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&@#*!! - OR - How the heck do I clean my enameled grill pan?

Hi smart hounds,

I recently acquired a very nice, heavy, high quality, enameled cast iron grill pan. I used it to grill some tofu slices, to lovely and tasty effect. But here's my question: how the heck do you clean this thing? It seemed the only trick that made a dent in the gunk between the grill ridges was steel wool, but will that harm the finish? I have a regular cast iron grill pan as well, and thought cleaning the enameled version would be easier. Not sucha mucha. The only benefit to the enameled version seems to be that I can *see* the burnt on gunk more clearly (hm, maybe that isn't a benefit). Anyhow, any advice for cleaning my grill pan, without damaging the enamel, would be welcome. I know someone out there must have a super-secret trick that does the job.

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  1. I've used Bar Keepers Friend on my good stainless steel All-Clad and it works great and while abrasive, is far less so than steel wool or Comet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pate

      barkeepers friend is great for stainless, bad for enameled.

    2. Put in about a half inch of water and let it boil and leave the water in the pan and turn the pan off. Let sit for a little bit. At this point you should be able to empty the water and use a paper towel to wipe off most of the schmutz. Being that it's enameled, you don't have to worry about not using soap so use a light use scrubby sponge and soap and water to clean and degrease and voila!!
      I use the same method for cleaning the cast iron, but omit the soap and water part, dry the pan and scrub the inside of the pan with a paper towel and some kosher salt for abrasiveness. Works like a charm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JNUNZMAN

        This is the best way to clean any hard to clean pan or grill. I do the same with my cast iron grill. Just like camping! I would not want to scatch or put chemicals on the cookware myself..
        Salt too, in a glass pot for instance that is getting yucky, salt warm water swirl and it cleans itself.

      2. Heresy, I know, but, neat-freak that I am, I don't bother to get it "perfectly" clean...I just add hot water when I'm done cooking, let it sit while we eat, & then use a stiff brush to get off as much as comes off easily. It's like Vegas: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...ie stubborn crud lurks & so what? Besides, it often happens that the next time I use the pan (it's one I use often), the old crud comes off as the pan heats up. The pan works perfectly & I no longer waste energy (emotional or physical) in a quest for 1000% perfection.

        2 Replies
        1. re: fauchon

          I agree with not getting it "perfect". My method is quite lazy in fact. I give it a good soak in very hot water, but not for long, then I use my spray handle to kind of knock off what I can. I use Dawn's dish sheets. They look like they wouldn't hold up to one of these pans, but actually they do a pretty good job of getting most of the heavy gunk off of them. Not very economical I must admit - but I have a thing against sponges, they gross me out.

          I then rinse it well and put it over the stove top - heat it up until it is completely dry. Let if cool down and put it away.

          I'm not concerned about a little bit of whatever is left over - it's going to burn off the next time I use it. I think of it like my outdoor grill - that thing never gets really clean either and nobody ever complains about those.

          1. re: sivyaleah

            Ditto. I was driving myself nuts trying to get every black bit of guck off, working on the pot for DAYS and then was reluctant to use the pan. Despite its price I have given up. I use it more and have less stress about it. Acceptance is a wonderful thing! :)

        2. i've used baking soda to clean my enameled pans when i've messed them up bad. baking soda and water does the trick most every time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: annimal

            baking soda for me too - just for the spots that are black
            otherwise, the water boiling/soak mentioned above

            anybody know the mild abrasive qualities of baking soda vs kosher salt?

            1. re: pitu

              It would seem, just by feeling both of them in my hand, that the baking soda would be less abrasive. I guess you could do a test on an old piece of corning ware, or glass ware, just to see. I might try that on an old vase i am ready to toss.

          2. Dawn Power Dissolver. Spray it on, let it sit for a couple of hours and then rinse clean. Use nothing that has any grit to it at all. Once you start scratching the enamel the sricking will just get worse and harder to clean.

            1. I use dishwasher detergent (Cascade, etc, not the one that makes tons of bubbles) whenever I have a stubborn pot or pan to clean. Fill the pan with warm water, add some detergent (liquid or powder), swish it around and let it soak for a few hours. Whatever's stuck to your pan should rinse right off.

