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. Hey Mike,

    I finally did find my pot at Walmart and returned the Lodge. This quest has ended for me but I wonder what item will be next.

    Take care,
    Heather

  2. Interesting story. I am also an avid Cooks Illustrated junky, and I am looking for the Tramontina. Wal-mart’s website says that it is in stock at a few stores within 20 miles, but I am always suspicious of brick-and-mortar stores’ websites’ declarations about what is in stock. I might chance the drive, or maybe I’ll just get the Lodge. By the way, all of this would be solved Tramontina’s website weren’t so terrible.

  3. I agree, the Tramontina Web site is terrible. I’ve been meaning to find the time to follow up with a phone call to the company to find out if they are even aware of the online cult status of its product.

  4. Target is currently (as of 2/13/08)carrying the 6.5 Qt Tarmontina under their house name Chefmate.
    I believe it is the exact same as the Wal-Mart version except it is red and the price is $59.95.

  5. I was having the same difficulty until I stumbled onto Wal-Mart’s site to store option.
    You can purchase the product on their web-site and then rather than pay the shipping charge, they will deliver it directly to your closest store. You will be emailed once it arrives.I may end up using this option more in the future. It appears you may have a greater choice of products than what you have at your local store and save on shipping if you are not in a hurry.

  6. The Tramontina 6.5 qt dutch oven at Wal-Mart was out of stock the first time I looked online, but I kept checking until finally, last month, it was available. I quickly ordered two @$39.95 and, because there is no Wal-Mart nearby, paid $7.50 (each) to have them shipped to my house. Good thing I acted quickly; the next week it was out of stock again. Now it seems to be available, but Wal-Mart apparently realized what a good deal it was for buyers; the price is now $51.47.

  7. Stan McCadam says:

    Just bought a 6.5 quart Tramontina casserole(green)for Walmart locally. The casserole was also labelled as 6.5 quart / 1.1 L.
    Also, bought a 6.5 quart Tramontina casserole (red) from Target labelled as a 6.5 quart / 1.2 L.
    The Walmart version looked bigger and measured bigger so I filled the Target version with water to the very top and transferred it to the Walmart version. It took just less than a pint to fill the Walmart version to the very top. Conclusion – The Target and Walmart casseroles are mislabelled as far as liters go. The Walmart version is difinitely larger.

  8. Stan McCadam says:

    Regarding the measurements of the Tramontina casseroles – - the Walmart version is $20 less for more capacity and the casseroles are almost identical otherwise.

  9. So does this mean there is no difference between a cast iron casserole and dutch oven. I’m confused. some of you are talking about dutch ovens and others are talking about cast iron casseroles? what is the differenc?
    thanks

  10. Cast iron casserole and dutch oven mean the same thing.

  11. Carolyn says:

    I live in a big metro area where lots of people are avid Cooks Illustrated readers. So, I’ve been unable to find the Tramontina Dutch Oven. We were driving the kids to camp out in the country, and I found both sizes of the Tramontina Dutch Ovens at 29 and 39 at a rural Wal-Mart. They had loads of them.

    I guess you could save the gas and pay extra for the beautiful red at Target (sold as Chefware). They’re identical.

    Happy cooking!

  12. I just bought the 6.5 qt. Dutch Oven at Target and it was branded Tramontina. I wonder if Target has decided to stop rebranding the product as Chefmate. I was so excited to find they had 3 in stock. Used it last night to make the Cooks Illustrated chicken cacciatore and it was delicious! Be sure to allow that hour to season the new pot before you use it. (follow the instructions). Thanks for all the tips in this forum.

  13. I purchased this 6.5 qt Tramonina Casserole (Dutch Oven) from Walmart in RED last night. I was shocked to find it there is green and red as well. From everything I’ve read it only comes in green at Walmart. Both colors were sitting side by side on the shelf, exact cardboard labeling, exact size, etc. Only difference – comes in 2 colors now. Anyone else find this in red at their Walmart? I’m in California (Central Coast). Is this something new their offering at Walmart?

  14. Sam’s Club is selling same dutch oven under Member’s Mark brand for $38.

  15. Just got back from my local (Brick, NJ) Walmart and they had four Tramontina Dutch Ovens in stock, two red and two green. The price was not $39.95, it was $49.97. Looks like the price has gone up but I still bought the red one.

