Which is better, Enamel Cast Iron vs Cast Iron, both of these type of cookware has its pros and cons. If you are looking for a more performance oriented cookware, bare cast iron is better. However, if you want a pot that is less maintenance and easier to clean, enamel cast iron might be better for you. This article will compare the pros and cons of each type of cookware. Each segment will discuss how each perform in that category.
Enamel Cast Iron vs Cast Iron Performance
Heat conductivity on bare cast iron is better. In my test between lodge and Le Creuset, I found constant result that bare cast iron heats up faster.
To test the how well it distribute heat and how well it heats up, I perform a toast test where I place a piece of toast in the center than weight it down with a Meat Pounder. I heat up the pan for a total of 3 min then see the color of the toast. To get an idea on how this test was done, look at the picture below.
As you can see, Lodge cast iron was a few shade darker than Le Creuset. I am assuming that the issue that cause this is simply the enamel. The enamel probably has a lower heat conductivity than cast iron, hence the result.
I did a another test where there is bare cast iron on the bottom, but the interior still has enamel coating and the result is the same. It did not perform any better than lodge.
In another test, where I did a test with flour, I found that the Lodge Bare Cast iron heated up faster than Staub Black Interior.
Neither the color of the interior or the outside enamel coating contributed a significant factor in heat transfer. Based on these test, the conclusion that I drew is that interior Enamel is the major contributing factor in heat conductivity.
Non Stick Performance
Everybody rave about the performance of cast iron non stick ability. The reason why it has such a great performing nonstick ability is because of the seasoning. Overtime fat will adhere to the pores of the metal and give it a plastic like coating. That coating is what makes it non stick not the cast iron. If you mistreat it or scrub it off, you would have to season it again.
Enamel Cast Iron does not have that same seasoning. Sometimes they would have a black interior where you can “season” it but in my experience they do not work as well. Beside, most manufacturer make claims that you can wash the interior with soap so that wont really last long.
Hands down, if you want a pan that has non stick performance, get a bare cast iron.
Based on the heat spot above, they perform about the same. There might be a slight edge given to the Le Creuset pan. I wouldn’t really use this metric as a comparison as its not significant.
Is this really a question? Bare Cast iron have one color, black, maybe bronze with flax seed oil. However, overtime that bronze color will turn black.
Enamel coated cast iron comes in a wide range of colors from purple to baby sky blue. The choice that you can get from manufacturer like Staub and Le Creuset is pretty much limitless. You can find one that fits your kitchen motif, they even have black!
Enamel Cast Iron vs Cast Iron Durability
This is a hard one to gauge. At its base, both type of cookware is made of cast iron. They both have the same properties once you strip it down to its base. The issue begins if the cast iron is either not seasoned properly or the enamel cast iron is handled too roughly.
Bare cast iron will rust if its not seasoned. If you cook acidic food in it or you let water sit in it. Rust will start developing on the pan. The good thing is that if its only on the surface you can sand it down.
Enamel Cast Iron on the other hand has a coating that protects the base cast iron from rusting. You can cook acidic food like lime and vinegar without worry about it. However, if you chip the enamel, that bare cast iron can rust and you would need to season it.
Another issue that you would have to worry about is the ability to resist chipping. Staub and Le Creuset tend to have a good reputation for its enamel durability. Other companies have their coating done in China and they tend to chip more frequently. Since bare cast iron do not have a enamel coating, the main thing you have to worry about is the seasoning.
In the end, both are pretty durable, bare cast iron might rust more easily but it wont have the chipping issue. Enamel Cast Iron wont rust but they will chip if handled too roughly.
Enamel Cast Iron vs Cast Iron Price
In general Bare cast iron cookware is more affordable. Companies like Le Creuset and Staub charge at least one hundred dollar for their dutch oven. That is when they are on sale also! You can find Lodge for less than 20 dollars. A huge difference in price point.
However, recently artisan bare cast iron manufacturer like finex and field have been charging a premium for their cookware also. They supposed to mimic how cookware use to be made. In my experience they performed just about the same.
Both type of material have their pros and cons. If you are concerned more with how a pan performsn, get a bare cast iron pan like lodge. However, if you intend to serve and entertain people, people will be stunned by the colors offered by Le Creuset and Staub. Le Creuset name is well known throughout the world and people will be impressed by the name.
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