Talk to anyone who uses cast-iron and they will swear by it. Cast-iron cookware has been in use for almost 2000 years and is still some of the best cookware available. Once you make the switch, you’ll never buy another pan again. Literally never, because they last forever – see reason 10!
1. You can cook with high heat
Cast-iron has some fantastic thermodynamic properties when it comes to cooking and one of them allows for high heat cooking. Because of it’s mass it can withstand and transfer a higher amount of heat than a non-stick or even a stainless steel skillet. While some dishes work best with low and slow or steady sustained heat others work best under a burst of high heat for rapid cooking. A good steak requires a good sear at high heat, extreme heat even. Restaurants use fancy infrared ovens to hit steaks with up to 1200 degrees for an instant sear and while you won’t get your skillet that hot you can get it hotter than almost any other cooking element around. Check out this cast iron steak recipe.
2. Less Oil, Less Fat
Cast iron, when properly seasoned, has a very natural non-stick surface so when sauteing your favorite chicken recipe you won’t need nearly as much oil. Just a few teaspoons of olive oil can be enough for 2-3 pieces of chicken. That’s a lot less fat which makes cast-iron a much healthier option for cooking.
3. It’s not coated in 12 syllable chemicals
Modern non-stick pans have chemical based coatings to prevent food from sticking. The problem is it doesn’t all stay on the pan. A few scratches or cook past the rated temperature and your filling your food with not so tasty and definitely unhealthy oil and plastic based chemicals.
4. It’s great for baking
Because of it’s ability to withstand heat all over and evenly distribute it cast iron makes for a great baking pan. From steaks finished in the oven to baked desserts it won’t let you down. I recommend trying this cornbread recipe.
5. Cast-iron is much cheaper and higher quality than high-end cookware.
6. Super easy to clean
You won’t even need soap. Even with thick caked on food you can pour a generous amount of kosher salt into the pan and scrub it around with a paper towel. Once cleaned just rinse the salt away with water and wipe clean with a paper towel. You definitely want kosher salt as it’s larger grain aids in scrubbing.
7. It can boost your iron intake
According to the CDC iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. There are 146,000 ER visits and over 5000 deaths in the US every year due to it. When cooking acidic foods with cast-iron some of that iron can leach into your food and help boost your iron intake. This isn’t a substitute for medical care – if you suffer from Anemia see a doctor and stay on your iron pills – but for the average person it can be a definite help.
8. They are extremely insanely versatile
Cast iron can be used on gas, electric, or in the oven. You can cook with it on your grill, or over charcoal, or over an open flame. It can be used for steaks, stews, sandwiches, and nearly anything you can think of. One of my passions is trying to challenge myself to cook things in my cast-iron dutch oven – like 40 pizzas for a bunch of hungry scouts. I really don’t think there is anything you can’t do with it. Take the picture above where they are roasting coffee beans over a fire pit in a cast iron skillet.
9. They make perfect pizza!
Didn’t I mention they could go in the oven? Pizza, like steak, benefits from some high heat that gives the crust it’s good crunch and chew properties. Ditch the pizza stone and use your trusty iron skillet. Or, do it in a cast iron dutch oven.
10. They last a lifetime, or two or three!
Pictured above is a Griswold iron skillet of the type manufactured around the turn of the century. That’s the previous century. Griswold manufactured cast iron products from 1865 until 1957 and many are still in use today. There are countless stories of people using their parents or even their grand-parents cast-iron cookware. Not even the finest high-end expensive cookware will get that kind of use.
11. You can make crazy good desserts in them.
Like this smores dip. YUM! This goes back to their ability to be used for backing too. Line a pan with chocolate chips and cover with marshmallows. You can stick it right in the oven.
12. You can make the worlds best grilled cheese sandwiches in them
My 9 year old son brags that he makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world. I’m not gonna lie they are pretty fantastic. I just don’t have the hear to tell him that the cast-iron is doing the heavy lifting. Because they heat evenly and consistently they can give that bread the perfect crispy crust. Also great are pancakes, tortillas, crepes, eggs, hash browns, bacon, flat breads, and well, you get the picture. ANYTHING!
So, are you ready to run out and get some cast-iron? Or do you already have some? Tell me all about it or your favorite recipes. I’d love to hear from you. And if you liked this list please like my page on Facebook and share this article with the social media buttons below.