  16. Always call the store before you go. There are three WalMarts in my area, (Eugene/Springfield,OR) and none of them even sell Dutch Ovens, even though their website says two of them have it in stock. Saved myself a lot of time and frustration by calling first. And the website is, of course, out of stock.

  17. I live in Washington DC area and too found nothing w/in 100mi radius in-store. So I put in my Dad’s address in rural Wisconsin…in stock…they wouldn’t ship, so I had my Dad send it to me. After seeing the ship price, I understand why Walmart is always out of stock online….the weight makes it ridiculously expensive to send. Wish I had thought of having them send to a store that is local to me.

  18. Vicki Riley says:

    Just read all of the comments on the Tramontina dutch oven and not one of the comments mentions how the product is “holding up”. Bought my in Nov. from Sam’s Club and it discolors each time I use it…have to use Clorox Clean Up on it to bring it back to the cream color inside. Also I have 2 chips in the handle area and I have been very careful when using it and wonder why this has happened. I absolutely love cooking with it but wonder what it is going to look like in a years time if the product seems to be this perishable already. Sam’s Club is offering to exchange it for me but I wonder if I will have the same problems. Are all dutch ovens this hard to take care? Would appreciate hearing from others regarding the care and upkeep of their dutch ovens.

    • Mike Owens says:

      Six of our family members put in a group order for 10 of the Tramontina Dutch ovens, and picked them up at the store 28 days ago. 8 of the 10 we bought have failed in the last 28 days. The application of the ceramic material on the cast iron is very mottled looking, and the thickness ob the inside bottom of the pot is VERY thin in spots. All the failures resulted in a very loud pop and the ceramic material went flying all over the inside of the dutch oven. This happened while using the room temp dutch oven to brown meat prior to going in the oven. This happened in six different kitchens, and only on med high heat.
      I think the product had purchase orders ramped up so quickly, that their production facility can’t keep up, resulting in an inferior exterior finish.
      We all got refunds, and are biting the bullet and buying Le Crouset dutch ovens, although only one apiece. I’ve had my Le Crouset for thirty years and it is like new.

  19. Not sure how the Tramotina holds up, but the Lodge that we bought looks pretty good. I’ve never seen discoloration on it, even after using high-color spices in something.

  20. Bought the Tramontina off Walmart’s site with site-to-store free shipping. Have used it only for the no-knead Cook’s Illustrated recipe, made about 8 loaves so far, it was worked flawlessly The inside has discolored maybe a touch, but part of that is because the parchment paper I was putting in there had a bit of flour and dough on it, which, when cranked to 500 degrees for an hour gets mighty hot and burns, but I just wipe out the charcoal and it’s fine. A buddy of mine has a Le Cruset, it’s all chipped up, was like that when they got it, got it as damaged for $40, however, despite all the chipping it works flawlessly. So, I’m not very worried about how it will perform once it’s chipped some, since I’m sure it’ll happen, and if it gets horrible, just buy another, at $45 (current Walmart price) it’s cheaper than almost any one of our pans.

    cheers…

  21. Thanks for the comment, Mark. We’ve made that no-knead bread as well and it’s awesome. And you’re right about the price of these dutch ovens: they really are a great deal.

  22. David Levine says:

    Have been a Cooks Illustrated reader for years and invested in a number of All-Clad products 11years ago. I needed to replace a non All-Clad 5 quart stockpot and have been searching best price on the Tramontina Dutch Oven 4.75 quart. So far Walmart
    super store in Catskill NY only cares a limited number of Tremontina products. Will explore the Manhattan area too.

    For those of you who may buy All-Clad on sale, beware that some of their products are made in China (which I have seen at Bloomingdales and Williams-Sonoma) while other products that I have bought were made in their home factory in Canonsburg, PA. The only way to tell the difference is on the box where the source is printed. When I brought that to the attention of Williams-Sonoma salesman, he stated that the box was made in China. I then wrote to a company rep who replied that the pot was made in China. Very disappointing and deceiving to pay top $ for a highly rated product when its made in China The country source should be on the product with its size. Still an excellent product.

  23. disappointed says:

    I thought you were informative until I got to the last paragraph of your article.
    Only someone lacking intelligence has to resort to using cuss words.

    • So you’re not going to buy a good product because someone uses an acronym that refers to a cuss word? This could be interesting. If someone told you, “Don’t jump off this #&%*ing cliff,” would you pitch forward and take a dive?

