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Can I Cook a Glorious One-Pot Meal in an Aluminum Dutch Oven?

Reader question: I have an old Wagner Ware Magnalite dutch oven (only available on eBay, so pretty old!)that I believe is cast aluminum.  I’ve been using it for years – at least 40! Do you think it will work for your recipes as it’s not cast “iron”? The new enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are rather expensive, so I’d rather use what I already have if you think it’s appropriate(?) Can’t wait to try your method of cooking as I think it really suits my healthy eating style. ~ Jane F.

magnalite dutch oven
A Magnalite Dutch oven should not be used to cook food.


Hi Jane! Trust me: I know how easy it is to develop sentimental attachments to cookware. I had an old aluminum Dutch oven of my grandmother’s that I cherished for the connection it had to her, but I wouldn’t cook with it. I’m so sorry to deliver this news, but aluminum is bio-accumulative, and aluminum cookware can leach the heavy metal into your food. Aluminum toxicity may cause effects ranging from flatulence and heartburn to skin problems, liver disease, mental retardation, and Parkinson’s.

The original Magnalite, a mid-twentieth century, short-lived cookware company, used an aluminum alloy in its cookware, meaning the metal of your pot contains aluminum mixed with other metals. Newer versions of Magnalite pots and pans are currently manufactured cheaply in China. Like all aluminum cookware, it should not be considered safe to use for cooking. I think a classic Magnalite Dutch oven makes a beautiful planter for flowers.

Aluminum has been used in cookware because it is cheap, lightweight and heats quickly, though not evenly. It is also easy to shape (or dent) because it is a soft metal, which is why it is often mixed with other metals into an alloy. Aluminum cookware is not considered to be very high quality and in many parts of the world is only used by those who cannot afford better.

enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven coupon
Enamel-coated cast iron Dutch ovens do not leach iron into food.

Cast iron, on the other hand, has unique heat conduction properties that make it a favorite of chefs. A cast iron pot will absorb, distribute, and retain heat unlike any other cookware material, which is why it is the only kind of cookware material that works for flash-cooking Glorious One-Pot Meals.

While enamel coating on cast iron is great for rust resistance, ease of cleaning and storage, and even decreases the weight of a cast iron Dutch oven, it is not a required ingredient for Glorious One-Pot Meal success. A seasoned cast iron Dutch oven will work just as well as an enamel-coated one and usually costs less.

Be aware that cooking in a seasoned cast iron pot may leach iron into your food. Iron is an essential ingredient in human blood and, unlike aluminum, is an element the human body can use and process. However, to avoid any leaching into your food, enamel-coated cast iron is considered one of the safest, most non-reactive types of cookware to use.

There are now many brands that offer enamel-coated cast iron Dutch ovens at a range of prices. Remember, too, the Glorious One-Pot Meals guidelines of 1-quart of pot for each person you want to feed. In other words, if you normally feed two people, you will want a 2-quart Dutch oven. For a family of four, a 3-1/2 – 4-quart Dutch oven will work perfectly for doubling the recipes.

30 Comments on “Can I Cook a Glorious One-Pot Meal in an Aluminum Dutch Oven?

  1. I am 65 years old now, and have used cast iron and cast aluminum Dutch ovens in my Scout activities since I was in my twenties. Camping, Pow Wows, parking lot demonstrations and other cooking. There is som dementia in my family, (older and younger siblings), I do not show any ill effects from aluminum “poisoning” my food. I know acidic dishes like lasagna or spaghetti leaches a bit of aluminum from alum. cookware, but antacids deliver match more. In my opinion, aluminum cookware is safe for human use.
    Richard Smith, Wichita KS

    1. Thank you to the folks here who have debunked this article. The Magnalite pot is a great pan and perfectly safe to use.
      The World Health Organization in 2018 found that cooking in aluminum is safe.
      According to the World Health Organization, adults can consume up to 50 milligrams of aluminum a day. Acidic foods like citrus fruits/fruit juice and tomatoes absorb the largest quantity of aluminum. That “large quantity” however, was only 0,0024 milligrams per cup based on a study that involved making tomato sauce in an aluminum pot for 2 hours then leaving the sauce in it overnight.
      Now aluminum is enameled for easier cleanup (and all the pretty colors).

  2. I refuse to use Magnalite or aluminum cookware, I also refuse to vaccinate my kids. They will live a long and prosperous life, at least that is what my fortune cookie said one time. I am really fortunate to live in California where everything is labeled unsafe. I am so gullible that I might already be suffering mental retardation.

  3. This has to be the dumbest article I have ever read. Evidently she does not stay up with the times Wagner produced Magnalite then was bought by Ghc who produced it up to recently i still in sidney Ohio. Now it has been being manufactured as classic Magnalite though made in china. You can buy it new off of Walmart on line. And off of Amazon and Ebay. Wagner produce the Magnalite line from the 1930s to 1970 then Ghc picked up the line til present day. But I guess 1930 to 2019 is co sided a short time. What an idiot so much for health problems. So many health problems they are still on the market. Lmfao.

    1. Just because something is in the marketplace does not mean it is safe for human health. Sweet-n-Low (saccharin) is still for sale even though it has been linked to cancer since the 1970s, and that’s just one example.

      I look at my job as providing information so that my readers can make informed decisions. You are welcome to continue to cook with aluminum or not; it’s your personal choice.

      I choose not to.

  4. Ok. Sooo you don’t use

    – coke cans
    – canned vegetables
    – aluminum foil


    1. New science folks and Brittany you are correct, the amount of aluminum leached from aluminum even when cooking highly acidic foods then storing that same pot in the fridge over night is negligible, there is 200 times more aluminum in a single anti acid tablet than what is leached from aluminum (including vintage) cookware.

