When it comes to cookware, two very popular types that modern home cooks and professional chefs rely on are cast iron and non-stick pans.
Because each one is made from different types of material and constructed differently, the question often comes out to which one is better.
The Art & Science of Cooking
There’s a common phrase that cooking is an art.
But in today’s world, cooking has become as much art as science with all the high-tech gadgets like immersion circulators and convection ovens available. Plus, you have all the varying cooking techniques.
When making an informed decision on what cooking appliance is most suitable for your kitchen, considering the science aspect of cooking and how the equipment functions towards its purpose is important.
The modern kitchen is a beehive of activities and as such, proper care and thought should be given in selecting the best cooking appliance. Certain factors come into play here.
It’s Not Just About the Cost
Some people will settle on one particular appliance due to the fact it may be cheaper compared to another similar brand. Others meanwhile, might look at the technological aspects or may even be influenced by customer reviews on a given appliance.
The cooking pan is arguably one of the busiest appliances in the modern kitchen. It is majorly used for frying, searing and browning foods.
Pans vary in shape, size, design and material. And like any other kitchen appliance, selecting the correct pan will be greatly dependent on individual choice as well as the intended functions.
Pans come in different categories too, the most common of which are the cast iron and the non-stick pans.
This article will provide an in depth look at these two types of pans, and shall analyze all comparisons between the two in a way that will leave any would-be buyer with an informed choice on exactly what type is suitable for what needs. The following are therefore some of the differences between cast iron and non-stick pans.
Cast Iron vs. Non-Stick Pans
1. Health-related factors
There has been a widely advanced theory that the non-stick pans are particularly not good for cooking due to possible serious health concerns that they pose.
Though not completely authenticated, it is believed that upon contact with heat, the non-stick cookware releases harmful toxins and chemicals that may be detrimental to the health of the user.
On the other hand, cast iron pans are known to be relatively safer in that regard, thereby making them the most preferred choice against the background of health.
- If your main concern is health and safety, choose cast iron pans.
Considered as one of the greatest determinants of the choice between cast iron pans and non-stick pans, convenience has comfortably placed the non-stick pans way ahead of the cast iron ones.
Convenience comes from the fact that cooking food in the non-stick pans is generally easy since very little oil is required. This not only lets you saves on cost, but helps you limit the amount of fat added to your meals.
There’s also the very important issue of food not sticking to the surface of the pan. This lets you easily pan fry as well as saute fish and other sometimes hard to cook foods that as known to sticking to pan surfaces.
One extra convenience that non-stick pans have over cast iron ones is their weight. They don’t have the extra heft of cast iron making them easier to control, flip as well as store.
The cast iron pan on the other hand is heavy and bulky, hence posing greater challenges during cleaning due to the many food substances that stick to its surface.
- In terms of cooking convenience, non-stick pans are a better option.
3. Heat conductivity
Due to its thickness, the cast iron pans are especially capable of distributing heat evenly across its surface. Just as importantly, the material does a very good job in preserving the heat too for some time even after being detached from the source of heat.
This helps in ensuring the food being cooked in it gets ready at once, without having certain sections of it under-cooked.
On the converse side, the non-stick pans are highly disadvantaged by their lightness as far as heat distribution is concerned, and neither do they preserve heat for long.
- When it comes to heat retention and even distribution, go with cast iron pans.
4. Ease of Maintenance
Due to their thickness and material, cast iron pans are more predisposed to rusting than their non-stick counterparts. This poses the challenge of maintenance, since you have to ensure that they get thorough wash using rust removal solvents.
The non-stick ones are however easier to maintain, thanks to their lightness as wells as the smooth easy to wash surface.
- For cleaning and maintenance, non-stick cookware have the advantage.
As far as durability goes, the cast iron leads, and understandably so. Its thick body is especially resistant to physical stress.
Its ability to hold and conduct heat also makes it impervious to being used in high heat cooking as well as for long durations.
On the contrary, the non-stick pan will easily yield to physical pressure and it’s not surprising to see a new one dented just on the first day.
Non-stick pans, especially those that aren’t made with the highest of quality also see their Teflon upper layer slowly deteriorate over time or can scratched off if you don’t use the right utensils.
- If you want something durable, stick with cast iron cookware.
Lastly, we come to cost.
While it is the last of our factors, it often takes a much higher priority during the shopping stage. Anyone who’s conscious about how much they spend for their cookware will be able to save a few dollars by going with cast iron pans.
You may find some non-stick cookware that are inexpensive, but experience has taught us that the health risk, along with the short lifetime of these products aren’t worth saving the extra bucks.
Good non-stick pans are expensive because they cost more to make plus use more expensive material. Cast iron meanwhile goes back to old fashioned metal work.
- As far as price goes, cast iron is a better option for the cost conscious.
All in all, the choice of the best cookware, cast iron vs. non-stick pans, will squarely rest on you the chef.
Each of the pans excel in certain areas but perform quite poorer relative to the other in particular areas. Choosing one over the other type of cookware is easier when in reference of what cooking method you often use, as well as what foods you like to cook.
The good news is, both types of cookware are relatively affordable, which is why most kitchens have one of each type.