What’s the Difference Between Stainless Steel and Cast Iron?

We compared these two cookware classics to see which is right for your needs.

Maggie Talley|Jul 26, 2022
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There are countless cookware materials on the market, but no two are as iconic as Cast Iron and Stainless Steel. From the rugged, classic look of Cast Iron to the sleek, industrial feel of Stainless Clad, these two materials may look like opposites. But they have more in common than meets the eye. And while each type of pan has its own perks, we’d suggest

Stainless Clad Cookware

over Cast Iron just about any day. Here’s why.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Used in professional and home kitchens around the world, Stainless Steel Cookware—also known as Stainless Clad Cookware—is composed of several layers of metal bonded together. The terms “clad” or “cladding” describe the process of thinly layering the metals, which is why we refer to our Stainless Cookware as Stainless Clad. Most Stainless Clad Pans are either 3-ply or 5-ply—meaning they are constructed with either three or five layers of  metal. Check out

this helpful guide

to discover the difference between the two options.

Advantages of Stainless Steel

The cladding process allows us to combine the best qualities from four different metals in a single pan—making our Stainless Clad Cookware quicker to heat, easier to control, and much more durable. Able to exact precise sears on a stovetop, handle up to 800F in an oven, and boil water quicker than you thought possible, Stainless Clad Cookware is impossible to outwork. It is also

non-reactive

, meaning you can cook acidic ingredients in it.  And, with just a little maintenance, your Stainless Clad Cookware will last you a lifetime.

Ultimately,  unmatched responsiveness to heat is why Stainless Clad Pans are found in practically every professional kitchen around the world. This durable material is designed to withstand the rigors of industrial kitchens—so you can be sure it will perform just as well in yours.

Best of all, Stainless Clad Cookware requires minimal maintenance. You

won’t have to season your pan

before you use it, and it cleans in seconds. Simple messes can be washed with soap and water, and the tougher, stuck-on bits can be easily removed with cleaning solutions like our

Make it New Cleaner

or Barkeeper's Friend. You can learn more about Stainless Clad’s simple maintenance needs in this

complete guide

.

Considerations of Stainless Steel

Because Stainless Steel doesn’t require seasoning or have a non stick surface, food sticks to your pan more frequently than with some other cooking materials. However, this can be combated with quick tips like letting your food temper, or allowing it to come to room temperature before cooking it, preheating your pan, and using a high smoke point oil. This guide to cooking with

Stainless Clad

lays out other simple ways to prevent your food from sticking.

What Is Cast Iron?

An alloy of iron and carbon, cast iron is a popular cooking material known for its bumpy textured surface and profile. This surface also makes cast iron more brittle, which is why cast iron cookware is designed to be extremely thick—but even with this dense design, it can still crack if dropped.

Cast Iron is forged from a single piece of metal, which starts out as a liquid before being poured into a mold and fired. This means that when a Cast Iron pan heats up, all of it, including the handle, gets very hot.

Frequently used in a range of American dishes, cast iron cookware is available as a skillet, griddle, dutch oven, and a few specialty shapes for baking. It boasts extreme heat retention, making it a good option for cooking on an open fire.

Advantages of Cast Iron

When cared for extensively, cast iron cookware will last decades, if not a lifetime. It’s the reason why many people receive cast iron that’s been passed down from relatives. Cast Iron also has maximum heat retention, so it’ll stay hotter, longer. Heat retention is useful when searing and when slow cooking something like a stew.

Cast Iron is extremely tough. Most often, it can withstand temperatures up to 1500F, and can be used directly over an open flame. It is also naturally non stick due to its layer of seasoning. This allows home cooks to use less oil than with Stainless Clad.

Considerations of Cast Iron

Yes, cast iron can last generations, but it’ll take a lot of maintenance for it to get there. When you first receive your pan, you’ll need to season it, or add a thin layer of oil on the surface of the pan. This layer of seasoning must be monitored overtime—cooks can expect to re-season their pans, closely follow washing instructions, and must be careful to store them in a dry, safe environment.

This layer of seasoning also prevents the use of acidic ingredients in cast iron. Lemons, tomatoes, and wine will all begin to strip your pan of its seasoning and cause you to re-season.

Lastly, because cast iron must be poured thickly, the final result is a pan that’s extremely heavy. An average 12-inch cast iron skillet weighs nearly three times as much as our

12 Inch Stainless Clad Pan

.

Which One Is Better?

Cast Iron may appear to be rugged and tough, but in reality it’s quite high maintenance due to the layer of seasoning—it even requires special cleaning care. Because of cast irons’ aversion to acidity, it can’t be used for popular recipes like tomato-based sauces or chicken with fresh citrus. On the other hand, Stainless Clad can be used with any ingredient or recipe and cleans in an instant. Stainless Clad Cookware is also much lighter than cast iron, making it easier to maneuver around your stovetop or take out of the oven.

So Which Should You Get?

No matter the recipe, you can’t go wrong with Stainless Clad Cookware. With minimal maintenance and maximum results, you can create restaurant-quality meals with this professional-chef favorite. Shop our collection of Award-Winning Stainless Clad Cookware today.