Stainless steel vs cast iron cookware! Advocates of both keep on sticking to their preferred choice for cooking.
Even though both come up with their unique properties and are harmless than the nonstick cookware, picking one over the other is an affair of personal preference.
If cooking is an art, then the right cookware is the tool to take this art to the next level. The widespread debate on selecting between the two options makes everything so confusing. Right?
Therefore, whether you’re a beginner home chef or a MasterChef, you need to know that there are pros and cons to both cast-iron and stainless steel cookware.
Table Of Content:
- Cast iron cookware:
- Stainless steel cookware:
- Cooking differences between the two
- Cleaning differences between the two
- What are the main differences between Cast Iron and Stainless Steel cookware?
- Is cast iron cookware better than stainless steel?
- What is the main advantage cast iron has over stainless steel when cooking?
- Is cast iron cookware good for your health?
- Is stainless steel cookware good for your health?
- When to use cast-iron cookware?
- When to use stainless steel cookware?
Cast-Iron vs Stainless Steel Cookware:
Cast Iron Cookware:
Cast iron cookware is there from centuries ago and you must have seen the one in your grandma’s kitchen. Before the advent of nonstick and carbon steel cookware, cast iron pans and pots, skillets were used to sear meat perfectly. And if you’re an ardent fan of juiciest and perfectly cooked beef steak, you must know that cast iron cookware stands second to none when it comes to cooking meat dishes.
Related: How to clean cast-iron frying pan?
It is still popular among people who want to preserve the taste and quality of food during cooking.
Cast iron is an iron alloy with 2-4% carbon content. The molten cast iron is tailored to give it the shape of the desired cooking utensil. After that, the cookware is polished or coated with enamel to impart an aesthetic look.
Versatile, durable, planet-friendly, and pocket-friendly, best cast iron cookware is an excellent option to cook healthy food unless you know how to get a hang of it.
Take a look to know its essential pros and cons:
What are the pros n cons of cast-iron cookware?
Below are the main pros n cons of cast iron cookware.
The sturdiness of cookware is the most desirable feature that chefs would adore to have. And thanks to the tough and hard-built quality of cast iron alloy that lasts for a lifetime.
A cast-iron pan can last you generations after generations and you don’t need to dispose off it as frequently as you might have to do with a nonstick one.
Another outstanding benefit of cast iron skillet is that it can be used in the oven or on a magnetic stovetop. Be as flexible as you want and prepare variety of food with cast iron cookware, no matter which cooking appliance you’re cooking on.
Be aware that the weight of the pan may damage the glass top surface of the cooking stove.
Healthy to cook:
When you cook in a cast iron pan, you’re not only preserving the texture of your food but adding an instant boost of iron. So cooking in cast iron cookware comes with additional health benefits. Those who have iron deficiency should consider cooking in cast iron cooking utensils.it may help them overcome the scarcity of iron to some extent.
Since this type of cookware is meant to last for several years, it remains environmentally friendly. So, it’s reliable as well. You don’t need to get another one until the one you’re using is little or large for your cooking requirements.
So, it is money-saver too.
Cast iron is a heavy-duty metal and its utensils are vice versa weigh much as compared to other cookery utensils. Its proper care is required to avoid rust and corrosion. Make sure that you use proper seasoning to make it act properly.
When it comes to cooking acidic food, food prepared in cast iron utensils may have a tinge of metallic taste.
Iron can hold a ton of heat and helps to prepare food quickly and fast. So if you’re a beginner chef, you may get overwhelmed by heating it properly to prepare a dish.
Make sure that you only add into a cast iron frying pan when it gets enough heat. Cooking in a too hot frying pan will burn the food, neither put food in a pan that is not preheated else the food will stick to the base of your utensil.
Stainless Steel cookware:
Stainless steel is a better version of cast iron and has a higher ratio of carbon. If you’re annoyed with the heavyweight of cast-iron cookware and also feel trouble adjusting it to a proper heat level, then having the best stainless-steel cookware is what you’re after.
It is relatively less weighty, has improved cooking abilities, and is better rust and corrosion-resistant. With these benefits, stainless steel cookware has outperformed cast iron pans and pots. The flexibility of stainless steel cookware has made it the No1 cookware option and all leading chefs around the world love cooking in stainless steel cookware.
Opposite to nonstick cookware such as die-cast aluminum, Teflon, or ceramic cookware, stainless steel cookware requires low maintenance, less care, and lasts for decades.
Since pure stainless steel has poor heat conductivity, a copper or aluminum core in the bottom is used to make it more conducive to heat. 3-ply stainless steel cookware is the most acknowledged and used version of this type of cookware.
