Cast iron and enameled cast iron may seem alike, but there's a huge difference in terms of features, looks, performance, durability, and more. This guide will explain the differences and provide you with in-depths about the advantages and disadvantages of both of them. Just to start with, cast iron is made from melted iron poured into a cast of desirable shape; while, enameled cast iron is exactly what the name suggests, with enhanced performance.
Enameled cast iron vs cast iron cookware: Let’s get started!
Enameled Cast Iron vs Cast Iron Cookware: Full Reviews
Cast Iron Cookware Review
Cast Iron is molten iron, which is poured into a cast of the desired shape for cookware. It is a long-lasting material that can outlive even you and stays durable for ages. Cast iron cookware offers versatility because of its compatibility with almost all cooktops – camping grills, Dutch ovens, stovetops.
This material is easy to source and builds and therefore is affordable. Cast Iron is a great investment because it lasts over centuries without losing many of its prime features. This cookware is non-toxic; the iron leaches into the food, although – for some people, it is seen as an advantage because of the nutrient influx.
Is Cast Iron Cookware Safe?
Cast Iron is non-toxic and one of the safest materials out there for a healthy meal. It is a semi non-stick material and therefore does not emit toxins into the food being cooked in the cookware. But, cast iron shows reactivity towards acidic ingredients like tomatoes, eggs, etc. Moreover, this material can be leached into the food. Some people would want iron to be transferred into the food to increase the iron nutrients. However, some people do not want it and should prefer to indulge in deep seasoning.
MORE ABOUT CAST IRON COOKWARE:
Advantages of using Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron is naturally semi non-stick, if you season your cookware regularly, then a non-stick coating will form on the surface.
This material is easy to source and easy to build, therefore cast iron is relatively cheaper and more affordable than most material cookware out there.
Cast Iron can withstand high temperatures; thus, it is compatible with most cooktops – which, in turn, allows you to cook versatile cuisines.
The most important advantage of cast iron is that it can last for centuries without denting or deteriorating.
Cast Iron cookware allows food to heat evenly, which is ideal for a cooking experience.
It is robust, and cast iron is almost as if its bulletproof.
Disadvantages of using Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron is a material that rusts easily, so it is necessary to season and maintain your cookware regularly so that the surface remains polymerized.
This material is not good if you wish to caramelize your food, as it will strip away the upper-most layer.
Cast Iron takes time to heat up. It reacts badly with food, which is extremely acidic.
Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Review
Enameled Cast Iron is just like cast iron, but – as the name suggests – coated with enamel paint. This coating enhances the non-stick functionality of the cookware and also makes it resistant to rusting. Moreover, enamel coating prevents the iron from being leached into the food – for people who do not like iron in their food. Staub and Le Creuset are also a good choice for cast iron cooking.
With the enamel coating on the iron material, it also makes it easy to clean the cookware easily. Enameled Cast Iron cookware also does not require regular seasoning, which is something necessary for Cast Iron cookware pieces. Additionally, the cookware's surface does not react to acidic ingredients like tomatoes, eggs, etc.
Is Enameled Cast Iron Cookware safe?
Enameled Cast Iron has a hard coating, which prevents the iron from the natural material from being leached into the food. Furthermore, the coating laden surface creates a protective layer over the iron surface, which disallows any kind of reactivity towards acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, chili, eggs, etc.
Overall, Enameled Cast Iron is safer than Cast Iron. But, the main problem lies in its durability – which is short-lived. The exterior coating on the surface is likely to start deteriorating with time and wash away – this will result in the debris of the coating to go into the food, along with the iron from the natural surface beneath. Therefore, it's important to check your Enameled Cast Iron regularly for any worn-out coating.
Advantages of using Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
The Enameled Cast Iron cookware does not require any seasoning because of its coating.
You can use this cookware for cooking almost any food you like because it offers semi non-stick functionality as well.
Because of the enamel paint coating, the natural iron built of the cookware does not rust so easily.
Enameled Cast Iron is easy to maintain and clean.
This cookware is available in several colors and aesthetic patterns, which you cannot see with cast iron.
It offers versatility – this cookware can be stored in refrigerators as well.
Disadvantages of using Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
If you are one of those people who want iron nutrients in your food, then Enameled Cast Iron is not ideal for you as it prevents the iron from being leached into the food.
