The Many Benefits Of Cooking With Cast Iron
One memorable lesson I learned about the benefits of cast iron involved a plate of truly delicious blueberry pancakes that my sister Becky made one morning while I was visiting. She explained that the only “secret” behind her fabulous pancakes was that she cooked them in a cast iron skillet, which I had never tried or even considered a possibility before that transformative experience.
But since cast iron clearly made a world of difference in those blueberry pancakes, I started wondering what other benefits of cast iron cookware I may have been missing out on. I’m now much more familiar with cast iron cooking than I was back then, and I’ve truly come to see my trusty cast iron skillet as an indispensable part of my kitchen arsenal! I’ve discovered it’s the perfect tool when it comes to cooking meats, eggs, vegetables, and even baking bread!
In this post, I’m sharing 11 of the best reasons to own cast iron cookware and use it regularly. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll know that cast iron isn’t just a useful way to cook meat, vegetables, eggs, and brand, but that it can do so much more!
11 Benefits Of Cast Iron Cookware
1. No Toxic Stuff
Non-stick pans can be convenient, but they’re very easy to scratch up. That’s a problem, because those scratches can cause chemicals in the coating to leech into your food. Even preheating a dry non-stick pan can release toxic fumes into the air, so not having to worry about either issue is a great benefit of cast iron cookware.
2. Cast Iron Can Handle The Heat
Unlike other types of cookware, cast iron can withstand even the hottest cooking environments. Put it over a wood fire, on a gas range, in your oven, or anywhere else — cast iron can handle it all!
3. Food Doesn’t Stick
Let me clarify—food won’t stick to a pre-heated, properly seasoned cast iron pan. I’ve got a whole post on the best way to season cast iron and how to keep it seasoned so it’s non-stick and easy to clean.
4. Easy To Clean
Cast iron is surprisingly easy to clean, especially if it’s properly seasoned. You don’t even need to wash it with soap (and you shouldn’t do it often anyway, as soap can erode the seasoning layer.) In most cases, the best way to clean a cast iron skillet is to just wipe it clean with a paper towel, but if you need a bit of scrubbing power, kosher salt and a bit of cooking oil will get the job done.
5. Boosts Your Iron Intake
Iron plays a vital role in the human body, helping to maintain energy levels and strengthening your immune system, and cast iron adds a bit of iron to everything you cook. (Some doctors even recommend cast iron cooking to patients with iron deficiencies as a way to increase their iron intake, though according to Healthline, the amount of iron you’d get from cooking in cast iron may be limited.)
6. Relatively Inexpensive
In comparison with other types of cookware, cast iron pans are relatively inexpensive. You can easily pay over $100 for a high-quality stainless steel pan, but you can get a pre-seasoned cast iron pan for less than $20! (And that $20 pan will last a lifetime if you take good care of it.)
7. Beautiful Browning
Whether you’re looking to put a beautiful sear on a steak, or get a perfect golden-brown finish on your French toast, cast iron makes it easy! Because cast iron is so thick and heavy, it retains heat better than other materials, making it easy to brown or fry almost any food you can think of.
8. Even Heat Distribution
Another advantage of using heavy cast iron cookware is that it heats up more evenly than other materials. It’s common to experience hot spots with non-stick and stainless steel cookware, but cast iron heats up slowly and evenly. No more half-burned, half-raw cooking disasters!
9. Grilling Alternative
Whether it’s the dead of winter or you don’t have much outdoor space to speak of, grilling outside can be impractical. But having a cast iron pan is sort of like having an indoor grill, because you can get them really hot.
You’ll have no trouble searing steaks, chicken, and anything else you cook up, and a cast iron grill pan will even give you those picture-perfect grill marks too. (There are plenty of other grilling tips and tricks where that came from!
10. Works With Any Heat Source
Cast iron pans are perfect for cooking food over a fire, so they are popular with outdoorsmen and preppers alike. If you suddenly didn’t have access to your gas or electric range, your stainless steel and non-stick pans wouldn’t be of much help, but as long as you had a cast iron pan and a way to start a fire, you’d be cooking in no time!
11. Endless Versatility
In terms of versatility, cast iron reigns supreme over other types of cookware — you can use them to brown, sear, roast, sauté, grill, shallow-fry, deep-fry, bake, braise, and more. I especially enjoy using my cast iron skillet to bake delicious desserts like Triple Berry Cobbler and Fudge Cake (both of which are gluten free!)
What’s your favorite thing to cook in cast iron?