If you’ve already read my guides to purchasing cookware, you know that I consider an enamelled cast-iron Dutch oven to be an essential tool in every home cook’s kitchen. These pots are suited for stovetop and oven cooking, making them versatile and practical. You can do everything from boil, sear, fry, roast, braise and bake in them. They’re also great for soups!
You may also know that I strongly believe that you typically get what you pay for. Quality often comes at a price and my favourite Staub Cocottes are a perfect example of that.
I may, however, have spoken too soon! Thanks to the powers of the internet and a growing trend in direct-to-consumer shopping, quality cookware has become more affordable than ever before.
New brands are popping up like mushrooms and some are doing a great job of pushing the envelope when it comes to making quality cookware for less. One such brand is Milo, and they just might be producing the best Dutch oven under $100.
Milo produces and sells enamelled cast-iron pots and pans that look good and perform well, but cost a fraction of what you’d normally pay for Big Name competitor brands.
Their 5.5qt enamelled cast-iron Dutch oven retails for only $95. Their newer 3.5qt pot goes for $75. And their latest 10” skillet is a mere $65.
One way they manage to keep pricing low is by selling directly to the consumer through their website CookWithMilo.
The bottom line for you, the consumer, is that they do not pay a middle man or third-party retail markup. Heck, you don’t even pay for standard shipping!
I have to admit that I was very skeptical when I heard that a direct-to-consumer company was trying to take on the institutions that are Le Creuset and Staub. These companies have been producing enamelled cast-iron cookware for generations and as a long-time owner of both, I can vouch for their quality, design, performance and value.
Much to my surprise and delight, the new kid on the block has been able to hold up particularly well to everything I’ve thrown at it.
Over the course of a three-week review period, I used and abused my Milo 5.5qt white enamelled cast-iron Dutch oven. I seared, braised, stewed, steamed, boiled, souped and even sauced my way through recipe after recipe. The pot heated evenly, possibly even quicker than my Staub and Le Creuset ones, and maintained its temperature well throughout the cooking process. So much so that it has become my go-to for weeknight cooking.
I didn’t bother with performing any quantitative tests such as heat distribution, retention or dissipation. After all, these factors also depend upon the stove and oven being used. For example, an induction stovetop will always heat compatible cookware quicker than an electric one. Likewise, all stovetops have their own unique hotspots that can impact the distribution of heat.
What I found to be more important, was the quality of the Dutch oven’s enamelled coating. After all, that’s one of the things you’re after if you’re buying a comparable pot.
I’m almost ashamed to say that I wanted the Milo to fail just so I could have saved face for all the times I said, “if you buy cheap, you buy twice.” Not to say that $95 USD is exactly cheap, but it is certainly more affordable than an equivalent $460.00 5.5qt Le Creuset (MSRP) or $464.00 5.5qt Staub (MSRP). Especially when you consider Milo’s sleek design compared to other budget Dutch ovens.
Is the Milo the Best Dutch Oven for Under $100?
- Searing in the Milo was very good. I was able to achieve a great crust on meats and caramelizing vegetables was easy.
- Heat retention was also great. Browning meats in relatively large batches didn’t effect the overall heat in the pot by enough to cause any noticeable concern. By the same token, I didn’t find the cast-iron to be thin enough to scorch any food. Though this is more of a concern with thinner stainless-steel cookware.
- I had no issues deglazing and releasing any brown bits that formed on the bottom of the pot. I even purposely used metal utensils to see how the glaze would hold up. Minor superficial scratches appeared but it’s nothing I didn’t expect or am concerned with. I would recommend sticking to wood or silicon utensils if you are very particular about how the interior of the pot looks. Personally, I don’t make too much of a fuss as long as the enamel doesn’t crack.
- The pot also held up well in the oven and thanks to its oven-safe lid handle, which comes standard, I didn’t have to worry about higher heats or add-on purchases. The exterior glaze also withstood higher temperatures and did not show signs of cracking, unlike my old Cuisinart one.
- The only thing I did notice, and this seems to be a one-off, luck-of-the-draw issue, is a tiny air bubble in the coating that seems to have popped after my first cook. This happened inside the pot at the angle where the bottom meets the wall. However, since Milo covers their products with lifetime warranties, I have no doubt they would replace this defect if I sent it back. At the moment, I see no reason to since the enamelled coating hasn’t cracked and it was provided to me for the purposes of this review. Instead, I’ll be continuing to cook with it to see if it does eventually crack, in which case I will update this section.
- The final thing I’d like to mention is the design, which is of course subjective. Milo has quite obviously taken a couple of pages out of the Staub playbook. The minimalist profile, rectilinear handles with embossed writing, and sleek metallic lid handle are all strikingly similar to Staub’s lineup. So too is the matte black enamelled coating on the black colourway. Martha Stewart’s line of enamelled cast-iron cookware has similarly borrowed from Staub’s designs, though I prefer Milo’s more elegant and slightly curved lid. I also really like the brass coloured lid handle that comes with Milo’s black pots.
It would be great to see if Milo produces a larger 7.5qt version of their Dutch oven and possibly oval ones as well. Perhaps some new colours can be released as the company grows? I’d also love to have dimpled lids that funnel moisture back onto the food as it cooks, which is one of the reasons I love my Staub pots so much. Then again, this might be infringing on patents.
All of the above to say that whether you’re in the market for a new enamelled cast-iron Dutch oven or looking to add to your existing arsenal, you may want to consider Milo. For only $95.00, you’ll get a quality Dutch oven that performs well and is beautifully designed.
Much to my wife’s minimalist dismay, I’ve insisted that our Milo pot lives on the stovetop. I think I enjoy looking at it as much as I like cooking with it. What? I have a thing for cookware.
Disclaimer: Milo provided a 5.5qt Dutch oven for the purposes of this review. All opinions and ideas expressed are the author’s alone.