What Are the Different Types of Cocottes?

Published on 03/30/2024 · 8 min readExplore the versatility of cocottes! Learn about the different types and how each can enhance your slow-cooking and baking experiences.
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Kelsey Todd

TL;DR: While there isn’t an official consensus on the differences between cocottes and** **Dutch ovens, both are useful cooking tools for your kitchen. When picking out a cocotte for yourself, decide if you’re looking for an everyday pot or one for special auctions. Then consider what size and shape you’ll need, as well as your budget.

My Dutch ovens are the cookware that I use the most often. While I didn’t grow up with them, I bought them not long after I moved out and have been continually impressed by their versatility and usefulness. I use them to make soups, stews, chilis, roasts, and boil water, so I’m well versed in how they function and their uses.

Thinking of adding a cocotte to your cookware collection but have questions? Start a free chat with a Curated Kitchen Expert! Every Expert on Curated is happy to share their cooking and cookware expertise. If you have questions or concerns about usage or care, an Expert can answer them for you.

What Is a Cocotte?

Photo by Sophie Dale

Unfortunately, there’s no consensus on exactly what a cocotte is. Cocotte is the French term for a Dutch oven, so it refers to Dutch ovens or Dutch oven-like pots. A Dutch oven is a low, rounded pot with a tight-fitting lid, usually made out of cast iron. They’ll have handles on either side, which is part of what makes them a pot rather than a pan.

The issue is that some manufacturers don’t differentiate, so Staub Dutch ovens, for instance, are all called cocottes (or French ovens). Some only use it for certain pieces: a Le Creuset Dutch oven is called a Dutch oven, while their specialty items are called cocottes.

As a rule, ornate Dutch ovens are labeled as cocottes. So if you’re looking for one that’s shaped like a pumpkin, you’re better off searching for a cocotte. Mini Dutch ovens are usually labeled as mini cocottes, too, and they’re more or less a fancy single-serve dish.

What to Consider When Buying a Cocotte

As a rule, cocottes are going to be a showpiece or specialized, which means that they aren’t likely to be something you’ll use daily. The fact that they’re a specialty item means that they have a price to match, so it’s important to consider these questions when picking one out.

What Size Do I Want?

Cocottes typically have a smaller size range than Dutch ovens do. Here are the most common sizes you’ll encounter:

  • Mini: Mini cocottes max at about a quart, which is around the size of a soup bowl. They can also be much smaller, even down to holding only a cup. They’re usually used as individual baking or serving dishes.
  • 3qt: Most cocottes will be around this size, or perhaps 3.5qt. Many of the novelty shapes, such as a heart, tomato, or artichoke, will be this size.
  • 5qt: This is definitely on the larger size for most cocottes, but you can find them. Staub labels all of their Dutch ovens cocottes, and they have a 5.5qt option and a more ornate 5.75qt offering.

How Much Am I Willing to Spend?

As a rule, if you’re looking for a cocotte, you’re going to need to be willing to shell out some money. Most of the cocottes with unusual shapes are going to set you back $300 to $400.

As for mini cocottes, it’ll depend on what brand you get and if they’re made out of ceramic or enameled cast iron. They typically cost between $20 and $50 apiece, and you can buy them individually or in a set.

What Shape Do I Want?

Most cocottes are going to have a standard Dutch oven shape, meaning that they'll be either round or oval. But there are also fancy ones that are shaped like a pumpkin or a heart and ones that have snowflakes or other seasonal designs on them.

In most cases, a round cocotte is going to be the most practical. A lot of the elaborate ones are more or less round, especially if they’re vegetable themed. But an ornate Dutch oven will make a lovely serving dish.

What Are the Different Types of Cocottes?

There are a few different varieties of cocottes out there, depending on what you’re looking for.

Mini

Photo by Stock Creations

Mini cocottes range between a cup and a quart, making them ideal for individual servings. They can be made out of enameled cast iron or ceramic, usually stoneware.

