The coveted heavy-duty, Skittles-colored enameled pots, pans, and kettles evoke ambitious Sunday feasts and an iconic French timelessness. Produced in a tiny working-class town far from the lights of Paris since 1925, Le Creuset products have gone global, making their way to kitchens around the world, from Japan to the United States. This is how they’re made.
Here’s How Your Beloved Le Creuset Pot Was Made
- 1 / 21COLORFUL COOKWAREChances are good you have something from Le Creuset in your kitchen. . .
- 2 / 21FOUNDING A FOUNDRYFor 91 years, Le Creuset has used the same basic production process to forge its cast-iron pots, pans, and cocottes (Dutch ovens) at this foundry in Fresnoy-le-Grand, a town 116 miles northeast of Paris.
- 3 / 21COVETED COOKWARELast year, the facility doubled its production capacity to meet increased global demand. Translation? It can now turn out as many as 10,000 cast-iron pieces a day.
- 4 / 21INDIVIDUAL INSPECTIONEvery single pot is inspected at each step of the process and a whopping 30 percent are rejected due to flaws. Imperfect pots are melted back down, their iron used to forge new products.
- 5 / 21INTO THE FIRE
Is it any surprise that the molten iron used to form each pot was the inspiration for Le Creuset’s trademark orange color? Naturally, it’s called Volcanique (or Flame in the United States)
- 6 / 21MELTING POINTCreuset translates to cauldron or crucible, which seems fitting as the iron here is heated to boiling—that's a sweltering 5,184°F (2,862°C).
- 7 / 2110,000 GLOWING STARSOnce the molten iron is poured into single-use black-sand molds, the molds are carried on down the line to cool.
- 8 / 21A LABOR OF LOVEEach cocotte takes at least 10 hours to make, from casting and sanding to enameling to packaging.
- 9 / 21SHAPING UPAfter being broken from their molds, the pots and pans need to be smoothed down.
- 10 / 21SPECIAL TREATMENTEach piece is smoothed out both by machine and by hand.
- 11 / 21QUALITY TIMEThere’s a reason all Le Creuset pieces come with a lifetime warranty: Each pot is inspected by 15 different people before leaving the building.
- 12 / 21TASTE THE RAINBOWThere are about 50 colors in Le Creuset’s palette—and every country has its favorites. French chefs love black and the original Volcanique, Americans prefer primary colors, Germans lean toward the Mediterranean blues, and Japanese cooks go wild for pastels.
- 13 / 21RECIPE FOR SUCCESSEach of Le Creuset's colors is mixed in batches from a combination of pigment powders using a closely guarded recipe.
- 14 / 21CHECKED AND DOUBLE-CHECKEDEven the tiniest flaw that would affect the piece's cooking quality is enough to get it pulled off the line at any step in the process.
- 15 / 21A SOLID FOUNDATIONAfter being cast, sanded, and smoothed, the pots move on to a three-hour, multi-step enameling process.
- 16 / 21THE FULL SPECTRUMWhile Le Creuset's palette has expanded, the company has also retired some colors to make way for new ones. You'll only find colors like kiwi and slate in vintage stores, but you can pick up a new indigo- or dijon-colored coccotte in stores today.
- 17 / 21LAYING IT ON THICKThree layers of enamel are used to create that gradated (and, basically, unchippable) paint job.
- 18 / 21LIGHT TOUCHESAfter getting a clear base coat and a spray of colored enamel, the piece is finished off with a fine coat of darker enamel.
- 19 / 21
- 20 / 21COCOTTES AND BEYONDEnameled cookware might be what Le Creuset is known for, but in 1995 the company started expanding its product line to include stainless steel, stoneware, silicone, enameled steel, and more. Today, they offer an extensive range of cookware, tools, and utensils for almost every kitchen need.
- 21 / 21
It may be popular the world over, but the iconic cookware is forged in France.
- 1ArtArticleA Look at Ai Weiwei’s Takeover of New York City’s Public Spaces
- 2PeopleArticleCoolest Travel Jobs: What It’s Like to Be a Professional Ghost Hunter
- 3Founder's NoteArticle9 Destinations Where You Can Make a Difference this Holiday Season
- 4ArtArticleThere’s a Museum in Vienna That’s Full of Fake Art
- 5Solo TravelArticleHow to Avoid the Dreaded Table for One on Your Next Solo Trip