Why Do Cast Iron Lids Have Spikes?

Why do cast iron lids have spikes

This article was last updated on January 3rd, 2021

Have you ever looked at a cast-iron Dutch lids oven to see spikes or bumps on it? You think to yourself, “That’s an interesting lid decoration,” but does it serve a purpose? Frequently, cast iron lids will have spikes or bumps on the inside of the lid, which must have a reason behind it.

Why do cast iron lids have spikes? Cast-iron lids frequently have spikes on its underside because it keeps the food moist. The spikes drip moisture on all parts of the food to continually baste the dish in its own juices evenly. Lids without spikes have moisture running down the sides of the pan.

If you’d like to learn more about cast-iron lids and spikes, keep reading to learn more about how to make the most from the spikes on the lid.

During the cooking process, steam builds in the oven, without a hole to release the steam and a lid without spikes, the condensation runs down the sides of the pot and over the edges of the food.

With self-basting lids, the steam condenses, drips off the spikes, and back onto the food cooking it in its own juices with an even distribution of moisture over the ingredients.

How to Get the Most from the Spikes on a Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

Basting your foods has three main advantages:

  • Better flavor
  • Better browning
  • Juicier food

Especially if the juices fall on the food and evaporate leaving the seasonings behind, your food will taste even better.

Spikes Mean It Is a Self-Basting Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

Any time that you see spikes or bumps on the inside of a cast-iron lid, consider it a self-basting oven. Frequently, Dutch ovens have these to use condensation for basting purposes.

That said, you have times where you don’t want to use a self-basting lid. For example, in cases where you want to have a good sear on the meat or a crispy crust, don’t use the cast-iron lid with spikes because it will have the opposite effect.

Biscuits, corned bread, pies, and flour-based baked goods get soggy inside of a self-basting lid. This explains why some cast-iron lids don’t have spikes. Lids without spikes were designed to cook foods without self-basting.

Cast-iron lids with spikes work best for creamy soups, whole chickens, broths, pork loins, beef roasts, and braised meats.

How to Know When to Cook a Food with Spikes on the Lid

Think of any food that you’d like juicy, moist, and soft. If you want the food to have a juicy texture and more flavor, then use the cast-iron lid with spikes.

The spikes on the lid recirculate the air and keep the moisture in the meat. If you don’t want to continually hand-baste the food every 30 minutes, which can be a tall order to cash on a four-hour slow-cooking meal, the lid with spikes will do it automatically.

Expert Note 

Lids with spikes on them in the oven aren’t the only self-basters. Electric roaster ovens can do self-basting as well. They will, however, use the same spikes. These ovens take 36 percent less time and save 36 percent on energy costs. You might use an electric roaster oven to save on space in the oven because you were cooking for the holidays and needed the extra room. 

How Do You Clean a Cast-Iron Pan Lid?

With the spikes on it, as you can imagine, cleaning it might make things a little more difficult. To clean the lid, remove it and take it over to a sink full of hot water. You will let the pan sit for 10 to 20 minutes in the water to soften the bits of food and scrub them away.

You will want to use either a sponge or a bristle brush when cleaning the lid. Dry it off with a kitchen towel to prevent rusting.

Expert Tip

Never put cast-iron in the dishwasher because the combination of strong detergents, heat, and long cycles will destroy it in minutes. Even with a cast-iron lid, you shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher because gunk will stick to it like duct tape after. 

Seasoning a Dutch Oven Cast-Iron Lid

Do you season a cast iron lid? Seasoning a Dutch oven cast-iron lid prevents it from rusting. Provided you take care of cast-iron pots and lids, they can last anywhere from 75 years up to 100 years. You may have to pay more, but it will last for generations.

To season your lid, wipe it over with seasoning oil of choice. Coat all surfaces of the cast iron. Next, put the cast-iron lid in the oven face down and leave it there for an hour or remove the lid once you see that it stops smoking.

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Best Oil for Seasoning Cast Iron

Self-Basting Dutch Oven for Bread

One of the interesting ways that you can use a self-basting oven is for cooking bread. The spikes on the lid create a cool pattern. If you do this, be aware of how high the bread rises because if it rises too much, prying it off the cast-iron is no easy task.

To ensure that the bread doesn’t stick, spray the pan and the lid before you put the bread dough in. Don’t add the bread directly to the pan. Instead, have a parchment sheet so that the bread doesn’t come into contact with the cast iron.

You might apply the same wisdom with meats without a lid. If you see browning happening too quickly, put aluminum foil over the cast iron. Otherwise, put the spiked lid over the cast iron, and this, too, can keep it from browning too quickly.

Dutch ovens for baking bread – HERE

Spiked Lid: Oven vs. Stove

You will find that the self-basting from the spiked lid will have increased effectiveness on the stovetop. Search for the tightest fitting lid for the pan because this increases the basting effectiveness as well since the water vapors have nowhere to exit.

Steam especially rises over a cooking stove from the way it cooks close to the heat source, which is why it is more effective. You can still get the same effect in the oven, but the evaporation doesn’t work as well.

What Pans Use Self-Basting Spikes?

Outside of cast-iron pans with self-basting spikes, individual roasters will use the spikes as well. They make use out of this to cook pork loins, whole chickens, and beef roasts.

You might use a Roaster oven, especially over the holidays if you wanted to gain more space on the countertop. Roaster ovens with self-basters on them come in handy for cooking dense vegetables as you keep the moisture locked in.

What to Look for in a Cast Iron Lid with Spikes?

Look for a lid that fits tightly because you want as little of the water vapors to escape for redistribution over the ingredients.

Like with all cast-iron pots and pans, you want it to consist of pure iron with no pot-metal additives because this ensures that you get the perfect heat distribution in the pan.

Cast iron warms up slowly, but it will retain its heat for much longer than other pans, and it gets plenty hot enough for cooking at its peak temperature.

The self-basting lid with spikes was first invented in the 1920s. Moisture circulates throughout the pan more effectively with the spikes. In this way, you don’t have to baste the recipe for hours by hand on slow-cooking foods. It also tends to distribute the moisture evenly across the food, which makes it taste better.

A quality cast-iron pan and lid can cost anywhere from $25 up to $275. However, these pans will last longer than regular cooking pans, and some families pass them on through the generation because they last so long.

Expensive doesn’t always equal better, but it can indicate the quality of a product. Some manufacturers of cast iron cookware have had decades to hone their casting skills. Combine this with the ability to source quality iron, the outcome is a superior product.

Final Thoughts – Why Do Cast Iron Lids Have Spikes

Now you know why cast iron lids have spikes.

You will appreciate that with the combination of a heavy-based Dutch oven or another cooking pan, a tight-fitting lid with spikes, and low slow heat your end dish will be deliciously juicy, flavorsome, and melt in the mouth.

The array of dishes you can prepare with this type of cookware is endless a cooking pot with a spiked lid is well worth the investment.

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