The enamel paint coating can wear off after a certain period, leaving the cookware not fit for use.
Enameled Cast Iron costs explicitly more than Cast Iron.
This material is less durable than Cast Iron and cannot evenly distribute the heat.
Enameled Cast Iron vs Cast Iron Cookware: The Similarities and Differences
1. Compatibility and Versatility
Cast Iron is material which has prevailed over centuries and has been through several changes to fit the modern appliances – therefore, it is compatible with almost all cooktops. Rendered Cast Iron cookware is even compatible with induction cooktops. It works great with Dutch ovens, grills, stovetops, glass cooktops, gas stoves, induction, etc. and can thus be used to make many types of cuisines.
Enameled Cast Iron is compatible with all cooktops – even Dutch Ovens when you go to look for specifics. They are engineered to offer versatility in aspects where cast iron lacks, and can even be used to refrigerate.
PS: Both cookware materials are equally competent, but Enameled Cast Iron gets the upper hand from me.
2. Durability and Sustainability
Cast Iron is famous for its long-lasting ability – many cast iron cookware sets have prevailed in a family for generations with proper care ensured. They do not get dented or scratched easily and can outlive you as well. Cast Iron is a robust material which does not experience major implication if the seasoning is done regularly. Although this material can rust if not maintained.
Enameled Cast Iron prevents rusting and creates a protective coating over the natural iron surface of the cookware. But, this coating does not last nearly as long as Cast Iron and therefore loses its functionality.
PS: If maintained properly, then Cast Iron cookware is always the winner for me for durability and sustainability.
Cast Iron can withstand high levels of heat without suffering repercussions and can keep the food warm for a long period. Because of this, it is great to be used with Dutch ovens, grills, etc. Moreover, it can retain the heat it comes in contact with and works at low heat too. But, it is not a good conductor of heat.
Enameled Cast Iron is a bad conductor of heat and does not spread heat evenly. Adding to this, it also does not retain heat for too long. At high temperatures, this type of cookware may succumb and fail to perform at optimal levels. This is an unwanted quality of cookware.
PS: Performance is the main aspect of cookware. For me, Cast iron is the winner when it comes to performance.
4. Cleaning and Maintenance
Cast Iron requires regular and detailed maintenance to ensure that they do not rust. This concept is called seasoning, where the surface is polymerized by heating oil on it below its smoking point. This not only helps the cast iron to become resistant to rusting but also creates a natural coating that gives the cast iron cookware a semi non-stick feature. Cast Iron is known to become better with use.
Enameled Cast Iron does not require regular seasoning because of its enamel paint coating and is therefore easy to maintain and clean. But, the main problem with this coating is that it can wear off with time and use – it does not perform as robustly as cast iron would and therefore is less durable, later losing its uniqueness.
PS: The cookware loses this feature after extensive use, then there's no point in investing in it. Conclusively, Cast Iron wins this segment for being it for long-term use.
5. Value for Money
Cast Iron avails several features that do not deteriorate over time if you maintain the cookware properly. Exclusively, seasoning cast iron may seem like a hassle, but it proves to be extremely resourceful in the future to come. This cookware can last for centuries and only get better with use. It can withstand great levels of heat without suffering any problems and do not succumb to robust use.
Enameled Cast Iron is compatible with all cooktops and offers versatile use, as it can even be refrigerated. Moreover, enameled cast iron is easy to clean and does not leach iron into your food, or show reactivity to acidic foods. But it is a bad conductor of heat and is not durable. With time, the enamel paint coating can wear off, leaving the cookware not fit for use.
PS: This is a confusing part; I am one of those who wanted to take the upper-hand on old-school techniques, so cast iron is what's for me – a complete value for money cookware.
Which Cookware Material Is Better: Enameled Cast Iron or Cast Iron Cookware?
The final winner at the end of this guide is Cast iron because it possesses all the qualities that you would require from cookware. This material is the best investment as it outlasts even you, and is extremely durable. It avails compatibility with almost all cooktops and also has semi non-stick functionality.
Talya, like all members of the HomeDesignX team, is enamored by all things related to cooking and eating. She’s written cookware articles for numerous publications before working with her lifelong friend Jessica to create their very own website on cookware.
She's currently writing a book on induction cooktops, and enjoys making clean, vegan meals for her family.