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HexClad vs. Cast Iron Cookware: 11 Differences & How to Choose

Are you shopping for cookware but can’t decide between HexClad and cast iron?

Both are versatile and durable, but which is better for your kitchen? What are the key differences?

In this comparison of HexClad vs. cast iron, I’ll help you decide which to buy. You’ll learn how they compare in performance, design, ease of use, and more.

Use the links below to navigate the comparison:

HexClad vs. Cast Iron: Comparison Chart

In a hurry? Here’s a quick comparison of HexClad vs. cast iron cookware.

Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile

FeatureHexCladCast Iron
Non-Stick PropertiesUses a PTFE coating which provides excellent non-stick properties.Requires proper seasoning for non-stick properties.
Heat ConductionHeats up faster and more evenly due to its 3-ply stainless steel base with an aluminum core.Heats slower and less evenly.
Heat RetentionDoesn’t retain heat as well as cast iron.Excels at heat retention due to its thicker construction.
VersatilityExcels at cooking delicate foods, is lighter, and can handle acidic foods better.Superior for searing meats due to excellent heat retention.
Oven SafetyOven-safe up to 500°F, but not broiler safe due to its PTFE coating.High heat tolerance, can be used under a broiler or over a campfire.
DurabilityDurable for a non-stick pan but not as long-lasting as cast iron.With proper care, it can last a lifetime.
CleaningEasier to clean and is dishwasher safe.Requires special care, not dishwasher safe.
MaintenanceRequires less maintenance.Requires regular seasoning for optimal food release.
WeightLighter, which makes it easier to handle.Heavier, which makes it sturdier but harder to move.
Handle DesignFeatures double-riveted handles that stay cooler due to hollow construction.Has solid one-piece construction with shorter handles.
PriceMore expensive and requires eventual replacement.More budget-friendly with a wide price range, lasts longer.
Where to BuyHexClad.com and AmazonAmazon

Difference 1: Non-Stick Properties

One of the most notable differences between HexClad and cast iron cookware is their non-stick properties.

HexClad’s cooking surface is coated in PTFE (Teflon), which is known for excellent food release. Although you must grease the pan with butter or oil, delicate foods like eggs won’t stick. It’s also easy to clean up with soap, warm water, and a non-abrasive sponge or cloth.

HexClad cookware review

Cast iron is not non-stick, but with proper seasoning, it releases food easily. Seasoning is a baked-on layer of oil that prevents rust and provides a slicker surface.

Chicken roasted in a Stargazer cast iron skillet
Chicken in a cast iron skillet

In my experience using both for several years, food is less likely to stick to HexClad than a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. So if you cook eggs or delicate fish often, you’re better off with a HexClad pan.

Difference 2: Heat Conduction

Another significant difference between HexClad and cast iron is heat conduction. In other words, how quickly and evenly they heat.

Simply put, HexClad heats up faster and much more evenly than cast iron.

Why does HexClad heat faster and more evenly? The answer is simple.

HexClad pans are made with a 3-ply stainless steel base. The core layer is aluminum, which has a much higher thermal conductivity than cast iron. Also, HexClad pans are significantly thinner than most cast iron pans.

For example, HexClad pans are 3 mm thick, while Lodge cast iron skillets are 5 mm.

Thickness of HexClad pan walls 3 mm
Thickness of HexClad pan walls 3 mm

To further prove this point, I poured 2 cups of cold water into a 12-inch Stargazer cast iron pan and a 12-inch HexClad pan and turned the heat to high.

The water in the HexClad pan started boiling after 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and the water in the cast iron pan started boiling after 3 minutes and 24 seconds.

Water bubbling in the center of a Stargazer skillet
Water bubbling in the center of a cast iron skillet

With HexClad, you don’t have to wait long before your pan reaches the ideal temperature to start cooking, whether boiling water for pasta or searing a piece of steak.

And since it heats evenly, you avoid hotspots that could overcook some parts of your food and undercook others. This is particularly important for delicate dishes that require consistent heat, such as omelets or sauces.

Difference 3: Heat Retention

Although cast iron heats slower than HexClad, it has far superior heat retention. Once it’s hot, its thick construction maintains a consistent temperature.

Cast iron cookware will remain hot even after adding cold food, which is essential when searing or browning meats. If the pan loses too much heat, the meat will stew in its juices instead of getting that desirable crisp, brown crust.

Heat retention also allows for more consistent cooking. Once a pan has heated up, it will maintain a steady temperature, making it easier to control your cooking process and avoid burning or undercooking your food.

So how much better does cast iron retain heat than HexClad?

After boiling two cups of water in HexClad and Stargazer cast iron pans, I removed them from the heat and set them on the counter to cool.

After five minutes, the water in the HexClad pan was 120°F, and the water in the Stargazer cast iron skillet was 124°F.

Stargazer heat retention test results after 5 minutes
Cast Iron heat retention test results after 5 minutes

After ten minutes, the water in the HexClad pan was 102.4°F, and the water in the Stargazer cast iron skillet was 109°F.

