Have you ever wondered which Dutch oven would suit your food preparation needs better? A cast-iron Dutch oven or a ceramic Dutch oven?
Cast-iron Dutch ovens are more versatile than ceramic Dutch ovens because they can be used on almost all heat sources indoors and outdoors. Ceramic Dutch ovens are lighter and easier to clean but they are not non-stick. Cast iron does need to be seasoned but this seasoning provides a natural non-stick surface that you can fry an egg on.
In this article, we are pitting the two Dutch ovens against each other but in reality, this is actually a battle between metallic and non-metallic cookware.
Cast iron Dutch ovens and ceramic Dutch ovens effectively represent the best of both worlds but do we have a handle on which of those worlds is the best? Now there is a question!
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What Is Ceramic Cookware?
Non-metallic cookware actually has an incredibly rich history. That history includes pottery, glass, glass-ceramic, stone, and silicone cookware. Also featured on that list is ceramic cookware.
Corningware is also important in the context of this particular blog post, as it is a form of ceramic cookware. To be a little more precise it is a form of glass-ceramic cookware.
Before we conduct a “deep dive” on ceramic and glass-ceramic cookware, it would be prudent to briefly address the other forms of non-metallic cookware – so we can better appreciate its significance in the context of Dutch ovens.
So, first, you have pottery cookware. Pottery cookware has been around for as long as anybody can remember. Pottery can be used in a fire pit or oven for cooking and baking.
Glass is suitable for cooking in an oven but stovetops are out of the question because they simply cannot handle the heat generated by stovetop cooking.
Stone cookware is generally (we should really say only) used for baking. Pizza is a common meal with this method.
Silicone cookware is also only useful for baking in an oven. However, even there you are likely to encounter a series of problems or difficulties which make the option wholly unsatisfactory.
Glass-ceramic, which we have already touched on, represents the best of both worlds when it comes to both forms of non-metallic cookware.
A defining feature of glass-ceramic cookware is that it can be used on stovetops. Beyond that though, it is less likely to sustain any damage caused by thermal shock.
Glass-ceramic cookware can be taken directly from the stovetop to the fridge or freezer and vice versa. The major problem though is that this does not include ceramic Dutch ovens.
The most defining feature of pure ceramic cookware is that it is non-stick. It is also worth noting that ceramic cookware features a high concentration of lead in it.
As with most cookware, metallic or non-metallic, some questions invariably emerge about the potential health risks that are associated with them.
In this context, that question would center around the lead in a ceramic Dutch oven. As it does so happen, the risks posed are minimal at best.
No lead will leach into your food when you cook with a ceramic Dutch oven.
Ceramic Dutch Ovens
However, there is compelling evidence to suggest that ceramic Dutch ovens probably should be a thing, especially for those among you who enjoy cooking indoors with a Dutch oven.
Before we continue to explore the notion of ceramic Dutch ovens it would probably be prudent to conduct a brief recap on the two main types of cast-iron Dutch ovens that are available on the market. When you approach vendors, they will likely introduce you to either an indoor Dutch oven or a camp Dutch oven.
Indoor Dutch Ovens
Typically, indoor Dutch ovens will come with a flat bottom or base. They also have a domed lid on them, which is why they are mainly used on modern stovetops and with modern heat sources.
Indoor Dutch Ovens are also suitable for use on conventional oven racks. Finally, your typical Indoor Dutch Oven will come with an enamel coating both on the inside and the outside of the pot.
Outdoor Dutch Ovens or Camp Dutch Ovens
Camp Dutch Ovens, as the name would suggest, are mainly used outdoors. They are designed to be used with wood coals or charcoal. Essentially the cooking takes place over a fire.
You will almost always find this type of Dutch oven with three legs attached beneath the actual pot. That is designed to hold the pot above the coals or fire.
The camp Dutch oven will also come with a flat lid, so you can keep coals on top of the Dutch oven and prevent ash from falling into the pot. Not only is it a flat lid but it is also a heavy lid. That ensures there is a tight seal when cooking.
Aesthetics of Ceramic Dutch Oven Compared to Cast Iron Dutch Oven
A striking quality of the enamel coating on a cast-iron Dutch oven is the color used under it.
The colors are normally bright and pretty. It is that very enamel coating that will make it exceedingly difficult for the casual kitchen person to tell the difference between a cast-iron Dutch oven and a ceramic Dutch oven.
In most respects, people will probably prefer the purchase and use of a cast-iron Dutch oven, even if those decisions are purely based on reputation.
However, for those of you who also appreciate how a pot looks on a kitchen shelf or in an oven, this is the one sphere in which we can unequivocally say that ceramic and cast-iron Dutch ovens can consider themselves definite equals.
Why You Might Buy a Ceramic Dutch Oven Instead of Cast Iron
Truthfully speaking, there are not many reasons why you would choose a ceramic Dutch oven over the cast iron version. However….
