Enameled cast-iron cookware is equal parts functional and beautiful, holding a special place in the hearts of many home chefs. But enameled cast-iron pieces like pans and Dutch ovens from Le Creuset and Staub can be expensive, and you’ll want to care for them properly so that they last many, many years.
Enameled cast-iron cookware has a porcelain enamel coating that is smoother and easier to clean than uncoated cast-iron cookware. Enameled cast-iron cookware is not the same as uncoated cast iron, and it needs to be cared for differently from how uncoated cast-iron cookware is handled (check out our guide to cleaning and caring for uncoated cast iron).
To understand the proper way to use, clean and store enameled cast-iron cookware, we tapped experts Nate Collier, the director of marketing communications for Le Creuset, and Adam Blank, a senior vice president of merchandising at Sur La Table, who explained the do’s and don’ts of caring for enameled cast-iron pots and pans.
Everything you need to care for enameled cast-iron cookware
Enameled cast-iron cookware is less temperamental than uncoated cast iron, but it still should be handled with care. These cooking, cleaning and storage products are the right ones to use with enameled cast-iron cookware.
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Step-by-step instructions for cleaning enameled cast-iron cookware
Before washing, “first let your cookware cool down for at least 15 minutes,” Blank says. “While many brands are dishwasher-safe, I recommend always washing by hand to preserve the patina inside the pan, which helps with food release and keeps the color on the outside of the pan vibrant.”
Blank and Collier recommend washing enameled cast iron following these steps:
Step 1: Allow the piece to cool to room temperature before washing.
Step 2: If there is significant residue in the pot or pan, soak in warm water and dish detergent for 15 to 20 minutes before going in with a sponge. If not, simply wash the pot or pan with a sponge and hot, soapy water.
Step 3: Wipe the piece clean with a sponge or dishcloth.
Step 4: Rinse with warm water.
Step 5: Dry with a soft towel.
How to deep clean enameled cast-iron cookware
“My favorite tip,” Blank says, “is to fill your cookware with water, add baking soda and boil for about 10 minutes. This should eliminate any stuck food particles or stains.” The same method can be used with OxiClean or any other oxygen bleach for an even deeper clean.
Tips for caring for enameled cast-iron cookware
There are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to using, cleaning and storing enameled cast-iron pieces to ensure they last a long time. These cooking, cleaning and storage tips will help you to keep these pieces in good working condition for many years.
- Use silicone, wooden or heat-resistant plastic cooking tools.
- When absolutely necessary, metal cooking tools, such as spoons or balloon whisks, may be used, but do so with care, as they should not be scraped over the enamel surface.
- Do not knock cooking tools on the rim of the pan.
- Handheld electric or battery-operated beaters should not be used, as their blades can damage the enamel.
- Knives or utensils with sharp edges should not be used to cut foods inside an enameled cast-iron pan.
- Never place a hot pan in cold water or fill a hot pot with cold water, as it can cause the enamel to crack due to thermal shock.
- Do not use scouring agents or other abrasive cleaners on the cooking surface.
- Do not use metallic pads or harsh abrasive cleaning scouring tools.
- Store pans in a dry cupboard or airy space away from steam.
- Never store enameled cast-iron cookware while wet or damp.
- Use pot and pan protectors to safely stack enameled cast-iron cookware.
- Maintain the tightness of all handles and knobs by checking and retightening them regularly.