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Dutch ovens are a go-to for slow-cooking sumptuous dishes. But, like any pot or pan, cleaning them can feel like a chore. Is it okay to put a dutch oven in the dishwasher? We've done some digging, and we've got the scoop for you.
Cuisinart makes dutch ovens in three materials: stainless steel, hard-anodized aluminum, and enameled cast iron. The stainless steel dutch ovens are completely dishwasher safe.
The hard-anodized aluminum pans and enameled cast iron pans are best washed by hand. Washing them in the dishwasher will not impede their ability to cook, but the dishwasher can damage the finish on these dutch ovens.
We've got the full story on methods for cleaning different dutch ovens, including difficult, stuck-on food. We'll how well Cuisinart stacks up against different brands and how to get the most out of your enamel cookware. Read on to learn all about it!
Which Cuisinart Dutch Ovens are Dishwasher-Safe?
While it might not have the rustic charm of cast iron, stainless steel is your best bet for dishwasher-safe pots and pans. Cuisinart is known for its stainless steel cookware, and they produce a great stainless steel dutch oven.
If you opt for anodized aluminum or enamel cookware, remember that while it might be dishwasher safe, you might see damage on the finish of your dutch oven.
Is my enamel Dutch oven dishwasher-safe?
Cast iron pans can last for generations, but they are notoriously finicky to clean. This is why many prefer enameled cast iron, such as the one from Cuisinart below. These have the longevity of cast iron pans but an enamel coating that can be cleaned using more conventional methods, including the dishwasher.
However, while these pans are dishwasher safe, it is still better to wash them by hand. Even Le Creuset, one of the top brands in enameled cookware, recommends hand washing for their dutch ovens. The reason is that, over time, the high intensity of dishwashers can dull the finish on your dutch oven.
You can, of course, still cook in your dutch oven even if the finish is dull. Hand washing will help keep them looking new for years to come, but if that's not a priority for you, feel free to use the dishwasher. Another solution is to wash them by hand most of the time, saving the occasional ride through the dishwasher for those days when you can't be bothered.
How do you clean a Cuisinart enameled cast iron pan?
If you're looking to maintain a brilliant finish on your enameled cast iron, hand washing is the way to go. What's the best way to handwash your dutch oven? Just follow this basic routine:
- The first step is to allow your pan to cool. If your pan is still hot when you wash it, you may damage or crack the enamel coating through the thermal shock.
- Once the pan is at room temperature, wash it with warm water and mild dish soap. Use a soft sponge, and never use a metal scrubber on your enamel.
- Rinse, dry, and put away. It's easy as that!
This routine is simple. It will get you through most cleaning jobs. However, there are times when you get stuck on food or discoloration that is resilient to the basic cleaning routine. Here are a few methods that can help when the cleaning gets tough.
Use a cleaner for enamel cookware
You may be surprised to learn that there are special products specifically for cleaning enamel cookware, but there are! One is available from Le Creuset that needs to be applied and rubbed in with a soft sponge and warm water. Check it out in the video above and find it in the link below.
Soak with dish soap and warm water
You can also use what you already have around the house. Add a few drops of your preferred dish soap and fill your pot with warm water. A half-hour soak may be plenty, but for the tough stuff, let it soak overnight.
Simmer with baking soda
Another option is to fill your dutch oven with warm water and two tablespoons of baking soda. Bring it up to a simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Let the pot and water cool down, then drain it and follow the handwashing guide above.
Use Bar Keepers Friend
For really tough jobs, Bar Keepers Friend is a powerful ally. It's inexpensive and effective for several cleaning jobs, including enameled cast iron.
First, rinse your pan and don't dry it. Then sprinkle on some Bar Keepers Friend and rub it in with a damp, non-abrasive sponge. Then rinse and repeat as needed.
Is Cuisinart a good brand for a Dutch oven?
Cuisinart is a recognizable name in the cooking community, particularly for its kitchen gadgets. When it comes to making dutch ovens, they compete with many great heritage brands, in particular, Le Creuset and Staub.
While Le Creuset and Staub have a legacy and reputation for manufacturing superb enameled cookware in France, they also come with a hefty price tag. Cuisinart's dutch ovens can often be found for a fraction of their French counterparts.
This doesn't mean they suffer in quality. Sal Vaglica at Serious Eats chose Cuisinart's dutch oven, along with those heritage brands, among the best dutch ovens of 2021. They compared the design, heat retention, browning, and wet cooking of different dutch ovens.
The only downside of the Cuisinart compared to the more expensive French brands was that the handles got hotter on the stove.
One caveat of Serious Eats' list is that they only looked at these dutch ovens for short-term use. Although Cuisinart dutch ovens should last a long time when properly cared for, more expensive brands may have greater longevity.
How to maintain enameled cast iron
We've seen that Cuisinart can hold its own compared to other dutch ovens in function, but what about longevity? Some online reviews report chipping or cracking in the enamel of Cuisinart and other dutch ovens. These problems can also occur in other brands and can usually be avoided with proper use.
Use Low to Medium Heat on the Stovetop
When cooking on a stovetop, your dutch oven is in direct contact with the heating element. The cast iron core of your dutch oven will heat up more quickly than the enamel coating, so heating it too quickly can damage the enamel.
Heat low and slow to get the best lifespan from your dutch oven. Learn more about this topic in our article, "Can A Dutch Oven Go on a Stovetop?"
When cooking in the oven, put the dutch oven in before preheating the oven for gradual heating.
Avoid metal utensils
Metal utensils can damage the enamel coating on your dutch oven. This damage isn't just cosmetic. Food will stick more to a scratched coating than a smooth one. Opt for wooden and silicon utensils when cooking in enameled cast iron.
Use soft sponges
Much like metal utensils, metal sponges or scouring pads can damage the coating on your dutch oven. Instead, use soft sponges and follow our cleaning guide above.
Which is better: cast iron or enameled cast iron?
Uncoated cast iron can still be used to make great dutch ovens, such as the one by Lodge below. There are differences when it comes to cooking, cleaning, and storage for these dutch ovens.
Uncoated cast iron can stand any heat your kitchen can throw at it.
Enameled cast iron has to be heated up slowly at low temperatures to protect the enamel.
While properly seasoned cast iron should always have a protective layer of seasoning, this can't always be relied on. It's best to avoid cooking overly acidic things, like tomato sauces, or that use a lot of water over time, like stews, because of this.
Enameled cookware doesn't have this problem. The enamel coating is non-reactive, so water or acidity won't damage them.
Uncoated cast iron requires a layer of seasoning to keep it non-stick. Maintaining that seasoning means avoiding many dish soaps and following a strict protocol for cleaning. They should never go in a dishwasher.
Enameled cast iron is much easier to clean. As long as you don't subject it to sudden temperature shifts or abrasive materials, clean-up is much easier in an enameled cast iron dutch oven.
Cast iron can rust over time, so it's important to maintain the seasoning from time to time.
Enamel cookware won't rust or do much other than gather dust in storage.
What to cook in a Dutch oven
A dutch oven is a great addition to your kitchen. They are great for slow-cooking dishes requiring low, consistent temperatures, such as braises and stews. Because they can be used in your oven, they are also an excellent choice for casseroles.
There are even many artisanal breads that can be made at home with a properly prepped dutch oven.
You can find out more about these and other recipe ideas in our article, "What Should You Cook in a Dutch Oven?"
Dutch ovens are classic cookware that can stay in a family for generations. While cooking may be the fun part, cleaning is just as important to keeping a happy home and long-lasting cookware. Now you know a little bit more about dutch ovens and how to care for them properly, you're ready to make the most of them.