      If you think that (some) intelligent people do not cuss then, well, you don’t deserve a good Dutch oven. :)

  24. Howard Dickson says:

    What is the maximum allowble oven temperature for the Tramontina with the lid on? The info I have read says oven suitable but no temperature limits lid on and off.

  25. Depends. The weak link will be the knob on the lid. Is it stainless steel? If not, getting up above 450 degrees might be an issue. We’ve used our Lodge up to 500 degrees.

    I found this on this info on the Cook’s Illustrated site: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/ibb/posts.aspx?postID=228872

    “Fortunately, there are two easy solutions. The knobs on both lids are secured with a single screw that is very easily removed. Once the knob is removed, you can replace it with an inexpensive all-metal drawer handle purchased from a hardware store. Alternatively, Le Creuset has introduced a stainless steel replacement knob for its Dutch ovens (which also fits perfectly on the Lodge enameled Dutch oven and the Chefmate Dutch oven), available for around $10, which is completely oven-safe. To fit this knob on the Tramontina Dutch oven, you’ll need to use a single 3/8-inch-diameter, 3/4-inch-long machine screw—the 1/2-inch screw that comes with the knob is not long enough to fit through the thicker lid of the Tramontina.”

    • Howard Dickson says:

      Thank you. I am having a devil of a time finding the Tramontina 6.5 Qt. Dutch oven as recommended by “Cook’s Illustrated”. I have tried the local (Winston-Salem, NC) Macy’s, Walmart, Target, J.C. Penny, Kohl’s and none of them have it. The manager at Walmrt didn’t really know what a Dutch oven was but said they didn’t have one. I will go there today to look. I wil try E-bay also. Any sugestins? I would rather not pay more than about $60.00. If you know of another manufactureer that is as good please let me know.
      Regards,
      Howard

      • To Howard Dickson:

        Here’s what I did: I kept checking the Walmart website to see if the Tramontina Dutch oven had come to any of the Walmarts in my area. When the website indicated that it finally arrived at a store 30 miles away, I called the store to verify that it was still there, then I asked the customer service desk to hold it for me. This worked out very well, although I believe you can only hold something for two days at most, if memory serves me correctly. The pot was held for me at the customer service desk. When I arrived, I asked if they could detach it from the cardboard surrounding it, so that I could look at the underside of the lid and the inside of the pot. This turned out to be a good move, as there was a flaw in the pot which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. As luck would have it, there was one more such pot in the store, which I bought instead. But the point is: check for availability online at the Walmart website, then call to have your pot held at the customer service desk, and success will be yours! Sure beats making fruitless trips to various Walmart stores!

        • Howard Dickson says:

          Thanks Diane. I will try.
          Regards,
          Howard

          • It is available online now… Just purchased it. Add it to your cart and use the free ship to store option. They will email you when it gets there – you just print your email and go pick it up. They have green or red available. Best of luck and happy cooking!!

    • can this be used camping on the edge of a fire grill?

      • Probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Try a well seasoned non-enameled cast iron dutch oven instead for your fire. The variations in temperature in a campfire can cause the enamel to crack. Non-enameled cast iron, on the other hand, is indestructible.

  26. The Tramontina 6.5QT dutch oven is now available in green and red on Walmart’s website- if your nearby store does not carry it, it is available for free site to store shipping. You just have it delivered to your nearest Walmart and pick it up. I just ordered one in red. :)

  27. This pot is now available in a beautiful red enamel at Amazon and Target. Much prettier than the green that was reviewed by Cook’s. As of today 9/23/2009, there is free shipping at Amazon, which is good since this is very heavy. Happy shopping!! I ordered mine yesterday on Amazon and I can’t wait to get it and try it based on all of the positive feedback I have found online regarding the Cook’s article.

  28. I bought this pot by the wal-mart site-to-store method – the pot showed up in my store within a week, and it took only minutes to pick up at the store. I got the green, which looks much nicer in real life than on line. It has a bit of a bottom-to-top fade a la Le Creuset “Flame”, with the color ranging from darker to lighter. It is not a stale 70′s avocado green, but is a richer, more contemporary tone. My kitchen colors are earthy/neutral and this pot fits in quite well, whereas a bright cherry red would stick out like a fire engine. BTW, the pot cooks great – heats everything evenly, browns wonderfully, and I am on my way to the hardware store to buy that 3/4″ machine screw so I can use the lid in a hot oven.

