If you are reflecting on how to cook a delicious cut of meat or considering an investment in a good pot, the decision between cast iron and stainless steel can be difficult. Both sides have vocal supports and both types of cookware are useful and versatile. We put the head of the cast iron skillet on the head with stainless steel in various different categories. Read on to see our findings.
Cast Iron Vs. Stainless: An Introduction
Cast iron has long been known as family heirlooms, esteemed for its durability and how they seem to cook better over time. Cast iron is made by pouring molten cast iron and sometimes steel or pieces into a mold, resulting in a heavy and sturdy tray. Most new cast iron pots today come pre-hardened, which means that cooks do not have to perform the initial condiment steps before use.
Of course, we are talking only about cast iron pots, trays, and other cookware, which are a different story. The bare cast iron requires time and attention and must be hand-held (soap-free) after each use and periodically tempered.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is less spoiled when it comes to long-term care and cleaning. You don\’t have to temper the stainless steel and you can wash it with soap (we always recommend hand washing than stainless cookware, but most of them are technically safe from the dishwasher).
A stainless steel pan is usually not only in straight stainless steels. Because it is a poor heat conductor, most cookware will have a layer or “Core ” of another material, typically aluminum or copper. Most of the quality stainless cookware you buy will be 18/10 (18% chrome/10% nickel), but the most expensive pieces and sets will have more layers (coating). Tri-ply is very common in Premium sets, but more companies are surpassing their layers up to 5 folds.
Before you see some specific areas, here is a quick look at the main differences between cast iron and stainless steel:
- Weight: thick stainless steel or multi-layer can be on the heavy side, but the cast iron is much heavier in general. This makes it difficult for some cooks to handle when the pot is full.
- Washing: Cast iron has more details and manufactures and DON\’TS than stainless steel.
- Reactivity and flavor: Cast iron is reactive, which means it will interact with some foods (mainly acids such as tomatoes) and may affect the flavor before the skillet is completely lukewarm.
These differences can make it sound like the clear winner is stainless steel, but it\’s not that simple. Despite these differences, cast iron does an amazing job of retaining heat and cooking evenly. Its durability and weight give it legions of fans and it is not uncommon for cast iron pieces to last lives.
Both types are large in scorching meat, preserving heat, and being highly versatile. Both can go from the stove to the oven (although the cast iron skillet can usually take even higher temperatures once there). Both require precision and practice to learn how to cook properly with the pots. And in favor of cast iron: This type of tray can develop a non-stick interior when BEM-tempered. Stainless steel will never be non-stick, although cooks develop techniques to prevent food from sticking. In addition, cast iron is more durable and does not bend, something that can happen with stainless steel.
Conductivity and retention
The smelter is fantastic for conductivity and retention. In general, it takes a good time to warm up, but since it mainly offers even heating (depending on your stove and type stove) and keeps the temperatures extremely well. Cast iron can be used in all kinds of kitchen worktops including induction.
The stainless steel by itself is a terrible heat conductor, so most kitchen utensils have an inner layer. How well it runs will depend on the material used in this inner core, the number of layers, and so on. As a general rule, copper is the best choice for the inner layer, but it is more expensive. Aluminum still works well and is less expensive-the difference in heating between copper and aluminum is technically quite minimal, but many cooks swear by copper cores. Most stainless steel can also be used in all kinds of cooktops including induction, but it is not guaranteed (so you always check!)
In short: The stainless steel heats up faster, but the cast iron gets warmer. There is some disagreement about even the cast iron heating-some say it heats evenly, other experience problems with hot and cold spots-but the stainless steel should warm up fairly evenly (if it is a high quality mould). However, both work for most types of cooktop and both can resist the oven.
“Sanitation ” is something that many people talk about cooking utensils. Non-stick, for example, gets a bad reputation of being “unhealthy “, and this distinction goes back to discovering the toxicity of the PFOA. PFOA is commonly found in Teflon, but nowadays few cookware companies use it. Instead, most use PTFE, which is widely regarded as a safer alternative. Still, there are still concerns about any non-stick surface as so many strangers lurking in the chemical composition. And, there are potential and proven problems when the anti-adherent pans get too hot. The biggest problem with today\’s non-stick pans is that it can start breaking at high temperatures and the finish can start the flake.
While there is less to worry about a lot of non-stick pans out there – remarkably hard anodized aluminum – Many cooks want to stay away from the non-stick altogether. Then comes the question: How healthy are stainless steel and cast iron pans?
Before answering this question, a warning: In my experience, everything we cooked with was considered “unhealthy ” or “unsafe ” by someone, somewhere. Whole sites talk about “healthy ” utensils and it seems that everything should be feared according to some of these sites. This is just to say: you will find contradictory information, no matter what there is and there is much fear-it is entering the air.
Cast iron is free of chemical products. This means that none of the things found on the stick is found in a cast-iron frying pan. However, cast iron can leach iron in your food. Some say this is a health benefit; Others warn of potential hazards due to too much iron. I have not found a credible source to claim that cast iron is, in fact, dangerous, and most say it is perfectly safe. As always, check with your doctor if you are worried.
Stainless steel is also free of chemical products. Iron is not leached as cast iron. Most stainless baking utensils have nickle, so those with allergies to it will want to find the nickel-free cookware. Now, we could say that stainless steel is less healthy than some kitchen utensils, because it requires more added fat in order to have some foods that do not stick. However, you can use fat as well as butter (like olive oil) and not have as much calories added.
