What is the Difference Between Cast Iron and Enameled Dutch Ovens?

Dutch ovens have been around for centuries. However, in many households they have been replaced by large ovens and microwave ovens.

In recent years, Dutch ovens have been gaining in popularity among people who never owned a Dutch oven. Why is this? Simply because Dutch ovens provide a unique way of cooking food that enhances the flavor while saving on energy consumption.

Additionally, you can find various size ovens that are perfect for one person, two people, or even large enough to accommodate making a meal for the whole family.

If you have never owned a Dutch oven before, there are several main features that you will want to consider. One of the most important considerations is whether you wish to purchase an enameled Dutch oven or a cast iron (also known as bare) Dutch oven. Below is some information on the differences between the two options.

What are the features of Enameled Dutch ovens?

When considering whether to purchase an enameled Dutch oven or a bare Dutch oven, there are several things to consider. Dutch ovens that have enamel typically cost more. Thus, unless you are prepared to shell out a lot more money for the enameled version or are getting it for a gift, then you might want to consider the bare Dutch oven.

However, despite the higher price, the enameled Dutch oven is appealing for many other reasons. First, the enameled Dutch oven will not rust, which unfortunately is not true of bare cast iron Dutch ovens. Secondly, you will not receive any additional vitamins or minerals in your diet as a result of the oven (i.e., like iron).

Another perk of the enameled Dutch oven is that you can cook tomatoes and other acidic foods to your hearts content, without having to worry about damaging the pot. The empaneled version is definitely the way to go if you plan on cooking foods with tomato bases, such as chili or pasta sauce.

Are there any disadvantages to the enameled Dutch oven compared to the bare cast iron version? Yes, indeed there are a couple drawbacks aside from the higher cost. First, these tend to not last as long as the bare cast iron Dutch ovens since the enamel is prone to chips and cracks.

Additionally, the food may stick more in the enameled Dutch oven than in a regular Dutch oven. The enameled Dutch ovens are only for use at home, while the traditional Dutch ovens are able to be used over fires when camping.

Some other perks that come with the enameled products is that you are not required to season your Dutch oven ever, if it has enamel. Additionally, it may be easier to clean. You also typically have more attractive color options when purchasing an enamel Dutch oven than when purchasing a bare cast iron one.

What are the Main Features of Bare Dutch Ovens?

Now that you know a bit about enameled Dutch ovens, let us switch gears to discuss the pros and cons of bare cast iron Dutch ovens. One of the main reasons that bare cast iron Dutch ovens are preferred over the enameled ones is that they hold up extremely well over time.

In fact, they can last for hundreds of years, so in theory, you could pass it down among generations. Even if you obtain one that is rusty, it does not take much work to restore a bare cast iron Dutch oven.

Additionally, the bare cast iron ovens are generally much less expensive than the enameled Dutch ovens. Another benefit that some people enjoy is that the bare cast iron will add additional iron to your diet. The amount of iron that is added depends on how well your oven is seasoned. If you take a multi-vitamin, you may already get enough iron.

However, in certain parts of the world there is a high prevalence of iron deficiency, and this pot might be able to help combat that.  Lastly, the cast iron oven is better at stopping food from sticking to the inside of the oven. If you notice that the food is sticking, it is an indication that you need to re-season the oven.

You now have a comprehensive understanding of the advantages of the bare Dutch oven. However, what about the disadvantages? Are there any that are important to discuss? Indeed, there are several drawbacks that merit your attention. First, the bare cast iron is prone to rusting.

In order to prevent rusting, you have to season it on a regular basis. Some people prefer that there are no additional metals (i.e., iron) that are added to their food, so they opt for the enameled version of the Dutch oven.

However, if you plan to cooks foods that have high acidity levels, the bare cast iron will not work well since it will remove the seasoning. Additionally, the bare cast iron Dutch ovens tend to be much more unattractive than the enameled Dutch ovens.

How Do I Know Whether the Enameled Dutch Oven or the Bare Dutch Oven is Right for Me?

In order to determine which of the ovens best meets your needs, there are a number of steps that you can take. One of the best ways to decide is to make a list of what you plan to cook. If your list includes items that contain tomatoes or other foods with high acidity levels, then you will want to choose one of the enameled pots.

Additionally, if you want to save some time on cleaning and seasoning, then the enameled Dutch oven is still the way to go. However, if cost is your primary consideration and you are amenable to cooking non-acidic items and seasoning your pot on a regular basis, then the cast iron oven will cost you less money.

Additionally, it will last for a much longer time, so you will not need to shell out more money for a replacement anytime soon. The cast iron product will also help you make sure that you are reaching your daily intake of iron.

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