The Tramontina Dutch Oven Story

Tramontina Dutch OvenEver hear of a Tramontina Dutch oven? If you’re a reader of Cook’s Illustrated there is no doubt you have.

Cook’s Illustrated is a popular cooking magazine with about 1 million subscribers who pore over detailed recipes, taste tests and highly respected equipment tests. Read the Wikipedia article for more details on this success story. The magazine has a companion PBS cooking show, America’s Test Kitchen, and a series of books that sell so well you would have had difficulty this past Christmas finding the exact one you wanted in stock at your local bookstore (especially if you waited until Christmas Eve like I did).

What I doubt you know is how much reach and influence Cook’s Illustrated can have. Consider the Tramontina Dutch oven. When Cook’s Illustrated first evaluated Dutch ovens (note: article requires subscription), the choices were expensive:

When we tested Dutch ovens in 1998, the top performers were pots made by All-Clad and Le Creuset. Nearly a decade later, the only flaw we might find in these workhorses is their hefty price—roughly $250.

Yeah, most home cooks would find $250 to be a little steep for a pot that’s not used every day. So they looked at the category again in January 2007 and found out that, what do ya know, there were some cheaper options that were just as good. They made Chefmate’s “Round Enameled Cast Iron Casserole” their Best Buy and then watched it sell out almost immediately:

We were impressed by the significantly cheaper Round Enameled Cast Iron Casserole with Lid by Chefmate for Target ($39.99). Just as our article was published, however, Target’s website sold out of this test kitchen Best Buy.

Hmmmm. Coincidence? Maybe. Now fast forward to January 2008 and another update to its Dutch oven overview:

Shelling out hundreds of dollars for a Dutch oven is less necessary than ever. We put two new low-cost models, one from Tramontina ($39.86) and another from Lodge ($49.86), to the test and liked what we found….We recommend the Tramontina as an inexpensive alternative to our favorite 71/4-quart Dutch oven by Le Creuset ($229.95).

My sister-in-law passed on this information to my wife a few weeks ago, and she began to talk about the product with the same look I’m sure I get when I talk about some electronic or computer gadget that will change my life. Let’s buy it on Amazon, I said. Oops, not found. Okay, let’s Google it. Looks like Wal-Mart has it. Oops, out of stock.

Wal-Mart Dutch Oven

Besides the lack of online inventory, it was out of stock at every Wal-Mart location within 100 miles. WTF? Can it be this difficult to buy this product? Tramontina USA has a Web site, but it has no product information or “where to buy” details. Does the company even know that one of its products has reached cult status?

What have others found?

Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Fuzzykitty: As soon as I discovered this I went to Walmart’s website to order the Tramontina but it was not available so I ordered the Lodge. Also, both were out of stock in any nearby store according to their website.

Mission be less poor: They say you can pick it up for about $40 – but I can barely find it, much less for $40….So, I made a resolution of heart to get up early this Saturday morning (as it was after payday) and suck it up to drive the 18 miles to this fabled Wal-Mart, largely to reward myself for all the no-spending I’ve done in the past 2 weeks. All this work for a dumb pot.

You get the idea.

In the end we gave up and bought the Lodge, which seems like a perfectly fine product. Cook’s Illustrated had downgraded the Lodge because it was a little more expensive and was slightly smaller than the Tramontina. Good enough, and it was just a Dutch oven after all. Keeping the paradox of choice in mind, I’ll try not to be disappointed.


Comments

  1. christine says:

    For all of you who are still looking, I found mine at Tuesday Morning ($39.00) and I LOVE IT!

    Thanks for your research. I am on the hunt for another one.

  2. You’re dead on regarding the effect of Cook’s Illustrated recommendations. I’ve subscribed to them since 2005 and now have both the Target Chef Mate 5 qt. and the Walmart Tramontina 6 qt Dutch ovens. Love ‘em both. I guess I was just lucky on catching them before they went out of stock.
    Great piece!!

  3. Ines Rex says:

    I had no trouble ordering my Tramontina Dutch oven from Walmart. They did not have it locally, but ordered it for me. I was able to pick it up at my Walmart in Port Angeles, WA within a few days and did not have to pay shipping charges. They gave me an order number and notified me via email. It’s a beautiful pot and the price is right!!

  4. It is not only wonderfully and magnificently crafted form modern art elegance, which will make your tabletop complete but will also provide you with ample headroom for the cooking type that you prefer and that you need.

  5. Finally after wanting a dutch oven for over a year I finally got mine. I considered buying the Martha Stewart one that I have seen for half price at $90 at Macy’s, the last time it was on sale was 2 weeks ago. I procrastinated again. Anyway yesterday while browsing “SAMS CLUB” in Sacramento/Watt ave store I saw the Tramontina 6.5 quart dutch oven, the choice of colors were red and navy blue. The hardest part I found was picking the color. I went with the blue one. Price 39.95. Now I can’t wait to cook in it! YAY!!!
    They had a lot in stock, maybe it’s the season to buy them now, so if you have a Sams Club membership then as Martha would say “ITS A GOOD THING” lol

  6. Walmart.com carries almost the complete line of Tramontina products — if something’s sold out at the website, try back in a few days. (I just recently got hip to Walmart.com but I’ve been shopping there like a fiend for the past 2 mos. — every time the item I needed was sold out, it was back in stock within 4 or 5 days.) I was looking for something else entirely & saw that Walmart had a 6.5 qt. enameled cast-iron dutch oven on sale for $35 from Tramontina. I’ve been ripped off buying cheap cookware before, so I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I love to cook but if I’m gonna spend $165, it’ll be for ingredients & the wine to make a great meal, not for 1 Le Crueset pot! I vaguely remembered hearing Tramontina mentioned on an episode of Americas Test Kitchen in the past, so I googled them & found dozens of rave reviews for their products. I copped the Tramontina dutch oven from Walmart.com AND got free shipping to my local store. Can’t hardly wait to try it out tomorrow for my shrimp etouffee! And if the Tramontina knives are as good as the pots & pans are supposed to be, I’ll be ordering a couple of those next week.

