Pros And Cons Of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
Are you shopping for a new pot or pan and considering enameled cast iron?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of enameled cast iron cookware? How does it perform, and how easy is it to use and maintain?
In this guide, I break down the pros and cons of enameled cast iron cookware. Youll learn:
- How its made
- How it looks, feels, and performs
- The differences between enameled and regular cast iron
- How much it costs
- And more
Keep reading if youre ready to buy new cookware but arent sure if enameled cast iron is worth it.
Use the links below to navigate this guide:
Pro: High Heat Tolerance
Enameled cast iron cookware has the advantage of regular cast irons high heat tolerance. The enamel forms a non-stick coating that can handle temperatures far higher than PTFE or ceramic non-stick.
Le Creuset, Staub, and Lodge cookware can handle temperatures of up to 500°F. Made In enameled cast iron is oven-safe up to 580°F. In most cases, the enameled cast iron lids that come with the cookware are also oven-safe.
Can You Put A Dutch Oven In The Dishwasher
It depends. Most enameled cast iron-type ovens can go into the dishwasher, but because they tend to take up a lot of space, you might find it easier to hand wash them instead. Non-enameled cast iron should not be put into the dishwasher, as the water and detergent will strip away its seasoning. For more details on caring for raw cast iron, check out this guide.
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Enamel Cast Iron Pots Not Non
Despite the enamel coating, this type of cookware is not non-stick. Foods can still stick to the surface and be difficult to clean off.
To avoid food sticking to enamel cast iron do not use high heat. Instead heat the pan up over medium heat with oil, butter, or liquid before adding food. Check regularly during cooking and add more oil or liquid as required.
Learn about cooking with cast iron and preventing enamel cast iron from sticking.
Best Budget Buy Dutch Oven
The Lodge 5qt is an an excellent option for anybody looking for good results on a tighter budget. Its relatively inexpensive on Amazon , and has a really good solid seal when you put the lid on. I have baked many loaves in this Dutch oven myself and it has given me excellent results every time. And because it is bare cast iron, you dont have to worry about the flaws that come with budget enamel based Dutch ovens. This particular one will bake a boule of up to 1kg dough weight quite comfortably.
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Classic Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
These are made of nothing but bare, solid cast iron. Needless to say, they are extremely hard wearing and robust. They will last beyond a lifetime if looked after properly. These need to be seasoned regularly for optimal performance, so they are not quite as low maintenance as the enamel ones. But the upside is that they can take an extremely high amount of heat without any side effects, and can be used indoors or outdoors on open fires.
Which one is Best for Sourdough Bread?
Here is a summary of the pros and cons of each type of Dutch oven:
|Not suitable for preheating dry
|Can be preheated
The most important question to ask yourself is, do you want to preheat your Dutch oven before you place your bread in it? . If you preheat, then it is better to go for a bare cast iron Dutch oven, because an enamel one is not suited to be preheated dry. If you dont preheat, then the enamel Dutch ovens are a better choice due to their low maintenance.
What Is Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
As the name suggests, enameled cast iron cookware has a cast iron base. Cast iron cookware is forged from a single piece of metal that includes the handle.
This metal is composed of approximately 98% iron and 2% carbon. Cast iron cookware is thick, heavy, and retains heat well.
Enameled cast iron has an additional layer that coats the iron. This enamel coating is similar to porcelain and gives the cookware a smooth, glazed appearance.
Enameled cast iron is used to make a variety of cookware, including skillets, dutch ovens, braisers, and casserole dishes.
There are several functional differences between bare and enameled cast iron, which I cover in detail in this article. A few of the differences worth noting are:
- Cleaning/Maintenance: Bare cast iron must be seasoned, whereas enameled cast iron does not.
- Cookware Variety: While bare cast iron is generally limited to skillets, pans, and other stovetop cookwares, enameled cast iron is often used to make a broader range of items .
- Performance: Enameled cast iron is non-reactive and can be used to cook very acidic foods without getting damaged. Bare cast iron will react with acidic materials and shouldnt be used to cook things that include large quantities of citrus, wine, tomatoes, or vinegar.
Now that you know the basics about enameled cast iron cookware, lets review the pros and cons.
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Indoor Or Regular Dutch Oven
The indoor or regular dutch oven is made of plain, non-coated cast iron. It will need to be seasoned regularly, just like a cast iron skillet. It has a flat bottom and a rounded lid. Most also have handles on the sides and top of the pot.
