There are many choices for enameled cast iron cookware on the market today ranging from skillets to pots to Dutch Ovens and more. Top brands for this style of cookware include Le Creuset, Crock Pot, Lodge, and Uno Casa. Enameled cast iron has several benefits which make it a popular option compared to traditional cast iron. Not only is enameled cast iron durable and long-lasting, compared to traditional cast iron it is more forgiving, easier to clean, and easier to cook with. Below, we'll examine enameled cast iron in more detail and explore the benefits of this popular cookware option.
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What is Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron cookware has been a durable, long-lasting, and popular cookware option for homeowners for centuries. Made of strong and rigid iron, bare cast iron cookware is created from a single forged piece of metal. The iron is formed to make a pot, skillet, Dutch Oven, or griddle. The single-piece manufacturing allows this popular cookware option to retain its heat, making it perfect for stews and soups. Cast iron holds much of the flavor and seasoning used to cook with, so it can create a unique and hearty taste. Because this cookware is so durable, it can be used in the kitchen, on the grill, or even camping.
What Is Enameled Cast Iron?
Although similar, enameled cast iron is a different twist on the popular and durable single iron cast cookware. The inner core of an enameled cast iron pan or skillet is identical to standard cast iron, consisting of one solid piece of iron metal that retains its heat and its flavor. Enameled cast iron, though, has a porcelain enamel coating around the exterior of the iron. Not only does the enamel help to give your cookware a beautiful finish, but it also helps protect your cookware and your kitchen appliances. Enameled cast iron comes in the same standard pieces as traditional cast iron, including pots, skillets, grills, and the ever-popular dutch ovens.
What Are The Benefits?
Enameled cast iron is a popular cooking option, and for a good reason. There are several wonderful benefits associated with enameled cast iron. Retaining the durability of traditional cast iron, enameled cast iron adds a modern twist to tried-and-true cookware. Some of the several benefits include:
- Durable - An enameled cast iron cookware piece is simply traditional cast iron covered with a protective enamel coating. You can get the same durable cookware with an enameled cast iron skillet or pot. Expect to get years of use, and a single enameled cookware set could last a lifetime with the proper care and maintenance.
- Protective - Compared to traditional cast iron with a rough exterior, enameled cast iron is smooth and protective. This feature means that an enameled cast iron skillet is less likely to scratch your kitchen appliances or other pots and pans in your kitchen cabinets. The smooth enamel coating makes the cookware set less abrasive, making it easier to use than traditional cast iron.
- Rust Proof - While the enameled coating on the exterior certainly looks nice, it also helps to keep your cookware protected. Having an added enamel layer to the body helps make your cookware rust-proof. The enamel works to prevent moisture from penetrating the cast iron, which can cause premature rust to form.
- Cooking Experience - Just like traditional cast iron cookware, enameled cast iron creates an enjoyable cooking experience. The interior cast iron heats just as quickly and as evenly as conventional cast iron cookware, making this type of cookware ideal for stews and soups.
- Beautiful - Compared to traditional black, rough, and textured cast iron cookware, enameled cast iron is gorgeous to look at. Several pieces come in a range of colors and patterns, which can help dress up your kitchen. You should enjoy cooking, and having beautiful cookware helps add to your cooking experience.
Is Enameled Cast Iron Easy to Clean?
One of the most significant benefits of using enameled cast iron is that this cookware option is easy to clean compared to its counterpart. Regular cast iron must be seasoned and protected, but this step isn’t necessary with enameled cast iron. Feel free to clean the cooking surface just as you would ordinary cookware, using as much soap and water as you wish. Enameled cast iron is a great way to get the cast iron flavor and cooking experience, with the hygienic and cleanliness you crave in the kitchen.
The outside of the cast iron cookware is coated in protective enamel, which means you can clean the exterior with soap and water. The smooth surface makes it easy to clean drips and spill-overs easily, and you can keep your cast iron looking great for years.
Are There Downsides to Enameled Cast Iron?
Unfortunately, all good things must have a downside, and enameled cast iron is no different. Although this is a superb option for consistent and fast cooking, there are some negatives of enameled cast iron cookware. Some downsides include:
- Less Non-Stick - Because the cooking surface of enameled cast iron does not need to be seasoned like traditional cast iron, it also lacks some non-stick qualities the seasoning can provide. Certain foods, especially foods like cheeses and eggs, can tend to stick with enameled cast iron.
- Prone to Chipping - The enamel surface of enameled cast iron is not quite as durable as traditional cast iron cookware. This characteristic means the interior cooking surface may be prone to chipping and scratching. Always be sure to use silicone or wooden cooking utensils, never metal, to cook with when using enameled cast iron.
- Thermal Conductivity - Compared to traditional cast iron cookware, enameled cast iron does not have the same thermal conductivity. Heating your enameled cast iron may take longer, and your enameled cast iron cookware may not hold heat as long as traditional cast iron cookware.
- Cost - Because enameled cast iron cookware has an added layer of protection, increasing the overall durability, these options tend to cost more than traditional cast iron.
How Does Enameled Cast Iron Compare To Iron Cast Cookware?
Cooking with enameled cast iron may be easier to clean and care for, but the cooking experience will differ from traditional cast iron. Unlike standard cast iron, the cooking surface does not need to be seasoned. Because there is no seasoning process, expect your meal to taste exactly like what you are cooking. This fact means that you will not have residual flavors mixing with your intended meal. Plus, you won’t have the slightly acidic or chemical taste when cooking with heavy sauces or tomatoes that traditional cast iron can produce.
