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Great Griddle Debate: Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel – Which Wins?

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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.

Updated: 01/10/2023

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

Cast iron and stainless steel are two different materials commonly used to make griddles, and each material can impart its own unique flavor to the food being cooked on it.

Cast iron is a porous material that can absorb oil and seasonings over time. This can give food cooked on a cast iron griddle a rich, smoky flavor that can be difficult to achieve with other types of griddles.

Cast iron also heats evenly and maintains heat well, allowing for consistent cooking results. However, it’s worth noting that cast iron griddle should be properly seasoned before use, and maintain the seasoning to prevent rust and improve the taste.

Stainless steel griddles, on the other hand, have a non-reactive surface that will not absorb flavors or oils from the food being cooked. This means that food cooked on a stainless steel griddle will have a more neutral flavor.

Stainless steel is also resistant to rust and has a non-stick surface, making them easy to clean. Additionally, Stainless steel griddles typically heat up faster than cast iron griddles.

It’s important to note that, when it comes to taste, it depends on the personal preference of each person.

Some people may prefer the smoky, rich flavor imparted by a cast iron griddle, while others may prefer the more neutral flavor of food cooked on a stainless steel griddle.

Maintenance and Cleaning Stainless vs Cast Iron Griddles

Cleaning and maintenance are important factors to consider when choosing between a cast iron or stainless steel griddle.

Cast iron griddles are known for their durability and heat retention properties, but they do require more maintenance than stainless steel griddles. Cast iron griddles should be seasoned before use, and then re-seasoned periodically to keep the griddle in good condition.

This means that you will need to use oils to coat the griddle, and heat it up to allow the oils to bond to the surface. This process creates a natural non-stick surface and also protects the griddle from rust.

If not seasoned properly or left to rust, cast iron griddles can rust and can also affect the taste of the food being cooked on it.

Cleaning cast iron griddles can be a bit more tricky. It is not recommended to use soap or abrasive materials, as it can remove the seasoning and damage the griddle. Instead, you should use hot water and a stiff brush or scraper to remove food residue, and then dry the griddle thoroughly to prevent rust.

Stainless steel griddles, on the other hand, are relatively easy to clean and maintain. They have a non-stick surface and are resistant to rust, which means that they don’t require seasoning like cast iron griddles.

They can be cleaned using a mild detergent and a non-abrasive sponge. Be aware that if not cleaned properly, stainless steel griddles can develop rust over time.

Heat Retention in Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel

Heat retention is an important factor to consider when choosing between a cast iron or stainless steel griddle.

Cast iron griddles are known for their excellent heat retention properties. They are heavy and thick, which means that they can absorb and retain heat well.

This makes them ideal for cooking at high temperatures and for searing meats, as well as for slower cooking methods like simmering. They also heat evenly and maintain heat well, allowing for consistent cooking results.

Stainless steel griddles, on the other hand, have good heat conductivity but may not retain heat as well as cast iron griddles. Stainless steel is a poor heat retainer in comparison to cast iron.

This means that the griddle may cool down more quickly, making it more difficult to maintain a consistent cooking temperature. Some stainless steel griddles have a core of aluminum or copper which can improve the heat retention but it still not as good as cast iron.

It’s worth noting that some high-end stainless steel griddles have a core made of aluminum or copper, which can help to improve heat retention.

However, even with a core of aluminum or copper, the heat retention of stainless steel griddles will not be as good as that of cast iron griddles.

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.

Surprisingly, Blackstone does not make a stainless steel cooking surface griddle. All Blackstone griddles are cold-rolled steel, or in other terms, cast-iron.

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 try 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 when it comes to cast iron vs stainless steel. 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.


Lover of the outdoors and great food. If I'm not in my backyard cooking up a feast, I'm deep in the backcountry camping....and cooking up a feast! Follow along and let's create something great.