Enameled cast iron is among the most popular materials for a pan that will be used for daily cooking and baking tasks. After abandoning potentially toxic Teflon and aluminum cookware people have turned to healthier alternatives such as enamel coated cast iron.
Enamel coating on the cast iron construction is formed when the porcelain glaze is bonded to the iron base. After application enamel coating is air-dried and then vitrified at temperatures between 1000 and 1500 degrees to achieve a highly durable, shock resistant, and a non-porous finish. The cast iron base is completely sealed, so it will not rust or react with food cooked inside enamel coated cookware.
Benefits of Using Enameled Cast Iron Pans
One of the main benefits is that, unlike bare cast iron, the porcelain-coated enamel interior is very simple to clean and doesn’t need to be pre-seasoned.
An enamel finish is inert and won’t react with food cooked or stored in the pan. Furthermore, enamel interior is safe to use with acidic foods, so you can use the pan to marinate food before cooking.
Many people also like the fact that they can serve straight from the pan. Enameled cast iron pans come in a wide range of gorgeous colors and they look elegant when sitting on your dining table.
Cast iron distributes heat evenly and holds the heat for a prolonged period. The food is cooked evenly and is kept hot for serving.
These multiple-function pans are suitable for many different types of cooking including frying, sautéing, stewing, searing, baking, roasting, and stir-frying. They are also compatible with nearly all heat sources and are oven safe for up to 500 °F.
The main drawback of enameled cast iron pan is that it may be heavy even without food, so it can be difficult for some people to handle the pan once you add food to it.
Furthermore, an enamel pan is not fully non-stick, and more oil is needed than when using a non-stick skillet.
Metal utensils can scratch the enamel finish, so you have to use non-metal utensils, such as bamboo, silicone, or wooden ones.
Finally, the coating is likely to crack if the pan is dropped. It also can ‘flake’ if exposed to excessive heat.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillets
Le Creuset is one of the world’s best producers of enamel cast iron skillets. Their skillets have all the advantages of classic enameled cast-iron cookware, combined with the latest ergonomic innovations. Le Creuset skillets are very expensive because the company uses high-quality materials to produce extremely durable cookware. The longevity of the Le Creuset brand speaks for itself. Chipping and cracking rarely happen with their pans. Due to a wide range of beautiful colors, Le Creuset skillets are perfect for serving, making the cooking process much simpler.
Le Creuset skillets don’t require seasoning. The high-quality finish allows for even cooking all kinds of foods. The skillets will also evolve over time and after developing a patina, they are perfect for frying and searing.
Le Creuset enameled cast iron skillets are dishwasher safe, but they can easily be cleaned by hand with hot soapy water and a soft sponge.
Staub Enameled Cast Iron Skillets
Staub (link to Amazon) has one of the best coatings in the market and as a result, offers a highly durable, strong, and heat-resistant enamel cast iron cookware.
Although not non-stick initially, their durable pans textured with black matte enamel will become non-stick over time. These pans work well with all types of cooking, they are mostly used for braising and browning.
The black enamel allows for the best browning results.
One of the biggest problems with Staub skillets is that they are too heavy. Fortunately, a lip on both sides makes it easier to handle the pan. Staub enameled cast iron pans are dishwasher-safe and oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Skillets
Lodge (Amazon.com) has an extensive collection of cookware which includes both enamel cast iron and bare cast iron items. Their products can be found in most stores for a reasonable price. Lodge produces good-quality pans that are easy to clean and don’t require seasoning.
Lodge pans are heavier than most of the competitor’s pans. The advantage is that they can be transferred straight from the hob to the oven. In addition to this, they can hold heat well, allowing for quicker cooking time and reduced energy usage.
There are some key differences between the three brands. The main difference is that Lodge pans have porcelain enamel while Le Creuset and Staub use hard-coat enamel. The hard-coat enamel is generally seen as a better option because it is more resistant to scratching and is stronger overall. More layers in hard-coating allow the pan to hold heat and go in the dishwasher. Hand-washing is recommended for Lodge pans because they are prone to wear and tear if regularly washed in the dishwasher.
Le Creuset is a brand that is more well-known in the US. Once you remove Lodge from consideration, choosing between the other two is mainly down to personal preference. Le Creuset and Staub enameled cast iron pans are costly but worth the money. The investment will give you durable, efficient, and high-performance cookware. If you don’t want to pay Le Creuset and Staub level prices, consider buying Lodge enameled cast iron skillet. The Lodge is still a good choice and performs nearly as well as Staub or Le Creuset. However, Lodge enameled cast iron pans are less durable than the two more expensive brands.