if you switch to something "lesser," and I to something "better."

And despite anything Alton Brown says, you don't have to go buy a cast iron pan to make fried chicken. You just have to pay more attention if you're using something lighter. More generally, extra attention is the usual penalty for choosing any "lesser" material than the ideal for a given task. Cheap at the price.

post #8 of 11
Bluing is something I've run into a few times with various brands of SS cookware. It seems that it's a result of cooking temps being a little too high or less than very clean surfaces. In any case, a little wipe with Barkeeper's Friend has always taken care of the matter.

Never ran into - or read about - poorly attached handles, but I haven't used LC.

Just a word about LC service: Years ago (1980 or so) I bought an enameled Dutch oven, and a few years ago dropped and damaged the lid. A quick call to LC resulted in them offering me a new pot to replace the damaged one at a ridiculously low price - more like a servoce charge. IOW, they stood behind their product. Perhaps they stilladhere to the same level of customer service that they did a couple of years ago ...

post #9 of 11
we have a le crueset outlet near me....every piece they make there....the salesman is VERY VERY helpful...and to me, sounds like he knows what he is talking about.

I saw these sitting in the middle on display, I asked him about them. He told me he wouldn't even let me buy them with the number of complaints he had been getting from his "usual" customers.

if that means anything.
post #10 of 11
Ouch! Yikes!

post #11 of 11
If you do end up buying the Le Creuset stainless steel, would you mind providing all of us with a review of your experiences using it? There seems to be a lot of "I wonder" going around, myself included, and I would love to hear someone's first hand experiences. Good Luck finding the right brand, and do let us know what you ultimately decide!
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