Image shows black cast iron skillets a few smooth and two textured, all placed on a dark wood surface.

The Battle of the Cast Iron – Smooth vs Rough

If you’re anything like me, then you probably have a love-hate relationship with your cast iron. I’ve had mine for years and I’ve put them through a lot of abuse. However, I’ve started to appreciate them more and more.

I prefer my cast iron with a little bit of personality and I embrace the roughness. However, people say that the rough ones are only good for certain things, while others claim that the ones with a smooth finish are better.

So, which is it? Cast iron smooth or rough – what is your choice for your next cooking project? In this post, I’m going to elaborate on the cast iron – smooth vs rough debacle (or Dutch oven, if that’s what you prefer). And hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for these tough little kitchen gizmos.

Is smooth cast iron better than rough?

Smooth cast iron has been gaining momentum for its potential to create almost non-stick surfaces. As someone who loves to cook up a storm, nothing brings me more pleasure than preparing meals using cast ironware.

While smooth cast iron looks great on display, I must admit that I’m a fan of the texture the rough cast iron provides – it feels like the only way to truly season and maintains the metal over time. Overall, it’s hard to choose between smooth and rough cast iron because both are quality cooking tools as long as they are taken care of with love. Personally though, I’ll stick with my trusty rougher option!

A black cast iron pan with slight smoke, while frying a piece of meat.
Deliciously browned chop being seared in textured cast iron skillet.

Should cast iron be smooth or bumpy?

Cast iron is a popular cookware choice for many home cooks and there are a number of advantages, including even heat distribution and durability.

However, one area where there is a debate is whether cast iron should be smooth or bumpy. There are benefits to both smooth and bumpy cast iron, so it comes down to personal preference. To me, the surface of my cast iron skillet is a thing of beauty.

Whether it’s smooth and shiny or bumpy with a slightly rough texture all depends on which I’m cooking and how. If I’m making eggs, I prefer a relatively flat and smooth surface, however, making burgers or pork chops calls for those delicious, caramelized ridges created by a bumpy cast iron.

When using my cast iron skillet or frying pan, either way, I get that great, earth-cooked flavor that only cast iron can provide. In the end, perhaps the answer to whether your cast iron should be smooth or bumpy basically comes down to whatever pleases your palate best!

Types of cast iron cookware

Deciding between enameled (smooth) and non-enameled (rough) cast iron cookware can feel crushing! The pleasure of cooking with a heavy, solid model of metal is hard to beat, but the types seem polar opposites.

With enameled cookware you get the sleek and shiny look that many desire, while non-enameled cookware has the rustic look that some love. It is all about personal preference.

Over time both types offer some fantastic benefits like excellent heat retention and resilience. But with different care requirements for each type your decision should be made carefully as it’s no easy feat picking between these two kinds of reliable cast iron cookware.

Image shows a two piece maroon enameled cast iron cookware set.

How to buff a cast iron skillet

I remember the disastrous first time I used a cast iron skillet. It was my mom’s skillet and she had passed it down to me. I was so pumped to use it, but I quickly learned that it was very different from the usual non-stick pans that I was used to cooking with.

I made a mess of things that day, food stuck to the pan and burned into a nice char. It was a tragedy… all that cheesy pasta wasted! After that, I was determined to learn how to properly use my skillet. I did some research (aka watched YouTube) and learned that the key to using a cast iron is to properly season it.

Seasoning helps to create a non-stick surface and keeping it oiled prevents the food from sticking and burning. When you cook with cast iron, it’s important to use high-quality oils such as olive oil or coconut oil.

These oils have a high smoke point [1] and won’t burn at the high temperatures that are necessary for cooking with a cast iron skillet. Also, it’s important to avoid using too much oil; this can cause the food to stick and can make the skillet difficult to clean.

To buff a cast iron skillet, you will need:

  • A cloth or high quality paper towel
  • High quality oil (olive or coconut)

Instructions

  1. Heat skillet over low heat for 10 minutes. This will help to loosen any stuck-on food particles
  2. Use a cloth or paper towel to wipe away any excess oil from the surface
  3. Use another cloth or paper towel to buff (wipe down)
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary until the desired results are achieved
  5. Allow the skillet to cool before storing it away. When you’re ready to use it again, simply repeat steps 1-5 as necessary.
Image shows a three piece various sized black cast iron set with a light blue wash sponge in the smallest skillet, placed on a pearly white surface with what looks like two dark blue scrub sponges off to one side.

Never use metal to scrape out stuck-on foods and always handle with respect …and never, ever wash with soap and water! As any cast iron enthusiast knows, soapy water will disrupt its hard-earned seasoning and all that loving care will be down the drain just because you are too aggressive.

Take these tips to heart and you’ll have your trusted kitchen friend for years!

Wrapping up: Cast iron – Smooth vs Rough

If your experience with cast iron is anything like mine, you’ve probably had some adventures (and mishaps) getting to know this sturdy kitchen staple.

I hope my tips help you love your cast iron as much as I do! But whether you choose a smooth or rough finish for your cookware, the most important thing is to just keep swimming, I mean cooking.

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Charlene Gallant

Charlene is a lover of good food. She enjoys nothing more than cooking up a storm in the kitchen and sharing her favourite recipes with her readers. She also enjoys reading a good book.

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