Although the name suggests this model can only be used indoors, this type of dutch oven actually has many outdoor uses. While the flat bottom allows for use on stovetops and the rounded lid isnt designed for holding coals like its camping counterpart, the indoor dutch oven can still safely be used on a gas or charcoal grill, over an open campfire, or nestled in hot coals. It can also be elevated on bricks or rocks to allow room for hot coals underneath without making contact with the bottom of the pot and scorching food. I use and recommend this brand.
Why Enameled Cast Iron Shouldnt Be Used Outdoors
Enameled dutch ovens can be used on electric, gas, ceramic, glass, and induction stovetops, and in the oven. One particular high-end brand claims their enameled cast iron products can be used on barbecue grills. However, most manufacturers advise against this. The unpredictable heat and flame height of many outdoor grills can exceed the safe temperature limit, crack the enamel, and render the pot useless.
The same is true for use over an open fire, even if the pot is elevated on a cooking grate. Because the temperature and flame height of the fire cannot be controlled, the potential rapid heating and cooling of the enamel-coated cast iron can cause too much expansion and contraction of the metal, leading to cracks in the porcelain enamel coating. In addition, the soot and residue from the fire could permanently stain the enamel. In short, its best to protect your beautiful, shiny enameled dutch oven by only using it indoors.
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I Used My Enameled Dutch Oven Over A Campfire And It Chipped Can I Still Use It
Lets say youve already tried cooking over a campfire or on the grill with your enamel-coated dutch oven and it chipped or cracked. Oops. Thats not good. But can you still use it?
In this case, it depends on where the chip or crack is located. If the chip or crack is superficial, only involves the enamel, and isnt on the cooking surface, it will likely still be safe to use for future indoor cooking.
If the chip involves the cooking surface, such as on the inside bottom or sidewalls that would come in contact with food, most cookware companies advise you to stop using the damaged pot. This is because the enamel could continue to chip off while cooking and end up in food.
Additionally, if the iron underneath the enamel coating is cracked, the pot should be discarded for safety reasons. A crack in the iron could cause the pot to fracture or shatter when subjected to high temperatures or significant temperature changes, such as when putting a cold pot on a hot stove or pouring cold water into a hot pan.
Enamel-coated dutch ovens arent intended for use in the great outdoors, but there are other types of dutch ovens that are made specifically for outdoor cooking. They are safe to use directly over a fire and can withstand the high, unpredictable heat without chipping or cracking. These models are discussed in more detail below.
Cast Iron Gets Cold Too
The conductive properties in cast iron work both ways. If you put it in the freezer or fridge, the Dutch oven will retain the cold, so it can be a good option for, say, pasta salads and desserts, too. And feel free to put it right into the fridge once it has cooled if you need to store whatever youve just cooked. Just dont move it straight from the stove to the fridge as the sudden temperature change could crack the enamel!
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Con: Prone To Chipping
The coating on enameled cast iron cookware can break more easily than the metal beneath it. If you drop or bang the pan or accidentally hit it with a sturdy utensil, the enamel may chip off or scratch and expose the bare cast iron.
If that happens, its recommended that you replace the cookware. Once the enamel is chipped, pieces of the coating will continue to break off and possibly get into your food.
Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Pros And Cons
In this in-depth enameled cast iron cookware guide you will learn the advantages and disadvantages of using cast iron cookware.
Enameled cast iron cookwares pros and cons are varied it is versatile, its high heating capabilities, is durable, and is safe compared to other cookware with non-stick coatings. Cons include the weight of cast iron, heat conductivity, delicate surface, and storage difficulties.
The enamel coating has actually become a signature feature on modern cast iron cookware. However, enameled cast iron cookware still has a rival in traditional seasoned cast iron. See the full comparison table that outlines the differences between a regular bare cast iron pan and an enameled cast iron pan.
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How To Clean An Enamel Dutch Oven Without Losing The Shine
My Trusty Dutch Oven Receiving a Scrub Soapy Water Only!
Removing baked-on or burnt food from the cooking surface of an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven may seem daunting, but dont be discouraged. Just choose one of the options below and just be patient you will have clean enamel cookware with a little perseverance and elbow grease.
Crock Pot Artisan 7 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven Sapphire Blue
Although enamel surfaces are smooth as compared to plain cast-iron surfaces, they are not nonstick. So you need to take little extra care while cooking on such surfaces. But to your relief, Crock Pot Artisan 7 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven provides a nonstick cooking surface. The benefit of a non-stick dutch oven is you can cook food in less oil. Whereas, a simple enamel coat requires a double amount of oil to cook the same quantity of food.
