An Expert Guide to the Le Creuset Cocotte

Published on 09/25/2023 · 8 min readWho knew the classic Dutch oven has a cool French name? From hearty family meals to tempting mini desserts, the cocotte is much more versatile than we ever gave it credit for.
Kate Wilson, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Kate Wilson

Mac and Cheese is served in style with the Le Creuset Mini Crocotte with Flower Lid. Photo by Kate Wilson

TL;DR Nothing beats one-pot meals, but the Le Creuset takes simplified cooking to the next level. With a history spanning nearly 100 years, the company has perfected the simple Dutch oven, which continues to be a staple in kitchens across the world today. We'll take a closer look at the history, function, and variations of this iconic piece by Le Creuset, answering common questions and sharing fun recipe ideas, too. You just might be adding one to your collection when we're done!

Hi, I'm Kate, a Kitchen Expert here at Curated. With experience cooking for large crowds professionally to training staff on culinary equipment, I am always excited to try new products in the kitchen. One thing I've learned is that nothing beats a tried and true classic. Le Creuset continues to meet the highest standards of performance and durability, no matter the product. What started as a love for the brand's eye-catching colored enamel has developed into a deep appreciation for the consistent quality of their products.

Who Is Le Creuset?

Mini Cocottes are perfect for condiments, toppings, and more! Photo by Kate Wilson

Le Creuset is a brand that nearly everyone has heard of, but many may not know about its rich history. Two Belgian industrialists met at a Brussels fair in 1924 and decided to create a factory to enamel various cookware items. In 1925, the brand was born in Fresnoy-le-Grand in France. This was also the year that the first cocotte was produced! Their first advertising campaign promoted their quality enameled cast iron, but the company also introduced cookers, charcoal stoves, hot plates for electric cookers, and even kitchen utensils. Their early success was at risk, however. The onset of war brought trouble to Le Creuset because their factory was close to the front lines and occupied by the German army.

With the passing of World War II, the brand saw an uptick in popularity. Considered an innovator of its time, the brand focused on colorful enameled cast iron and began exporting to other countries, including the US, in 1952. Le Creuset has continued to expand not only into other areas of the world (now sold in over 60 countries!) but also with its product line over the years. It stands as one of the most trusted names in premier cookware products on the market today.

What Is a Cocotte?

Photo by Mironov Vladimir

A cocotte is a fireproof dish, usually made of cast iron, stoneware, or porcelain, and is typically used for cooking an individual portion of food. It was originally developed in the 17th century in the Netherlands, but Le Creuset has since succeeded in making the piece recognizable across the globe. They have since expanded their line of cocottes to include larger pieces that accommodate family meals, which are generally seasonal or thematic in nature.

What Is a Le Creuset Cocotte Made Of?

There are two types of cocottes that Le Creuset makes, each made with a different type of material. The larger Dutch oven style is made of enameled cast iron, and the process is more hands-on than you might expect. First, two sand molds are made, one for the interior and one for the exterior. Raw materials like pig iron are melted at very high temperatures in a large cauldron and then poured into the molds. Once the iron has cooled, it is removed, and the mold is recycled, which means that no two Le Creuset pieces are identical. Each piece then passes through multiple hands to ensure it is cleaned and blasted to prepare for enameling.

Smaller mini cocottes are made of either uncoated cast iron or stoneware and are designed for individual servings. Stoneware is virtually nonstick and offers superior heat distribution that eliminates hot spots and uneven cooking.

What to Consider When Buying a Le Creuset Cocotte

What Can I Use a Le Creuset Cocotte For?

Photo by Natalia Hanin

The possibilities are endless. Larger cocottes come in multiple shapes and sizes and are capable of baking and braising, which is ideal for making roasts, soups, and stews for a large crowd. Their smaller-sized dish is great for individual servings and presenting condiments or ingredients that accompany the main dish.

How Much Do Le Creuset Cocottes Typically Cost?

As expected, the larger pieces are pricier than the mini-versions, but both are well worth their cost. The process for creating an enameled cast iron piece described above speaks to the high quality and attention to detail of the cocottes, and the stoneware pieces are no different. Each is made with a triple-fired process that ensures exceptional durability and the ability to withstand the rigors of everyday cooking. Prices range from $22 for a standard mini cocotte to $420 for the larger Heritage piece in the collection.

