Why use a cast iron skillet? With fun alternative reasons.

Vintage skillets on a table.

Why use a cast iron skillet? Here’s some lesser known reasons.

Using a cast iron skillet may seem outdated these days with other options available such as stainless steel, ceramic and titanium coated pans available. So a question you might ask yourself “Why use a cast iron skillet?”

Many people love to use their cast iron cookware and wouldn’t cook with anything. But there must a good reason why cast iron still remains so popular, even with its biggest flaw… the weight.

And just how heavy is a cast iron frying pan compared to different materials? Check out the table below.


Material

Weight
Cast iron
Lodge Boy Scouts of America pre-seasoned 12-inch skillet
(no lid)

7.4 pounds
Stainless steel + aluminum core
All-Clad D3 stainless steel 12-Inch Fry Pan
Tri-Ply Stainless Steel
(with lid)

4.5 pounds
Carbon steel
Lodge 12 inch seasoned skillet
(no lid)

4.1 pounds
Anodized aluminum
12-inch T-fal E76507 ultimate hard anodized skillet
(with glass lid)

4.4 pounds

So, if cast iron is so heavy, why do people still use iron skillets? Great question, people love their cast iron cookware and I’m one of them. As a cast iron collector, I can share with you a few insights on using cast-iron skillets that others may not know about. I’m going to mention the main reasons to use a cast iron skillet but I’ll focus on some lesser known reasons that you are unlikely to read on other articles.

In the following table you can see the main reasons people stick with a cast iron pan over modern alternatives.

Table: Three main reasons to use a cast iron skillet


Semi nonstick cooking surface

A trusty cast-iron skillet will never be as nonstick as chemically bonded surface such as Teflon.

However, it’s more nonstick than stainless steel and apart from stubborn scrambled eggs, I find food releases easily.

Versatility

You can use a cast iron skillet on almost any cooking heat source
including induction.

You can even bake a cake and use your skillet on camp fire.

Easy to clean

Cast iron skillets are very easy to clean. How easy? Well, some
cast-iron enthusiasts prefer not to use soap when washing their skillets. And a short soak in warm water lifts most stubborn stuck on food.

But despite what some people say, I like to use a little soap when necessary.
Why use cast iron skillets and cookware? In the picture are two cast iron skillets and antique cooking utensils

The benefit of using a cast iron skillet is the simplicity of the design and material.

The three perviously mentioned benefits boils down to the simplicity of cast iron skillets. Cast iron skillets don’t have riveted or plastic handles and they don’t have thin nonstick coatings that can scratch easily.

Instead cast-iron frying pans are molded in one piece. This totally eliminates the weakest point of most cookware…the handle.

Talking about the handle most cast-iron skillets have a short stumpy handle which you may think is a disadvantage. But if you plan to use your skillet in the oven, the stumpy handle is nothing short of brilliant. Because it will fit into your oven without taking up too much space.

Another key reason many people still prefer a cast iron skillet is that is relatively easy to clean, especially when to compared to stainless steel which can be a nightmare to wash. I often have to leave my stainless steel pans to soak over night before even attempting to clean them.

And while cast iron skillets are not as nonstick compared to chemically bonded coatings such as Teflon, they lack all those nasty unpronounceable chemicals. Instead old fashioned skillets are often coated with polymerized oil called seasoning which protects the pan from rusting. However, this polymerized oil also has another benefit; it will make your skillet semi nonstick.

Are you interested in some lesser known reasons to use a cast iron skillet?

Why use a cast iron skillet? Picture of my new skillet ready to cook great food.

You’ve probably come to this post because you’re looking for more in-depth information. And as a cast-iron collector, I can give you a few more reasons to cook with a cast-iron skillet. Check out some of the reasons below.

  1. each skillet has a unique personality
  2. cast iron makes a home feel welcoming
  3. cast iron has been used for centuries
  4. a cast-iron pan won’t break the bank
  5. from novices to experts it’s a pan for everyone
  6. quality is not limited to a few brands
Why use a cast iron skillet? In the picture a Lodge skillet is on a wooden table. Also in the table are old fashioned cooking utensils.

Each skillet has its own personality

I’m a huge fan of vintage cast iron, especially skillets that were made during the late 19th and early 20th century. And if you’re lucky enough to live in America there’s some fantastic antique pans around, often at reasonable prices.

These old pieces have real character, each looking slightly different and each having developed a different patina. These old pans were individually inspected and machined smooth, so the cooking surface on vintage skillets are often very slick.

These days new pans are no longer as smooth as the old timers unless you buy a premium brand such as Butter Pat Industries or Smithey Ironware Co. These companies have paid homage to the early American foundries such as Griswold and Wagner and make their ironware with great care and detail.