Based on these results, cast iron cookware retains heat between 3% and 6% better than HexClad.

Difference 4: Versatility

Versatility is one of the key benefits of HexClad and cast iron. You can use both to sear meats, saute vegetables, and fry eggs, but a few differences are worth noting.

  • Thanks to its non-stick properties, HexClad does a better job of preparing delicate foods like pan-seared fish and fried eggs.
Searing salmon in a HexClad pan
Searing salmon in a HexClad pan
  • A HexClad skillet is half the weight of a typical cast iron pan, making it easier to pick up food with a spatula or flip it in the pan as you cook.
  • HexClad, unlike cast iron, is non-reactive. You can cook anything in it, including acidic foods like tomato sauce, wine, and citrus fruit. Those ingredients will strip the seasoning off cast iron cookware and react with the iron, causing your food to taste like metal.
  • You can boil water in any HexClad pan, but doing so in a cast iron pan will break down the layer of seasoning on the pan’s cooking surface.

That said, cast iron has one major advantage over Hexclad: searing. Because cast iron is thicker and retains heat better, it’s the ultimate material for searing steaks, burgers, chicken, and other meats. When you add a cold steak to a piping hot cast iron skillet, the skillet stays hot and browns the surface evenly.

Steak seared in a Stargazer cast iron skillet
Steak seared in a Stargazer cast iron skillet

HexClad is also excellent at searing, but since the walls are thinner, it loses some heat when adding cold ingredients. So if you’re looking for the best sear possible, go with cast iron.

Difference 5: Oven Safety

While both options are oven-safe, HexClad has some limitations. HexClad is oven-safe up to 500°F. However, it’s not broiler safe because of the PTFE non-stick coating. You can’t heat PTFE non-stick over 500°F because it will release fumes, and most broilers produce temperatures above 500°F.

Although most cast iron brands don’t list a maximum oven-safe temperature, cast iron has a high heat tolerance. You can use it in the oven, under the broiler, and over a campfire.

Difference 6: Durability

Cast iron can last a lifetime if you keep it clean, dry it thoroughly after every wash, seasoning it, and avoid thermal shock. And, even if you neglect cast iron and it gets rusty, you can remove the rust, re-season it, and it’s good to go.

Cast iron lasts longer than HexClad because:

  • It doesn’t have a non-stick coating that can break down.
  • You can re-season it at any time.
  • The walls and bottom of cast iron cookware are thicker than HexClad. Its thick construction keeps it from warping.

The point is: cast iron is highly durable. It’s heirloom cookware you can pass down to future generations. And its longevity sets it apart from HexClad.

Although HexClad won’t last as long as cast iron, it’s more durable than most non-stick pans because the hexagonal raised steel pattern protects the non-stick coating from damage.

HexClad metal utensil safe
HexClad metal utensil safe

Most non-stick pans last 2-5 years with proper care, but HexClad will last slightly longer because of its unique design.

Difference 7: Cleaning

HexClad cookware cleans quicker than cast iron. The non-stick parts of the pan release food particles easier than cast iron.

Although I don’t recommend putting cookware in the dishwasher (it shortens its lifespan), HexClad is dishwasher safe, so it’s an option when you are short on time.

Cast iron should never be placed in a dishwasher, and you should only use soap when necessary because it can strip the pan of its seasoning.

With HexClad, a quick wash with warm water and dish detergent is all you need. You may need extra time and tools (like a chainmail scrubber) to clean cast iron.

Difference 8: Maintenance

HexClad is low maintenance compared to cast iron. It doesn’t require seasoning, and a quick scrub will prevent the stainless steel hexagons from staining.

Cast iron needs regular seasoning to promote better food release.

The seasoning process includes:

  1. Washing: Wash the cast iron cookware to remove food bits or rust.
  2. Drying: Use a lint-free cloth to dry the cookware and then place it in a preheated oven at 250°F for ten minutes to ensure all excess moisture is gone.
  3. Coating: Pour a small amount of high smoke point oil, like soybean oil, onto the cooking surface. Don’t use more than half of a tablespoon. Less is more. Rub the oil across the surface with a paper towel. The cookware should have a slight sheen but shouldn’t look wet.
  4. Baking: Place the oiled cast iron cookware into a preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, take it out and wipe it down to remove any excess oil. Place it back in the oven for 45 minutes.

 As a general rule, bake at 25°F higher than the smoke point of the oil you use.

Difference 9: Weight

HexClad cookware weighs less than cast iron cookware. It’s easier to maneuver when you transport it from the cooktop to the oven or shake or flip food in a pan while cooking.

For comparison, HexClad’s 10-inch skillet weighs 2.5 pounds. The average weight of a 10-inch cast iron skillet is 5 pounds.

