Grilling or Cast Iron? We Compared Them So You Don't Have To

Grilling or Cast Iron? We Compared Them So You Don't Have To

You’re craving steak - bad. You have a hankering that you need to take care of, but you’re just not sure if you want to grill your steak in the great outdoors, or if you want to sear it in a cast iron pan in the kitchen.

Although both cooking methods will give you an enticing outcome when done properly, there are pros and cons to each method. When you sear steak properly in a cast iron pan,  you will have one mind-blowing steak crust. However, when you grill a steak properly, you infuse so many extra flavors and that distinctive smoky flavor that you can’t quite get anywhere else.

Here are the pros and cons of cooking steak on a grill versus cooking it in a cast iron, so that you can decide which is the right method for you to tackle right now. 

Grilling Your Steak Pros: 

Nutritional Advantages:

When you cook steak on the grill, the steak doesn’t sit in extra fat, but instead the extra fat drips down through the grill grates. Also, this method of cooking steak doesn’t require the overuse of oil, as grilled steaks have more moisture and a little bit of oil goes a long way when it comes to grilling. Even better, grilling steak enables it to cook gently, and, as a result, grilling preserves the meat’s nutrients when cooking it. 

Super Flavorful:

Grilling steak is a delicious way to gain a perfectly cooked steak with a crispy crust and to ingrain extra tasty flavors into it. Depending on the different grills used, grilled meat is given a very distinct flavor that is loved by many. It’s fun to play around with because gas, wood, and charcoal (as well as the varieties of charcoal) all give the meat different smoky flavors. Also, because the meat is cooked in its own juices and not sitting in oil, it also enhances the steak’s flavors. 

Grilling Your Steak Cons:

Beware of the Smoke:

Although charred steak straight off the grill is absolutely incredible, when the fat drips down from the meat, it creates chemical-filled smoke. The char on the meat also contains another chemical called heterocyclic amines, and both substances can be linked to higher risks of cancer. It has been shown that the more well done you grill your meat, the higher risk of cancer there is (everything in moderation is the rule of thumb for this).

It’s More Work:

When it comes to grilling, you need to make sure that you continuously clean your grill seasonally and after each use (check out our guide for how to clean your grill). Although the effort is 100% worth the outcome of properly grilled steak, as it has an abundance of amazing flavors as well as an amazing crispy crust, keep in mind that you need to put in more effort because of maintaining your grill’s upkeep and the longer clean-up process after each use. 

Searing Your Steak in Cast Iron Pros:

Better Browning:

Cooking with cast iron opens up so much room for experimenting with different types of cooking in the kitchen, because with cast iron you get such a beautiful brown crust. It’s magnificent for achieving that perfect sear on your steak. Cast iron normally heats evenly once it is completely heated through. Once it is hot, it stays hot much more effectively than other types of pans, and it retains its heat at a fairly consistent temperature - even after you drop a colder item (like a steak) on it. A cast iron is the  best way to go for a nice golden brown on your steak.

It’s Better with Time:

When you choose to use a cast iron pan to cook your steak, the more you use it, the better it becomes. This is because as you cook in it, it gradually develops a natural and slick patina (called seasoning), and this makes it non-stick -  as non-stick as an aluminum or stainless-steel pan, but even better because it outlasts them. Cast iron is also an amazing chemical-free alternative to chemical-laden non-stick finishes. Another perk is that cast iron is very low maintenance and extremely durable. 

Searing Your Steak In Cast Iron Cons:

It Can Heat Unevenly:

Although cast iron is great at retaining heat, it does a poor job at conducting heat. It will heat unevenly if you are using a burner that’s much smaller than the pan. If you do this, the section of the pan above the burner will get far hotter than its edges. Therefore, you need to be careful when heating a cast iron pan and make sure that it heats evenly (one easy method is to first heat the pan up in the oven). 

You Need to Season it to Fight Rust and Acidic Foods:

You need to help build up a layer of seasoning on your cast iron so that it maintains its non-stick properties. Although many cast iron pans are sold as “pre-seasoned”, you may need to help them along even more so that they achieve the perfect non-stickiness level. Doing this ensures that your cast iron is less susceptible to rusting and negative effects from acidic foods (which can leave an unwanted metallic taste in your food).


Now that you’re up to speed with the pros and cons of grilling your steak versus searing it in cast iron, it’s time to try out some of this newfound knowledge and experience it for yourself. 

Here’s some taste bud tantalizing easy recipes to get started with:

Here's the how to on different cooking methods:

Photo Credit: Los Muertos Crew