Many run into these two materials while shopping for a skillet. Which one is right for you?
Whether you’re just getting started in the kitchen or you’re a professional chef, a high-quality skillet is a must-have for frying eggs, sautéing veggies—and everything in between.
Two of the most common choices among home cooks are Enameled Cast Iron Skillets and Non Stick Frying Pans. Some even wonder if they should purchase both.
So, what’s the difference, and which should you choose? Or, are both skillets needed? It all depends on what you’ll be cooking, and how often. To make matters even more confusing, both can be excellent choices if made from high-quality materials. Here’s how to decide.
Cast iron skillets are poured into molds from molten metal, making them incredibly durable. Cast iron cookware is available in two varieties: Enameled cast iron and unfinished cast iron. Both offer exceptional heat resistance and non stick properties.
Enameled cast iron is coated with a thin layer of enamel that creates a smooth, non-porous, non-reactive cooking surface. Unfinished cast iron does not have that protective coating, and requires regular seasoning to maintain its non stick properties.
Enameled cast iron skillets are a pleasure to cook with because they combine the heating capabilities of cast iron with the smooth cooking surface enamel provides. Enameled cast iron is perfect for searing meats, baking bread, and sautéing everything under the sun. Many appreciate that the skillet can go between the stovetop and oven, perfect for reverse-seared steaks and oven-finished Dutch babies.
As cast iron is made from an iron and steel alloy, cookware constructed from it is ultra durable–even able to last lifetimes.
Cast iron’s extreme durability also extends to its ability to withstand extreme heat. Considering the metal can handle temperatures up to 1500F, searing a steak at 400F is nothing.
Naturally Non Stick
With proper seasoning, unfinished cast iron develops a frictionless surface made from polymerized oil and becomes naturally non stick. However, if not kept up, the seasoning will wear away, exposing the rough metal beneath and causing sticking. On the other hand, Made In’s Enameled Cast Iron is hand-enameled in France to ensure a smooth finish that does not require regular seasoning.
Just like any piece of cookware, there are elements of cast iron skillets that require some consideration before purchasing.
Handles Get Hot
Cast iron is lauded for its ability to conduct and hold heat. However, this does not stop at the handle, which holds heats as well as the rest of the skillet.
Unfinished Cast Iron: Regular Maintenance Required
Unfinished cast iron skillets require regular maintenance to achieve the non stick seasoning they’re known for.
While cast iron’s durability makes it a classic material for heirloom cookware, it’s significantly heavier than stainless steel and aluminum. Cast iron’s weight may be a factor to take into consideration, especially if you’ll be cooking dishes that require quick transitions out of the skillet.
Non stick cookware’s defining feature is its convenient and easy-to-clean non-stick coating—generally made of either ceramic or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Both provide a frictionless cooking surface that prevents almost any ingredient from sticking, be it flaky fish or fluffy eggs.
Non stick pans are typically constructed from stainless steel or aluminum, making them lightweight, versatile pieces to have in the kitchen.
Ease of Use
Non stick skillets are known for being incredibly easy to handle. Naturally, they make cooking stick-prone foods, such as pancakes or frittatas, a breeze, and minimize the effort required when it comes to clean up.
Unlike unfinished cast iron, non stick pans require practically no maintenance. Simply wipe the pan down and scrub gently to remove excess food or oil before drying.
Made from lightweight materials that conduct heat quickly and evenly, non stick pans are known to be a highly versatile, go-to item for both new cooks and experts.
While non stick pans surely have their benefits, just like any item, there are factors to consider before purchasing one.
Unlike skillets made from other materials, many non stick pans aren’t oven safe. If you’re looking to bake in your skillet or transition from stovetop to oven, you may want to consider a skillet made from a different material. Otherwise, ensure that the non stick pan you’re considering is heat tolerant—Made In’s Non Stick Cookware is oven-safe to 500F.
Lack of Durability
Non stick coating is more easily damaged than other types of cookware, meaning you need to be aware of your tool choice to maintain the surface. If you use a harder utensil material (like a stainless steel spatula), you run the risk of scratching or even chipping the coating, which could result in a loss of non stick properties.
Even the most high-quality non stick pan will eventually lose its coating and need to be replaced. Cheaper ceramic options, which lose some of their non stick coating each time you cook, may only last a year, while Made In’s is designed to perform for five to seven years. If you’re looking for a skillet that will last a lifetime, you may want to consider a different material.
While there are certainly pros and cons to each material, when you get down to it, our Enameled Cast Iron Skillets and Non Stick Frying Pans can’t really be compared. The two pieces serve as building blocks for a fully stocked kitchen, and complement each other in terms of their strengths and capabilities.
If you really need to choose, refer to the guide above to decide which material is best for you. If you’re looking to prepare dishes such as breakfast tostadas, you may want to consider a non stick skillet. For dishes like skillet roasted chicken, an enameled cast iron might be right for you at this time.
Now that you know the difference between enameled cast iron and non stick skillets, it’s time to get shopping.
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