  29. Also, at sad movie trailers. ,

  30. I am glad to have found this. I have been looking for a Tramontina dutch oven for 2 years now. As a matter of fact I just looked at Target today and they didn’t have any. And none at any local walmarts within 100 miles of where I live. So I will have to order it online. I love ATK and Cooks Illustrated which is where I found it originally. So after this, I will order it because it’s in such demand, now I must have it.

  31. I just got a red one from Walmart (site2store). Seems pretty nice. Couple questions, though (this is my first dutch oven, bear with me…)

    1. It’s made in China. Do I need to be concerned about that? I’ve heard people express concern about the Lodge dutch ovens, because the enamel or the oven is from China. And of course everyone is aware of China cutting corners in at least their food products. So yeah, should I be worried about Deadly Chemicals leeching from the enamel, or from the actual cast iron (if it really is cast iron, hah), anything crazy like that? I realize this sounds like a nutty question, but I am a little nutty myself..

    2. The instructions for seasoning the pot have glue on them (part of the little cardboard thing that wraps about the pot), so they’re unreadable. How do I season this pot?

    Thanks!
    Kevin

    • Kevin, China’s a big country and they make just about everything. Bad businesses all over the world make bad products…we see a lot more from China because that’s where so much of what we buy is made. When something defective is made in America, do we become afraid of American products? (That all being said, I try to avoid Chinese products for political reasons)

      To season, wipe the black rim of the pot with thin layer of vegetable oil. Bake the pot for an hour at 350. Of course, you can cook something in the pot while this is going on.

  32. I sympathize 100% with your plight! I wanted a gift for my friend for his new home, but the Tramontina pot is nowhere within 100 miles of me as well. The lodge pot is $20 more expensive… noooooo!

    • I’m just amazed at how often this item goes out of stock. Perhaps scarcity combined with the Cooks Illustrated rating drives desire up even higher. That being said, perhaps this list of retailers for the Lodge will help you. http://bit.ly/8GJvYX

      • The Member’s Mark 6.5 qt round dutch oven sold at Sam’s Club for about $38.00 is made by Tramontina. I bought mine there after Walmart was sold out and I love it – lid fits tightly, no chips, no complaints!

  33. When I saw the Tramontina Dutch Oven on ATK I would swear they said that the lid would fit tightly. I gave it to my husband for Christmas and it won’t fit flat. How should the lid fit?

  34. I have a lodge cast iron about 4 qts or so and have been looking for the Tramontina 6.5 quart( since it was so well reviewed by ATK), since the 4 quart is a little small for many recipes. Hoping that Santa would bring it. Santa(my wife) found a Chantal enameled cast iron dutch oven about the same 4qt size as I have already. I will return it but the point is – she found it at Marshall’s and it looks like a pretty good dutch oven. Worth taking a look now and then at the discounters for the items you want but don’t need right away.

    I have used my lodge pot to make Arroz con pollo(cuban kind), and just made the beef stew from the most recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated – both came out great. It’s reallya good heavy pot – goes stovetop to oven with no temp issue.

  35. The fit should be tight – wont do the job properly if its askew. Take it back – it’s not right.

  36. FlyingMonkey says:

    Ok….I got this for X-Mas…..here is the deal. This pot kicks arse! While the lid does not fit tight when centered, if you slide to any side it seals perfectly. I am sure it was not designed to do that, but in reality you can adjust the venting from closed to slightly opened, which I used to do with toothpicks or wadded up tinfoil on higher end pots.

    Bottom line, this pot is a steal…..And this coming from a Le Creuset owner.

    BTW….how do you like the signed SP book????

  37. notneeded says:

    I just bought one for $35 at walmart. The site page says $49, but if you scroll down to the list of other things people bought, it lists the pot again, but with a $35 price. Not at all clear why this is the case. Another person said this listing was there, but went away when he checked back, and then reappeared with they checked back again. I do not about that. But, it is on the way to a local store for $35.

  38. I just picked up my second one from site-to store at Walmart. I, too, got one for $35. I think it was because I ordered all the tri-ply set and it asked me if I wanted to “complete my bundle”. Anyway, this is the second one that I have received with chips in it. I went to order my 3rd replacement and now it is out-of-stock.

  39. I, too, just purchased a red one from Walmart for $35.00 (shipped to my home for $6.97). Seeing some of the other comments about rec’ing chipped bodies and/or ill fitting lids, I’m wondering if the great price of $35.00 (apparently for red only) may indicate that what I’ll receive is one of the damaged returns!! It will not be such a great price if I have to return it to the store and wait for a replacement. Even so,

    Like everyone else, I am a huge fan of ATK & Cook’s and can’t wait to try their chicken caccitore.

