Made In Launched a Gorgeous New Dutch Oven — And It Sears Meat Like a Dream

published Feb 1, 2022
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Credit: Danielle Centoni

It’s no secret our team loves Made In cookware. The direct-to-consumer company offers pots, pans, knives, bakeware — basically everything you need to outfit your kitchen — made by generations-old manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe but without the brand-name price tag. It’s like the Trader Joe’s of cookware.

Of course, we’re not the only ones who love it. The brand has cultivated a loyal customer base that includes big-name chefs like Tom Colicchio and Grant Achatz. Its fan-favorite blue carbon steel pans are always selling out, and when it launched its French-made chef’s knife in October 2018, it sold out within 24 hours.  

Why am I telling you this? Because today, February 1, Made In is adding another piece to its lineup that might sell out just as quickly: a 6-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven made in France. The retail price is $199, which is significantly less than the $350 to $399 price tags of other brand-name French-made pots.

Cofounder Jake Kalick, whose family has run a commercial kitchen outfitter for generations (Boston-based Harbour Food Service Equipment), says an enameled Dutch oven was the most requested item from customers over the last four years. His team would have happily brought one to market sooner but they couldn’t find the perfect manufacturer. 

“We have been working on that project for three years,” he says. “And we’ve had a lot of false starts.” First, they tried to build a supply chain in the U.S. “What we learned was that it’s an incredibly difficult manufacturing process. Casting and enameling is difficult and needs to be done under one roof.” 

So they turned to France, where they already do a lot of manufacturing with legacy brands. “We got ‘no’ from all these factories and partners for three years.” Made In doesn’t manufacture anything in Asia, so that was a no-go, then they finally found a French company that agreed to partner with them. “It’s an awesome factory that has been making enameled cast iron for over 100 years,” says Kalick. “It’s definitely been a passion project.”

Unlike the rainbow of hues and assortment of sizes offered by the brands you find in cookware stores, the Made In Dutch oven comes in one size and one color for now — sapphire blue with a gold knob — but Kalick says they plan to add more colors and sizes in the future. “This is the hero item. It’s nerve-wracking to launch seven items at once, and with all of our new categories, we try to get one product perfect, understand the customers’ needs, then we expand.”

Credit: Danielle Centoni

My Honest Review of the Made In Dutch Oven

I got my hands on a pot to try it out in advance and was seriously impressed. It has the rounded lines of a Le Creuset and the black enamel interior and studs on the underside of the lid like a Staub (those studs help the condensation drip onto the center of the food during cooking). Are either of these brands the actual manufacturer? Kalick’s lips are sealed, but the Made In Dutch oven is definitely a very similar breed. It even weighs the same as a similarly sized Staub: about 14 pounds with the lid on.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

I put the pot through its paces on the stove and in the oven, cooking rice, beans, veggie soup, braised beef ragu, and even whole chicken. I took note of any scorching (none), how evenly it heated (perfectly), how well it retained moisture with the lid on (just the right amount of evaporation), how easy it was to use (big, wide handles make it super easy to lift), and, most importantly, how well it seared (beautifully). 

My biggest pet peeve when searing meats for a stew or braise in a Dutch oven is how sometimes the meat wants to steam on the second side rather than take on color, even when I take care not to crowd the pan. I’ve noticed the rough black enamel interior of my Staub pot is far superior at searing meats than the white enamel of my other pots, and the Made In is similarly great. I don’t know the science behind why the black enamel is so much better for searing — is it the rough texture? — but in the Made In Dutch oven, my meat got deeply and evenly caramelized, and yet the surface deglazed instantly with a splash of wine. 

My takeaway? This is a fabulous piece of cookware that’s in the same echelon as French brands that cost nearly twice as much. I’m not a gambling type, but I’d be willing to bet it sells out in a jiffy.