Benefits:

  • Holds heat, so food stays hot
  • Oven safe, so they can bake an individual portioned meal or treat

Be Aware:

  • Limited uses because of small size
  • Often ceramic, rather than cast iron

Ornate

Photo courtesy of Staub

Some cocottes have unusual shapes, including those that are holiday themed. While they function similarly to a regular Dutch oven, they’ll have a special mold that will make them better suited to holidays or other special occasions. Pumpkins and hearts are common, but different companies have other novelty shapes, such as asparagus or tomatoes.

Benefits:

  • Eye-catching, will fit in with holiday decor
  • Fully functional and can be used on the stove or in the oven

Be Aware:

  • Pricier than a similarly sized Dutch oven
  • Fewer options in terms of color or size

Dutch Oven

Photo by Anshu18

Some manufacturers offer cocottes that are more or less a Dutch oven with a different name, meaning that they can have a round or oval shape. Usually they have something distinctive about them, such as a decorative knob or a flat lid, but that isn’t always the case.

Benefits:

  • Highly versatile
  • Work well on the stove or in the oven

Be Aware:

  • Usually more expensive than one labeled as a Dutch oven
  • Almost always enameled

Features to Look Out for When Buying Cocottes

When picking out a cocotte, there are certain features to look for to make sure that you’re getting good quality for your money.

Domed Lid

The shape of the lid is important in Dutch ovens, as they're meant to maintain moisture. A domed lid ensures that the juices are trapped inside and returned to what you’re cooking. If the cocotte has a flat lid, like Staub’s, make sure that it has spikes or bumps on it, as these will create a “rainforest effect” (sometimes called self-basting) that’ll return moisture to the food in a similar manner. This is why Dutch ovens can be used to braise, resulting in very tender roasts.

Smooth Enamel Coating

The quality of the enamel is important for cocottes. You want to make sure that it’s even and smooth, especially the interior, and shows no signs of cracking or chipping. Enamel is essentially impossible to replace yourself, so you want to make sure that it’ll hold up to regular usage.

Seasonal Designs

If I’m going to get a cocotte, I want one that stands out. Ones with seasonal designs double as beautiful serving dishes, and they set the mood for holiday gatherings.

How to Pick the Best Cocotte for You

Finding just the right cocotte can be difficult, especially as they tend to be expensive. To help with the process, I’m going to describe three different people and what I’d recommend they buy.

Zack: Cook Who Enjoys High-End Hosting

Zack has a group of friends who throws formal dinner parties a few times a year. They rotate through different people’s homes so that everyone has a chance to host and a chance to enjoy being a guest. He wants to make sure that his dinners stay up to snuff, but he’d also like to make the process a bit easier. He’d like cookware that can double as serving vessels to cut down on the number of dishes.

Features to look for:

  • Functional and beautiful cookware that can be a serving vessel
  • High-quality materials like cast iron

Recommended products: Staub Cast Iron 5.75 QT, Oval Coq Au Vin Cocotte, Staub Cast Iron Tomato Cocotte

Miley: Holiday Enthusiast Who Wants Themed Cookware

Miley loves fall, especially Thanksgiving, and has been collecting decorations and other items like mugs, plates, and cups for years. Because she’s usually the one who hosts Thanksgiving dinner, she’s looking into getting themed cookware as well. She wants something of good quality because she wants to be able to make a genuine holiday dinner with it.

Features to look for:

  • Cookware that’s fall themed
  • Enameled cast iron that will last for a lifetime

Recommended products: Staub Cast Iron Pumpkin Cocotte, Le Creuset Pumpkin Mini Cocotte

Mikey: Baker and Bread Maker Looking for Different Ways to Bake

Mikey has read that Dutch ovens are an excellent way to make boules and other rustic breads, and he wants to get one of his own. He also loves making individually sized cakes and other desserts and was looking for something with more even heating than glassware. He’s recently upgraded to an induction stovetop, so he’d like it if the cocotte worked on his new stove, too.

Features to look for:

  • Cast iron to make it induction compatible
  • Mini cocottes for individual portions

Recommended products: Staub Cast Iron Round Cocotte, Le Creuset Cast Iron Mini Cocotte

Find the Right Cocotte for You

Finding the ideal piece of cookware can be a time-consuming process, but Curated is here to help. If you need more information or advice, reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert. They’re all familiar with the differences in brand, shape, and what type of cocotte works best for what task. Best of all, the service is free!

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!

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