Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission. Learn more
The debate of whether a cast iron pan or a stainless steel iron is good for cooking has been going on since time unknown.
So let’s get this sorted once and for all…
The cast iron vs stainless steel debate exists between chefs as well. Some chefs prefer cast iron while others prefer cooking fast with stainless steel.
Setting the debate of stainless steel vs cast iron aside; one thing we all can agree on is that both the materials are great for cooking.
It actually comes down to preference and some functionality. Depending on what usage you are looking for and health benefits, only one of them is good for you.
Some people ask questions like ‘is cast iron non-stick?’ or ‘is stainless steel non-stick?’ to clarify their options.
But your health and non-stick feature do not quite coincide. Let’s start the discussion.
Cast Iron or Stainless Steel | Which One Should You Cook With?
Both the materials are known for distributing heat evenly all over. So if you are cooking something on any of these pans; it will be cooked thoroughly and evenly.
Although cast iron is a traditional pan for cooking; many chefs choose stainless steel cookware to sear steaks.
Here we are considering some aspects and features every ideal pan should have. Then we will compare our materials in question to finally end the debate on cast iron vs stainless steel or stainless steel vs cast iron.
Heat Conductivity Capabilities and Retention Capacity
When it comes to conductivity, cast iron takes more time to heat up than stainless steel. But the cast iron can also retain heat longer than the latter.
Another thing we should note here is that stainless steel pans always have an inner coating of aluminum or copper.
Its heat conductivity depends more on the inner layer than on itself.
The cast irons are always compatible with induction cookers but stainless steel pans are not. You need to check whether the stainless steel cooker is good for induction before purchasing.
Most people who worry about their health often do not care if their pans are non-stick. The people who often ask ‘is cast iron non-stick?’ or ‘is stainless steel non-stick?’ are not really aware of the fact that most non-stick pans are not good for health.
Since the toxicity in PFOA’s has been discovered; health concerned people tend to avoid non-stick pans. Most companies now use PTFE material. But even then, when you heat the pan up real high; your coating can come off and mix with food.
Both cast iron and stainless steel are chemical-free. So which one do you choose?
Well, cast iron is made completely of iron. So the only thing that can get into your food is iron. Some people actually consider this a health benefit. But too much iron consumption can be hazardous for your health.
Stainless steel cookware, on the other hand, has nickel. Some people are allergic to this component so they need to research and check before purchasing. Stainless steel requires cooking with some kind of fat for making the pan non-stick. Well, this can be harmful to obese or people with high blood pressure.
Then again, you can opt for fats with fewer calorie counts like olive oil.
Depending on the health condition of a person, both the type of cookware is harmful or suitable.
Searing of Meat
Steak is one of the most popular things cooked in stainless steel or cast iron pan. When it comes to meat, starting from the cut to the intensity of cooking; everything depends on the chef. So in this case, the preference changes from chef to chef.
But most chefs would agree on the stainless steel for searing meat. The cast iron requires to be seasoned for usage.
So most cast iron pans are like non-stick pans. Also, most cast iron pans have hot spots, unlike stainless steel pans. This gives stainless steel pans a better distribution of heat. Thus you can get a good sear in a stainless steel pan.
Cooking Other Food
Cast iron or stainless steel; well, both are good for different cooking. For example, cast iron pans are excellent for slow cooking.
Food that you want to finish off in the oven should be cooked in a cast-iron pan. These pans are great for roasting, frying, stovetop, and baking. As the pans come with non-stick properties, they are great for sticky food.
Stainless steel is excellent for searing and braising. You can use this pan for everyday meal cooking because it is easier to wash. And it does not retain heat for long so you can store it fast.
Cast iron definitely requires more care than stainless steel. Although compared to other pots and pans; stainless steel cookware requires intensive care as well.
You will need to hand wash your stainless steel cookware. Try to use baking soda and vinegar for washing this pan after every use. Completely drying stainless steel is not necessary.
When it comes to maintenance, the cast iron pans rules all others.
You need to hand wash it, dry it completely and season it with oil to avoid rusting. Using regular dishwashing soap can damage the layers of cast iron pans.
Some chefs put the pan in the oven after applying oil for better results. Oil is applied to avoid rusting of layers.
Metal or any other type of utensil can be used for both materials.
Longevity, Price, and Simplicity in Usage
A cast-iron pan lasts very long. Some pans are even passed on to future generations. If it’s taken care of, you just need to buy one cast iron and you can use it for the rest of your lives. Stainless steel has lower longevity.
Cast iron is cheaper than stainless steel. You can even find good quality cast iron pans in thrift shops.
Cast iron is very heavy compared to stainless steel. So moving it around and washing it, is not very simple. On the other hand, stainless steel pans are light and flexible to use.
both cast iron and stainless steel pans are classics. You can use whichever you want based on preference. Consider the factors mentioned above and judge by yourself!
Click here to read about the best frying pans in 2019 from stainless steel and cast iron to copper and non-stick.
|Cleaning/Maintaining||Require an extra care||Easy to clean and use|
|Reactivity||Reactive to acid food||Non reactive|
Here are a few other hand-picked articles for you to read next: