What is Cast Iron Good For?

I’ve always been casual about my cookware… I think Harold McGee says you shouldn’t stress out over your tools…

Anyway the other day in Good Will I saw a 10" All Clad skillet for $4.99. A bit scratched on the bottom but otherwise in perfect condition, so I had an All Clad for $6 with tax & rounding up.

OMG. What have I been missing? I made for the first time in my life perfect creamy scrambled eggs. I just made a batch of crepes - the sides were a bit of a problem, but the surface was perfect…tonight I will try boneless chicken breasts.

Anyway, I have two cast iron items. One is an 8" with 2" sides, the other circular 10" flat. I will keep the first for cornbread, biscuits, etc. But what do I need the 10" flat pan for? The All Clad is superior in every way. I have a small kitchen and detest clutter. If I don’t need something, I get rid of it.

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I wouldn’t need a 10" flat (sideless) pan. I guess if you made a lot of flat things that require flipping it could be useful - e.g. tortillas, pancakes, french toast, even those crepes - sideless would make it easier to get a spatula under something to flip it . . . .

I use my flat cast iron for tortillas. Works great! Works well for crepes also but I have a copper pan that works a lot better.

SE’s pan pizza.

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I think it depends on the person. If the person is already thinking a lot about cookware, then yes, the person shouldn’t stress out about the tools. However, if the person doesn’t care much, then maybe a little thinking will help. Is it important to get an All Clad triply fry pan vs a Demeyere cladded fry pan vs a Cuisinart MultiClad fry pan? Probably not for most home cooks. However, is it important to get a glass cutting board vs a wood cutting board? I think 99% of the people can benefit from that.

From the point of heat evenness, your All Clad will be better than your cast iron as you have pointed out. Cast iron skillet has one major advantage over stainless steel fry pan. A cast iron cookware can remain relatively nonstick for many foods at high temperature, whereas foods have a tendency to stick to stainless steel cookware.

For example, a blacken salmon.

Yes! Forgot about that.

OK. I’ll take that into consideration but… and this is just a gut reaction, I think that the All Clad won’t retain odors. I think the cast iron will.

I use our many cast iron pans all the time…no odors.


Is it the griddle kind? I have one for cooking indian flatbreads, but I also use it for heatin tortillas and lamajeunes, to serve fajitas, and to sear steaks and pork chops, before popping the whole thing into the oven to finish off.

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I am using my Great Grandmother’s cast iron and there are no odors at all. Love the stuff for many things, but not everything.


Yeah, cast iron cookware can retain some odors – mostly the flavor can stay with the seasoning layer, not the cast iron itself. Anyway, most of the time you won’t notice it at all. However, if you cook a very flavorful Indian dish with all kind of spices in one meal, and then try to mild and subtle dish, then the second dish can pick up something from the first one.

Stainless steel cookware like All Clad, you can clean the heck out of it using all kind of cleaner, but you cannot do that to a cast iron cookware or the seasoning will be stripped away.

Have you ever experienced odor retention personally?

Apologies for interjecting. I have made Masala Salmon in my cast iron pan, then made drop biscuits the next day in the same pan. The biscuits had a noticeable odor and taste left over from the fish. I also clean my cast iron more heavy handedly than I am supposed to, and quickly reseason after every use.

I use my All Clad, cast iron, and carbon steel pans almost equally. It’s just sort of a feel thing for me. Eggs in carbon steel. Grilled cheese in cast iron. Sauteed chicken in All Clad.

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I do. Why?

Just curious. I haven’t and I’ve never heard of anyone else experiencing odor retention.

Pretty common experience. If you cook similar food everyday, you will not noticed it at all, but if you cook one very intense meal and then follow up with a very mild and subtle meal, you may notice it.

bmorecupcake above also has experienced the same thing.


ATK’s answer to a viewer worried that if he fried fish in his naked cast iron pan, he could never use it for anything else, was to briefly heat the clean pan in a 400F oven. I think it was 10 minutes. The heat gets rid of the oxidated oils responsible for a fishy odor/taste.

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That is a good advise. I find that preheating the pan on open stove also help reduce the previous odor. I have also tried to rinse the pan with hot cooking oil which works. Since most of us cannot wash a cast iron pan with hard detergent, what to do? So I poured cooking oil into the pan, heat the pan and oil up, and then toss away the oil, wipe down with a papertowel. Do it again if needed.

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My standards are lower at home. My cast iron is a work horse. And I cook everything in it, including fish. Since I don’t use strong spices I never notice odors carrying over. The only time that happens was when I didn’t rinse the pan before cooking the next dish.

But of course, I don’t cook precise dishes at home.

And its effectively non-stick. Never seasoned it. Has always cleaned with regular dish soap. Perhaps because my stove is not very hot that when I add the oil to the pan before cooking it acts as the seasoning.

Cooking steaks, burgers and bacon. I have an all clad but find that the bacon tends to burn on it and the steaks/burgers don’t get cooked after the initial sear and I get a better sear with the cast iron. I don’t think I cook anything else on it though - home fries maybe but I rarleey make those.