An Expert Guide to Cocottes: How to Buy a Cocotte

Published on 11/29/2023 · 8 min readMaster the art of cocotte cooking with our expert guide on how to buy the perfect cocotte. Explore features, materials, and designs for your culinary adventures!
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by olepeshkina

TL;DR: Cocottes can be a niche purchase. When buying a cocotte, pay attention to its size, shape, and how much it costs. They tend to be small and ornate, but there are multiple options on the market, including bigger ones, that can be used for a variety of cooking tasks depending on your needs.

I’m a big fan of cast iron Dutch ovens, and I have two different-sized ones that I use at least once a week. They’re great for making soup, chili, roasts, and baking bread. Cocottes are very similar to Dutch ovens, meaning that most of the care and use instructions overlap. I’ve had them for at least six years now, and since I use them so regularly, I’ve expanded into other similar cookware. My experience with cocottes has shown that they make an excellent addition to your kitchen. If you’re looking to add one to your cookware collection, I’ve highlighted what to look for to find the best one for your cooking style and preferences.

What is a Cocotte?

Photo by AS Foodstudio

While this seems like this should be a simple and straightforward answer, it’s really not. Cocotte, according to Le Creuset, is the French word for a Dutch oven. In English, however, it isn’t that simple. While many use it interchangeably with the term Dutch oven, only certain Dutch oven-like pots are actually called by the name “cocotte.”

So, what does it mean in English? Well, the definition changes depending on who you ask, but essentially cocottes are a fancier and more specialized version of a Dutch oven. Cocottes are made of enameled cast iron, and are often more ornate than the typical Dutch oven. They also tend to be on the smaller side, and more expensive, than a Dutch oven.

Some people define cocottes as a Dutch oven with a flat lid, but that would mean that products such as KitchenAid’s Enameled Dutch Oven and Lodge’s Double Dutch Oven fit the bill—and I wouldn’t label them as such, nor does the manufacturer.

While there is no clear delineation between what makes something a Dutch oven as opposed to a cocotte, basically, if you’re looking for a Dutch oven that’s a showpiece, you want a cocotte.

What to Consider When Buying a Cocotte

Cocottes tend to be showpieces, so keep that in mind as you’re looking for one, as many options will likely be ornate. They also tend to be smaller compared to most Dutch ovens, so they’re better for making and serving more modest recipe sizes. Here are a few other factors to keep in mind when shopping for your perfect cocotte:

Price

A cocotte is going to be an investment. The price can range quite a bit depending on the size of the cocotte, but you can expect to spend a couple hundred dollars unless you’re getting a mini, single-serve cocotte. Mini cocottes can be anywhere from $20 to $50, or even more if you get a set.

Shape

The vast majority of cocottes are round or oval. But as they’re a specialty item, you can also get ones that are heart-shaped, or other fun shapes like a pumpkin or a tomato. These unusual shapes are going to cost you more money, but they will stand out as a serving dish.

Size

Cocottes’ sizes are quite varied. Here are the standard sizes that you’re likely to encounter:

  • Mini: These are often used as serving dishes, or to bake single-serve meals. A mini cocotte will likely go up to about a quart, being around the size of a soup bowl.
  • 3-quart: A 3-quart is common, but there are also 3.5-quart sizes or thereabouts. Many of the specialty-shaped cocottes, like pumpkins or hearts, will be this size.
  • 5-quart: Most cocottes aren’t this large, but some manufacturers like Staub produce enameled cast iron “cocottes” in this size, and I have no intention of arguing with them.

Enamel Quality

It’s important to check to make sure that the enamel is smooth and uniform. One weakness of enameled cast iron is that enamel can chip or crack, so you want to make sure that you start off with a product that has a well-applied enamel coating.

What are the Different Types of Cocottes?

Mini

Photo by Lals Stock

Mini cocottes are adorable and an excellent way to serve soup, stew, or hot dips. They can be made either of cast iron or ceramic. They work best as a serving dish, but as they’re usually made of cast iron or stoneware, they can also go in the oven.

Benefits:

  • A beautiful way to serve soup or chili
  • Hold heat very well
  • Can be used to bake an individual portioned meal or treat as well

Be Aware:

  • Their size makes their uses limited
  • A cast iron mini cocotte shouldn’t go in the dishwasher

Specialty

As mentioned, there are also cocottes that are special shapes, such as a heart, a pumpkin, or even Christmas-themed ones.

Benefits:

  • Beautiful, and they make lovely serving vessels
  • Still functional on the stovetop or the oven

Be Aware

  • Tend to be smaller than most Dutch ovens
  • Harder to clean due to unusual shape
  • More expensive

Round

Photo by Nina Firsova

Benefits:

  • Work on both the stove and in the oven
  • Can stand in for a roasting pan, a stockpot, or a deep-fat fryer

Be Aware:

  • Less ornate

Oval

Photo by Cometa Design

Oval Dutch ovens and cocottes are specialized to fit oblong roasts in them, which can be useful depending on what you’re planning on cooking.

