Unveiling the Truth: Are Dutch Ovens Truly Nonstick?

Sirwan Ajman
Sirwan Ajman

Sirwan Ajman

Sirwan writes cooking guides and product reviews for The Skillful Cook. In his writing, he draws from his experience running a health-conscious café.

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Are Dutch Ovens Nonstick

I can’t live without my beloved cast iron Dutch oven. It’s the workhorse of my kitchen. No matter what I plan to cook, it never fails me — unless I’m going for some fish. For that, I always turn to my Teflon pan, which gives me an easy release. 

But that begs the question – are Dutch ovens nonstick at all?

What are Dutch Ovens Coated In?

While cast iron and enameled cast iron are the first two materials that come to your mind when thinking of Dutch ovens, you can find Dutch ovens made of almost any material. There are some great nonstick, ceramic, and even stainless steel Dutch ovens out there.  

Whether a Dutch oven is nonstick or not depends on its coating material. So, let’s take a look at these coating options. 

Cast Iron

Cast iron has some fantastic features, including great heat retention. But its nonstick properties depend on how you season and use it. 

Raw cast iron is highly porous. This means food particles and bits can get stuck into these pores and make the food stick to the cookware’s surface. That’s all the worse for delicate and sticky proteins like fish and eggs. 

Cast iron Dutch oven with bread

You can make cast iron beautifully nonstick through seasoning. Proper and regular seasoning gives you a virtually nonstick Dutch oven that lasts generations. 

Enamel Cast Iron

Enamel is made of powdered glass fused onto cast iron’s surface to make it less reactive and more durable. 

The enamel coating —if made by reputable brands like Le Creuset and Staub— is chip-resistant and can last a lifetime. It also gives the Dutch oven a glossy look. You’d expect this sleek surface to be 100% nonstick. 

Enameled Cast iron Dutch oven nonstick

But enamel can make food stick if you don’t use the right cooking techniques. Le Creuset comes with a learning curve that requires the right amount of oil and preheating. But once you get the hang of things, you can get a semi-nonstick surface that’s easy to clean without needing seasoning

Stainless Steel

Among the most common cookware materials, stainless steel is probably the most notorious for being sticky. The microscopic pores on its surface make stainless steel nonstick. And if you don’t get the temperature right, cooking with stainless steel can prove to be a big challenge. 

Because they aren’t nonstick, stainless steel Dutch ovens are better for slow cooking and boiling than frying and searing. 

Stainless steel Dutch oven with soup

That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t make your stainless steel Dutch oven nonstick. Heating it to the right temperature closes the microscopic pores and improves its nonstick qualities. 

Do Dutch Ovens Have Teflon?

Did you know that you can buy nonstick-coated Dutch ovens? Seems like a huge advancement since Christopher Columbus brought the first Dutch oven to the US, right!? 

Just look at this Caraway ceramic Dutch oven. It’s gorgeous, easy to use, and lightweight. 

If you want 100% nonstick Dutch ovens, go for Teflon or ceramic. 

All other materials can become semi-nonstick with tricks like seasoning and proper preheating. But Teflon and ceramic cookware are nonstick out of the box. You get an easy release without using too much oil or doing tests to ensure it’s reached the right temperature. The main downside to nonstick-coated Dutch ovens is that they can’t be used over high heat.

Nonstick vs Enameled Dutch Oven Pros and Cons

Nonstick Dutch Oven Pros

  • Easy to use. If you’re looking for no-nonsense cooking, nonstick is the top choice. No preheating, no seasoning, and little or no greasing. Just toss in the food and let it cook. 
  • Easy to clean. Since Teflon and ceramic are 100% nonstick, cleaning them is a breeze. Just dish soap and warm water will do. 
  • Great for no-oil cooking. Teflon and ceramic cookware don’t need oil to offer nonstick features. This is great for healthy and no-oil cooking. 

Nonstick Dutch Oven Cons

  • Not good for searing. If you use your Dutch oven for searing meat before braising it, nonstick isn’t the best choice. High heat will ruin nonstick coatings. Besides, thanks to its easy-release features, you don’t get a beautiful brown sear with nonstick materials. 
  • Safety concerns. Some users and professionals have concerns regarding Teflon coatings since they are made with chemicals that don’t break down in nature. There are fewer, somewhat different concerns with ceramic coatings like those used by Caraway. 
  • Durability. Nonstick cookware, whether it’s Teflon or ceramic, doesn’t last long. Ceramic cookware can lose its nonstick features after 2-3 years and Teflon coatings flake off after 1-5 years depending on the coating quality.  

Enamel Dutch Oven Pros

  • Relatively safe cooking. Enamel is made of food-safe minerals. If the coating complies with US or EU regulations, it should be safe to use. Enamel is nonreactive, covers the underlying metal, and prevents iron leaching. 
  • Durable. If you take care of your enamel Dutch oven, it can last a lifetime. Hand wash it, avoid metal utensils, sudden temperature changes, and dropping or knocking it. 
  • Best for slow cooking. If you use your Dutch oven for braising and simmering, enameled iron is the best option. It has way more cooking power than nonstick-coated aluminum. Its incredible heat retention seems to force juices into roasts and stews.

Enamel Dutch Oven Cons

  • Not 100% nonstick. Enamel doesn’t give you the nonstick features of Teflon and ceramic. This may not be an issue for most Dutch oven cooking methods, but you should consider it if you want an easy release. 
  • Not good for searing. Enamel has a glossy surface that makes it less ideal for browning and searing. 
  • Expensive. Enamel cast iron is among the cookware on the expensive side. Reputable brands like Le Creuset are high quality but expensive. You can find cheaper options like Lodge, but the quality is lower. 

How Do You Keep Food from Sticking to a Dutch Oven?

Cooking in an enamel Dutch oven isn’t difficult. With a bit of trial and error, you can make it decently nonstick. 

  1. Preheat the Dutch oven over low to medium heat for 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Pour one to two tablespoons of oil. 
  3. Wait a few seconds for the oil to heat. 
  4. Add the meat or veggies and wait until they get brown. 
  5. Flip things over and fry the other side. 

Conclusion 

Like any kind of pot or pan, you can find Dutch ovens with different coating materials. Teflon and ceramic are 100% nonstick out of the box. But you can make stainless steel, cast iron, and enamel semi-nonstick after heating, adding enough oil, or seasoning. 

What’s your favorite Dutch oven material? Do you like its nonstick qualities? Please share your thoughts below. 

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Sirwan Ajman
About The Author
Sirwan is a food writer and a proud owner of a health-conscious café. He enjoys experimenting with new flavors. Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines hold a special place in his heart.