Last Updated on July 30, 2023 by Emily Anna
Choosing between cast iron skillets and non-stick pans depends on your preferences, cooking style, and desired dishes. However, there are clear differences in their use and features when it comes to Cast Iron Skillet vs Nonstick Pan.
For example, cast iron skillets are heavy and made of durable metal that can last for many years. They are popular for their excellent heat retention and distribution, making them ideal for searing, frying, and baking.
On the other hand, non-stick pans are lightweight, easy to use and clean. Furthermore, they are widely used because food doesn’t stick to them, and they do not require much care. However, they do not last as long as cast iron skillets.
This article will help you understand the pros and cons of both types of cookware in detail and which one may be best suited for your needs.
Cast Iron Skillet vs Nonstick Pan
Cast iron skillets
Cast iron skillets are high-quality and durable utensils that can be used to prepare various dishes, including meat, vegetables, protein, and desserts.
Due to their excellent structure and high-quality metal, they can maintain any temperature level and are very popular for frying, searing, and baking.
Cast iron skillets are made of a thick layer of metal that allows the addition of ingredients that enhance the flavour of the food and are beneficial to your health.
With regular use, they can become more flavorful over time. The skillet’s excellent texture ensures the handle remains cool even at high temperatures for easy grip. However, proper seasoning of cast iron is essential to prevent rust.
Pros of Cast iron skillet
They can be used for multiple purposes. Cast iron skillets are versatile as they can be used on the gas stove, oven, and grill at your desired temperatures. Also, they have the unique feature of being suitable for frying, searing, and even baking.
A cast iron skillet is always considered chemical-free as its coating contains no harmful chemicals and is made from iron, a natural element seasoned with natural oil. This cookware is also considered a chemical-free and safe option for cooking.
Adds iron to food
Using a cast iron skillet is very beneficial for your health. For example, it is essential for many functions in the human body, including producing red blood cells and transporting oxygen.
So, being made of iron, it provides an additional source of iron in your diet. Therefore, cooking with a cast iron skillet can be an excellent way to help prevent iron deficiency.
Proper seasoning of a cast iron skillet can make it non-stick. Seasoning is a method in which you bake the surface of a cast iron skillet in the oven after coating it with a thin layer of oil.
This method creates a natural non-stick coating on the cast iron skillet’s surface, making cooking easier. Further, oil droplets fill the small pores on the skillet’s surface, helping prevent food from sticking.
Adds flavour to food
Iron skillets can add a unique and delicious flavour to your food through natural seasoning, heat retention, and iron transfer.
Especially when cooking meat in a cast iron skillet, the high heat helps create a nice crust while caramelizing the outside and keeping the inside juicy and tender.
Cons of Cast iron skillet
Cast iron skillets are quite heavy in terms of weight. Many people who struggle to lift weights may struggle to flip or pour while cooking. Due to their weight, they may not be suitable for tasks that require agility or fine motor skills.
Longer preheating time
Due to its material and structure, it takes longer to heat up, which can be frustrating for people who want to cook quickly. If you don’t heat it properly for a sufficient amount of time or heat it too quickly, it can lead to raw cooking.
Even in such a situation, food may be sticky and burnt in some areas, while it may be under-cooked in others. However, there are some simple and proven ways to clean burnt pan and other cookware items.
Seasoning the cast iron skillet before use is extremely important. If you don’t season it properly, it will rust very quickly.
Cast iron is a reactive metal that readily reacts with acidic or alkaline foods. So, cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes, vinegar, or lemon in a cast iron skillet can change the flavor and color of the food. Also, using it can be frustrating if you want to cook small quantities of food.
Due to their many features, cast iron skillets are more expensive than other cookware. That’s why most people may not be able to afford them.
Non-stick pans are typically made of Aluminum or stainless steel coated with a non-stick surface, such as Teflon. The non-stick feature of these pans is due to the chemicals on the surface that prevent food from sticking. They are great for cooking delicate foods and are lightweight and easy to use.
Further, non-stick pans are especially useful for cooking sticky foods, even with little oil. However, they cannot withstand high temperatures, so they are typically used for lighter foods such as eggs and fish.
