There are more options for cookware than ever before — nonstick, ceramic, porcelain, cast iron, and more — but sometimes with more choices comes more confusion. For instance, cast iron and porcelain enamel-coated cast iron pans are two long-standing options that will continue to perform for years. But what's the difference?
The history of cast iron cookware can be traced all the way back to the Han Dynasty in China around 220 AD. One reason for its longevity is its unsurpassed ability to efficiently conduct and hold heat. Once it's well-seasoned — seasoning is what creates the barrier between the pan and food and protects it from rust — a highly nonstick surface forms on cast iron without the health concerns that cloud other nonstick cookware. And while cast iron is long-lasting and more affordable than many other options, it is not without its disadvantages. The biggest cons: It's quite heavy, can rust if not properly cared for, and using it to cook acidic foods or boiling water can cause corrosion.
Porcelain enamel-coated cookware, on the other hand, refers to pots and pans made of aluminum, steel, stainless steel, or iron, that have been coated with porcelain enamel, a type of glass. High-end options have a thick enamel coating available in a range of classic and on-trend colors, that make them hardwearing, easy to use, and nonstick. The coating won't tarnish or transfer a metallic taste to acidic foods and it is highly resistant to stains and scratches, as long as it's well-treated. Like traditional cast iron cookware, porcelain enamel-coated cast iron retains and distributes heat evenly, making it an excellent choice for sauteing, baking, roasting, serving, and storing foods. Although it's easy to clean, porcelain enamel is susceptible to damage if subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations so always wait for it to cool before washing.
If you're interested in adding a few pieces of porcelain enamel-coated cast iron cookware to your culinary arsenal, read on for seven options worth investing in.
Le Creuset, a brand that started almost a hundred years ago in France, is synonymous with porcelain enamel-coated cast iron and has built a solid reputation for crafting highly durable, long-lasting, attractive pieces that easily transition from kitchen to table. True, these pots are an investment, but each piece is impervious to acid, alkali, odors, stains, and will last a lifetime when properly cared for.
Like Le Creuset, Staub is another high-end French brand known for its superior heat conductivity, an assortment of colors, and the ability to transition from stovetop to oven to tabletop. The brand's signature black matte, enamel interior contains traces of quartz, giving it additional heat resistance and a rougher surface resulting in better browning.
This cocotte by Revol Porcelain France is made from high-gloss porcelain and is oven-safe up to 572 degrees (but is not suitable for stovetop use). And if that wasn't enough, it is also dishwasher-, microwave-, and freezer-safe. The timeless white shade and classic shape make it the perfect addition to any holiday tablescape.
These stylish splatter paint-inspired pieces by Golden Rabbit feature a carbon-steel interior, porcelain enamel coating, and stainless-steel trim. These multitasking pots and pans are stovetop, oven, grill, and dishwasher safe. They're also nontoxic, non-porous, acid-resistant, BPH- and lead-free, scratch-resistant, shatterproof, and lightweight.
American-based Lodge Cast Iron has been making its eponymous cookware since 1896. Its porcelain enamel line combines the superior heat retention of cast iron, with the flexibility of porcelain enamel surfaces. Bonus: They're available in a range of shapes and colorways.
Great Jones is a newcomer to the kitchen scene — the company was just launched in 2018 — and offers a complete line of pots and pans including the best-selling "Dutchess," a large, oval porcelain enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven. Oversize handles make it easy for hands to grasp, even when covered with oven mitts, and it's available in four vibrant and three neutral colors.