Many recipes call for a cast-iron skillet, but some alternatives will still provide an excellent nonstick surface if you don’t have one. For centuries, cast iron cookware has been used. Cast iron is practically indestructible and has a lot to offer the everyday cook, including heat and excellent browning in a nonstick pan. However, many cooks prefer to use modern cookware as to substitute for cast iron and its benefits.
Carbon steel, tri-ply stainless steel, and enamel- or nickel-coated cast iron pans are good substitutes for a cast-iron skillet. These alternatives provide a high-quality cooking experience without cast iron cookware’s weight or extreme heat.
Check out these cast iron cookware alternatives for those who want the benefits of cast iron without the drawbacks.
Continue reading to find out which substitute is best for getting your delicious meal up and running!
Here are the Top Alternatives
1. Tri-ply Stainless-Steel Skillets
Cast iron skillets are used in recipes that call for an even distribution of heat throughout the food in the skillet. Basic stainless steel is known for its durability, but it is not a good heat conductor. Tri-play stainless-steel skillets provide an alternative because they are made of aluminum and copper bonded with stainless-steel layers.
Aluminum and copper are excellent heat conductors due to their high thermal conductivity. Tri-ply skillets are often named after the three layers that make up the cookware, and you might even come across some 5-layered combinations.
Tri-ply stainless-steel skillets are created by combining the thermal conductivity of aluminum or copper with steel durability. The majority of these skillets are oven-safe to 500°F. These skillets are also more durable than nonstick skillets, with tightly bonded layers that promote longevity.
Tri-ply stainless-steel skillets are ideal for searing meat and caramelizing vegetables. Because the pans collect the juices released while cooking meat, they are also ideal for making pan sauces and gravy.
2. Nickel-Plated Skillets
Nickel-plated skillets are a type of cast iron skillet that has been improved. We can use nickel-plated skillets in any recipe that calls for a cast-iron skillet.
We should season cast iron skillets at least once a year, and this does not mean sprinkling spices on them. Seasoning is the process of baking oil onto a skillet to create a cooking surface that prevents the pan from rusting.
Nickel-plated skillets do not need to be seasoned because their surface is pre-coated and will last for years. This coating prevents rust and makes cleanup easier for the cook. Furthermore, the FDA has long approved nickel-coating, making it safe to cook and eat on.
We must wash basic cast iron skillets with care because too much soap and scrubbing can remove the seasoning. Nickel-plated alternatives are far more practical, as they can be soaked and scrubbed in the same way as any other pan without causing any damage.
Almost all nickel-plated skillets are oven-safe, though the maximum temperature varies by brand.
3. Dutch Ovens
Dutch ovens are great cast iron skillet substitutes, especially for recipes that call for baking, braising, or oven cooking. We can use them in the oven or on the stovetop as cylindrical, heavy-gauge cooking pots.
Heat is distributed multi-directional within the Dutch oven, providing even heat throughout the contents, similar to a cast-iron skillet.
Dutch ovens are available in bare cast iron and enameled cast iron. Because it can withstand very high temperatures and works well for a wider range of recipes, bare cast iron or seasoned cast iron is typically preferred to the enamel. On the other hand, enameled ovens conduct heat just as well and are easier to clean, making them more convenient.
Dutch ovens are fantastic for making soups and stews, and they can retain heat for an extended period, making them ideal for long-simmering stews, soups, or even beans.
When roasting meats or vegetables, We can use a Dutch oven in place of a cast-iron skillet. Dutch ovens have removable ovenproof lids that can help retain moisture over long cooking periods. This lid is also useful for baking bread or making casseroles in the Dutch oven.
If your recipe calls for deep frying, Dutch ovens can also be used in place of cast iron skillets. This cookware evenly heats the oil, giving you precise control over the oil temperature for frying. Certain enameled Dutch ovens are not suitable for deep-frying, so always check before using them with the manufacturer or manual.
Saucepans If you’re making sauces, soups, stews, gravies, or soft-textured foods like mashed potatoes or custard, a saucepan can replace a cast-iron skillet. We can also use it for cooking various vegetables, eggs, and grains. Because it is not ovenproof, We should only use it if the recipe calls for heating on the stove.
Saucepans are typically circular, with high sides and a large surface area. They are available in cast iron, stainless steel, nonstick, aluminum, and copper. The most common are stainless steel saucepans, while nonstick saucepans are the most expensive.
Saucepans have a plastic handle to keep your hands safe from the heat. While this works well on the stovetop, it will melt in the oven.
Tip: You may find an oven-safe brand of the saucepan, but be aware that using a saucepan in an oven can be dangerous.
5. Pyrex Casserole Dishes
Pyrex cookware is made of borosilicate glass or high-quality ceramic, making it more durable and resistant to temperature extremes. Their casserole dishes have a nonstick base for easy cooking and cleaning and an oven heat resistance of up to 425°F.
As the name implies, these dishes can be used to make casseroles, as well as pot roasts, stews, sauces, lasagnas, and other dishes.
