Cast Iron and Stainless Steel are two of the best cookware materials available in the market these days. Durable, robust, and compatible with almost all cooktops, this cookware is resistant to scratches too. Despite being similar, the two materials are different in various aspects, which we shall deal with in this comparison guide. We will touch various factors that you should know about these metals, such as its quality and construction, reliability and performance, and benefits and drawbacks. Let's have a look at them in detail.
Cast iron vs stainless steel cookware: Let’s get started!
Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel Cookware: Full Reviews
Cast Iron Cookware Review
Cast Iron is molten iron poured into a desirably shaped cast. It is a material which lasts for several years and outlive you as well – this makes the cast iron cookware durable and robust. This material is resistant to scratches and dents; it does not experience wear and tear if you season the cookware regularly, which refers to polymerizing the surface by heating the oil over smoke level.
Cast Iron cookware is in demand because of its wide range of compatibility and ensures that you can have cookware, which is sturdy and durable. This type of cookware can be used with campfire grills, Dutch ovens, and other cooktops that perform with high temperatures. It can retain and store the heat the surface comes in contact with for a long time, ensuring that your cookware stays warm.
Is Cast Iron Cookware Safe?
Cast Iron is one of the safest materials used for cookware, as it does not have toxic elements that can enter the food that is being cooked in the container. Moreover, the surface of Cast iron is naturally semi nonstick, which avoids toxins from being emitted. A regularly seasoned and maintained cast iron cookware also shows less reactivity to acidic food items like tomatoes, chili, eggs, etc. as compared to unseasoned ones.
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Advantages of using Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron is extremely durable and long-lasting material cookware, which can even outlive you. It is resistant to scratches, and denting, and suffers very damage with robust use.
This cookware is compatible with almost all cooktops, including Dutch oven, campfire grills, and the sort.
It can retain and withstand high levels of heat without succumbing to the fire. This helps in keeping the food warm, as well.
Cast Iron is easy to source and build; this is why it is relatively cheaper cookware material and extremely affordable.
Cast Iron cookware leaches iron nutrients into your food – if you are someone who wishes for this, and this feature is resourceful for you.
Disadvantages of using Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron cookware requires regular and vigorous maintenance. You need to season it by polymerizing the surface with oil heated above the smoke point. This may be a hassle for some, but in the long-term, it is rewarding.
This material can rust very easily and, therefore, cannot sustain an unseasoned surface.
Some people do not prefer iron in their food; therefore, the iron leaching can pose as a problem.
This material shows reactivity to acidic food items.
Stainless Steel Cookware Review
Stainless Steel is a popular cookware material amongst professional chefs because of its versatility, and compatibility with almost all cooktops. It can retain high levels of temperature without succumbing to the heat and sustain that heat to keep the food warm. Stainless steel is an amalgam of several metals such as nickel, copper - and it can only be formed with at least 11% of chromium in its constituency.
Because of this, the material is heavy duty and robust. It can withstand accidental falls without experiencing any damage. Additionally, stainless steel is resistant to scratches, denting, and also rusting.
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?
Of all the cookware materials out there, stainless steel is one of the safest and is an almost non-toxic material. It does not react badly to acidic food ingredients such as eggs, chili, tomatoes, etc. Moreover, there is a very little amount of leaching of nickel or chromium into the food being cooked in the stainless-steel cookware, especially if you have multi-ply stainless steel. Compared to other materials, stainless steel is less toxic.
MORE ABOUT STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE:
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Advantages of using Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless Steel is the right mix of the heavy and lightweight. It is easy to maneuver, but not too light to buckle easily over cooktops.
This material is extremely durable. It can last for a long period without suffering from any major damage. It is scratch-resistant, rust-resistant, and does not dent easily.
Stainless steel does not show reactivity to highly acidic food ingredients such as eggs, chili, tomatoes, etc. This allows you to cook without fearing any bad consequences.
It absorbs heat quickly and retains it for a long time, which keeps the food warm. Stainless steel can withstand high levels of heat without suffering any damages.
This material requires low maintenance and can be cleaned easily without any fuss.
Disadvantages of using Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless Steel, if not multi-ply, then does not distribute heat evenly. This results in hot spots when you're cooking your food.
