Kitchen & Cooking

Don't make this mistake with your Dutch oven

That Le Creuset lid might not be oven-safe.

Don't make this mistake with your Dutch oven Credit: Le Creuset

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With millions around the globe working, playing, and living entirely from their homes in recent weeks, home cooking—and baking—is on the rise. There’s a good chance that everyone you know is suddenly making their own bread, and pantry meals are getting more love than usual. But if you’re new to these food projects, you might not have the right tools (or know how to use the tools you have) to make it all happen.

Take, for example, the Dutch oven. I’m a huge proponent of this versatile, low-tech kitchen tool that can be used to make everything from curries and stews to bread and breakfast.

But if you’re working with a standard Le Creuset, you need to think twice about putting the lid in the oven. Why? The standard black phenolic knob on most Le Creuset products is only oven-safe up to 375°F and could smoke, warp, or melt if placed in a hotter oven for a sustained period.

Are Le Creuset lids oven safe?

Le Creuset Dutch oven lids
Credit: Le Creuset

The standard black phenolic knob on Le Creuset lids is only oven safe up to 375°F.

If you’re not a regular baker, you might be surprised to learn that the standard Le Crueset lids aren’t endlessly oven-safe. The black knobs on these products are phenolic, meaning they’re made of a plastic-like resin material that may warp or melt if kept above 375°F. While this is fine for low-and-slow cooking and baking, many Dutch oven recipes (like those for baking sourdough bread, the bread of the moment) call for much higher temperatures of 500°F and above.

If you’re working with a Le Creuset and want to place the lid in an oven warmer than 375°F, you should first unscrew the knob using a small screwdriver and set it aside until you’re done cooking. This will make it harder to lift the hot lid, so be sure to use good oven mitts with high heat protection.

What about other Dutch oven lids?

Food52 x Staub Round Cocottes
Credit: Food52 / Staub

Staub Dutch ovens are made with nickel-coated brass knobs that are oven safe to 500°F.

Not all Dutch oven knobs are phenolic or unsafe for hot ovens. Staub, for example, fits their standard Dutch ovens (or cocottes) with nickel-coated brass knobs that are oven safe up to 500°F. If you own a different brand and don’t know what their knobs or handles are made of, make sure to look it up before placing the lid in a very hot oven—you can’t always tell by looking.

Can I buy replacement knobs?

Le Creuset replacement gold knob and Staub animal knobs
Credit: Williams-Sonoma / Food52

You can shop for a variety of replacement knobs from Le Creuset and Staub.

Most brands, including Le Creuset and Staub, offer replacement knobs in a variety of styles and materials that are more durable than phenolic knobs. Le Creuset sells gold, stainless, and copper knobs stamped with the brand’s logo; and Staub offers standard brass knobs and nickel-plated brass shaped like animals, including fish, pigs, roosters, and snails.

Le Crueset’s replacement knobs range from about $18 to $20, and Staub’s cost about $30 each. If you’re choosing which brand to invest in, Staub narrowly beat out Le Creuset in our testing and doesn’t require you to purchase an additional oven-safe knob, so they have our vote—but both are excellent investment pieces for any kitchen.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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