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Leaving Non-Stick Aluminum for Cast Iron and Carbon Steel

I have a non-stick ("NS") anodized aluminum ("AA") griddle (two burner griddle) and frying pans, and for various reasons I would like to stop using NS and AA cookware. (Let's not make this a discussion about why I would want not to use either NS or AA.) And I am thinking about replacing the griddle with the Lodge 10"x20" cast iron griddle and the frying pans with de Buyer MIneral carbon steel pans.

We currently use our griddle exclusively for pancakes and french toast, and the non-stick frying pans get used for all types of eggs and for stir frys. Virtually all other cooking tasks are handled by other pans.

I already use cast iron skillets, so I know their properties pretty well, but I have never used carbon steel pans.

What concerns should I have in considering this swap? Why shouldn't I do it? Finally, for those of you who use carbon steel, does it really develop non-stick properties sufficient to slide an over-easy egg right out of the side of the pan?

Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. Carbon Steel will have a faster reaction time for heating and cooling. Since you already own cast iron you know that you can season it if you have made a mess of the surface. The only thing I think you will say is why didn't I do this years ago?

    Eggs in butter will slide right out once seasoned. The carbon steel is easier to season and can be done on the stove top.

    1. just out of curiousity - why not stainless?

      1. I'm glad you posted this, as I just picked up a DB Mineral pan and was wondering the same thing, I just cooked peameal bacon and 3 out of the 4 pieces slide right off once they where cooked, the only thing I did was the potato peel boil and coated with with oil.

        SanityRemoved

        Do you have a pic of what it would look like once it's seasoned?

        8 Replies
        1. re: Dave5440

          "Do you have a pic of what it would look like once it's seasoned?"

          Hey Dave,I also have a de Buyer pan and mine looks like this after lots of usage.

          I still use my teflon pan for eggs..

          1. re: petek

            Thanks Pete that's what I was looking for , that colour is what is starting to develop on mine.

            1. re: Dave5440

              Yes what Pete has looks fine, too many think it has to look solid black when they read the pan will turn black. A little seasoning and more use will give you what you want with little effort.

          2. re: Dave5440

            Mine looks like this. Black or dark brown, not absolutely uniform. My cast iron pan is a lot more uniform, but I used that one much longer.

             
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Nice chem! Is that just from use or did you repeatedly season it like CI

              1. re: Dave5440

                Both really. Long story short, I re-seasoned the pan about a few months back. I seasoned it 2 times (1 time in oven, and 1 time on stovetop), then I just cooked with it since. It was more brown after the seasoning, and it turned more black from using it.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I was wondering because 2 stove tops and one oven season didn't seem to do much

                  1. re: Dave5440

                    "2 stove tops and one oven season didn't seem to do much"

                    are you talking about me or you?

                    My "1 oven and 1 stovetop seasoning" processes were just giving me a starting point. Just enough seasoning surface for me to start cooking. Otherwise, proteins will stick too easily on the bare new pans. The pan was mostly seasoned by repeated usages.

          3. Hi, jljohn:

            Here's another option: Why not just buy the largest deBuyer crepe pan (or two, they're inexpensive)? Two birds, one stone, is my thinking.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. The cast iron griddle might not heat as evenly as your aluminum one. It's heavier, but iron is not as good a conductor. Two carbon steel crepe pans (one for each burner) might give better results. Plus a pan dedicated solely to pancakes, crepes and omelets will develop a better seasoning than a general purpose pan that gets deglazed.

              3 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                "Plus a pan dedicated solely to pancakes, crepes and omelets will develop a better seasoning than a general purpose pan that gets deglazed."

                I have noticed the same thing. If I do a high heat sear it removes some of the seasoning also.

                1. re: paulj

                  Interestingly, even though I give the griddle plenty of time to preheat on a low-medium heat, I notice very poor heat distribution. Unless the pancake batter is poured right over the burner, it cooks very unevenly (picture crispy/golden on one end which lightens to a soft/white on the other). I know that aluminum should have better heat distribution, but my large cast iron skillet seem to distribute the heat more evenly than my All-Clad LTD two-burner griddle! Maybe the thicknesses of the pans have something to do with it.

                  I'll have to give the crepe pans some thought!

                  Now that I think about it, the other thing that these would get used for is grilled cheese, but that should only contribute to better seasoning as well. For all other foods, I tend to use either cast iron skillets or saute pans.

                  1. re: jljohn

                    "I know that aluminum should have better heat distribution, but my large cast iron skillet seem to distribute the heat more evenly than my All-Clad LTD two-burner griddle! Maybe the thicknesses of the pans have something to do with it."

                    That is certainly one explanation, but you are also comparing two very different things: a two burners griddle and a single burner skillet.

                2. Kaleo and Paul had good suggestions with the crepe pans. There is a caveat with the crepe pans with omelettes though. It depends on how you want to make omelettes. If you want the side of the pan to do the rolling of the omelette onto itself then the Mineral fry pan is a better choice. The crepe pan has a low side which is great for flipping things and getting under the contents easily but attempting to roll will be frustrating.

                  1. "I am thinking about replacing the griddle with the Lodge 10"x20" cast iron griddle and the frying pans with de Buyer MIneral carbon steel pans."

                    Ok.

                    "What concerns should I have in considering this swap?"

                    The cast iron and carbon steel cookware will have a slower reaction time than your nonstick anodized aluminum cookware, and probably more hot spots. Those are the two concerns.

                    "Finally, for those of you who use carbon steel, does it really develop non-stick properties sufficient to slide an over-easy egg right out of the side of the pan?"

                    Yes, it does, but it'll never become as nonstick as Teflon cookware. The carbon steel pan will develop a nonstick surface about the same as that of your cast iron skillets. You can cook without any oil on a Teflon cookware, but you will need a small amount of oil for carbon steel cookware.