  40. I came across this later than most due in large part to the fact our purchase was prompted by the movie Julie and Julia. My 14 year old daughter expressed an interest in cooking and we found the Lodge locally ($65) and the Tramontina on the site to store option at WalMart for $35. So far, the Lodge has performed as expected with no disappointments. We cooked our first Boeuf Bourguignon in the Lodge and it came out perfect. While the $35 price tag for the Tramontina is hard to pass up, if it doesn’t perform as a true French oven should, then it’s a waste of money. Can you ever have too many good French ovens?
    On a side note – I’ve always been passionate about cooking and purchased Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my daughter. It’s been an incredible opportunity to connect with her.

  41. Tramontina now on sale at Tuesday morning in the green color. I’ve tried it and for the price, it’s fine. I don’t bake bread, so it may be well suited for that purpose; however, for stove top braising or in oven slow cooking, it doesn’t produce the same results as my Le Crueset. I’ve used both side by side cooking pork with green chile for a large for a large crowd and the results were different. The tramontina seemed to make the pork soft, in a mushy kind of way. Maybe overcooked? I’m not sure, but I’ll stick with my Le Creuset.

  42. I was thrilled to find the red Tramontina for $39 shipped at Amazon (the black one was $70!). It arrived this morning (Friday, and I ordered it on Wednesday) and I plan to use it for goulash tonight. So far, I am impressed, it appears to be very well-made. I like the lifetime warranty (so many things don’t come with those anymore!) and the simple yet important care instructions that came with it. It is flawless in appearance, no chips, etc. and I think I’m really going to enjoy using this. Will report back after cooking in it! Can someone share the no knead bread recipe?

  43. Commenter says:

    I tried to find this at Amazon, but the price was way above the $49.99 mentioned by CI. This weekend I just happened to find the 6.5 quart at Tuesday Morning for $49.99…how lucky was that? I used it for CI’s Almost No-Knead Bread; it’s cooling now…smells great!

  44. I recently purchased a 6.5 quart at Sam’s Club for $39.98. It is packaged as Sam’s brand “Members Mark” but looks just like the Tramontina sold by Wal-Mart. The warranty card has a mail to address that I Googled and it is the same as Tramontina’s Sugar Land TX address. The only difference is that this one from Sam’s Club has a stainless steel knob. Here is the link – http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod1901094&searchTerm=dutch%20oven

  45. Charles Taylor says:

    You guys may think the pot is great, but my nob broke the first time I used it. After looking at it the pot may be great but the nob is not that great. It’s Christmas so I guess I will take it back for a refund. So if you call them about the web site please mention they need to beef up their nobs.

  46. I think I saw the one at sams club,and its made in china. Is that where all tramontina dutch ovens are make?

  47. Last year I saw the ATK show about the dutch oven. I bought a red 5 qt. one at Aldi for 29.99 because the Wal-Mart site was out of the other one. I considered returning it and getting the Tramontina later but kept the Aldi one. I love it! It has works great and is a beautiful cherry red color. This year they also have it in blue and have about six different pans, ovens, etc. What a bargain!

  48. I know this blog post is a few years old now, but I would love to hear the opinions of those who have bought these low cost alternatives. Now that you have cooked in them for a while are you still happy with their performance, quality and appearance? I am most interested in comparing the to Le Creuset.

  49. I purchased the 6.5 qt online from Walmart 4 or 5 months ago for about $40 and they had a bonus choice with the purchase for the 3.5 qt dutch oven or the 3 qt covered braiser at no charge. The shipping was free for store delivery. I chose the 3 qt braiser as my bonus. I recently went to Walmart online and they still have all three Tramontina items ( 6.5 and 3.5 qt dutch ovens, and 3 qt braiser) but they are all priced seperately. They are still a bargain and I have gotten a lot of use with the dutch oven and braiser. I think they are a great value.

    • Just used my pot first time today. Food turned out. well, but pot and lidwas
      hard to scrub clean. It also said do not use above med heat so was hard to brown
      my roast in pot before putting in oven at that low of a temp.

  50. Cynthia in WA says:

    You can buy a red enameled Tramontina 5.5 qt. cast iron dutch oven at Sears. Regular price is $79.99.

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