So, you are in the shopping space looking for a new pan but can’t decide whether to go with a pan from the All-Clad collection or plain and simply getting a cast iron pan.
I’ve owned both, not every pan from the All-Clad collection, but a few. And I currently own a cast iron skillet now. So I have a pretty good idea of the differences that you’ll be looking for.
Below I’ll cover the significant differences between All-Clad and Cast iron pans.
Heat conductivity & Heat retention
It’s common knowledge that cast iron takes a long time to heat up and retains its heat very well. However, if you’ve never owned a cast iron pan, you won’t know what to expect.
For reference, it takes a good five minutes to heat up to the required temperature, whereas all-clad pans will take around 30 seconds to a minute (Varies based on material)
In terms of heat retention, I can leave my cast iron pan after cooking for an hour without any heat, and it will still be warm. That’s how good cast iron retains heat. All-clad will take around 5-10 minutes to cool down on its own.
I can’t stress this enough, heat conductivity and heat retention are significant differences between All-Clad and Cast iron.
And this is important because how fast a pan can lose and gain heat affects the recipes.
For example, if I’m cooking scrambled eggs, I need to take the heat off and and on, not to overcook the eggs. With cast iron, this is impossible due to how well it retains heat.
Now only you will know which recipes you cook and which require drastic heat changes. It’s usually the more complex recipes that require heat changes.
So if you do cook recipes that require drastic heat changes, then you’ll need to go for the All-Clad (Not stainless-steel material)
However, if you are a big fan of meat, and cook meat all the time, then the consistent temperature control from cast-iron will be the best option. It allows perfect sears if you know how to cook.
Ease of cleaning
Both of these pans are extremely easy to clean. With cast iron, you can typically throw it into some warm water and soap. All-clad pans have a smooth finish that doesn’t affect the clean-up process at all.
The only issue I’ve noticed with All-clad pans is that they do scratch somewhat easily since the surface is so smooth.
The only thing to note is that you need to make sure you don’t soak it in water and dry it thoroughly with cast iron. Otherwise, it will end up rusting.
So all though it’s not difficult to clean, the maintenance takes a bit longer than All-Clad cookware.
The weight of cookware is essential for some people. It is. Cast-iron weighs a ton, I have a 12″ skillet, and I struggle to lift it with one arm.
The bigger the cast-iron, the much heavier it gets.
So if you are a cook who likes to transfer your pan from the stovetop to the oven and don’t have the most muscular arms, then cast-iron may be a poor choice.
They usually do come with helper handles, though, to ease the process of lifting a bit. But it is tricky trying to hold both handles while placing them into a hot oven without touching the insides of the oven by accident.
All-clad cookware is light, really light.
So if the weight of the cookware is something that you could have trouble with, then this could be a deal-breaker for you.
When it comes to cast iron, one thing you will always need to do is season your cast iron skillet before using it for the first time, this is because cast iron is naturally sticky, and if you are trying to sear meat on it, then the meat will most likely stick and rip off when you flip it over.
Seasoning creates a protective barrier on your cast iron pan which also creates a non stick surface. The seasoning will also prevent rust from forming as it acts as a moisture barrier too. With all-clad cookware, you do not need to worry about this as it’s not made of cast iron.
There are many differences between All-Clad and cast-iron. Still, the significant differences are heat retention, heat conductivity, weight, and ease of cleaning.
After reading about the differences, I’m sure you will know which pan you will benefit from the most.
Cast-iron is more of a specialized pan, so if you are an all-around cook, then I’d recommend All-clad.
However, if meats are your type of thing, then cast-iron will be the way to go.