It is worth noting that ceramic Dutch ovens are considerably cheaper than cast-iron Dutch ovens, particularly the premium brands – which most vendors will encourage you to purchase.
For many people that will be enough to choose a ceramic Dutch oven over cast iron.
That said, it is also worth noting that everything that is cheaper is not necessarily better and in the context of the ceramic Dutch oven, we do definitely think that it falls woefully short of cast iron on overall performance.
We will tap on that a little later though.
The cast-iron Dutch oven requires a considerable amount of TLC – much more so than ceramic Dutch ovens. A considerable amount of that will have to do with the enamel coating that you find on cast-iron Dutch ovens.
While the enamel coating on a cast-iron Dutch oven is a remarkable invention – it prevents rust and stops the iron from leaching into your food while cooking – you will often feel like you have to walk on eggshells when cooking with or even cleaning a cast-iron Dutch.
It does not take a considerable amount to damage the enamel coating on a cast-iron Dutch. Once that enamel coating has been damaged, you will likely find out that restoring it will prove an enormous undertaking at best.
More often than not, the cast iron might well just be considered a right-off. When the enamel is cracked, not only will high levels of iron leach into your food while cooking but the cast-iron Dutch oven will also be exposed and open to the possibility of rusting.
None of those problems exist when you are using a ceramic Dutch oven. Ceramic Dutch ovens are scratch-resistant, so you can cook and stir to your heart’s content without any fear or anxiety.
In addition, cleaning a ceramic Dutch oven is considerably easier than cleaning a cast-iron Dutch oven.
While a cast-iron Dutch oven can be used in a dishwasher, the manufacturers and vendors will almost always advise against it because of the discoloration that will come with the territory.
More often than not, you will find yourself cleaning the cast-iron Dutch oven manually.
No such problems will emerge if and when you are cleaning a ceramic Dutch oven.
So, those are the positives that are associated with ceramic Dutch ovens but that is also pretty much where this story ends. In almost every other sphere, cast-iron Dutch ovens are distinctly better and far more practical purchases.
Why Cast Iron Dutch Ovens Are Much Better Than Ceramic Dutch Ovens
Why use a cast-iron Dutch oven? The following 3 points answer that question.
1. Ceramic Dutch ovens might be scratch-resistant but that does not mean they do not chip or break easily. That is undoubtedly one of the biggest fears for somebody purchasing a ceramic Dutch oven.
While you might be spending much less on that than cast iron, you need to try and establish just how long that cookware is likely to last.
No such problem exists with a cast-iron Dutch oven, which is not only extremely durable but can actually be passed down from generation to generation.
It is often said that the purchase of a cast-iron Dutch oven is more than just a kitchen purchase rather it is a lifetime investment. While you might be spending a lot more on cast iron Dutch ovens, you are also getting a considerable amount more in most respects, particularly in this one.
2. With a cast-iron Dutch oven “more is also more” because you can use it on all heat sources, ranging from halogen heating to cooking on a fire. The latter, in particular, will be made possible by the camp Dutch oven, which also comes with a heavy flat lid and three legs to place the Dutch oven over the fire.
You should be aware that a ceramic Dutch oven cannot even be used on a regular stovetop. So, however little you might be forking out for that cookware, the inability to cook food on the stove is ultimately a severe limitation which will also be a source of tremendous regret when you do purchase a ceramic Dutch oven.
3. The most redeeming quality of a Dutch oven is that it can cook and operate at extremely high temperatures. Moreover, your regular Dutch oven retains and distributes heat better than any other cookware currently available on the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is enameled cast iron the same as ceramic?
No cast iron coated in enamel is not the same as ceramic.
Enamel is a melted glass that covers other materials providing an outer coating for example cast iron.
Ceramic is a stand-alone piece of cookware or other decors, for example, vases or pots, that can be made from clays, porcelain, or stoneware.
Cast iron casserole vs Dutch oven
The main difference between a casserole and a Dutch oven is the depth. Casseroles usually have shallower sides than Dutch ovens.
Recipes can be adapted to use in either piece of cookware. But you will have to take into consideration the heat source. Dutch ovens withstand extremely high heat whereas casseroles may not depending upon the material it is made from.
Deep dive into my article casserole dish vs Dutch oven article and you will have all your questions answered in no time.
Final Thoughts: Cast Iron Dutch Oven vs Ceramic Dutch Oven
You would have to agree that overall cast-iron Dutch ovens offer a far greater range all around from presentation to versatility.
Ceramic Dutch ovens have their place if you are only after their limited functions.
Price well, in this case, the statement “you get what you pay for” really does apply.
Dutch Oven Vs Cast-Iron Skillet is an in-depth article that I wrote earlier that will cover this topic for those interested.
Deep dive with me in the article as we compare Ceramic and Enamel Cookware in detail.
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