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A cast-iron skillet is one of the most reliable and versatile tools you can have in your kitchen. From creating a great sear on steaks to frying fritters, sautéing tofu, or braising a chicken, the choices are endless. You can seamlessly transfer your skillet from the stovetop straight into the oven or use it to create meals over a campfire. With just a little bit of maintenance, you can stretch the life of your cast iron over decades or even generations!
There are myriad choices, depending on what you are looking for. Here, we present you with the best cast iron skillets so you can choose one that is in line with your cooking preferences and suits your lifestyle.
Best Overall: Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
The Victoria 12-inch cast iron skillet is a winner because of its functional specifications and details. Its smart design includes an elegantly curved handle and large pour spouts, which allow you to discard excess oil or pour chunky sauces without any drips!
At first glance, the longer handle may seem like it throws off the weight distribution, but its 6-pound weight is evenly balanced. Plus, the helper handle on the 12-inch makes it easier to grip and lift. The long handle also doesn’t heat up as fast as other cast iron skillet handles (though, you should still be careful; I always use a tea towel).
This skillet, which comes pre-seasoned with flaxseed oil, has a lifetime warranty and is also available in 6.5-, 8-, and 10-inch sizes.
Best Enameled: Staub 10-Inch Fry Pan
You won’t find any trade-offs between beautiful style and usability with the Staub 10-inch enameled cast-iron skillet. While traditional cast iron skillets have a utilitarian look, you can have some colorful fun with the enamel ones!
You’re probably wondering what the difference is between regular cast iron and an enameled skillet. Enameled cast iron has a vitreous enamel glaze applied to the surface that you don’t have to season. Even though this comes with a higher price tag than a traditional cast-iron skillet, it is an essential kitchen tool you won’t have to spend too much time maintaining since it’s easy to wash and won’t rust. The black interior enamel sears just as well as other cast irons and Staub creates a textured feel to enhance your cooking.
One downside is that you won’t see the development of a patina—the slick layer that forms on your pan from the use of natural fats in your food—something that is appealing to many who love cast iron skillets.
Best 10-Inch: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Silicone Handle Holder
Handcrafted in the U.S., Lodge makes heirloom-quality skillets at an affordable price point. Known for even heat retention, its 10.25-inch skillet is a must-have in any kitchen.
At 5 pounds, it weighs a pound lighter than other 10-inch cast irons, making this a desirable choice for those who find these skillets too heavy to use on a daily basis. It does come pre-seasoned, though you should re-season it to keep it in top condition. Lodge also offers this skillet with a specialized silicone handle holder (which is oven safe to 500 degrees), and with a customized glass lid.
The size is perfect for everyday use; you can bake a buttery cornbread or sear a steak-for-two on the stovetop. The 2-inch high sides make it a candidate for shallow frying those spicy corn fritters you have been meaning to make.
Related: The Best Cookware Sets
Best 12-Inch: Utopia Kitchen 12.5-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
The Utopia Kitchen's 12-inch skillet wins in this category for its functionality. While its 8 pounds definitely puts it on the heavier side, it is pre-seasoned with soybean oil to help you get a jump start on building up a solid seasoning.
At 12.5 inches in diameter, it’s large enough to handle any cooking task, and its helper handle and two pouring spouts will definitely come in handy. Make stovetop burgers in it for the entire family or the lightest, fluffiest biscuits. There can be a substantive jump in price from a 10-inch to a 12-inch skillet, but Utopia Kitchen’s price point makes it an optimum choice.
Best Nonstick: Lodge 8-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Some skillets do come better seasoned than others, and Lodge sets the bar high for that. You can’t go wrong with its pre-seasoning, though it will still require time and patience to reach its full potential as a nonstick surface.
Lodge’s 8-inch skillet is perfect for beginners. At 2.2 pounds, it’s light enough to easily learn how to cook on cast iron. The more you use your skillet, the more you will build that glistening patina. Think of fried eggs, sliding around the pan, in a pool of olive oil and butter. All this to say: this skillet won’t have the slickest nonstick surface straight out of the box; you’ll need to coddle it.