Oversized handles let user saute ingredients thoroughly by holding on one side. They are also helpful while shifting and serving food on the dinner table. And thanks to quality cast iron built up that keeps food warm for a long while. This superior heat retention of cast iron allows you to perform many cooking techniques. These include sauteing, frying, searing, stewing, broiling, roasting and baking. Therefore, you can make numerous dutch oven recipes with Crock Pot Artisan 69145.02.
While there is a thick enamel nonstick layer inside the pot, the coating of the exterior is thin. And because of this reason, you cannot wash the enameled cast iron dutch oven inside the dishwasher. You will have to hand wash it after every use. Use wooden, silicone, or nylon spatulas to turn, roast or saute ingredients. This will prevent the nonstick coat from scratches.
Why buy Crock Pot Artisan 69145.02?
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What Is A Dutch Oven Used For
Dutch ovens are often used for big batches of chili, soup, stew, or stock, but theyre equally great for deep frying donuts, making a loaf of no-knead bread, roasting whole birds, making mashed potatoes, and even baking a cake. Dutch ovens are also the perfect size and heft for taking a tough, inexpensive cut of meat, like a pork shoulder, and cooking it at a low temperature with wine or stock. Some Dutch ovens might be expensive, but you can truly get your moneys worth. And if you need more ideas, we’ve got all the best recipes over here.
Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven
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Test : Heat Conduction And Retention
Serious Eats / Emily Dryden
The first question we had about our lineup of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens was whether there was much difference from one to the next in how they conducted and retained heat. We know that iron is a poor conductor of heat and a great retainer of it, but given that each pot has a different mass and slightly different build, including variations in floor and wall thickness, it’s conceivable that some would conduct heat better than others, while others might retain the heat better.
We tested heat conduction by placing each Dutch oven on an induction burner set to a fixed, moderate heat setting. We then snapped photos with a thermal imaging camera and measured floor and wall heat in timed increments with an infrared thermometer.
We then tested heat retention by preheating each lidded pot in the same 350°F oven, then recording the pots’ loss of heat in both the walls and the floors using the infrared thermometer.
While our methods of measuring the temperature of the pots weren’t perfect , they gave us a decent enough picture to confidently draw an interesting conclusion: There isn’t a significant difference that sets one enameled cast iron Dutch oven apart from another in terms of thermal properties. They all heated and cooled in remarkably similar patterns and at remarkably similar rates. This is not the area where one pot will distinguish itself.
Tips For Enamel Coated Dutch Ovens:
Tip #1: Never Preheat Dry
This is the number 1 reason why the enamel develops cracks in it over time. The rapid heat fluctuations that occur when its preheated with nothing in it, causes the enamel to crack. This then allows liquid to seep into the cast iron surface, which causes rust, and compromises the non stick surface. Even Le Creuset branded Dutch ovens that come with lifetime guarantees dontcover for cracks in enamel which are caused by dry preheating.
QUICK TIP: For sourdough bread, you dont haveto preheat the Dutch oven to get an excellent result. Try adding your loaf into a cold Dutch oven and then placing it into a hot oven. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Tip #2: Stick to the Maximum Temperature Guide
The actual cast iron part can withstand extremely high temperatures. The reason for the maximum temperature on an enamel coated Dutch oven is two fold:
The maximum heat depends on the quality of the enamel coating. This is the reason why I recommended top brands like Le Creuset, because their enamel coatings as super robust and suitable for higher heats than the average. Its important to adhere to the temperature guides on the care instructions of your Dutch oven, so as not to ruin the enamel coating.
The maximum heat for the handle is dependent upon what the handle is made out of. If its made from plastic, its best to remove the handle before baking with a high heat.
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How Do You Clean Discolored Enamel Cookware
Firstly, carry out the steps for everyday cleaning.
You may have only slight stains or a little discoloration that can build up over time or for many uses. In these cases you can use a ceramic cleaner, always following the instructions on the bottle.
Use these cleaners on a damp cloth then use a gentle rubbing motion over the bottom of your pot. Then wash out with warm non-citrus dishwashing soap and a nylon scourer. Dry thoroughly and store.
The ceramic cleaner I use is by the Lodge Company and all my enameled cast iron cookware gets a treat sometimes. to see the Lodge ceramic cleaner I like the most.
If your stains are a little worse than described above you can use a mix of 3 tablespoons of household bleach per quart of water.
On the interior of the cookware only, soak for 2-3 hours. Do not immerse the entire oven into this mixture as you will damage the exterior of the oven.
If you want to attempt to make the inside of your cast iron enamel a little shinier you can wipe the inside of your oven over with a little white vinegar with a soft cloth.