For anyone who is flabbergasted by nonstick cookware or thinks cast iron is old-fashioned cookware, stainless steel is a perfect choice.
What are the pros n cons of stainless steel cookware?
Below are the main pros n cons of stainless steel cookware.
Unlike a cast-iron pan that brings a metallic taste to the food when cooked at the highest temperature, stainless steel is non-reactive and never alters the taste and color of your food.
So, for cooking acidic foods, stainless steel cookware is the best among all other cookware options.
Just like a cast iron cookware, stainless steel also stands the test of time. It can hold a lot of abuse and is anti-rust and anti-corrosion.
Easy to wash:
This kind of cookware is easy to wash. You can wash it by hand or in your dishwasher. For tough stains, use a ball of steel wool to clean up all the mess from the stainless steel pan or pot.
Stainless steel cookware is pocket-friendly. You don’t have to replace stainless steel cookware for the rest of your life if you maintain it properly.
Poor heat conductivity:
Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat and never retains heat properly unless it has a copper or aluminum core in the base.
Your food gets stick to stainless steel cookware. Anyhow by proper greasing, you can partially give it nonstick properties. But precaution is required to avoid stickiness.
Cooking differences between the two!
- Good for everyday cooking
- Heat up quickly
- Heat retention is not good
- For best outcome, preheating is required
- Heat distribution is good
- Good for all kinds of food
- Good for low and slow cooking
- Good for selective cooking
- Reactive to acidic foods
- Long cooking time can wear off the seasoning
- Pans are heavy
- Heats up slowly
- Needs to be preheated
- Heat retention is good
Cleaning differences between the two!
- Maintenance is easy
- Mostly it is dishwasher safe
- Hand washing is also recommended
- After cleaning, dry it completely before storing
- Hand wash recommended
- Need initial seasoning
- Hand dry it quickly
- When dry, season it with vegetable or flaxseed oil.
What are the main differences between Cast Iron and Stainless Steel cookware?
- Cast iron is reactive to cooking acidic food but stainless steel is not. Cast iron adds a metallic taste to your food whereas stainless steel never alters the taste of your dish.
- For searing, roasting, and baking cast iron pan or skillet is better as compared to stainless steel. Because it retains heat well. Once you learn how to use a cast iron wok or pan, the cooking becomes a breeze.
- On the other hand, relatively less knowledge and practice is required to cook with a stainless steel pan. Preheat your stainless steel pan and put a few drops of water to check if its heated enough.
- Cast iron never requires soap or detergent for cleaning while stainless steel cookware requires proper soap to clean up the mess.
- Both are durable, reliable, and adaptable. Yet cast iron cookware falls into the category of heavy-duty heavy weight cookware whereas stainless steel has less weight.
Is cast iron cookware better than stainless steel?
Cast iron cookware is excellent for searing steaks or frying chicken. It can also be used to bake cornbread, sear fish fillets, and prepare vegetables.
Moreover, there are no synthetic coatings to flake off, and the iron content of cast iron cookware actually improves with use.
Although both cast-iron and stainless steel cookware are used in professional kitchens, many cooks prefer cast iron because it can be put in the oven. It also retains heat quite well so you have to use less energy to get the same results.
On the other hand, stainless steel cookware is lighter and easier to handle. It doesn’t need regular seasoning, either.
What is the main advantage cast iron has over stainless steel when cooking?
The main advantage cast iron cookware has over stainless steel cookware is that it retains heat for longer time. Both are durable and scratch-resistant. both can prepare food excellently. But once the cast iron pan heats up, you are required to adjust the flame to the low setting.
Is cast iron cookware good for your health?
Cast iron cookware is safe and healthy to use on a general basis, but iron can leach when the temperature gets higher. So, a person with an overload amount of iron should check with his medical practitioner to know if he can cook food that is prepared in a cast iron pan.
Is stainless steel cookware good for your health?
Yes, stainless steel cookware are good and very safe for your health. In fact, stainless steel cookware is one of the most popular types, and you can find stainless steel cooking pieces in almost every home. Although this material isn’t perfect, it has a number of health-related benefits that make it a smart choice.
Health benefits of stainless steel cookware:
Stainless steel is very durable and it doesn’t react with food or leach into your meals, so you can feel confident using it for all your cooking needs.
You probably know this already, but stainless steel emits no toxic fumes like other types of cookware like nonstick coats and Teflon.
Stainless steel cookware also resists chipping and scratching, so you won’t have to replace your set any time soon.
You can reheat food in the same pan without worrying that it will pick up toxins because of hot spots inside the pot, unlike other pots made with aluminum or copper.
It’s long-lasting and doesn’t react with food, so you can use it without any worries about toxicity or chemicals leaching into your meals.