In conclusion? Both are safe, but the iron and nickel content may be questionable for some individuals.
Both household materials are a dream to cook meat. Cooks may prefer each other to the right type of sear, but both require some technique and some precautions.
Let the meat sit and take part of the shiver, this is particularly important for stainless steel, as it will be more affected by the temperature drop when you put the cold meat in the hot skillet, but it is a good practice for either of the two. Also, be sure to pet the meat with a paper towel and season before throwing it in the frying pan. This will help to develop this beautiful crust that you are looking for.
Another tip to burn in any of the pots: do not move the meat until it is ready. If there is still resistance when you try to turn, you need a little more time! This is the biggest mistake that cooks make when they pass from non-stick to stainless steel. The frying pan will release the meat naturally when it is ready to be launched.
What\’s better? If you guessed “Depends”, you are correct.
I prefer to make a pan of flavor in a stainless steel pan on my smelter. I tend to get a better Sear of my stainless steel, too, but this could be because my cast iron is so well tempered that it is almost as non-stick as regular non-stick pans. Newer cast iron can be as good or better than stainless steel.
It also depends on the frying pans you have: if what you are trying to use has hot spots (either stainless steel or cast iron)-You can change your Sear capacity evenly. In general, my opinion is that stainless steel is the best for scorching, but cast iron is ideal for pouring meat before a longer cooking situation.
Cooking everything Else
My cast iron skillet is my Go-to for all slow and low cooking and anything that goes from the oven to the stove. Here is a general guide of what type of cuisine is best for everyone.
- Oven Stove
- Eggs and other foods “sticky “… Once the pan is warm
- Saucepan Sauces
- Daily Kitchen
I say “cook every day ” in stainless steel just because it tends to be a little easier to clean and store than cast iron. However, there are a lot of cooks who use their cast iron every day!
The care of each
As I just said, stainless steel is a little easier to clean, but for best results, never put your stainless steel through the dishwasher. You will get a better look and more durable pans if you wash your hand. I\’m not going to lie and say I never run my stainless through the dishwasher, but I definitely try to wash my hand and dry it thoroughly every time I use it. For stubborn stains, rainbow marks and other cleaning problems, Barkeeper\’s friend (or any other similar cleaner) works very well. You can also use vinegar and baking soda for general cleaning and to attack trapped in things.
Cast iron requires a different type of cleaning approach. For one, you should never use SOAP for regular cleaning (although some will dispute this). You have to dry it thoroughly to avoid oxidation, and it is a good idea to add a thin layer of a neutral oil before putting it away. Some cooks do a whole thing after using it and put it in the oven for a while after it is cleaned and oiled. I don\’t do that. But it might be worth investigating if you don\’t use it daily or if you want it to be in perfect condition.
Cast iron must be occasionally tempered.
As for utensils, manufacturers usually say that any type-including metal-is good for both types of pots. However, please note that the use of metal utensils will eventually add some scratches (or \’ character \’ if you prefer) to your stainless steel. And sometimes you get black flakes of cast iron. These flakes are not necessarily the coating, which are more likely caught food for the previous cooking animals. Wood, silicon and other softer utensils may be preferable, but the key to note is that you can use metal for each one.
Where Cast Iron Excels
Well, you\’re probably ready for the conclusion. Which is better: stainless steel or cast iron? In a perfect world, you\’d have both. You would have a large cast iron skillet (Heck, you can get one from Lodge for less than $30, so why not?) and you would have a large stainless steel skillet (or set of cookware). But, as a matter of discussion, here are the ways in which cast iron is better:
Longevity: While good stainless steel can last for a long time, cast iron is good for life (or more). Because you can renew it when it\’s in bad shape, there\’s really no reason to ever replace it.
Cheap: Cast iron is cheap, smooth and simple. A lot of cooks claim to have found their pots for a few dollars in thrift stores or flea markets, but the new pots are still very affordable.
Versatile: For those who love cast iron, the material can do everything. Because of its properties, cast iron retains good heat and can be used for most dishes, plus it can be used in a fire if it is cooking outside.
Non-stick: When not non-stick in the direction of Teflon, cast iron generally makes it better in non-stick action once a good condiment has been established. Stainless steel cannot match.
When Stainless Steel is Better
And finally, here are all the advantages of stainless steel cast iron:
Lighter: Cast iron is heavy, which represents a problem for some cooks. Stainless steel is lighter and easier to handle.
Non-reactive: stainless steel does not react with acidic dishes such as cast iron or give a funky taste that the cast iron sometimes does.
Cleaning: It is simply easier to clean stainless steel in general. Some cast iron lovers will say that if the frying pan is properly tempered, then the cleaning should not be a problem, but the stainless steel still comes out in general cleaning-friendliness.
Bread sauces: I told you before and I\’ll say it again: Stainless steel is the best to create an amateur that will lead to delicious bread sauces.
In conclusion? Cast iron and stainless steel are excellent baking materials. Much of what we discussed here is based on preference, so what will work for you will depend on your own experiences and preferences. Of course, I suggest you have one of each, but if that\’s not possible now, let\’s hope you have a good sense of where to go for now. …