  5. I have a set of Magnalite cookware that I bought 43 years ago. Daughter put fry pan in dishwasher and, of course, it turned black. Need suggestions on how to clean other than tomato sauce. Thanks.

  6. Been using magnalite for years, but I also season them first, so they have a protective coating on the inside. I rub the insides with cooking oil and bake in the oven before the first use, I never use abrasives or soap when cleaning, they get wiped out with a damp cloth, and then re oiled. Acidic foods have zero effect on the inside, and I never get a metallic taste in tomato based foods.

  7. LOL.. finally got an explanation as to why I and my two kids are so mentally deficit!! Considering all three of us got 3.5 – 4 average in college LOL

  8. First of all, I wouldn’t take anything coming out of the The Globalist seriously. There has been considerable fearmongering about aluminum but little substantial evidence. I am sitting here with a can of diet Pepsi in, you guessed it, an aluminum can. There is a great deal of aluminum around us, yet why so much of the time only cookware is attached. Is anyone aware that iron leached from cast iron cookware is not good for everyone? As people age they are advised by their doctors to stop taking iron supplements. In my own case my RBC is above normal level. Could it be from the cast iron cookware I use? Perhaps.

    My mother bought her first set of cookware in 1950 — cast aluminum. Strange how not one person in our family suffers from Alzheimer’s, flatulence, heartburn, skin problems, liver disease, mental retardation, or Parkinson’s

  9. Stop all this worrying! There is very little leaching from aluminum pots, even when cooking acidic foods. And the aluminum is waaaay less than you will take in from other sources. Finally, there is no evidence that such aluminum has any adverse medical effect.

  10. I have had the original Magnalite pots for years and have had no problems. However, recently a pot got badly burned and I used bleach to get it out. I let the bleach sit for probably a day. Now the pot has kind of a residue that I can’t get rid of. Do you think its safe to use or should I just toss it.

    1. facepalm! Did you Not just read the original post? Burnt residue or not, unless possible retardation is an acceptable garnish for your next culinary masterpiece then NO. LoL

  11. This cook ware is an alloy of aluminum and magnesium. Does anyone have info on that combo? My mom has had hers since 1950. It is BIG, and I have a small family, so only use it occassionally, but have cooked spaghetti and it is not pitted, it has dulled on the inside, but perhaps it looked like that in 1950. I can’t recall, I was only one.

  12. I am a traditional food junkie. Think sally fallon, weston price. I do alot of stocks and grass fed natural meat. Ive been using the magnalite duck pan for about a year now for roasting and also natural stock. Just a fee days ago, it was mentioned in a fb post group that its extremely dangerous. I am very confused. I dont know if i should use it anymore and this afternoon was ready to toss the pot an any remaining provisions cooked in it. Please give me some advice!! ( i bought this crock second hand for $40 and have another baking tray bought second hand. I llllllove the way they cook and really dont want to get rid of them unless necessary

  13. I do not agree with your statement. Wagner Magnalite is a fine piece of cookware. There are no proven lab test that aluminum causes any type of disease like Alzheimer’s or any or the problems you are mentioning. If fact I am buying my first vintage Wagner Magnalite tomorrow. The roast and cook like nothing else. I am an avid cats iron cookware user and I am just getting into Magnalite as well. You can get more poisoning from storing foods in plastic containers and heating them in the microwave and also from lead present in paint of some ethnic clay pots. It seems to be over reacting. Just enjoy what you have Jane.

  14. I’ve used my Magnalite Dutch Oven for years to cook mostly meats.

    Magnalite did not go out of business as suggested in previous posts. You can go on Amazon and buy Magnalite today.

    1. Mom and I bought our Magnalite back in the day at a local factory in Sidney, Ohio. I’d say that factory did not close because people were scared to cook in it, lol. Rather, Teflon came into being. I still use my Magnalite and have no fears. Looks like China is where Magnalite is manufactored now, and at an ungodly price.

  15. From what studies did you get your information that cooking in aluminum cookware can cause liver disease, mental retardation and Parkinson’s?

    1. Great question Mary,did you ever get an answer? Would like to know where her research came from.

      1. Hi Mary, no I have not received an answer, but I will keep checking to see if she does. Most likely I won’t hear from her.

        1. Mary and Patricia – I hope you both had a lovely holiday weekend and spent time with your families, as I did.

          Here is a recent study linking aluminum with Alzheimers and osteoporosis:

          However, I don’t need to wait for a study to know that aluminum is not a metal that the human body needs and uses like iron is. For people interested in preserving or recapturing their health, avoiding aluminum from cookware, antipersperants, antacids, and other places is a good start.

  16. Aluminum is a rather unique metal in that it forms an extremely tough film of oxide on its surface, and that film prevents leaching of the metal into our food. This film becomes apparent when the freshly polished aluminum item looses its luster and the surface becomes dull.

    Unfortunately, this film can be dissolved by acidic foods (lemons, tomatoes, vinegar), and some alkaline household items (baking soda, TSP, some baking powders), and then aluminum and other components of the alloy can enter the food that is being cooked in the container. You could observe, for example, that after cooking tomato dishes the inside becomes more shiny.

    Aluminum pots would be perfectly safe for boiling plain water, and cooking some dishes that do not have a clearly acidic flavor, like stewing potatoes (which have very low acidity) and meats (no acidic marinade). But the moment you add some tomato to the stew you begin to leach some metal in your food.

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