However, if you’re in the market for a budget friendly alternative then you may want to consider a skillet made by Lodge or Victoria. Both companies have a long rich history specializing in making cast iron products. I also think they have a smoother finish than many other brands and offer great value.

If you think new skillets don’t have character, put them side by side with the alternatives. I’m sure you’ll gravitate towards the cast iron. In fact, your skillet will get better with age, as it builds seasoning and develops its own character. Remember, these vintage skillets were once new themselves.

Cast iron skillets have a Little House on the Prairie feel to them

Why use a cast iron skillet? For the timeless design
This is a modern pan but the design is similar to what the settlers used in the mid 19th century.

Everyone loves cast iron, it has a lovely traditional look and feel. Sure Laura Ingalls would have been amazed by the new developments in cookware. However, I couldn’t imagine her using anything but cast iron.

Cast iron skillets have a real warm homely feel and make a home feel lived in. It makes a kitchen unpretentiousness and welcoming and they are often hung and displayed.

you are more likely to display a cheap $15 skillet over a $200 STAINLESS steel frying pan

Boonie Hicks

We have been using iron cookware for over 2000 years

If you are looking for a cooking surface that has been tried and tested then a trusty skillet could be for you. Cast iron is said to have originated in China over 2000 years ago. Over that time the technology spread to Japan where some foundries have been making Nambu Teki (iron water pots for making tea) for over 600 years.

If your’e interested in learning more about Japanese cast iron, you might want to check out the Boonie Hicks Japanese Cast iron page. I’m a little bashful but I think Ive put together a few interesting articles.

Old Japanese teapots on a bench. These teapots are hundreds of years old and look so beautiful .

You may have enough loose change in your pocket to buy yourself a new skillet

One of the main reasons I suggest using a cast iron skillet is the fact that it’s cheap. Yes, premium cast iron skillets can be pricy but most skillets are incredibly budget friendly.

A cast iron skillet really is great bang for the buck. And I haven’t mentioned what you can do with your skillet. However, a skillet that can handle high temperatures and is great for searing. Skillets can be used on the stove top as well as the oven. It really is a useful piece of equipment in any kitchen.

Now I don’t want to mention prices. Prices from retailers vary and there are many brands and sizes available. However, you might be able to pick up a new skillet for less than you spend on lunch. Now, I’d say that’s a real bargain.

From novice to expert, so many like to cook with a cast-iron skillet

It’s amazing, there are so many different choices out there but still so many choose to cook with a cast iron skillet. Sure, Professional chefs use a lot of stainless steel in restaurants because it responds to heat quicker.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if many chefs like to use a cast iron skillet in their own homes. You can bake, sear, fry and roast using a good old skillet. And remember those fancy restaurants using stainless steel pan also need full time dish washers to scrub those expensive pots.

There are many fine brands out there

However, you are not limited to one or two brands if you are looking for quality. There are other brands you can give a go. Camp Chef, Utopia, Coleman even Tefal make a cast-skillet. I was careful to say brand. Most brands outsource their manufacturing and it’s not to say they aren’t any good quite the opposite there’s a lot of fine cast iron cookware outsourced products I’d recommend and the quality is very good.

The old-timers still cook great

Why use cast iron skillets. Four vintage cast-iron skillets on a wooden table.

Again I must mention vintage cast iron. There’s plenty of cast iron around after all it does last forever if cared for. But here’s a few tips you may want to consider before buying a vintage skillet.

  • check for wobble in the pan
  • vintage may not mean it’s made in America
  • it doesn’t need to be a brand name to cook great meals
  • sellers may be asking too much
  • a quick research on the foundries name is not enough to determine collectability
  • cast iron forums or fan pages are a great resource to find out more
  • I recommend re-seasoning a vintage pan to make sure it’s clean for the new owner

There are few things to consider before rushing out to buy a vintage piece. However, a nice new skillet is most likely to be flat and seasoned ready to cook. That is why we recommend a new skillet for first-time users.

Why use a cast iron skillet? A photo of two eggs frying in a cast iron skillet.

Why use a cast iron skillet? We tried to give you some different information, we haven’t mentioned what you can do with a skillet but rest assured they’re great pans for cooking.

As mentioned earlier there are pros and cons and other benefits to cooking with cast iron skillets. We cover these in different articles and left them out in this article. I really wanted to bring readers something different. If you are considering a cast iron skillet they are available almost everywhere and it’s not going to blow the budget.

Why use a cast iron skillet? I hope we have answered the question. They really are fun to cook with. And if you’re new to cast-iron cooking then a skillet is a great choice and easy to use. From there you might want to venture into enameled pans, vintage or Dutch ovens. However, a trusty pre-seasoned skillet will give you loads of enjoyment and can make plenty of tasty dishes.

Happy cooking.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here