Natural stainless-steel material cookware can leach heavy metals like nickel and chromium into your food, which can increase the toxicity in your meal.
Low levels of heat have little to no power overcooking food.
As it is semi nonstick, it is possible that cleaning up may be difficult if too much food is stuck on the surface.
Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel Cookware: The Similarities and Differences
1. Compatibility and Versatility
Cast Iron is compatible with several cooktops, but not all cast iron cookware works with inductions. Other than that, cast iron can be used in campfire grills, Dutch Ovens, stovetops, etc. Because of this, it can offer versatility in the types of food you can make with it.
Stainless steel is a material that is even preferred by professional cooks and chefs. It is compatible with all cooktops, including induction, and can also withstand high levels of heat. It can work with Dutch ovens, glass cooktops, induction, campfire grills – you can use it for sautéing, browning, and perform other versatile cooking methods.
PS: Compatibility is a big concern for households that have induction cooktops in their homes; that's why Stainless steel is the clear winner for me when checking compatibility and versatility.
2. Durability and Sustainability
Cast Iron is known for its long-lasting capabilities. Many cast iron cookware sets have been passed down in generations of a family. This is possible if you maintain your cookware properly and season it regularly. Concerning this, your cast iron cookware can outlast even you without suffering from any major damage to its rustic looks or functionality.
Stainless steel is robust and extremely durable. It can last for several years without getting any scratches, rusting, or denting. They do not require any seasoning or maintenance that is specific to ensure its durability.
PS: In terms of durability, both materials are at par. But, because cast iron would not sustain unless maintained properly, Stainless Steel offers better durability and sustainability.
Cast Iron is a material that can withstand high levels of heat without suffering any damage or ruining the quality of the food. It is compatible with several cooktops and lets you cook a variety of cuisines. With proper maintenance, cast iron also becomes naturally semi nonstick.
Stainless Steel offers excellent thermal conductivity when it has been rendered to multi-ply. It can retain and distribute heat evenly, as well as keep the food warm for a good period. Stainless steel can naturally withstand high levels of heat without succumbing to it and is compatible with all cooktops. It performs well at a low level of flame, too.
PS: Performance is the most important aspect of cookware because it is directly effective in the way the food will be cooked. For me, stainless-steel showcases better performance because of its thermal conductivity.
4. Cleaning and Maintenance
Cast iron requires a lot of maintenance to sustain most of its resourceful features, namely – semi-nonstick functionality, resistance from rusting, etc. You cannot clean a cast iron cookware in the dishwasher; they need to be hand-washed so that the seasoned surface does not wash away.
Stainless Steel does not require a lot of maintenance and can be cleaned very easily. You can wash it in a dishwasher, as well. Because it offers semi nonstick functionality naturally, cleaning the surface does not require a lot of hassle.
PS: Although cast iron is highly reliable, stainless-steel offers easier maintenance and cleaning functionalities; therefore, stainless steel is for me.
5. Value for Money
Cast iron is easy to source and construct; that's why it is a relatively cheaper material. Compared to other cookware materials, cast iron is more affordable. Cast iron is a great investment if you maintain the cookware and season it adequately and frequently. With time and use, cast iron cookware only gets better, and it may provide you the properties that nonstick cookware would give you.
Stainless steel offers compatibility with all cooktops. This material is built with an amalgam of several heavy metals; it is more expensive than cast iron kitchenware. Stainless steel cookware is completely worth the investment if you are in search of something that looks elegant, yet is durable.
PS: Keeping each factor in mind, stainless steel, although expensive, is easy to clean and maintain, and can use used for several years; therefore, it offers a complete value for money for me.
Which Cookware Material Is Better: Cast Iron or Stainless Steel?
At the end of this guide, it is clear with the detailed comparison that Stainless Steel is the winner. It offers several beneficial features, and last for many years without losing its resourcefulness. Therefore, investing in buying stainless steel cookware will be bountiful and a smart decision.
Talya, like all members of the HomeDesignX team, is enamored by all things related to cooking and eating. She’s written cookware articles for numerous publications before working with her lifelong friend Jessica to create their very own website on cookware.
She's currently writing a book on induction cooktops, and enjoys making clean, vegan meals for her family.