  7. For the extra $10 I’ll b1e an Amercan bigot and buy the USA made Lodge. Maybe it will somehow keep another US worker from losing those scarce manufacturing jobs. Besides, I inherited three Lodge cast iron skillets / frying pans and a massive grill/griddle that makes killer pizzas and mass quantities of pancakes.

    The frying pans are over 50 years old and not a bit of rust or wear showing on that beautiful ebony finish!

  8. Hap, the Lodge enameled dutch ovens are sadly made in China as well. You can see that info on their website.

  9. Kristina, my apologies, I wasn’t clear about what Lodge items I have. The lodge pans and Dutch ovens I use are the plain cast iron variety. They were metal gray when purchased but are now ‘seasoned’ to a rich black color from normal use. No enamel pans or pots are left in my collection any longer.

    Perhaps they have fallen like so many other manufacturers, but my Lodge items say USA stamped on their bottoms, including the ‘newest’ which does have a bit of age on it. I think that I saw a tourist flyer when passing through Tenn. this summer saying they still made some items at a factory there?

    After purchasing three of the Le Creuset enameled sets, I’ve decided that I don’t like dealing with the more care intensive and fragile enamel finishes. They all started showing signs of wear within a few months of daily use, and led me to wonder where some of the worn enamel was going?? Down the sink, or down human throats?

    I’m sure Le Creuset is careful of the coatings to insure they aren’t toxic like some Asian imported items. But if they sub-contract manufacturing, purchase coatings, etc. there is a gap in the chain-of-custody. Call me whack-o, but such things concern me. :)

    For my use, plain Pyrex (original) glass, heavy stainless, and cast iron all function flawlessly for me and are all I need. A brass scouring pad is a wonderful thing to use without worry for the winter casseroles forgotten too long. :) Simplicity and ease of maintenance….my watchwords. I am basically a lazy person that is often confused with a perfectionist.

    To each their own though. Perhaps my basic cookware are aesthetically lacking, but fit and function are my major concerns in the kitchen.

    Cheers!

  10. I stumbled across a 6.5 Tramontina for $30 buried on a low shelf at the Christmas Tree Shops. The packaging was torn, so maybe they discounted it for that reason. As I put in my cart and rounded the corner, a couple came down the isle furiously looking for an item that was missing from the shelf. I asked if the item I had in my cart was what they were looking for. They said, they saw it but didn’t want to carry it around the store. I felt bad I had it, but didn’t give it up. They looked totally bummed as they made the store clerk thoroughly search out back for another one. This thing is rock solid. Glad I have it.

  11. I live in the Ozarks of MO and found my 6.5 quart Tramontina dutch oven at Sam’s for $39.99. At different times of the year they have different colors. Mine is red, but have seen blue and green. My husband bought it for me and I absolutely love it. Cannot believe a more expensive one would do any better job on top of stove or in the oven. Clean-up is a breeze too.

  12. About Tramontina USA
    If your concerned with jobsgoing out of the country don’t be. They are made here read below.

    Tramontina USA is a leading manufacturer of high quality aluminum nonstick cookware and housewares supplier to national and international retailers. Founded in 1986 and located in Sugar Land, Texas, Tramontina USA is one of the largest corporate affiliates of the Tramontina Group in Brazil. Tramontina USA is extremely proud to manufacture cookware at Tramontina U.S. Cookware in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

    Manufacturing in the United States honors the proud legacy, traditions and craftsmanship perfected throughout the last 100 years by the Tramontina Group, an international consortium founded in 1911 by Valentin Tramontina and headquartered in Rio Grande Do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil. The Tramontina Group operates 11 modern factories and 12 distribution centers worldwide, and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of household goods, ranging from cookware and cutlery to flatware and kitchen utensils.

    To effectively serve Tramontina USA’s valued retail customers and consumers, the company consistently invests in product research, development, and innovation, all cornerstones for providing solutions to our retail partners and superior customer service to our valued consumers.


    Tramontina Group founded in Brazil in 1911


    Tramontina USA, Inc. founded in 1986

  13. Correction! the dutch ovens by tramontina are also made in china but other products made here just like lodge

  14. Not sure when this article was originally posted because it’s not listed.
    Just an FYI… I found the complete designer set of enameled Tramontina in either two tone red or cobalt blue about a year or more ago at Kohl’s. I bought a complete set in Cobalt Blue for about $600 and have been using them ever since… I absolutely LOVE them! They heat evenly, retain heat properly and cook superbly! The style they sell at Kohl’s looks completely different from the picture posted in the article though… must be their “designer line” that i purchased? They appear to be better quality and include stainless steel handles that are oven safe up to 500 degrees. As expensive as they might seem to some, they are considered a mid priced range for cast iron, but still far less expensive than LeCrueset and far more attractive.

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