Affordable vs. Expensive Enameled Cast Iron Skillets

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 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

  1. 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 pre-seasoning.
  2. An enamel finish is inert and won’t react with food cooked or stored in the pan. Furthermore, the enamel interior is safe to use with acidic foods, so you can use the pan to marinate food before cooking.
  3. 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 look elegant when sitting on your dining table.
  4. Cast iron distributes heat evenly and holds the heat for a prolonged period. The food is cooked evenly and is kept hot for serving.
  5. These multifunctional 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.

Drawbacks of Using Enameled Cast Iron Pans

  1. The main drawback of an 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 they add food to it.
  2. Furthermore, an enamel pan is not fully non-stick, and more oil is needed than when using a non-stick skillet.
  3. Metal utensils can scratch the enamel finish, so you have to use non-metal utensils, such as bamboo, silicone, or wooden ones.
  4. Finally, the coating is likely to crack if the pan is dropped. It also can ‘flake’ if exposed to excessive heat.

The Most Reputable Brands:

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1. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillets

Le Creuset is one of the world’s best manufacturers of enamel cast iron skillets. Their skillets have all the advantages of classic enameled cast-iron cookware, plus they are improved with the latest ergonomic innovations. Le Creuset skillets are expensive because the company uses high-quality materials to produce highly 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, which makes 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.

2. Staub Enameled Cast Iron Skillets

Staub has one of the best coatings on the market. The company offers highly durable, strong, and heat-resistant enamel cast iron cookware.

Their durable pans textured with black matte enamel tend to become non-stick over time. These pans work well with all types of cooking but they are commonly 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, the lips on both sides make it easier to handle the pan. Staub enameled cast iron pans are dishwasher-safe and oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

enameled cast iron pan with vegetables

3. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Skillets

Lodge has an extensive collection of cookware that includes both, enamel cast iron and bare cast iron items. Their products can be found in most stores at 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 their competitor’s pans. 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 considered a better option because it is more resistant to scratching and stronger. More layers of coating allow the pan to hold heat better and can go in the dishwasher. Lodge pans should be hand-washed because they are prone to wear and tear if you regularly put them in the dishwasher.

Final Words

Le Creuset is a well-known brand in the USA. Once you remove Lodge from consideration, choosing between the other two depends on personal preference. Le Creuset and Staub enameled cast iron pans are costly but both brands would likely be worth the money. The investment will give you durable, efficient, and high-performance cookware.

If you are not ready to invest in expensive cookware, consider buying a 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 more expensive brands.

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