HexClad 10 inch pan weight
HexClad 10 inch pan weight

The exact weights of cast iron vary by brand. Here are some examples:

BrandSkillet SizeWeight
Le Creuset9-Inch4.2 Pounds
Ecolution Farmhouse9.5-Inch6.5 Pounds
Victoria10-Inch4.65 Pounds
Lodge10.25-Inch5 Pounds
Le Creuset10.25-Inch5.4 Pounds
Calphalon12-Inch6.8 Pounds
Backcountry10-Inch5.84 Pounds
Victoria12-Inch6.7 Pounds
Le Creuset11.75-Inch6.8 Pounds
Lodge12-Inch8 Pounds
Utopia Kitchen12.5-Inch8 Pounds
Cuisinel12-Inch8.25 Pounds
AmazonBasics12-Inch8.4 Pounds
Backcountry12-Inch9.6 Pounds
Universal Housewares15-Inch10.5 Pounds
Lodge13.25-Inch11.3 Pounds
Lodge15-Inch11.5 Pounds

Difference 10: Handle Design

Cast iron cookware is manufactured as one solid piece, so the handle is part of the cookware and isn’t attached with screws or rivets. HexClad’s handles are double-riveted to the cookware.

The length of the cast iron skillet handle varies by the cookware brand. In terms of style, cast iron handles tend to be short with a rounded end. If you prefer a longer handle, Stargazer’s cast iron skillet has a long Y-shaped handle that helps it to stay cooler than other cast iron brands when cooking on a stove.

Stargazer long handle
Stargazer long handle

HexClad handles are made from polished stainless steel. They are hollow inside, which helps disperse heat and keep them cool while cooking on the stovetop.

Fingerprints and smudges on HexClad handle
HexClad handle

There are no rivets on the cast iron handles, so there are no places for food and oil to collect. Since HexClad handles are attached by two rivets, you’ll need to clean around the rivets to remove all of the food debris.

HexClad 12 Inch Frying Pan Design
HexClad 12 Inch Frying Pan

Difference 11: Price

Most cast iron cookware is budget-friendly. You can buy a quality skillet from a brand like Lodge or Calphalon for $20-$50.

However, the cost of cast iron varies by brand. High-end, hand-crafted skillets like Stargazer, Finnex, and Butter Pat can cost well over $100.

HexClad is relatively expensive, especially considering you’ll eventually need to replace it.

The chart below shows the current prices of HexClad and several popular cast iron brands. Click each item to see reviews and learn more on Amazon.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Should You Buy HexClad or Cast Iron?

Now that you know the differences between HexClad vs. cast iron, which option is right for you?

Before I offer my recommendation, let’s quickly recap:

  • Non-Stick Properties: HexClad cookware uses a PTFE coating for excellent food release, whereas cast iron requires proper seasoning for effective food release. HexClad is generally more non-stick.
  • Heat Conduction: HexClad pans heat up faster and more evenly due to their 3-ply stainless steel base with an aluminum core. Cast iron heats slower and less evenly.
  • Heat Retention: Cast iron retains heat much better than HexClad due to its thicker construction, providing more consistent cooking temperatures.
  • Versatility: While both types of cookware are versatile, HexClad excels at cooking delicate foods and is easier to handle due to its lighter weight. Cast iron is superior for searing meats due to its heat retention.
  • Oven Safety: Both options are oven-safe, but HexClad has limitations due to its PTFE coating. Cast iron has a higher heat tolerance and is safe under a broiler or over a campfire.
  • Durability: Cast iron is more durable and can last a lifetime with proper care, while HexClad’s lifespan is longer than typical non-stick pans due to its unique design.
  • Cleaning: HexClad is easier to clean due to its non-stick surface and is dishwasher safe, while cast iron requires special care and cannot be put in the dishwasher.
  • Maintenance: Cast iron requires regular seasoning for optimal food release, whereas HexClad requires less maintenance, needing only occasional gentle scrubbing.
  • Weight: HexClad cookware is lighter, making it easier to handle during cooking and transportation. Cast iron is heavier, making it sturdier but more challenging to move.
  • Handle Design: Cast iron has solid one-piece construction, while HexClad features double-riveted handles. HexClad’s handles stay cooler due to their hollow construction.
  • Price: Cast iron cookware is generally more budget-friendly with a wide price range, while HexClad is more expensive and requires eventual replacement.

Bottom line — HexClad is an excellent option if you’re looking for an all-purpose pan to consolidate your cookware. However, the non-stick coating wears down over time, and you can’t use it for broiling.

Cast iron cookware can last a lifetime, is ideal for searing, and boasts excellent heat retention. But cast iron has some downsides — it’s heavy, heats slowly, requires seasoning, and shouldn’t be used to cook acidic foods.

If you want the most versatile and low-maintenance choice and have the budget, go with HexClad. If you want cookware that’s affordable, will last, and has a high heat tolerance, cast iron is an ideal choice.

If you’re ready to buy, check out HexClad on HexClad.com and Amazon. You can buy cast iron on Amazon or directly from the manufacturer on sites like StargazerCastIron.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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