Let’s discuss cooking surfaces for a griddle, cast-iron or stainless steel, which is actually better? (and why?). The results are not so obvious.
The age-old debate of stainless steel vs. cast iron rears its ugly head yet again (or maybe it’s not as age-old as I thought).
Quick Answer: I’m gonna get hate for this, BUT…You can’t beat a stainless steel griddle compared to a cast iron one, Especially when you factor in the reasons outlined below.
Either way, I think it’s a pretty interesting discussion to have. Is there a clear winner between the two? I suppose it depends on the needs of the cooker and what you want to get out of it.
Both have pros and cons that will outweigh the other, but which one truly wins out?
I thought it would be a good idea to take some time to talk you through the differences that I found. I want to primarily focus on them as cooking surfaces rather than anything else.
I could discuss things like durability and such, but I’ll leave that for another time.
I mainly want to know what will give me a better grilling experience, and I hope I can enlighten you with what I’ve found too.
Food Flavor Stainless vs Cast iron
Perhaps the be-all and end-all to the whole debate – which griddle gives food the best flavor?
For those unaware of the differences, you might be a little confused as to how two surfaces can change the taste of the food at all.
Don’t worry; it’s not something many people think about before ordering their next griddle or skillet. You’ll be forgiven for overlooking it!
For the most part, stainless steel is the stand-out choice when looking at food flavor.
Stainless steel griddles are perfectly designed to cook your meat without much interference from the metal surface.
Your steaks will almost always taste exactly how you expect them to, with no metallic additives to note.
That’s not to say you won’t notice a difference if you don’t keep your stainless steel griddle clean, but that’s a problem for another time.
For cast iron griddles, then, you can imagine what might happen to the flavor of your food when you cook it.
Though it’s not the most apparent change, the iron can impact the flavor of the meat during the cooking process.
It won’t be enough to put anyone off (and the less taste bud-aware among us won’t notice a change at all), but it can be tasted if you’re looking out for it.
Maintenance Stainless vs Cast Iron
Next up, I thought it best to consider maintenance options for the two pans. For most pans, there’s a strategy to keep them fresh called “seasoning.”
No, I don’t mean adding some rosemary to it to make your meals tastier lol.
Seasoning is when you coat the surface of your griddle pan with a thin layer of oil and heat it. It’s what you do to prevent rust from forming on your pan (which will ultimately make it inefficient if left unchecked).
If we take the two types of griddles, it should come as no surprise that a stainless steel griddle is a clear winner.
You won’t need to season your stainless steel griddle nearly as often as you will your cast iron one.
The surface is usually kept much cleaner and will be less likely to pick up rust.
Overall maintenance for the stainless steel griddle is barely a problem compared to cast iron.
Cast iron is much more demanding of the user when it needs to be seasoned. You’ll have to season your cast iron griddle much more often to ensure that rust doesn’t start to form on the surface.
Cast iron is usually the primary victim of rust development, so keep an eye on it.
Cleaning Stainless vs Cast Iron
One point I’d like to raise that falls in with the maintenance section is that of cleaning. Improper cleaning can have a detrimental impact on the overall taste and quality of the food you’re cooking.
You won’t want to cook with a dirty pan because that dirt will be picked up by the food and change its flavor for the worse.
Stainless steel is the easier of the two to clean (though I’d argue that neither griddle is particularly “easy” to clean).
You can use soap and hot water, which will aid you in the process, and you’ll be able to lift most of the grease off with a good scrub.
With cast iron pans, though, soap should be avoided so as not to tarnish the surface.
You should also avoid scrubbing it with anything coarse, which limits your options and makes cleaning a pain!
Stainless steel seems to take the cake yet again with this one. Due to stainless steel griddles being typically thinner than cast iron ones, heat spreads rapidly and evenly.
You’ll find your stainless steel griddle will heat up much quicker than your cast iron one, and you’ll also notice that the meat is cooked evenly throughout (which is perfect because cold bits that aren’t cooked are disgusting).
Cast iron griddles are much thicker by nature and thus have a more difficult time being evenly heated throughout.
That’s not to say that your meat will come out cold and incomplete, but you will require more patience when you’re waiting for the whole pan to heat up.
You’ll save plenty of time with a stainless steel griddle over a cast iron one.
Also, on the note of heating, I find that the quality of the sear from a stainless steel griddle is much more impressive than that of a cast iron skillet. For me, the search is everything in grilling.
You want your meat to look as amazing as it tastes, meaning it gets that crispy brown side that sizzles when it hits the pan.
A cast iron skillet isn’t nearly as good at getting a proper sear on your meat.
If you want to look good cooking, then the stainless steel wins yet again.
Who Makes Stainless Steel Griddles?
Many folks first think of griddles and think. of Blackstone Griddles, after all they are the current marketing king of griddles, complete with the popular social media tag #griddlenation.
For the BEST in stainless Steel griddles, definitely check out Steelmade USA, they are 100% American made and have lifetime warranties.
I found the Steelmade USA brand to be pretty well thought out.
They specialize in a line of griddle plates that can be added to your existing stove (gas or electric) or even your outdoor grill where the griddle plate lays on top of the grill slats.
This gives you the chance to get into griddling (or at least ry it out) for a much cheaper price and a their quality product made in the USA.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear which one wins for me. I don’t believe my opinion was too biased this time either (which is rare for me).
I looked at the facts and used my own experiences to determine the winner when looking at the two.