Review: Milo’s Fresh Take on Cast Iron Eclipses Other Trendy Cookware
We tested the brand's enameled Dutch oven and skillet, and found plenty to like
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When Milo started selling cookware in 2018, the startup had plenty of competition. Trendy pots and pans were all the rage among entrepreneurs — similar brands like Great Jones, Caraway and Our Place were all launched around the same time — and direct-to-consumer, online-native kitchen essentials that promise to undercut the legacy names have only flourished in the years since, many thanks to the pandemic-induced home-cooking boom.
That means Milo, which originally began with just an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, had to duke it out against Le Creuset and Staub (which it set itself up as an alternative to), as well as countless flash-in-the-pan trendsetters. A few years later, after adding a couple other items, including an enameled cast iron skillet, the brand (which is part of the company Kana) has held its own against both the old standbys and the newcomers.
I currently own two pieces from the Milo collection, which I’ve had since 2021: the 5.5 Quart Classic Dutch Oven in white with a gold knob, and the 10-Inch Ultimate Skillet in white (the lid from the Dutch oven fits on the skillet). After cooking, cleaning and beating them up, it has become increasingly clear that Milo has what it takes to stick around after similarly trendy brands call it quits.
What We Liked
Milo cookware looks impressive in your kitchen, on your stove and on your table. It’s just a fact. I’ve currently got a number of cast iron pieces in my kitchen for testing purposes, but when I broke out this Dutch oven and skillet for the first time, my wife made a point to comment about its elegance. If aesthetics are high on your list, and if your kitchen has open shelves or counters, that’s reason enough to consider the brand, especially now that they have a full spectrum of soothing colors (from traditional white and black to dusty pink and dijon).
In terms of price, they undercut the big brands by a lot, though not quite as much as another of our favorites. A 5.5-quart Staub will set you back about $360 to $400, a Le Creuset $420, and normally the Milo Dutch oven goes for $145 and the three-piece set for $250 (though at the time of writing there’s a 25% off sale). That’s a lot of cast iron for a small chunk of change. And did we mention Milo makes its pots and pans from 40% recycled cast iron? That’s just one of its eco-conscious selling points, along with their parent company Kana’s partnership with 1% for the Planet.
In terms of the actual cooking, the Dutch oven features a large cooking surface thanks to ever-so-slightly sloped sides, rather than rounded. And the universal lid is a lifesaver, as the lack of tight-fitting lids on cast iron pans — and pans in general — is one of the real tragedies of the modern home-cooking experience. The two pour spouts on the skillet came in handy, as did the enamel coating for my ceramic-glass electric cooktop. Yes, all their cookware works on gas, electric and induction, and compared to bare cast iron the enamel offers a much gentler cooking experience.
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What to Look Out For
On Milo’s website, the FAQ section includes the question “Why is your cookware so affordable?” Their stated answer doesn’t mention that the pots and skillets are made in China, and on the bottom of the skillet you’ll find that workaround used by many brands these days: “Designed in California.” However, you will find that information if you look elsewhere, under “Who Designed It” on the individual product pages. As we’ve previously explained, just because something is made in China doesn’t mean it’s worse than a product made in the U.S. (or France in this case, as that’s a selling point for Staub and Le Creuset), or vice-versa. But it’s something to consider.
In my test, there were a couple design features that stuck out. The skillet is described as “enameled inside and out,” but that doesn’t mean the cooking surface is the same as the enameled Dutch oven. Here, it’s more like a bare cast iron pan, except with a sandy, grainy texture; you don’t need to season it, but it definitely was not nonstick, so use plenty of oil or butter when cooking. As for the Dutch oven, the interior coating of mine wasn’t perfectly smooth — there was a patch with a slightly perforated texture — but Milo offers a lifetime warranty for “normal use,” so I wasn’t as worried about that (other reviews mention Kana sending new pieces when those shipped have defects).
Is It Worth It?
At these prices, Milo cookware is definitely a bargain. I’m not in love with the skillet, but it does the job. However, the Dutch oven is a legitimately great option even when compared with those that cost three times as much. If name brands don’t mean anything to you, but you don’t just want to buy the cheapest thing on Amazon, Milo strikes a nice balance of legitimate performance, a keen eye for design and a price you won’t regret when you realize buying a nice pot doesn’t automatically make you a better cook. Although, these pieces did make me want to cook more, which led to more hours in the kitchen, so maybe in a roundabout way these will make you a better home chef.
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