When properly cared for, the material will last a lifetime and continue to be ideal for cooking all your meals.
It’s easy to care for and doesn’t require any special cleaners beyond soap and warm water, which makes it a smart choice for busy people who don’t have a lot of time to spend on cleaning.
When to use cast-iron cookware?
A lot of people are confused by this question. It’s not surprising because cast iron is both very versatile and inexpensive… but many cooks don’t know how to use it correctly! So here are some guidelines about when & how to use your cast-iron cookware safely and effectively.
In general, if you have to use a utensil to get food out of the pan, it’s not for everyday use. But there are many times when a cast-iron skillet is your best option.
You can use cast iron cookware for:
Deep frying – because it can be used over an open fire.
Cast iron is the go-to cookware for frying chicken or pancakes because of its ability to retain heat. For instance, a cast-iron skillet takes about four minutes longer to heat up than any other regular pan but will keep that heat longer (because of its thermal mass).
That means that when you drop your battered chicken into the pan, it’s already hot. And once you place your pancakes in there to cook, they’ll begin cooking immediately because of this thermal mass.
You can also use a cast-iron skillet for deep frying turkey on Thanksgiving – try doing that with anything else!
Stewing & Braising – because of its ability to distribute and retain heat.
A slow cooker (aka Crock-Pot) uses a similar principle: the ceramic material is porous and heats slowly but then retains that heat for a long time, which allows you to cook meals longer without having to constantly monitor them over your stovetop or in the oven. A cast-iron skillet does the same thing.
Deep oven-roasting – because it can be used like an old-fashion baking stone.
A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet can be placed right in the oven (top or bottom rack) and used like a baking stone, which distributes and retains that heat for long periods of time. This is especially important when roasting meats because you want the outside to brown but not burn before the inside is cooked.
Grilling – because it can be used over an open fire.
The primary reason that people choose not to grill with cast-iron skillets is the fear of ruining them, but if they’re properly seasoned, you can use them for this purpose! In fact, one benefit of a well-seasoned cast iron pan for this purpose is that it can be used with or without a grill grate.
So if you’re at the beach sans grate, just place your seasoned skillet directly over the fire to cook your food! If you are grilling with a grate, then just place your skillet on top of it – no need to change the way you grill if you have a cast-iron skillet.
Deglazing – because it can be used over an open flame.
Deglazing is the process of adding liquid to a pan in order to dissolve all of the tasty, crusty bits stuck there after cooking meat or poultry or roasting veggies.
You can do this easily with a cast-iron skillet over an open flame. Just place your skillet on top of the open fire or your cooking stove, turn up the heat to high, pour in some water, allow it to boil, and watch as all of the bits begin to dissolve off of the pan!
Making bread – because it can be used in your home oven.
According to experts, cast-iron skillets are perfect for this purpose because cast-iron takes a lot of the guesswork out of baking bread.
It heats and retains that heat over a long period of time, which allows the bread to get that nice crusty outside without burning or drying out before it’s finished baking. And because cast iron is also porous, it allows steam from inside the bread to escape while baking (just like with air-baked bread), which keeps the bread moist.
Cast iron is also great for making cornbread because it can withstand intense heat and will keep this heat inside of the oven, unlike other types of pans.
It’s no wonder that cast-iron pans were used in old-fashioned bakeries and by professional bakers!
When to use stainless steel cookware?
Stainless steel cookware is great for quick dishes that require frequent stirring or tossing! You can always be assured that there will be no burnt food residue on the bottom of your pot due to the smooth bottom. Very easy to clean and is dishwasher safe!
You can use stainless steel cookware for:
- Soups and sauces – stainless steel is perfect for long-simmering sauces that can easily stick to the pan. Foods that need frequent stirring would not stick to stainless steel cookware!
- Dishes with dairy in the ingredients – Since the milk solids don’t burn on the bottom of your stainless steel pot/pan, you can easily and safely incorporate dairy and other ingredients without worrying about them burning.
- Browning ground meat – Before cooking, ground meat needs to be browned in the pot/pan for optimal flavor. Stainless steel cookware can nicely do this without leaving burnt pieces on the bottom of your pan!
- Trying out new recipes – you can try new recipes without worrying about how it would turn out since stainless steel is very versatile. You can saute, simmer or braise the food with no worries!
Cast iron and stainless steel, both cookware are the best options when it comes to getting a durable long-lasting cooking utensil for your kitchen.
However, the majority of chefs enjoy and utilize stainless steel cookware since it takes less work to cook in a stainless steel pan. Chefs adore Stainless steel cookware for its simplicity of use, affordability, and adaptability.