Categories: KitchenTools

Cast Iron vs. Enamel Dutch Oven

INTRODUCTION:

A good kitchen requires great utensils, which are the necessary sidekicks that make cooking easy and enjoyable. Both cast iron and enamel Dutch oven are a significant investment in your kitchen. Both are heavy-duty appliances with excellent heat resistance, and both last for years. Before we dive into the best of the best, let’s understand the difference between a cast iron and an enamel Dutch oven.

Dating back to the 1700s, Dutch ovens were traditionally used for cooking stews, soup, and chili. They are large pots or kettles that have a tight lid that doesn’t allow them to escape. They are versatile as they can be used for most cooking and frying, even for baking bread. Dutch ovens are typically made of cast iron. They are either coated with enamel or ceramic. Its walls are thick, which allows it to distribute and absorb the heat equally. They are great for both indoor and outdoor use due to their robust build. 

Cast iron is a lot older and is present in every kitchen now. Dating back to almost the 5th Century, cast iron grips conducts and holds heat effectively. Although it may take a moment to heat, it doesn’t stay hot long. Cast iron Dutch ovens are seasoned using a selection of multiple oils to avert the possibility of rusting and offer some, if not all, non-stick properties. All Dutch ovens are made of cast iron since they are great heat conductors and can be used in the same way. The main peculiarity that sets the enameled and cast-iron oven apart is the pot’s texture and the price.

Features

There are specific attributes based on which we can compare these two products:

  • Material
  • Size
  • Handles
  • Adhesiveness
  • Color

Material

It’s imperative to know the material used in your product because it impacts the food you cook. There are four options to consider; stainless-steel, ceramic, enamel, and cast iron. Stainless steel is excellent for everyday use, but it has no heat retention. Ceramic material is a pretty light material, but it is sensitive to extreme temperatures. It may crack or break easily if dropped. It is, however, long-lasting cookware.

Enamel is a coating that is smeared onto the cast iron surface of the cookware. The glass elements that create the enamel are merged to the underlying surface through which a smooth surface is made. The coating lets the user find ease in the cleaning process and stops the iron from filtering into the food that’s being cooked. It is quite heavy and on the costlier side but is versatile cookware.

Cast iron is excellent for excessive cooking as it retains heat perfectly but requires special seasoning and cleaning. It can also transfer flavor to your food, which isn’t loved by everyone. However, it is diverse with its usage as it can also be used for camping. Acidic foods do not react well to the cast iron. Acidic foods like lemon, tomato sauce, and vinegar can shred the seasoning on your cast iron. Cooking or frying them in a cast iron can add a metallic taste to food. The cast-iron Dutch oven does have durability and is a little heavy.

Size

Your Dutch oven’s width and length are crucial and rely mostly on servings and usage. The size ranges from 5QT-2QT to 13QT-15QT. The size ranges from 1-2 servings to a massive 15-20 servings in easier words. When looking for size, be mindful of the future and the present. Suppose you plan on cooking for holidays and other events. In that case, you’ll need a larger oven, around 15.5QTs, that can fit a whole turkey, and for everyday use, a 5-6QTs is a comfortable size.

Handles

It may seem minor, but for a Dutch oven, it’s vital. Since Dutch ovens are heavy in nature, their handle should be just as strong to hold the weight evenly. Cheaper ovens tend to have weak handles. The handle should have a firm grip that won’t slip even with gloves or mittens on.

Adhesiveness

Uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven’s surface is often sticky, mainly when it is new. It is required to season it regularly and use it recurrently to build the surface’s non-stick layer for easy cooking. Thus, appliances like cast iron pans are handed down from generation to generation because they get better with their usage. Most enamel cast iron Dutch ovens have a smooth surface because of the enamel surface.

Color

Both exterior and interior color should be taken into consideration. The exterior paint of the cookware depends on the theme and aesthetic of your kitchen. In contrast, interior color depends on what you prefer while cooking. An enameled cast-iron oven has either a dark or light interior. A light-colored interior allows clarity while cooking to see the food colors change. It makes monitoring relatively easier. That is why many people prefer light over dark. A darker surface hides stains as compared to a light surface.

Best Dutch Oven Reviews

2. Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven

This French-made Dutch oven brings forth both versatility and a color range to add flavor to your kitchen. Since 1925, Le Creuset cast iron has been renowned for its metier and sturdiness. This Dutch oven is designed to be chip-resistant and has ergonomic knobs that allow excellent grip and are easy to carry. Le Creuset is famous for its excellent heat circulation and withholding it in its cookware. This round Dutch oven meets up with brand expectations. It not only comes in various, vibrant colors but also in different sizes to meet your requirements. The pot is available till 1- to 13 ¼ Qt. The pot’s elevated sides and heat-conducting assets make a perfect meal.