If your recipe calls for baking at 350°F or less, Pyrex casserole dishes are a good substitute for cast iron skillets. It might not be a good substitute for recipes that call for an open flame on the stovetop.
6. Carbon Steel
Using a carbon steel skillet is the next best thing to cooking with cast iron. The composition of carbon steel, 99 percent iron and 1 percent carbon, differs only slightly from that of cast iron, which is 97-98 percent iron and 2-3 percent carbon, but it makes a difference.
The lower carbon versus iron content, combined with the manufacturing process, results in a lighter weight pan with a smoother surface grain that does not retain odors.
A well-seasoned carbon steel skillet will have better nonstick properties over time than traditional cast iron’s rougher surface.
Carbon steel skillets, with their curved sides, are an excellent choice for sauteing foods that require a few shakes and flips for even cooking. Carbon steel, like cast iron, can go from stovetop to oven.
When shopping for carbon steel cookware, you may come across references to blue steel or black steel. The color difference is caused by the rust-preventative treatment applied to the steel, but there is no discernible difference in performance.
Cleaning Techniques for Cast Iron and Cast Iron Substitutes
Cleaning after use is a straightforward process for cast iron and the alternatives mentioned in this article.
Carbon steel: Hand-wash with warm water and a little soap. Use a scrub brush or non-abrasive pad to remove stuck-on food. Alternatively, heat a small amount of water in a skillet for 3-5 minutes before cleaning it.
Tri-ply stainless steel: Wipe out the pan carefully while still hot. Mix in some soap and water. Scrub away all food residue with a soft brush or scrubbing pad in a circular motion until the pan is clean. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Enamel-coated and nickel-coated cast iron: Hand wash enamel-coated and nickel-coated cast iron in warm soapy water with a nylon scrub brush. Before storing, allow drying completely.
Traditional cast iron: Hand wash traditional cast iron with warm water and a little soap. Use a scrub brush or a non-abrasive pad to remove stuck-on food. Alternatively, heat a small amount of water in the skillet for 3-5 minutes before cleaning it. Finally, rub or spray a little oil on the skillet and wipe away any excess with a paper towel.
Consideration of Substitution Factors
Most recipes call for a cast iron skillet because it retains heat longer and more evenly than other materials; however, in many cases, substituting a cast iron skillet will not affect how your meal tastes.
Consider the following recipes when looking for alternatives to a cast-iron skillet:
Maximum temperature: Some alternatives are only ovenproof up to 350°F or are not long enough to withstand deep-frying.
Dutch ovens, nickel-plated skillets, tri-ply stainless-steel skillets, and Pyrex casserole dishes are all suitable for stovetop and oven cooking. Still, saucepans and other alternatives may not be ovenproof.
Ingredients: Different cookware is better suited to different foods. When selecting a cast-iron skillet substitute, consider whether you’ll be cooking vegetables, grains, or meats.
Can a Skillet be Used in the Oven?
For oven cooking, a cast-iron skillet is the best option. Many roasts and other dishes, such as braised meat or fried chicken, are cooked in a cast-iron pan. A good quality stainless steel pot with oven-safe handles will also work well.
Is Ceramic Oven Safe to Use?
When putting ceramic dishes in the oven, make sure they have an “O” symbol to ensure they are safe for cooking. These items will function perfectly and can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius).
Will it Shatter if it Falls?
Cast iron pans are brittle by nature, which means they will break if they fall to the ground, damaging the pan and whatever it falls on.
Because cast iron cookware is heavy and brittle, we urge our customers to use extreme caution when handling it. Because the pan is cast, the handles tend to get hot because they are made of iron (remove this). We include a grippy handle cover inside the box for all canvas handles. The handles may still become hot after extended use, but it makes it a lot easier to handle your cast iron cookware in daily kitchen use.
What Tools Should I Use When Working with Cast Iron?
You can use any tool on the cast iron pan surface while cooking, but we highly recommend using a silicone tool to extend the pan’s life and avoid scraping off the seasoning layer that protects the pan from rusting.
We strongly advise using only liquid soap and a sponge to clean the pan while washing. If there is any rust on the pan’s surface, scrub only the rusted area with metal wool and then repeat the seasoning process to protect it from rusting again.
What is the Cause of the Uneven/Rough Surface?
The uneven surface is caused by the sand casting process used to make the pan, which results in a finish that allows the seasoning to adhere to it. Cast iron cookware improves and smooths with use and seasoning.
Cast iron skillet substitutes do not come in one size fits all. Cast iron is a popular choice for many dishes because it heats evenly and can be used on the stove or in the oven, but other options may be better depending on your needs.
We have a cast iron replacement option for you, whether you want to make soups, stews, sauces, lasagnas, pot roasts, gravies, or anything else, we have a cast iron replacement option for you!
Before deciding which type of substitute will best suit your dish, consider the ingredients required by each recipe.
Cast iron skillet substitutes can vary in shape, size, and material, so always double-check that the cookware you’re using is ovenproof and meets the requirements of your recipe. Enjoy your cooking!