The non-stick surface can quickly become scratched and chipped if you don’t care properly. Further, high heat can damage the non-stick coating, so they are unsuitable for high-heat cooking methods such as searing.
Pros of Non-stick pans
The most commonly used non-stick pans are made of Aluminum, and they are excellent heat conductors. Due to their quick heating feature, they do not take much time to cook.
Easy release of food
Easy release of food is the major advantage of Non-stick cookware. The cookware’s non-stick surface helps prevent food from sticking to the surface when cooking foods such as eggs, pancakes or delicate fish filet.
Easy to handle and maneuver while cooking, the non-stick coating on the pan allows food to slide easily without sticking. It also reduces the need for heavy scrubbing and scraping.
Additionally, the lightweight of non-stick pans can make them more suitable for people who have difficulty lifting or manipulating heavy cookware.
Non-stick pans are often made of non-reactive materials, so they do not react with alkaline and acidic foods. These pans have a coating of materials such as PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) that makes them non-reactive.
Furthermore, reactive pan such as nickel are avoided in non-stick pans, making them the best choice for those with sensitivities and allergies.
One of the potential benefits of using a non-stick pan for cooking is that less oil or butter is needed. This means you can cook food using this type of pan with minimum oil, which can reduce calories and fat intake.
Cons of Non-stick pans
The biggest drawback of non-stick pans is that they cannot withstand high heat. If you use them on high heat, their surfaces may start to crack and release harmful fumes. Therefore, while cooking, the temperature should be kept within its capacity.
Tendency to scratch
Using any metal utensil while cooking with a non-stick pan can easily scratch the surface, causing materials to be released into the food, which can be harmful.
The coating can wear off over time
Regular use of non-stick pans can cause their coating to wear off over time, which is not ideal for properly cooking food.
Changing pans over time becomes mandatory to avoid potential health risks related to pans, which is a sure sign that they cannot last long.
Limited cook techniques
The downside of non-stick pans is that they cannot be used for searing and baking. Their surface also does not allow for the Maillard reaction, which helps brown the food. If the temperature is too high, you may also risk overheating it and emitting harmful fumes.
Potential health risks
The biggest disadvantage of using non-stick pans is the fumes that can be emitted, leading to health issues such as liver cancer and respiratory problems.
The coatings on the surface of non-stick pans may also contain substances such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is known to cause cancer, thyroid disease, and fertility problems.
So what can we conclude from this? Well, it depends on your preference and the type of food you want to cook. Cast iron skillets are useful for their delicious taste, natural minerals, chemical-free surface, versatility, high-heat cooking, roasting, and durability.
However, non-stick pans are the best choice for non-stick cooking, time-saving, non-reactive surface, easy to handle, and delicate food preparation with a minimum usage of oil. Overall, depending on your needs, having both pans in the kitchen can be useful.
FAQs on Cast Iron Skillet vs Nonstick Pan
What are the healthiest pans to cook with?
When should you not use a cast iron skillet?
You cannot use a cast iron skillet for cooking eggs, lemons, vinegar, sticky sweets, and highly acidic and alkaline foods.
Why is a cast iron skillet better than a regular skillet?
However, regular skillets are made of a thin layer of Aluminum which does not have much heat resistance. On the other hand, cast iron skillets are made of stronger metal, can withstand high heat, and add iron and flavour to food.
Why do professional chefs not use non-stick pans?
As the heat increases, non-stick pans emit harmful fumes from their surface, which can cause various diseases. Therefore, professional chefs often avoid using them.
What are the disadvantages of cast iron Skillets?
Cast iron skillets are heavy and may not be suitable for cooking sticky foods. If they are not properly seasoned, the food may cook unevenly and be difficult to maneuver during cooking.
Is it ok to use Cast iron every day?
Cast iron is known worldwide as the best choice. Overall, most people choose cast iron for their daily cooking routine.
Daily use of cast iron provides nutritious food and adds more flavour over time. Also, this cookware is 100% safe for everyday use.
Do you oil Cast iron after every use?
Applying oil after each use is beneficial in protecting the skillet from rust. Oiling the skillet’s surface after every use is recommended to enhance the quality of your food.