              1 Reply
              1. re: leanneabe

                I can vouch for this method. It works pretty well. Still need a little "elbow grease"

              2. You guys are wonderful, these are great pointers. Thank you!

                1. Ok, I have not read any of the posts so I hope that I am not repeating something! This is so simple and works like magic! Fill your sink with warm water, add you pan, and throw a used dryer sheet in the water and let it soak for about 30 to 60 minutes. Then use the dryer sheet as you would a cloth and wipe the pan down. After it's "cleaned" I usually wash it off with soap and water. This works really well with anything that is burned into a pan or dish too.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: sunsuze

                    How bizarre, I wonder why that works? Anyone know?

                    1. re: litchick

                      I can't tell you why this works but it really does. I read about it in the Queen of Clean book and it has changed the way I do dishes! Liquid fabric softener also makes removing wallpaper a breeze!

                      1. re: sunsuze

                        Ditto on the dryer sheets! I made a pot roast in my 5 qt. crock pot, and it was a yucky mess, so I filled it with hot water and threw in a dryer sheet and let it sit overnight. Next morning I swished it with a brush, and it was clean! No heavy scrubbing involved.

                        Now that makes you wonder what those dryer sheets are doing to our clothes!

                        Also, about the baking soda - if you try that, make a thick paste, and rub it in as if you were using comet. It is more labor intensive than the dryer sheet, but works well.

                        1. re: sunsuze

                          copied from a posting on <doityourself.com>

                          Fabric softener sheets are claimed to clean baked on foods from cooking pots and pans. Place a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight. Next morning sponge it clean. The antistatic agent apparently weakens the bond between the stuck on food between the pot or pans surface. The fabric softening agents helps to soften the baked on food.

                      2. re: sunsuze

                        I've read this rec before. I wonder why it works....I can't imagine!

                        1. I first scrub mine out with a dishwashing brush, soap and and hot water, when boil water in it. The little remaining grease floats right off.

                          1. Before you use the pan next time, season it just like raw cast iron. The enamel is somewhat porous and will take a seasoning. Just wipe with a thin coat of oil, and heat on the burner with low heat until it stops smoking. Don't use too much oil or it will get gummy. Repeat until it's a shiny black/

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: blondelle

                              that would be an excellent suggestion, except part of my wanting to keep it clean is because the pan is a lovely two-tone beauty: terra cotta-y orange on the outside, butter yellow on the inside. my vanity is embarassing, but... ;)

                            2. Stiff bristled plastic scrub brush.

                              1. Try boiling water with baking soda in it.

                                1. So what have you tried?! And did it work?

                                  1. My husband put mine in the dishwasher last night. He didn't know any better. I nearly freaked out when I opened it today to unload it. However, seems to be ok and it did a pretty good job of getting off all the caked on goop from the "kobe" burgers I cooked the other night, so I guess I won't ream him out on this one. I wouldn't make a habit of doing this - I'm afraid it will ruin the enamel eventually but this one time around, didn't do any damage and took off a lot of the dirt.

                                    1. I asked this in the other cast iron thread and got no reponse - this thread seems more appropriate.

                                      There was a blurb in this month's Cook's Illustrated saying that you could cleant the gunk off a cast iron skillet using a balled up piece of aluminum foil. I have a La Crueset enameled cast iron skillet and I unfortunately didn't make the distinction and used this method to clean gunk. Basically what I would do is put hot water in the pan immediately after cooking and let sit on the stove to cool. Then I would wipe down with hot water and paper towel to get as much off as possible. Then I hit it with the aluminum foil. I'm thinking I might have taken some of the enamel off because I now see some less than black areas in the pan.

                                      Anyone know if I've done permanent damage to the enamel? Is the aluminum foil method complete madness?

                                      1. Ok, sorry to revive my old thread here, but I figured I'd offer an update. I tried many of the wonderful ideas offered here, andit was a combination of a few suggestions that stood out as the winning method (partially because it requires the least elbow grease).

                                        After the food comes out of the pan (when the pan is still sceaming hot), pour in boiling water from a tea kettle. Turn off the fire under the grill pan and let the whole thing just sit there and bubble for a while. Before bed, give the pan a rinse and scrub with a very stiff nylon grout brush (perfect shape for getting between the ridges). Pour in a generous amount of powdered dishwasher soap, fill pan with hot water, and let sit till morning when all the gunk will have dissolved away by itself (!) and all the pan needs is a rinse.

