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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated
to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.
If you have recently become curious about all the fuss that people make about cast iron, and you’re considering investing in a cast iron pan, there are some things you need to be aware of, and there is some helpful care and maintenance skills that you’re going to learn. Once you’ve found your pan, and learned how to care for it, you’re ready to go.
But why? Why do people LOVE their cast iron pans so much? Is it that they are nearly indestructible and last for generations? Is it that they are mostly non-stick without man-made coatings like Teflon? There are probably a lot of reasons people love their cast iron. For us, one of the reasons we love our cast iron so much, is that it can make your meals taste better.
Now, we’re not saying that meals in stainless steel are tasty, because we have our own set of stainless steel pans too. But, there is just something about cast iron that makes food taste better. If you’re not convinced yet, we offer you these 5 reasons why cast iron, really does, make food taste better.
1. Naturally Non-Stick
Now we’re not sure about this, because we also have a few trusty non-stick pans that we love, but some people swear that Teflon and other non-stick coatings have a flavor. Science tells us that it shouldn’t but, some people think it does.
Non-stick coatings really do make cooking easier, and to be frank, unless your stainless steel cookware is well seasoned, it definitely isn’t non-stick. So, if you’re looking for a good non-stick option, and you don’t want to settle for a man-made coating that might impart weird tastes to your food, then you want cast iron.
Cast iron pans are “seasoned” before use. This process uses heat and oil to create a non-stick layer on your pans. Now, the actual purpose of seasoning has more to do with protecting the pan from your foods, but the non-stick coating is a nice added benefit. And, since you’re using oil (vegetable or canola are best), you don’t have to worry about weird, un-natural chemicals ending up in your food.
2. Minimal Fats Necessary
This reason goes hand in hand with the non-stick part of cast iron. When you are cooking in cast iron, because it is non-stick, you don’t necessarily need to use a ton of oils or fats in your foods.
Now, to be fair, cast iron isn’t 100% non-stick, so you will need to use a little bit of oil, but not like you would use if you were cooking in stainless steel or copper pans. More on this debate on our cast iron vs stainless steel comparison guide.
How does this make your food taste better? A small amount of vegetable or olive oil will make just enough layer to keep food from sticking to your cast iron pans. But, you don’t have to use so much that you overwhelm the flavors of your foods. We love sautéing vegetables in cast iron because they taste like vegetables. Not oil with some vegetables.
Keep in mind that this idea also makes your food healthier. Not only are you not drowning your foods in oils, hiding the real flavor of your food, but you’re not putting extra fats into your diet, which in the long-term can have impacts to your weight, heart health and the overall health of your body.
3. Stove to The Oven
Have you ever found one of those recipes that tells you to start a food on the stove, and then transfer to the oven after searing, and then wonder how you’re going to do that with your non-stick pans? You end up transferring to an oven safe pan, leaving all of the delicious grease and fatty bits in the skillet, and your meal ends up being “OK”.
Meanwhile, you just have more dishes to wash.
Now consider that same recipe using a cast iron skillet. One of our favorite dinners is pork chops in our cast iron skillet. We brown them in the skillet with a little ghee, and then put them in the oven to slow cook. They are so flavorful, moist and tender. Because we cook them in our cast iron, we get to leave all of the fats from the pork chop and that little layer of ghee in the pan when we transfer it to the oven. This is why they taste so delicious.
Meats are certainly better in this manner, but also consider foods like cobbler, skillet hash browns or even some casseroles. You never have to transfer to an oven safe pan, so all of the juices and flavors stay with the food, from start to finish.
4. Even Heating
Cast iron is known for being super at heating evenly. Now, there is a caveat to this idea. Cast iron does take a bit of time to warm up, so before you start cooking in your cast iron, you need to pre-heat it. However, once that is done, you will be surprised at how well heat is distributed through the pan.
How does this make your food taste better? Well, consider this, even heat means that there are no cold spots on your pan, or on the flip side, there are also no spots that are too hot. This means, your food cooks evenly. You don’t have bits of food that are undercooked, and then bits of food that are burnt. This even cooking, where all of your food is the same temperature makes your meals taste better.
5. A Little Extra Iron
We’re not sure that this really makes your food taste better, but it does make it a little healthier. Cast iron does break down a little every time you use it. That is why seasoning your cast iron is so important. However, as the iron breaks down, it imparts a bit of iron into your foods. Most of us don’t get enough iron, so think of your cast iron pans as a nice iron supplement, without having to take a pill.
Cast iron is a great cookware option if you are looking for ways to make your meals taste better. While they do take a little extra care, and if you’ve not used cast iron before, a little bit of practice, they are a great addition to your kitchen. Thanks to their versatility, and natural non-stick coating, they allow you to enjoy all the flavors that your foods have to offer.