Cookware Dutch Ovens Kitchen Resources

Enamel versus Bare Cast Iron Cookware

Enamel versus Bare Cast Iron

In the battle for superiority, enamel-coated cast iron, and bare cast iron are long-time combatants. Some people swear by their bare cast iron, feeling like it has a better taste, is more suited to cooking outdoors, and is tougher overall. Others say enamel cast iron is easier to clean, more comfortable to cook with, and more convenient in general. So who’s right?

It depends on who you ask. They have some things in common, but it will depend a lot on your cooking preferences. Let’s take a look at what these two have in common and where the differences lie to find out what belongs in your kitchen.  




Bare Cast Iron




highly affordable

can be very expensive



will rust without precautions.

will not rust


Nonstick features

must be seasoned to be nonstick

naturally nonstick






iron supplements



depends. Do you need iron? Bare. Got enough iron? Enamel

acidic foods

can strip seasoning

not a problem


cooking environment

best for outdoors

best for indoors


Microwave safe




dishwasher safe









Enamel Cast Iron Features

Enamel Cast Iron

Enamel cast iron is highly durable and convenient. It uses enamel coating to protect the cast iron, making it better for cooking on the stovetop and oven and more comfortable to clean. It can fit in the dishwasher and the microwave.

The lids of enameled dutch ovens are designed to keep moisture in and improve stricter cuts of meat. They’re snug and help direct moisture back to the food while allowing just enough to escape to keep things cooking evenly.

Enamel cast iron can sometimes be just a little bit lighter than regular bare cast iron, but don’t be fooled. You’re still dealing with a super heavy piece of cookware. They can also be more expensive overall, especially when you’re dealing with top-end manufacturers like Le Creuset and Staub.

Get enameled cast iron if you:

  • cook indoors mostly
  • love the colors
  • don’t want to season regularly
  • need to include the microwave in your cooking mix
  • use the dish as a presentation dish
  • have a slightly higher budget.


Bare Cast Iron Features

Bare Cast Iron

Bare cast iron often does well in the outdoors. Whether you’re cooking over an open fire or you’re putting in your barbecue, bare will hold up better.

The feet allow you to pack your coals underneath for a strong, even temperature. Plus, the design of the lid allows you to put your coals on top as well to turn the dutch oven into a more traditional oven. It’s a win-win.

Bare cast iron is best for use outdoors where you aren’t worried about ruining the finish, and you can take some dings. It’s a classic camping staple for many people and can really help level up your campfire cooking.

Choose bare cast iron if you:

  • cook outdoors a lot
  • need a way to pile coals underneath your cookware
  • don’t use a microwave to cook meals
  • have a narrower budget but want a bigger pot
  • know how to season a cast iron dutch oven properly or can learn quickly


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean bare cast iron? – Once you season the dish, you want to make sure you don’t use soap to clean the dutch oven and that you don’t leave it soaking in water. Both of these can ruin the seasoning very quickly. Make sure you scrape food off the surface gently with a plastic spoon.

How do I clean enamel? – Enamel cast iron can be placed in the dishwasher or washed by hand. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner, but you’ll want to make sure you scrape food off the surface just like you did with the bare cast iron.

How do I cook with cast iron?– IN both cases, the key is to preheat your cast iron pot so that heat is even and there are no hot spots. Spend about ten minutes heat up while you prepare the food you’ll be using in the oven.

Does bare cast iron add to my diet? – Yes. Many adults are iron deficient and cooking regularly on your cast iron cookware will increase your intake of iron naturally without you having to remember anything.


The Winner: It Depends

Bare cast iron is the overall pick if you’re planning on going camping or you want that particular seasoning you get from cast iron. It fills a specific niche, but it’s gaining popularity because of the price. It’s also highly durable and less likely to chip or damage the material while you’re hiking around in the great outdoors.

Enameled cast iron is best for all-purpose cooking when you aren’t sure what your primary dish will be. They go from stovetop to oven to microwave and back again without anyone thinking. Enameled cast iron is such a convenient cooking tool because of its prolific tolerance for heat without the excess step of having to season your cast iron. It’s stovetop ready and then oven-ready while also being suitable for the microwave. It’s a really useful kitchen tool and a staple of most kitchens where cooking at home is the norm.

The one you choose will depend a lot on which scenario you find yourself in most often. Campers should go with the bare cast iron while home chefs will probably be more satisfied with enameled cast iron.

However, for occasional use, you can trade out your tools from the environment to the environment. You’ll need to consider to best care for each tool when it’s out of its element, but you should be fine either way.

I’d be happy with either type. Cast iron imparts a beautiful texture to even tough cuts of meat, so whether you choose indoor or outdoor, you’re covered. Care for each piece of cast iron as gently as you can while making sure you don’t drop it or accidentally wash it incorrectly. Once you’ve got these questions figured out, your cooking will only get better.

About the author

Jennifer Baron

My name is Jennifer Baron and I have a love and passion for cooking fresh, home-style, clean, healthy and nutritious recipes for 30 years. I’ve worked in the food industry since I was 16 years old

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