What to Use If You Don't Have a Cast Iron Skillet

By A.J. Andrews

Weight, durability and even heat distribution make cast iron one of the best materials for cookware. Still, acidic, high-moisture foods leach and absorb iron from cast iron, though the amount is minimal and varies with the food. You get similar cooking performance results from tri-ply stainless-steel, and enameled and nickel-plated cast-iron skillets, as you do regular cast iron.

Pan with butter and olive oil
credit: daisy1344/iStock/Getty Images
Stainless-steel pans have their grade stamped into the bottom.

Cast-Iron Alternatives

Nickel-plated and enameled cast-iron skillets provide the weight, longevity and even heat distribution and retention of regular cast-iron skillets without the mineral leaching and transference. Enameled and nickel-plated cast-iron skillets don't require seasoning, and you can clean nickel-plated skillets in the dishwasher. Both types are oven safe but cost more than regular cast iron; a high-quality 10-inch enameled cast-iron skillet coasts around $100, and a 10-inch nickel-plated skillet coasts around $120.

Stainless Steel

Tri-ply stainless-steel skillets are oven safe and have the durability and even heat distribution of cast iron but don't retain heat as long. A 10-inch tri-ply stainless-steel skillet costs around $50.