Cast Iron vs. Non Stick Pans: Which One Should You Get?

Cast-iron pans and non-stick pans are two of the most popular cookware choices. They’re both handy and trustworthy. So, really, who would not like them?

They are both great pans. However, you might be wondering which of the two is right for you. Today, let’s delve into a comparison of these two popular pans.

Cast Iron vs. Non Stick Pan Overview
Cast Iron Non-Stick
Material Heavy-duty iron Typically aluminum with a non-stick coating
Heat Retention Excellent Average
Durability Can last a lifetime 1-5 years on average
Maintenance Requires seasoning; more effort to clean Easier to clean; No seasoning required
Cooking Surface Can be non-stick when properly seasoned Always non-stick
Cost Can be pricey but considered an investment Typically cheaper but needs replacement more often
Health Concerns None when seasoned properly Concerns with damaged coating releasing toxins

Getting to Know Cast-Iron Pans and Non-Stick Pans

Before we put the two side by side, let’s briefly discuss each one.

Cast-Iron Pans

cast iron vs nonstick

Cast-iron pans are favorites among many chefs. You can use them for appetizers to desserts. These pans can handle high heat and retain that heat for long periods making them great all-around pans. They are versatile and suited for many cooking techniques.

That’s not all there is to these pans, though. They’re also durable pans. Cast-iron pans could last you a lifetime!

Non-Stick Pans

are cast iron skillets non stick

Now, let’s talk about non-stick pans.

Non-stick pans are renowned for their ability to cook meals without food sticking. That makes them easy to use.

Additionally, since food doesn’t stick to the pan, they’re also easy to clean.

Cast-Iron Pans VS Non-Stick Pans: The Similarities and Differences

Now, let’s put the two side by side to see their similarities and differences. We’ll be looking at their performance under five categories to make things easy.

Dishes and Cooking Techniques

is cast iron non stick

Cast-iron pans can handle heat well. That makes them suitable partners for a wide variety of cooking techniques and dishes. You can use these pans on the stove, but you can also take them down to the oven.

As a side note, if you plan on baking with your cast-iron pans, make sure you get an oven-safe one. It shouldn’t have handles and parts that could melt right off under extreme heat.

However, non-stick pans don’t handle heat as well. Extremely high temperatures could ruin their non-stick coating. That does not only make them ineffective but dangerous by then. As you might expect, this limits the cooking techniques and the dishes you can make in them.

If you’re looking for variety, go for a cast-iron pan. If you’re looking for quick and easy, you might want to opt for a non-stick pan instead.

It’s important to note that acidic ingredients should be avoided with both types of pans when possible. That’s because these ingredients can affect both pans negatively.

Winner: Cast iron pan

 

Durability

cast iron skillet vs non stick

Now, let’s talk about durability.

As you might remember, we stated above that if you handle a cast-iron pan well, it could last you a lifetime. Conversely, no matter how well you handle a non-stick pan, it will probably only last you a good five years at most. With that, we don’t recommend spending a fortune on non-stick pans. You don’t want to get a cheap one, as it might only last you a year.

Furthermore, you might not want to shell out hundreds of dollars as well. You might be able to surpass the five-year mark if you’re extra careful with your non-stick pan, but you will still eventually have to replace it.

Winner: Cast iron pan

 

Cleaning and Maintaining

Right now, you might be thinking that the cast-iron pan is the clear winner here. You might want to hold that thought. Things take a turn when it comes to cleaning and maintaining.

As you might have seen, cleaning and maintaining a cast-iron pan is not that difficult per se. It could be confusing and complicated at first, though. If you do a quick search on how to clean cast-iron pans, you will find that there are different opinions on what is the right way. Some would tell you to use soap. Some would advise you not to. To add, even if cleaning and maintaining a cast-iron pan is not that hard, it takes time and effort. Not everyone has that many resources to spend on a pan.

However, cleaning non-stick pans is quite straightforward.

Whichever pan you choose, remember not to chuck in the dishwasher, though! Whether the manufacturer says the cookware is safe for dishwashing or not, it is almost always advisable to hand wash them instead.

Winner: Non-stick pan

 

User-Friendliness

non stick vs cast iron

The two pans both have the potential to be user-friendly.

A non-stick pan is more user-friendly for those who are only starting their cooking ventures. Like with cleaning and maintaining, using non-stick pans are quite straightforward.

Also, they’re light. That makes them easy to hold and handle. There are some precautions you might want to remember, like avoiding metals and sharp objects with them, but they pretty much work how you would expect them to work.

In contrast, cast-iron pans are not as user-friendly for beginners. As you might have guessed from the cleaning and maintaining section already, you can’t just use them. Additionally, there are many differing opinions when it comes to using them. Don’t get us wrong, with time, we think anyone could get the hang of it.

To add, have you ever held a cast-iron pan? These pans are heavy! If you’re looking forward to flipping some pancakes, cast-iron pans are not your pans.

Winner: Non-stick pan

 

Non-Stickiness

cast iron non stick

When we’re talking about non-stickiness, both have something to boast about in this area.

If you looking for a pan that will easily help you achieve the lovely brown without the food sticking to it, you want to go for a non-stick pan.

You have to keep an eye on the coating, though. Once it gets damaged, it could render the pan ineffective and dangerous by then. Additionally, even if you take good care of your pan and its coating, the coating will eventually become inefficient over time.

On the other hand, you might want to opt for a cast-iron pan instead if you want a healthier non-stick coating option. Additionally, the non-stick coating you will get after seasoning and use will only get better and better with time.

However, just like the non-stick pan, cast-iron pans have their downsides. This non-stick coating is not easy to achieve. If you do it wrong, your food will stick to the pan. It might take some time to get the hang of it. Read more: Why Is My Cast Iron Pan Sticky After Seasoning?

Winner: Tie

The Verdict

As you might have seen, the two pans both have their ups and downs. The best pan for you would all boil down to which one would suit your needs.

If you looking for a pan that can help you with making lots of new recipes, you might want to go with a cast-iron pan. On the other hand, are you after a pan that can help you with your everyday meals? a non-stick pan might be better able to help you instead.

If you’re only starting your cooking ventures, I recommend trying out a non-stick pan first. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the field for some time and you’re looking to expand your skills, then you might want to try using a cast iron instead.

If possible, it might be best to have both types in your collection. I think it’s a good idea to have them both in your kitchen arsenal!

Summary

Today, we talked about cast-iron and non-stick pans and their performance in five fields.

First, we took a quick look at their ability to help you with different cooking techniques and dishes. You could say that the cast-iron pan won this round.

After that, we briefly discussed their durability. Another round that the cast-iron pan won.

Next, we talked about cleaning and maintaining them along with their user-friendliness. One could argue that the non-stick pan won these two rounds.

Finally, we talked about their non-stickiness. You could say that this round is a tie between the two.

The two pans have their ups and downs. Hailing the winner between the two is not that easy. In the end, the best pan is the one that can help its user, and which one of the two that is, is not always the same for everyone.

We hope we got to help you with this concern, and if you have more, feel free to give our past discussions a visit!

nonstick cast iron skillet

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