Lodge and Le Creuset are two legendary cast iron manufacturer. One is based in the USA and the other in France. They both produce cast iron cookware, however one specialize in enamel cast iron and the other in bare cast iron. Not only that, there is a significant price difference between the two. Lodge provides the more affordable option, with pans starting at around 15 dollar. Le Creuset however charges at least 100 dollar for their Enamel Cast Iron Skillet. Is the price worth it? What about performance? Who will win in our Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet test.
|Colors||Black||Wind Range of Color|
|Brand Awareness||America||Known Around the World|
|Weight||2354 g (5.2 lb)||1930 g (4.3 lb)|
|Recommendation||Buy for Performance, Non Stick Ability and Value||Great for Home Decor and Style|
|Tested Cookware||10 Inch Skillet||10 Inch Signature Iron Handle|
According to Wikipedia, Lodge was founded in 1896 by Joseph Lodge, they are one of the most popular cast iron maker that you can find in the USA. In my opinion the reason they are so popular is because their prices are affordable and they appeal to the masses. If you get the right deal, you can find their 10 inch skillet for as little as 15 dollar. That 15 dollar skillet if used correctly can last you a life time.
Over the years, they went through different iteration of Cast Iron. The most sought after one is their smoothed based skillet. There is a belief that the smooth surface promotes extra slick surface so that food will not stick. People will pay a premium price for this. I personally don’t think that it makes much of a difference. If you cook food right, you can get a non stick surface from a stainless steel pan. Eggs can slide around just as easily in a copper pot.
Today, they manufacturer a rough surface version of their skillet. Their reason for this is because they claim that it helps the seasoning stick better. Now some people believe that a seasoning is a development of flavor on the skillet, its not. It is a polymerization of fat that bonds to the pore in the metal. The layer of fat provides the pan with a non stick finish. We will be testing This Version today.
Lodge does make an Enamel Coated dutch oven and braisers, but from what I see those are made in China. If the country of manufacturing origin is important to you, this is something to consider. They are still however considerably cheaper than Le Creuset.
Le Creuset was founded in 1925 by two Belgain men, Fresnoy-le-Grand and Aisne Picardy. The first color that they produced is their signature flame color for their cocotte. From there, they expanded the range of colors and pans. I have some of their more vintage enamel cast iron model, and the base of these pans are bare cast iron.
Today, most of their pan comes fully coated in enamel. I personally feel that this is a mistake, I am assuming this is a cost cutting measure. They might have found a way to automate the enamel coating process and just forego that process.
There are different variations of their skillets that you can find. The vintage model that I have includes a wooden handle that angles sharply upward. The base is more narrow and it looks more like a shorter windsor pan. The newer model with wooden handle is more horizontally angled and has a more rounded shape. It is all around more refined and lack the sharp corners that the vintage version has. There are also a variant where the entire cast iron pan is metal with enamel coating throughout the pan. Today we will be testing the 9 inch Variant that is made entirely of metal with enamel coating.
Their dutch oven pretty much stays the same though and is rated number one by America’s Test Kitchen time and time again. Below, you will find their review on their dutch oven.
Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet Materials
Before we begin with the Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet test, why don’t we go through the difference in material they are using. What are the Pros and Cons of the different type.
Bare Cast Iron
-Will Develop a Non Stick Coating as long as you maintain the seasoning.
-There will be no chipping of enamel.
-Will rust if not taken care of.
-Seasoning can be stripped if you used certain type of soap or cook with acidic food like lemon or tomato.
-Lots of Smoke when the pan is heated up, your fire alarm will fire and it will be hard to see.
Enamel Cast Iron
-Will not Rust at area wheres there is enamel.
-Beautiful range of colors available.
-Will not smoke as much as Bare Cast Iron.
-Enamel can chip if you bang it too hard.
-It does not have the same non stick property of bare cast iron.
-Usually there is a upper limit of heat in the oven, I think Le Creuset has a bigger limit then other manufacturer.
Le Creuset Pan Characteristic
The pan itself is almost coated entirely of enamel, the only portion where it is not covered in Enamel is the lip. Some people will claim that it is their specialized matte finish enamel, but its not. The reason why its not coated in enamel is to prevent fusing with the lid at high temperature.
The inner lining is black and smooth with a red exterior.
It is interesting that some of their skillets come with a cream color interior and this version doesn’t. I assume its to make it look less dirty. Overtime, the cream interior will develop dark mark and cracks. This interferes with the beauty of the pan and is hard or impossible to get out. The one below is still in good condition but over time, it will get worse.
The Handle is relatively short compared to other cookware. I assume they did this to force people to grab the handle near the pan. If you have a long handle, that will only increase the leverage that the pan will have on you. In essence, it will feel a lot heavier than it is. The loop handle is huge, which helps in heat dissipation. In short burst, you might be able to grab and maneuver the pan without burning yourself.
