Can Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Rust?

Photo of a white enameled Dutch ovenurban_light /Depositphotos

Many of us think that the vitreous coating on enameled cast iron cookware protects it completely from corrosion and rust. And that’s generally true… with the exception of one small but important detail.

Knowing what that detail is and its implications on how you use and care for your enameled cast iron cooking vessels can be key to ensuring their long and useful life.

Along the edges on most enameled cast iron skillets, grill pans, and Dutch ovens are bare cast iron borders. Left unseasoned and exposed to moisture for prolonged periods of time, these edges can get rusty.

This is why you should never soak enameled cookware in water, especially for long periods of time. “My roommates let my enameled cast iron Dutch oven sit in the sink overnight,” a Redditor wrote, “and now, the exposed cast iron around the rim has some rust on it.”

For the same reasons, it’s not necessarily a good idea to load your enameled cookware in the dishwasher after every use. The prolonged exposure to moisture and the chemical harshness of dishwasher detergent can cause the bare iron along the rim to rust.

Telling whether that’s the case for your enameled cast iron cooking vessels is easy:

Take the lids off and observe the color and texture of the rim. If it’s dark grey to matte black and has a rough and porous feel when you run your finger through it, that’s probably bare cast iron.

As a general rule of thumb, all pans and pots with lids tend to have bare iron rims. Some skillets or grill pans that don’t will have enameled rims, so they won’t have the problem I’m addressing in this article in the first place.

Season Enameled Cookware Along the Rim

One thing that you can do to prevent this—and this is something that you won’t find in every manufacturer’s usage and care instructions—is to season your cast iron pan or pot along the edge.

To season an enameled cast iron pan or pot, dip a paper towel in high-smoke-point cooking oil, grease the exposed iron edges with it. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180°C) and bake your pan or pot upside down in the oven for 60 minutes.

When you’re done, repeat the same process with the lid. But, before you set your oven to any temperature, refer to the usage and care instructions for your make and model. Some lids have handles with bakelite, plastic, or silicone elements, so they may have a lower oven-safe temperature.

YouTuber Pajama Mama’s Kitchen has demonstrated this technique in a helpful clip, where she seasoned a brand new Tramontina Dutch oven (along with the lid).

When you take your pan or pot out of the oven, it may have grease marks that you’ll have to clean off, especially if yours came in white or a bright color.

Pajama Mama recommends that you clean them off as soon as you can using a wet microfiber cloth. If you come across more stubborn stains that won’t come off, feel free to use a green pad or a non-scratch scrub sponge to remove them.

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