Related: The Best Nonstick Cookware Sets
Best Vintage-Style: Stargazer 10.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
It took six months and 21 designs for cofounder Peter Huntley to create the Stargazer cast iron 10.5-inch skillet, reminiscent of years gone by with its coveted smooth surface, thin walls, and flared rim. This polished finish is a throwback to vintage cast iron.
With its one-of-a-kind craftsmanship, this skillet can be ordered as seasoned or bare. There is a lot of attention to detail in its design, even a dainty star on the helper handle! At 5.2 pounds, it is lighter than other skillet options of similar size. For environmentally-conscious buyers, the skillet is made from recycled iron, and its casting molds are made with recycled sand.
The high sloping wall of this skillet makes it ideal for making a weeknight stir fry, among other dishes. And with a gorgeous copper hue from the seasoning, it’s a beauty to display in your kitchen.
Best Splurge: Field Company Field No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet
At 4.3 pounds, the Field Company No. 8 is almost featherlight for a 10.25-inch cast iron skillet. A cast-iron skillet can be a family heirloom, and this one definitely falls into that category.
Started by two brothers, Field Company makes its iron castings by hand the way cast iron skillets were produced a century ago. The finish of this skillet is silky smooth, boasting even heat distribution, and it comes with an ergonomic handle. It is also light enough to take on a camping trip. A downside, though, is the lack of pour spouts.
Related: The Best Frying Pans
Best Deep: Berghoff 11-inch Modern Cast Iron Deep Lidded Skillet
The beauty of a cast iron skillet is that it can maintain a constant temperature, which makes it an ideal vessel for deep frying. However, you need high sides if you want to fry donut holes or buttermilk fried chicken. In that case, try the BergHOFF 11-inch Modern Cast Iron Deep Lidded Skillet.
This skillet has wide handles that are easy to grip with oven mitts (you’ll need to wear those when the skillet gets really hot!). With a 3.5-quart capacity and those tall sides, it’s great for simmering soups and sauces, in addition to deep-frying. And the best part is it also doubles up as a basic skillet to sear your meats or fry an egg without the splatter. A cast iron skillet with a lid, how cool is that?
What to Look for in a Cast Iron Skillet
If you’re wondering what size skillet to buy, consider choosing from these three options: 8-, 10-, or 12-inch in diameter. The 8-inch is great for two small steaks, or three fried eggs, which makes it perfect for one or two people. Then we have the 10-inch, reasonably easy to store in size and weight, and a classic size to roast a chicken, make a frittata or bake cornbread. The 12-inch is a crowd-pleaser; you can pull off a meal for four in it, whether you are preparing some tofu or searing a ribeye. Out of the three sizes, the 10-inch is the most versatile.
Once you have created those initial layers of seasoning, you will want to maintain that beautiful coating to give your cast iron a much desired nonstick surface. Go ahead and wash that cast iron skillet with some soap and water, don’t be scared! Or, you could make a mixture of salt and oil and scrub scrub scrub all the grime off of it. If you’ve made something like pancakes, you can just wipe it clean with a paper towel. Make sure you don’t forget to thoroughly dry your skillet because that’s when it can start to rust. And then, apply a thin layer of oil (any vegetable oil will do), and place the skillet on high heat. Once it cools, it is ready to be stored.
Cast iron skillets can last a lifetime, but you need to take that extra step to store them properly, especially because they have a tendency to rust. If you are nesting your pans inside one another, cushion it with a paper towel to prevent friction and damage, and it will absorb any moisture. Air needs to circulate around any of the pans when stashed away. If you’re storing it in a kitchen cabinet, make sure it is in an area that is dry (not near your dishwasher). For those of you who want to display your beautiful collection of skillets on the wall, you can secure your hooks to mounted studs.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Shayma Owaise Saadat loves using a cast iron skillet from her varied collection. Whether it’s a Dutch baby or a soft scramble with lots of butter, she is pulling out that cast iron skillet every weekend morning. She is a recipe developer who teaches Pakistani and Persian cookery classes and makes everything from a Persian khoresht to a Pakistani-style shrimp biryani in her cast-iron skillet.
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