Once you've owned Le Creuset cookware, you won't want to go back to bargain brands. So, it's no wonder that people get nervous about cleaning a Le Creuset grill pan. After all, the company's grill pans seem to be made of cast iron, which notoriously requires special care. You might be worried about scratching the surface, ruining the pan's patina or letting the grill pan rust – and can you use dish soap or not? Don't worry – Le Creuset grill pans are much easier to clean than you might anticipate.
A Word About Cast Iron
One of the reasons people love Le Creuset's grill pans is that they have the look and functionality of cast iron, but they're actually made of enameled cast iron. The black enamel finish on the pan's cooking surface helps keep food from sticking, making cleanup as simple as possible. The coating also means there's no need to season the grill pan when you first buy it or re-season it after every use, like you might with true cast iron pans. You can even use dish soap on these grill pans, which is generally not advised with cast iron.
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Le Creuset's enameled cast iron grill pans are so durable that the company says it's OK to wash them in your dishwasher, but it recommends hand washing.
Cleaning a Le Creuset Grill Pan
Don't rush to clean your grill pan before dinner has even been served. A phenomenon called thermal shock can occur when a very hot cast iron pan is suddenly cooled. Moving a pan straight from a hot burner or hot oven into the sink and pouring cool or cold water over it could cause the pan to warp or crack. When you're finished cooking with your grill pan, let it sit on a cold burner and cool down for at least 15 minutes before moving it to the sink.
Next, rinse out any food residue. Add about a half inch of water to the pan and a few drops of dish soap. Clean the grill pan using a nonabrasive sponge or brush. Never use metal brushes or the abrasive side of a scrubbing sponge on your grill pan, as these could damage the surface. Le Creuset sells a nylon grill pan brush, though any brand of nonmetal grill pan brush should suit your needs.
Rinse the pan again and repeat the cleaning process if any food residue remains. Then, simply set the clean grill pan on a drying rack or use a soft cloth to dry it. There's no need to oil the pan like you might do with a cast iron pan.
Dealing With Remaining Food Residue
Sometimes, soap and a scrub brush aren't enough to clean stuck-on bits of food or sticky sauces from your grill pan. If you notice debris is still cooked onto your clean pan, try putting the pan in a 500-degree oven for a few hours. Any organic material on the pan should carbonize in the extreme heat and should then be easy to scrub off the pan once it has cooled down enough to safely handle it.
Cleaning the Grill Pan's Exterior
As you use your Le Creuset grill pan, marks and cooked-on residue may appear on the colorful enameled exterior of the pan. These can be removed using Le Creuset's special cookware cleaner for cast iron pans, or you can take a more DIY approach. Carefully turn over the clean grill pan and set it on a counter on top of a dish towel. Mix baking soda with enough water to make a paste and then use your grill pan brush or a nonabrasive sponge to work the paste over any marks and then rinse it. Le Creuset says that Bar Keepers Friend, a common cleaning agent, can also be used to clean the exterior of its enamel pans.