Like a lot of cooks, Chowhounds are partial to cast-iron cookware. They diligently season new pans, and don’t even complain about having to lug ridiculously heavy skillets out of cupboards and hoist them onto burners.

But while cast iron does a lot of things well, it has one major drawback: It doesn’t distribute heat evenly on the stovetop, John Francis notes on Chowhound, citing an article by Harold McGee.

That’s no surprise to kaleokahu, who likes cast iron but thinks more cooks should know that cast iron is slow and uneven (except in the oven, where it distributes heat just fine).

The main advantage of cast iron on the stovetop, tim irvine says, is weight. Though a heavy skillet is slow to heat, it’s also slow to cool down, meaning that once it’s up to temp, it can sear a steak much better than a thinner pan. That said, tim irvine actually prefers a thick steel pan for searing—the weight of a cast-iron skillet of similar thickness would be “unworkable for my 64 year old wrist,” he says.

Heavy copper lined with stainless steel and inexpensive aluminum with a nonstick coating have the most even heat distribution. Stainless-steel-clad aluminum comes in second, but still beats cast iron. Especially if the aluminum layer is thick.

Discuss: What’s Hot, What’s Not, in Pots and Pans

Photo by Flickr member peteSwede under Creative Commons

See more articles