The best part is that it is flexible towards every heat source, such as radiant ring, ovens driven by oil, wood, coal, and electric plates. Fitted tight lids are mainly designed to flow steam and return the food’s moisture, giving you a well-cooked meal. It is perfectly safe for dishwasher and metal utensils. You can wash it with your hands using warm soapy water, and it is as good as new. It also brings with it a lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Easy cleaning
  • It does not absorb or induce flavor
  • The pot does not rust
  • It comes in ia variety of colors
  • Great for indoor use

Cons

  • It is costly
  • It can be used for kitchen only

Maintenance: It is more of a drawback because you want an oven, which is easy to maintain. An oven that can be easily cleaned after cooking is perfect cookware. However, an enamel material does require extra care and patience when it comes to maintenance. If it is not easily cleaned, you need to scrub it hard, damaging your oven’s surface. Of course, nobody wants to damage its cover because it will ruin your oven and will no more cook efficiently.

1. Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven

The lodge is a family-owned business founded in 1896. As we know, cast iron is a great heat conductor and regulator and can withstand extreme temperatures. Lodge cast iron does precisely that. Cast iron Dutch ovens are heavy-duty components that should be present in every kitchen. One can use the cast iron oven on any heat source such as the smoky flames of wood, grill, and campfire. This product is tough. It may lose its glamour if you use it roughly; however, it starts over once you scrub it. Hence, it grants you durability year after year, generation after generation.

Lodge cast iron is excellent for frying, baking, making soups and stews. The product comes already seasoned, so you don’t have to work the hassle of seasoning the cast iron. In a way, it comes as a non-stick surface. It keeps the food warm and doesn’t stick it to the surface. The oven will cool down, slowly keeping your food fresh and warm. This oven may seem bleak and mundane, but it serves its purpose exceptionally well. Lodge seasons its Dutch ovens with 100% pure vegetable oil, which means no artificial coatings or harmful chemicals. The more you use the cast iron, the better the seasoning will get with every use. It comes in sizes of 2 to 7Qts. It may seem less diverse than other Dutch ovens, but its depth and width make up for it. Caring for your cast iron is no issue at all.

Pros

  • Perfect for grill, firewood, and stove
  • Great for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Comes pre-seasoned
  • The lid of the oven can be used as a frying pan

Cons

  • Handles can get hot
  • It transfers cast iron flavor to food

Two-in-One Oven: You don’t come across cookware with dual usage daily. It is not an ordinary cooking pot. Its lid not only covers the pot but can be used as a frying pan. You can brew a stew and fry something at the same time with this two-in-one oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Is there any unique way to use a Dutch oven?

It is something complex. Once you start experimenting and using the cookware occasionally, you will adapt to it. You have to preheat it on a low flame or low setting for 10 minutes. It does not take long for a cast iron to heat, so it doesn’t require too much heat. As for an enamel Dutch oven, it can damage or chip if exposed to extreme heat. See what temperature suits you best and for what you have to cook.

2.  How can one clean an Enamel Dutch oven?

Enamel Dutch oven is dishwasher friendly, but many wash it by hand to ensure durability. However, using an abrasive sponge will damage the Enamel hence causing an interruption in your cooking process.

3.  Is oval or a round Dutch oven better?

For excessive daily use or all-purpose cooking, it is advised to use a round Dutch oven. In contrast, oval-shaped ones are preferable for cooking meat, an entire roast, or chicken. There isn’t much of any difference. Both have the same efficiency and cook effectively. The only difference is that the space range is different. The bigger space, the better, the more the pot’s width, the more effectively it helps the food to cook.

4.  How is a cast iron seasoned?

Many cast-iron ovens come pre-seasoned. It becomes a great advantage when you are to use them on the go. However, if you need to season them yourself, it is not a hard job. All you need is some vegetable oil. Add a thin layer of the vegetable oil transversely on the inside. Place the pot on low heat for an hour or so, and voila! Your cast-iron is seasoned.

Conclusion

The art of cooking should have no compromise when it comes to appliances. Kitchen appliances can be too overwhelming, especially when you are new to this world and do not know where to start. Cooking should not be challenging, and this guide is to help you through. Always be mindful of what you are looking for and never be afraid to ask questions.

Our editor’s choice is Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch oven that withholds extreme temperatures. It is perfect for everyday use – be a busy day in the kitchen or a camping trip. Lodge Cast Iron is a versatile product with a lid that works both as a cover and a frying pan, and we love this two-in-one product. However, both the products are great at what they do. Enamelled Dutch ovens are present in every price range that suits you best. However, they are still characteristically pricier than cast iron Dutch ovens. They often require extra care, depending on both the brand and the usage. Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch is an excellent addition to your kitchen because good food requires no hassle.

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