                                        I've found that liquid dishwasher soap doesn't work nearly as well as powdered. And I'd imagine that bar keepers friend would work similarly to this method, but I always forget to look for it at the store and so I haven't tried it yet.

                                        So thank you to everyone who offered advice, now I'm using this beautiful pan a lot more knowing that I can actually clean it without too much effort. For proof, I offer pix of my very clean pan -- last night it cooked big juicy lamb steaks, and was a brutal mess. This morning, it's gorgeous! (ps: ignore, if you can, the unsalvagably ugly stove.)

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: litchick

                                          I just bought the exact same grill pan! Could you tell me how and what you cook on your enamel cast iron grill. Is it okay to use high heat (how high?) on this or will the enamel crack? Do you have to prep the grill (spray PAM or use oil).

                                          1. re: maryamk1

                                            Maryamk1-- Let's see, I've done grilled marinated tofu, sausages, chicken paillards, burgers, fish cakes, and veg (like fennel and zukes). The cleaning thing has been solved, now I just have to come to terms with the smoking (as every grill pan will do). And yes, I do high heat so as to get the best grill marks and flavor; I use a small amount of veg oil, and I oil the food as well. I haven't had any issues with cracks in the enamel, and I don't think I will. I treat it just like a I treat my enameled Le Creusets, which is pretty rough and pretty hot.

                                          2. re: litchick

                                            litchick, that IS a pretty little pan! congrats!

                                          3. I vouch for the brush method and dishwashing liquid. It will, however, never be "perfect" just like your outside grill is never perfect again after cleaning it. Do not use steel wool, aluminum foil etc. because it will remove the enamel from the pan. Also, stay away from too aggressive use of yellow sponges with scrubbing sides. The green scrub side can shred on stuck pieces on the surface of the grill and you may find yourself grilling small bits of sponge next time you use it if you are not careful. I would also be careful not to soak any kind of cast iron too long and without drying it thoroughly before you put it away. LeCreuset specifically cautions against leaving their pieces wet for any length of time because they can rust, presumably at the edges where the enamel may not be sealed.

                                            1. I use kosher salt and a paper towel.

                                              1. Easy-Off Oven Cleaner works like a charm on the baked-on bits.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  I can't use Easy-off or anything like that. They really affect my breathing. Aerosols in general are not used around here very often.

                                                2. I go for the boiling water poured over the pan, too, but I recently found a few products worth mentioning (I have no affiliation to the company whatsoever). They're called "Holy Cow" and are available at Ace Hardware stores, some grocery stores, and some drugstores. There are four versions: glass cleaner, all-purpose, concentrated, and farm. I haven't seen the farm type, but have bought all the others. Glass cleaner is the best I've ever used (and I've used them all), the all purpose is great on counters and other greasy stuff in the kitchen, and the concentrate will actually clean gunk out of the oven. No bad smells or harsh chemicals either! Silly name, but they work. They have a website, too.

                                                  1. just leave you pan through a self-cleaning cycle of you oven. when it is finished all you do is rinse out the ashes. this also works great cleaning your bbq grill grates.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: navy nurse

                                                      Can you really do this with *enameled* cast iron? Plain cast iron, sure, but I'd be afraid that the ultra-high temps of the cleaning cycle would craze the enamel.

                                                      1. re: mcgeary

                                                        I also imagine enamel would get ruined, I have a plain cast iron pan/grill.

                                                        1. re: mcgeary

                                                          Disclaimer - You try it on your Le Creuset first :-)

                                                          But my intuition says the oven even on the self-clean cycle isn't as hot as direct contact with an electric heating element.

                                                          1. re: jzerocsk

                                                            the enamel is not in direct contact with the stove's heating element. that area of the pan is not enameled.

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              All of my Le Creuset pieces are enameled inside and out, including the bottoms.

                                                        2. re: navy nurse

                                                          i would never put a pan in the oven through self-clean cycle. ever.

                                                        3. warm the pan with some water and baking soda on the stove. let it warm on low, medium for 5-10 minutes. works a charm on many cooking pans, including my le creuset. then just wash as usual.

                                                          1. I use kosher salt to clean my pan - rub with a lot of paper towels - gets out all the gunk.

                                                            1. I want to learn how to clean the brownish spots after you get all the stuck on food. I have no problem cleaning the crease and food using the water on the stove method but I have a few brownish spots where food/oil got burnt really bad and I have no idea how to get rid of them.