How Much Room Do I Have in My Kitchen?

While there are different sizes and styles of the cocotte available, it's important to note that they are heavier pieces that do not stack particularly well when stored. Each cocotte comes with a lid, which also makes stacking even more difficult unless you wish to store them separately. Many people purchase mini cocottes in sets, so it's worth considering where you will keep them in your kitchen.

How Do I Care for Le Creuset Cocottes?

Photo by EGT 1

While enameled cast iron and stoneware pieces are generally easy to care for, these tips will help prolong the life of your cookware.

  • Clean with warm water, mild dish soap, and a non-abrasive sponge rather than placing your cocottes in the dishwasher.
  • For stubborn stains, soak the pot or fill it with water and simmer on low heat before cleaning.
  • If there is food baked into the cookware that is not releasing easily, try a mixture of baking soda and water or lemon juice and salt, which are a few mildly abrasive ingredients that will help with removal without scratching your cookware.

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What Are the Different Types of Le Creuset Cocottes?

The variations of this product are relatively simple and, in general, are based on size and material. The enameled cast iron cocottes are larger, ranging in capacity from 2.5 to 4qt. The mini versions are made of either cast iron or stoneware and come in 1/3qt to 24oz sizes.

There is one other variation, which is the Classic versus Signature collection. The Signature option is higher-end, offering larger handles and knobs that also have a higher heat tolerance in the oven. The enamel is also of higher quality, with a better capacity to retain color, release food, and resist cracks and chipping.

While you'd expect to find the Le Creuset style in a variety of colors, you might be delighted to learn of the different designs that are regularly released, too. From Eiffel Tower and Heritage Olive Branch pieces to seasonal apple or pumpkin shapes, the cocotte offers fun and functional pieces to suit any occasion.

Benefits of Owning a Le Creuset Cocotte

Aside from adding a splash of color to your kitchen, there are many reasons to consider a cocotte from Le Creuset.

  • Nonstick interiors are non-toxic and easy to clean
  • Excellent heat distribution across both the enameled cast iron and stoneware collection deliver uniform browning and even cooking
  • Safe for oven, broiler, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, and microwave use
  • Premium stoneware is resistant to chips, scratching, stains, and cracking
  • Colorful glaze is nonporous, non-reactive, and resists stains, odors, and flavor absorption
  • Exceptional durability
  • Even the most basic cocottes bring a unique, elegant presentation to the table

How to Choose the Right Le Creuset Cocotte

Many customers come to Curated because they are unsure which cookware pieces are best for them. Below are real customers I helped pick the perfect cocotte for based on their specific needs.

Marg

Needs: Cooking for a crowd has always been Marg's favorite weekend activity. She loves to prepare a large pork shoulder for her friends from work, and they generally meet every Sunday, especially in the cooler months leading up to the holidays. Marg traditionally used a crock pot for her roasts but has been intrigued by the different recipes that call for a Dutch oven and would like to present her dinners in a more decorative way.

Features Marg should look for: Larger capacity, themed pieces that match Marg's aesthetic.

Recommended products: Le Creuset Signature 9 Quart Round Dutch Oven, Le Creuset Pumpkin Cocotte

Cliff

Needs: Cliff is a single guy who likes to recreate his mom’s famous recipes. Her French Onion Soup remains a favorite childhood memory, and he wants to make a smaller portion just for himself, along with other soup recipes he’d like to start experimenting with.

Features Cliff should look for: Smaller versions of the cocotte that are perfectly sized for individual servings.

Recommended products: Le Creuset Cast Iron Mini Cocotte, Le Creuset Mini Cocotte, Le Creuset Mini Cocotte with Flower Lid

Find the Best Le Creuset Cocotte for You

Photo by AS Foodstudio

Whether cooking for a crowd or preparing an elegant meal for one, Le Creuset offers an exceptional line of cookware that delivers on performance every time. If you’re wondering if the Le Creuset Cocotte would be a fit for your next cooking adventure, chat with me or one of my fellow Kitchen Experts here on Curated for free, personalized advice. We will help you choose the piece that is exactly right for you!

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