Benefits

  • Allows you to fit longer roasts in it, like a leg of lamb
  • Works well for casseroles

Be Aware:

  • Doesn’t work well on the burner
  • Can be awkward to store

How to Pick the Best Cocotte for You

Picking out the right cocotte can be difficult. In order to make it simpler, I’m going to list three different people that represent different “chef personas,” and what cocottes I would recommend to each of them to best suit their individualized needs. Hopefully, these examples will help you determine what cocotte may be right for you.

Josie: Holiday Lover

There’s nothing Josie loves more than decorating for holidays—all holidays. She has themed plates, glasses, mugs, and decorations, but is looking to complete it with themed cookware. While she’ll only primarily use it at the right time of year, she still wants high-quality cookware that she can keep for years.

Features to look for:

  • Cookware that’s released around certain holidays
  • Enameled cast iron will last for a lifetime

Recommended products:

  • Staub Cast Iron 3.5-quart Pumpkin Cocotte: Staub makes an enameled cast iron cocotte in a pumpkin shape that’s the perfect size to feed a small family. While it has a clear fall theme, it’s pretty and functional enough to be used year-round. The handles make it easy to move around and take out of the oven.
  • Le Creuset Heart Cocotte: This specialty cocotte is heart-shaped with a loop handle on either side. It’s fully functional enameled cast iron, and at 1.9-quarts, it's just the right size for two people. It can also be used to bake cakes or other desserts, giving them its signature shape.

Tanya: Hostess who Loves to Throw Fancy Dinner Parties

Tanya enjoys throwing parties with high-end decorations, serving dishes, and plates. She’s looking for serving vessels that will fit the theme and look beautiful on the table. She doesn’t mind spending extra money, so long as they’re attractive and well-made.

Features to look for:

  • Ornate cookware and serving vessels
  • High-quality materials like cast iron and stoneware

Recommended Products:

  • Le Creuset Mini Round Cocottes (Set of 4): Mini cocottes are wonderful to use as serving dishes, and for making small recipes, like individual cakes or other treats. While these are on the pricier side, Le Creuset stoneware is top-of-the-line and will last a lifetime.
  • Staub Cast Iron 5.75 QT, Oval Coq Au Vin Cocotte: This cocotte is fully functional in the oven for larger casseroles, roasts, or, as in the title, coq au vin. It has a beautiful enamel coating and a tight-fitting lid with a rooster-shaped handle, meaning it’ll look right at home among formal place settings.

Gabriel: Excellent Home Cook Looking for High-End Cookware

Gabriel loves to cook, and is looking for cookware that is durable and performs extremely well. His preference is to get a product that serves multiple purposes, as he only has so much space. He’d also like to have a product that looks nice enough that he can put it on the table, even when he has guests.

Features to Look For:

  • Cookware that can be used in more than one way
  • Well-made products that will last a long time

Recommended Products:

  • Staub Cast Iron 5-quart Round Tall Cocotte: This tall cocotte is shaped more like a standard stockpot, making it excellent for dishes that have a lot of liquid like soups, chilis, and stews. It’s also oven-safe, so it can be used for pot roasts or even a chicken.
  • Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte: A Staub cocotte functions similarly to an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, and is even included in my list of the 6 Best Dutch Ovens. It has excellent heat retention, and can be used on the stove for soups and in the oven for braising (or even to bake bread).

Find the Right Cocotte for You

Photo by Victoria Kondysenko

It can be overwhelming to try to find the right product for your needs, particularly if you don’t have experience with cocottes. Some of it also boils down to personal preferences, such as shape and enamel color. For help finding your perfect cocotte, chat with one of our Curated Kitchen Experts for free, personalized advice! Any of our Kitchen Experts would be more than happy to help you find the cocotte that’s just right for you.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Kitchen on Curated

KitchenAid Enameled Cast Iron Induction Dutch Oven · 6 QT
$199.99
Lodge Chef Style Double Dutch Oven · 6 QT · Black
$89.95$112.00

Browse more Kitchen

Staub Cast Iron Round Tall Cocotte · 5 QT
$389.99
Staub Cast Iron Oval Coq Au Vin Cocotte · 5.75 QT
$419.99
Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte
$439.99
Le Creuset Signature Oval Dutch Oven
$445.00
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
$79.90
Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven
$360.00
Merten & Storck German Enameled Iron Dutch Oven
$199.99

Browse more Kitchen

Read next

New and Noteworthy