Cast iron pan vs. nonstick pan

Cookware & Cooking Tools

A cast iron pan is not nonstick. This means if you don’t keep your pan properly seasoned, it’s more likely that your food will stick while cooking.

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Is cast iron or nonstick better? 

When it comes to cookware, there are plenty of opinions floating around. People are particularly passionate when it comes to the debate between nonstick and cast iron pans. You often hear things like “nonstick pans aren’t safe” or “cast iron is really hard to maintain.” In order to decide whether cast iron or nonstick pans are better, you have to sift through a lot of information. 

To make an informed decision on which type of pan to purchase, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each. It’s also helpful to understand the characteristics of each type of pan. 

Cast iron pans

Cast iron pans are known for their ability to get hot and stay hot. This makes them great for cooking a variety of foods. You can bake bread inside of them or simmer a pot of stew. The methods of cooking you can use these pans for are also varied. Cast iron pans have a high melting point, so you can use them on the stovetop, in the oven or over a campfire. 

Cast iron pans either require or come with a layer of seasoning. Seasoning is oil that’s baked into the pan, with vegetable oil being one of the most popular choices. The seasoning of a cast iron pan is an ongoing process. The more you cook in the pan, the better the pan gets. If you want to cook more acidic foods, it’s suggested you wait until your pan has been seasoned several times. 

What you’ll love about a cast iron pan

While cast iron is often thought of as high-maintenance, caring for a cast iron pan is pretty simple. Once you’ve finished using your pan, all you have to do is rinse with water, dry, rub with oil while still warm and then store in a dry place. It isn’t recommended to use detergent or dish soap on your cast iron pan, as it can mess with the pan’s seasoning. This process is not only easy but adds a sense of pride and history to your cookware.

One of a cast iron pan’s best features is its durability. These pans have been known to be passed down through generations of families. Even if your pan rusts, it can be restored to its original state with some TLC. This usually happens when your pan is exposed to moisture. All you need to do to fix it is scrub the area that has rusted with steel wool, dry your pan, rub with oil and bake in the oven for an hour. 

What you should consider about a cast iron pan

A cast iron pan is not nonstick. This means if you don’t keep your pan properly seasoned, it’s more likely that your food will stick while cooking. You can prevent this by making sure to rub down your cast iron pan with oil after each use.

The durability of a cast iron pan is one of its main features, but it also comes with a downside. Cast iron pans are much heavier than other types of pans. This makes them more difficult to handle. They also sometimes don’t come with a handle that you can grip directly; handles on cast iron pans are often cast iron themselves and get extremely hot, which requires you to use protection when handling your pan. 

Top cast iron pans

Victoria Cast Iron Paella Frying Pan

Victoria Cast Iron Paella Frying Pan

This cast iron pan is 13 inches in size and comes pre-seasoned with flaxseed oil. It has two handles that make for easy handling and comes with pouring spouts for grease. This pan also comes with a lifetime warranty. 

Sold by Amazon, Macy’s and Home Depot

Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet Set

Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet Set

This set comes with three different sized cast iron pans. Each pan comes with a non-slip, heat-resistant silicone handle to protect your hands while cooking. These pans are crafted with a smooth finish to promote even heating and are perfect for making a variety of dishes. 

Sold by Amazon

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 3-Skillet Bundle

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 3-Skillet Bundle

This bundle comes with three cast iron skillets in sizes 8-inch, 10.5-inch and 12-inch. The two largest pans have an extra handle to help with carrying, and they all come pre-seasoned with vegetable oil. 

Sold by Amazon

Nonstick pans

Nonstick pans are a more recent development than their cast iron counterparts. Nonstick pans use a chemical coating to repel water and keep items from sticking by reducing friction. They’re known for being easy to clean and especially for making egg-cooking a hassle-free experience. 

Nonstick pans have some controversy surrounding whether or not they’re safe to use. The pans are safe for use as long as you use them correctly. Make sure to not exceed the pan’s heat limit, and if your pan has chips in its coating, it should be discarded. 

What you’ll love about a nonstick pan

The main benefit of a nonstick pan is in the name: food doesn’t stick to it. This makes for easy cooking and even easier cleanup. It’s also nice how these pans are widely available in every size and shape you could need. They’re lightweight, which makes them easy to manage, and they’re usually budget-friendly. 

What you should consider about a nonstick pan

Nonstick pans are not known for being durable. Typically, you should expect your nonstick pan to last you about 5 years. These pans also can chip and scratch easier than other types of cookware. If this happens, you’ll have to throw the pan out and replace it. In order to prevent this, avoid using metal utensils on the nonstick surface. 

Top nonstick pans

Ailwyn 11-Inch Nonstick Deep Frying Pan with Lid

Ailwyn 11-Inch Nonstick Deep Frying Pan with Lid

The nonstick coating on this pan is free of APEO and PFOA. The pan is deep and comes with an included lid. The handle is ergonomic and crafted from heat-resistant silicone to protect your hands. This pan also is unique and stylish in appearance. 

Sold by Amazon

Utopia Kitchen 11-Inch Nonstick Frying Pan 

Utopia Kitchen 11-Inch Nonstick Frying Pan 

This pan is made from thick aluminum and a dual-layer nonstick coating. Designed with ergonomics in mind, the Bakelite handle is riveted to the pan for a safe cooking experience. The surface is scratch-resistant, induction-friendly and has even heat distribution. 

Sold by Amazon

RAVELLI Italia Linea Nonstick Frying Pan

RAVELLI Italia Linea Nonstick Frying Pan

This pan is imported from Italy and has five layers of PFOA-free coating. It requires only minimal oil when cooking and has a heat-resistant handle. The Spitfire bottom ensures even heat distribution, and you can wash it in the dishwasher. 

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a cast iron pan or a nonstick pan?

The answer to this question depends on if you’re looking for a pan with longevity or one that’s the most convenient option. If you want a pan that’s durable and will last long enough for your children to use, a cast iron pan is the way to go. The extra effort required for its maintenance is well worth its lasting nature. However, if you prefer a pan that will bring you the least amount of work, a nonstick is a good pick. They’re the easiest pans to clean and cook with. 

 

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Morgan Freeman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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