Weight, durability and even heat distribution make cast iron one of the best materials for cookware. It can be a little pricier than your every day pan, but you can get similar cooking performance results from tri-ply stainless-steel, and enameled and nickel-plated cast-iron skillets.
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.
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.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.