Stainless Steel Vs Cast Iron: Which Is Best for Cooking?
Step By Step
Amigos! In this article, we are here to discuss the comparison between Stainless Steel Skillet and Cast Iron about their features, utilities, pros & cons, etc.
Do you know?
The major difference is the metal used for casting. Stainless steel and cast iron are mixed with carbon to enhance strength and durability. The difference is the ratio of carbon elements of both metals.
You must be wondering about that,
What is the ratio of carbon in the best stainless steel skillet and cast iron?
Let us tell you,
In stainless steel, carbon element is from 0.2 to 0.5 percent, but carbon element is from 2.0 to 3.5 percent in cast iron.
A lower portion carbon element makes the stainless steel smoother and shinier, while a higher proportion of carbon cast iron remains bumpy and spotty.
Professional cooks and restaurants use stainless steel cookware because they are practically indestructible. If used properly, stainless steel provides superior heat distribution, and the non-stick ability of stainless steel is an addition to the utility.
Cast Iron is a more porous metal hence needs a coating and oiling to make this pot non-sticking to the food. Cast iron is a heavier metal hence cannot be used in restaurants as chefs cook for longer durations.
A higher level of maintenance is needed for Cast Iron skillets as continuous heating or improper washing and storing damages the coating resulting in food sticking to the pot and exposure of pot to rust.
In the coming paragraphs, we will have a detailed discussion regarding the comparison of stainless steel skillet vs. cast iron.
1. What Must be The Size and Weight of Stainless Steel Skillet and Cast Iron?
Both metals can be molded in different shapes (round, oval, or square) with different depth ranges. Both the pots can be manufactured with different stylish handles, the addition of lids, etc.
As we talk about the weight of the skillets made from Stainless Steel, they are lighter than Skillets made from Cast Iron. Cast iron is thicker and heavier metal. Hence, handling Cast Iron pots is difficult due to their weight.
2. What is the Basic Construction of Both?
Stainless Steel skillet is an alloy of steel and carbon, but the proportion of carbon factor is not more than 0.5% and has shiner stronger coating on the surface. Stainless Steel is smoother and shiner metal and provides a non-stick effect towards the food being cooked. Stainless Steel can prove to have longer useful lives than cast iron, thus making them the best long-life stainless steel skillet.
Cast Iron is also an alloy of steel and carbon, but the proportion of carbon factor is higher, up to 3.5%. More carbon is added to make the metal stronger. But due to having more carbon, these need to be molded to pots thicker. Because of thickness, cast iron skillets are heavier than skillets made from stainless steel. While having more carbon cast iron becomes more porous metal and needs enamel/ non-stick coatings, which are sensitive to continuous and high heating.
3. Which one performs the best cleaning?
Cleaning of stainless steel skillets is easier and comfortable. Stainless Steel can be cleaned by any means, whether it is soap & water, or even scrubbing or dishwasher. As stainless steel has a more durable and strong shiny coating, it has minimal damage and exposure to rust.
While dealing with Cast Iron, in contrast to stainless steel, you will have to be more careful while choosing the cleaning method, and cast iron pots need to be dried thoroughly and oiled properly to prevent the surfaces from getting damaged or exposed to rust.
4. The Utility and Style of stainless steel skillet and cast iron:
Stainless steel is suitable for almost all types of cooking sautéing, braising, baking, browning, searing, roasting, boiling everything you want to cook. As stainless steel is non-reactive and non-porous cookware, you can cook practically anything, including acidic and smelly foods, with it.
Every kitchen needs to be equipped with stainless steel and cast iron cookware both together, as they are having a difference in their utilities.
Cast Iron is excellent in sautéing vegetables, braising meats, frying eggs and bacon, and simmering hot dips. It can also be used for cooking steaks since it has the ability for heat retention and does not get cold when meat is placed on it as cast iron is a porous metal; hence not suitable for meals that use garlic and such items which can leave a smell in the pores of the metal. You cannot boil water in Cast Iron.
5. Which one has a more useful life?
Stainless Steel is a smoother, shinier, and stronger metal that can last for decades due to its metal, strong non-stick coating, and non-porous surface. As stainless steel can be used on all types of stovetops and have fewer chances of exposure to rust, it increases its useful life.
Cast Iron has a less useful life as compared to stainless steel. Cast Iron being porous, reactive metal can get damaged while cooking acidic food. Protective coating on the pot can damage if not dealt with extreme care while cooking and cleaning. Improper cleaning can expose the pot to rust and reduce its useful life.
6. Which pan consumes how much fuel?
Stainless Steel cookware heats up easily and can distribute the heat to the entire surface; while Cast Iron takes some time to heat up, it also can distribute the heat to the entire surface. Cast Iron pots have a higher ability to retain heat. Hence, they do not get cold when the meat is placed on the surface, while stainless steel cannot retain the heat and gets cold when placed on the surface.
The above discussion implies that Stainless Steel could consume more fuel than Cast Iron.
7. Is Heat Retention good in stainless steel skillet or cast iron?
Stainless Steel utensils have less or no ability to retain heat compared to Cast Iron pots because stainless steel is non-porous and thinner. In contrast, cast iron pots are thicker and porous metals and have a higher ability to retain the heat well.
8. Heat Source of stainless steel skillet vs. cast iron:
Both Stainless Steel and Cast Iron are easy to use on all types of stovetops and other heating sources, whether used indoor for cooking delicious meals or in the outdoors while you are partying with your family and friends.
9. Temperature demand of stainless steel skillet and cast iron:
Stainless Steel and Cast Iron are both made as a carbon-steel alloy; Carbon is added to enhance the strength and durability of the metals to handle with heat well. Both the metals can sustain when they are heated.
The ability of both metals to deal with higher temperatures is unmatched. Thus, there is not much difference between stainless steel and cast iron when dealing with different temperatures.
10. Does maintenance of stainless steel skillet is easy or cast iron?
Stainless Steel is smoother shiner metal with a strong stainless coating on it. Hence, it becomes easier to maintain the cookware by simply washing and drying for the next use. As it is durable hence any cleaning can be applied to it.
Cast Iron is porous metal and has an enamel coating on it to prevent the pores of the metal. Hence, you have to be very careful while choosing how you clean the utensil? It could be cleaned with soap and lukewarm water. Thorough drying and oiling are needed for cast iron pots to prevent rust.
As discussed the stainless steel and cast iron skillets in the preceding, we are now able to conclude both. Some of us do not understand and consider stainless steel, and cast iron can be used alternatively for a variety of food.
Cast Iron has less utility than Stainless Steel. Being porous and reactive metal, cast iron cannot be used to boil water, cooking acidic or smelly food. But, cast iron remains ideal for sautéing, simmering, and braising.
Stainless Steel, a non-porous and non-reactive metal, can be used practically for any purpose, whether it is boiling, simmering, sautéing, baking, or braising anything you wish.
As per durability, cleaning, cooking ability, and other considerations, Stainless Steel Skillets are better than Cast Iron.