Blog Nonstick, Cast Iron, and Carbon Steel… Oh My!

Which kind of skillet should you have in your kitchen – traditional nonstick, cast iron, or carbon steel?  The short answer:  You should have at least two types of skillets in your kitchen.  I personally have all three, but with a good nonstick skillet and a durable cast iron or carbon steel one, all your cooking needs should be met.  Let’s go over the three types that we carry at The Kitchenette:

Nonstick Skillets (GreenPan, OXO):  Our OXO skillets have traditional PTFE coating (once known as Teflon – back when nonstick coatings were very bad for you and your household pets).  They are easy to clean, lightweight, and low maintenance.  They don’t last forever though, as the nonstick capabilities only last about 8 years.  As far as ceramic coating (our GreenPan line), they can withstand higher temperatures than PTFE but aren’t as durable.  They transmit heat well, so I tell customers not to heat their skillets at a setting hotter than Medium.  Metal utensils should not be used with nonstick skillets, and they are not dishwasher-safe.

Cast Iron Skillets (Lodge):  A cast iron skillet will last you forever if you take good care of it.  IT is the  most durable, has the best heat retention, and is the most versatile since it can go from stovetop to oven.  If you are intimidated by cast iron because you think you have to season it after every use or you think it’s gross to use it over and over with random food remnants stuck to it, I’m here to tell you that not only do you NOT have to season a cast iron skillet after every use, but you can also use a little bit of dish soap to clean it.  Scrape off any food remnants after use, wash with a drop of soap and some hot water, make sure it’s COMPLETELY DRY (so it doesn’t rust), and apply a light coating of vegetable oil evenly throughout the inside of the pan before putting it away.  That’s it!

Carbon Steel Skillets (BK):  This is now my favorite pan for things like cooking taco meat, searing steak or chicken, and stir-frying.  Popular in industrial kitchens because of their high heat retention, these pans hold their temperature well in the oven, are more lightweight than cast iron, and are more durable than traditional nonstick skillets.  You can use metal utensils without fear of scratching them, which is always a plus.  Crepe pans, woks, and galette pans are traditionally made of carbon steel because they heat up evenly and are lightweight.  Cleaning them is as easy as cleaning a cast iron skillet – wash, dry, coat, DONE!

What about size?  You definitely need an 8” skillet for frying one egg and a 12” skillet for just about everything else.  If you have room in your cabinet for a third skillet, get a 10” cast iron one because it makes the best frittatas and cinnamon rolls.  And don’t forget to stop by The Kitchenette if you have any questions regarding skillets, cooking utensils, or anything else kitchen-related.