The lip of the pan is not rounded, however, there is two pouring spot on the sides of the pan to allow for easy pouring. A universal rounded lip would be better, but I guess this works just as well.
Lodge Pan Characteristic
Bare Cast Iron
The seasoning is shiny throughout the entire pan. The lip is also coated in the seasoning unlike Le Creuset’s pan. The interior is not smoothed out so you see little dimples everywhere.
The handle like Le Creuset is short with a large loop. This is to prevent the pan from feeling too heavy. The hole helps heat dissipate, you can maneuver it a little without getting burned. There is also a burr on the side of the handle. Something that I felt should have been removed. The other side of the pan have a helper handle to help carry the pan.
The lip has no rounded edge but has two pouring lips on either side to allow for easy pouring.
Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet Specs
Note:These measurement are done by me with the tools that I have on hand. The manufacturers have their own measurement guidelines and that should be assumed to be accurate. What I find on this review can vary widely due to several factors, such as ambient temperature, location, water, tool calibration, stove btu, etc..and should only be considered as my opinion.
Diameter:9.4 inch Base Cooking Diameter:7.8 inch
Height:1.7 inch Thickness:3.78 mm
Diameter:10.25 inch Base Cooking Diameter:8 inch
Height:2 inch Thickness:3.88 mm
Looking at both their specs, they look very similar. The lodge is heavier with a bigger rim and taller height. It should be able to retain more heat and heat up slower. However, because Le Creuset has an enamel coating, that can change results.
Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet Performance
To test the how well it distribute heat and how well it heats up, I perform a toast test where I place a piece of toast in the center than weight it down with a Meat Pounder. I heat up the pan for a total of 3 min then see the color of the toast. To get an idea on how this test was done, look at the picture below.
So what we are looking for is how uniform the color of the toast is and how dark the toast is. This will tell us two things.
1) The darker the toast, the better the heat conductivity of the pan. You want a pan that can heat up quickly and recover from temperature drop.
2) How well it distributes the heat. You can see the heat distribution based on the evenness of the color. A pan that can distributes heat evenly will smooth out any imperfection on your stove top.
The heat capacity of both item should be judged by its weight. The heavier the pan is, the better its ability to retain heat.
The result sure is shocking. Lodge is almost 1 lb heavier and it heats significantly quicker than Le Creuset. The base material is both cast iron so the only possible thing that can affect the result is the enamel coating.
I think the enamel coating degrades the efficiency of the cast iron to transfer heat. If I can find a similar pan with no enamel base, that would be a good control. The other possible thing that can affect it is that Lodge is uniformly black, that might let it absorb heat better. If the base thickness of the pan is different this can affect result as well. Unfortunately, I do not have a caliper big enough to measure that.
In terms of heat distribution, I would give Le Creuset a slight edge. However, they both perform badly in my opinion. Cast iron is a poor conductor of heat, you wont get good heat distribution/conductivity like you would with copper. I normally perform these test under 2 minute interval, but because of the way the material is, I increase the duration to 3 minute.
Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet Conclusion
So Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet, at the time of this article, Lodge is only 12 dollars and the Le Creuset is 140 dollars, what a difference. Under the toast test, Lodge outperforms Le Creuset for a fraction of the price. Now, there can be external variable like discussed before, such as base thickness, enamel coating and color.
The one thing that I did not test, is how well it retains heat, technically, lodge should retain heat a little better due to its mass however, but thanks to the enamel coating, Le Creuset might have an edge. But, it brings me back to the issue of why I do not test heat retention test for frying pan.
You will get to a point, where heating up the pan catches up to heat retention. To explain it a little better. If you add food to a pan, the amount of stored heat in the pan will drop. A good pan with good heat retention will hold onto that heat but only to a certain point. If the pan heat should drop low enough and it cant recover, a pan with high heat capacity and slow heat conductivity is useless because it will take forever recover the lost heat. In that time, the food will steam and overcook. You wont be able to brown the food properly to develop a good maillard reaction.
Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet Value
So is the extra 130 dollar really worth it for inferior performance. I guess that really depends on you, you do have to deal with the head ache that comes with bare cast iron. The Le Creuset Skillet is definitely prettier and would make for a great stove to table presentation for the family. There would be less smoke, cleaning is a lot easier and it wouldn’t rust. Bare cast iron is a nightmare to clean. However, If I had to choose one pan though, I would probably go with lodge. Overtime, the non stick coating will become almost like teflon and it heats up faster, I am not a patient person. But obviously I have both so I get to cook in style.
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I hope you enjoyed this Lodge vs Le Creuset Skillet test. If you would like to see more, please visit our Pots and Pans Review page.