Expect the enamel coating to take a little longer to heat compared to traditional cast iron. The enameled surface creates a barrier, preventing heat from penetrating through the entire pan or pot as quickly as it does with conventional cast iron cookware. Because the pot or pan can take longer to heat, it also does not do as well with heat retention once the optimum temperature has been achieved. Cooking with something like stainless steel or carbon steel may hold more heat for a longer period.
Is Enameled Cast Iron Easy To Cook With?
Although there are some differences in cooking with enameled cast iron than regular cast iron, many people enjoy cooking with enameled cast iron more. The enameled cookware is easy to use and easy to cook with. Unlike standard cast iron with a lengthy seasoning process, expect to use enameled cast iron cookware right out of the packaging. This seasoned cast iron takes several lengthy and detailed steps out of preparing your pan for cooking. Although there is more sticking than regular cast iron, the cooking surface is more forgiving to temperature swings and cleaning.
Plus, the enamel coating is a far better option for those with a glass cooking surface. The enamel coating is far less likely to scratch glass ranges, so sliding the cast iron over the range will result in less damage. The enamel finish on the cast iron can also help protect your counters from scratches and dings too.
Which Enameled Cookware Is The Best?
When it comes time to choose the best enamel cast iron cookware choices for your kitchen, you want to be sure you find a durable, easy-to-use, and long-lasting cookware option. Below, we have put together a list of some of the top-rated enameled cast iron options to add to your kitchen collection.
One of the most popular brands in an enameled cast iron pan is Le Creuset. This brand makes everything from skillets to the Le Creuset Dutch Oven. This tried and trustworthy brand features unparalleled durability with features that make cooking with cast iron enjoyable. Highly rated by consumers, the Le Creuset skillet offers an added pouring handle to help manage the heavy weight of cast iron. With an even and uniform cooking surface, expect this skillet to heat evenly. The surface is coated to help prevent chipping and cracking, and this skillet is even rated as dishwasher safe.
Highly rated, the enameled pan made by Crock Pot comes at an affordable price point. The smaller design makes it lighter to lift and move throughout the kitchen. The enameled coating makes this skillet safe for all range and oven types. The frying pan is easy to clean and helps retain an even heat over the entire cooking surface. Use this skillet to fry, sear, or baste your favorite meals.
Giving you the best of both worlds, the LEX enameled cast iron includes an 8’’ skillet as well as a larger 12’’ skillet. The two-piece set comes at an attractive price point and gives cooks plenty of options in the kitchen. This enameled cast-iron skillet is a highly rated and durable option for consumers and features a non-toxic, easy-to-clean surface. The non-stick enamel cookware never needs seasoned and can go into an oven up to 500 degrees.
The small 2.5-quart enameled cast iron pot is an excellent choice for those who like making sauces, soups, and stews. With phenomenal ratings, the Tramontina option gives you durability with ease of use. The coated interior creates an even heat distribution while still being easy to clean. Quickly move the Tramontina pot from the cooking surface to the oven, rated for temperatures up to 425 degrees.
Holding up to 1.75 quarts, this small enameled cast iron pot is the perfect addition to your cast iron cookware. Use this pot to make small soups and sauces and easily transition from the range to the oven. The enameled cast iron is easy to clean with soap and water and works well to retain heat. This pot by Laudhause is non-stick, making even rich and acidic sauces a possibility with enameled cast iron.
Expect excellent durability and even heat conductivity from the Le Creuset Cast Iron 1.75-quart pot. This small pot is manageable and easy to use, making it lightweight and easy to transport from place to place. The small design makes it ideal for soups and sauces. Transition this pot from the cooktop to the oven easily. The Le Creuset cast iron pot can withstand oven temperatures up to 500 degrees.
No enameled cast iron cookware set is complete without a Dutch Oven. The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is durable, long-lasting, and easy to use as the top-rated option. Cook stews and soups with this Dutch Oven that retains an even heat for hours on end. Perfect for slow-cooked meals, the Lodge Dutch Oven can even go in the oven for temperatures up to 500 degrees.
Made with high-quality materials, the Dutch Oven by Uno Casa is highly rated. With a specialized rainfall construction on the lid’s interior, you can capture the taste and flavor of any meal you make. The enameled coating makes this Dutch Oven perfect for glass ovens and cooktops. The cast iron Dutch Oven requires no seasoning, features a non-stick cooking surface, and even comes with protective silicone mats to make cooking easier.
This Dutch Oven from Edging Casting is a wonderful option to add to your kitchen. With easy-to-clean surfaces, durable enameling, and plenty of color options to choose from, this Dutch Oven is a popular choice among consumers. The Dutch Oven retains heat and creates even heat throughout the cooking surface. The large size is enough to accommodate an entire roasted chicken.
If you like the taste and look of grill marks on your food, the Tramontina cast iron grill is an excellent choice for your kitchen. The enamel coating makes this perfect for any range, and the cast iron interior creates a hot and even heat to cook with. The Tramontina cast iron grill comes with a press to help create the perfect sandwiches, burgers, or steaks.
The Le Creuset grill is easy to use and safe for any oven with an innovative round design. The enameled coating helps to protect your cooktop, even while sliding and moving the cookware from the range to the oven. This grill features a non-stick surface that is easy to clean. The enameled cast iron from Le Creuset works to retain heat, creating an even and uniform cooking surface. Plus, the dual-handle design makes it easy to move this grill from place to place. Available in several colors, this grill is both practical and attractive for your kitchen.
With so many brands on the market producing high-quality enameled cast iron, it is hard to make the wrong choice. Leading manufacturers include Le Creuset, Lodge, and Uno Casa for enameled cast iron skillets, Dutch Ovens, pots, and grills. With a smooth cooking surface, easy cooking, and impressive durability, choosing enameled cast iron over regular cast iron can make using this strong material much easier for your everyday cookware.