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Mar 16, 2007 10:07 AM

Old fashion cast iron vs. enamel dutch oven

Planning on making a dutch oven purchase. There are the tradional cast iron ovens with no enamel and obviously the higher priced enamel coated versions. Why purchase an enamel over a old fashioned un-coated cast iron? Is there a value in the cooking or just ease of cleaning? Would love all opinions, will help my purchase process....

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  1. The advantages of enameled cast iron are ease of cleaning, no need to season and, biggest thing in my mind, its non-reactivity which means that its well suited for tomato based things like some chilis, soups, sauces, etc. Regular, un-coated, cast iron can react with acids especially tomatoes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ccbweb

      Once it is properly seasoned, non-enameled cast iron is a breeze to clean. The seasoning also protects against mild tomato sauces. While I wouldn't use such a DO for day-long cooking of a pasta sauce, a soup or chili with a modest amount of tomato shouldn't be a problem (but then I tend not to use tomato in my chili).

      While I have examined costly enamel DOs I suspect, price for price, a regular cast iron DO will be thicker. The thinner pan is more likely to develop hot spots. In the oven that doesn't matter, but for high-temperature pan searing, a well seasoned cast iron is hard to beat.

      Another thing to pay attention to is the lid. For slow cooking in the oven, you want a good fit.


    2. I would like to add one thing to ccbweb's list of advantages of enameled cast iron--it's prettier! Bare cast iron is pretty grim looking.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodstorm

        Some people consider that to be a plus ;-)

        For a dutch oven, however, I have to agree that enameled is the way to go.

      2. I cook tomato sauces and chili and lentil soup with a tomato base in my cast iron pot....not big down side that I can see.