Food made in a cast iron skillet always has a distinct added flavor. We’ve compiled a list of the market’s top iron skillets to help streamline your decision process.
Nothing quite compares to food prepared in a cast iron skillet. Not only does it taste delicious, it’s also higher in iron than food prepared using other methods.
Although you’ll be seasoning your cast iron skillet with oil, you won’t have to use a lot of extra fat for cooking – even potatoes will turn out crisp and delicious with just a drizzle once your skillet has been well broken in.
Before we jump into the review portion, let’s take a look at some tips for choosing the best cast iron skillet.
With these considerations in mind, you’ll find it easier to select the best cast iron skillet for your needs.
At a Glance: 10 Best Cast Iron Skillets
We’ve spent hours researching, saving you time and effort with your search for the perfect pan. Unlike many popular cooking tools, these pans have been popular for over a century – and the factors for choosing the best cast iron skillet are the same now as they were more than 100 years ago.
- Weight – Cast iron skillets are supposed to be heavy! If you’re not interested in cooking in a pan that weighs about eight pounds on average, then you may want to consider a ceramic skillet instead.
- Handle Length or Position – Many of the best cast iron skillets have long handles for better leverage. Some have double handles, so that you can maneuver them with both hands. Always use a pot holder when handling a hot cast iron skillet, or consider adding some handle holders for increased safety.
- Price – While cheap cast iron pans are available, it’s better to get the best cast iron skillet you can afford. Consider it an investment: A good-quality cast iron skillet will last longer than a lifetime if it’s properly cared for. We agree with millions of consumers in stating that Lodge is a great brand that offers a good blend of quality and affordability. Do look at other brands though, since some have special features that you might find appealing.
- Frequency of Use – What if you’re planning to use your cast iron skillet just a few times per month or less? In this case, quality might not matter quite so much! Get a pan in a size that appeals to you and enjoy it!
- Coated or Bare – Many of the best cast iron skillets are bare or uncoated, while a few come with ceramic coatings that help food cook more evenly and help with rust resistance. Enamel-coated skillets cost quite a bit more than the bare versions, but they’re definitely a nice investment for your kitchen. With proper care, a good enamel-coated cast iron skillet from a top brand such as Le Creuset or Staub will last for generations. Lodge has begun manufacturing enamel-coated cast iron cookware too, however it has yet to gain a great reputation.
- Where Is It From? – Careful! If you’re on the lookout for the best cast iron skillet and other cast iron cookware, it’s a good idea to choose brands that are made in Europe or the USA. There are quite a few knockoffs from China. While these are cheap, they aren’t ideal, and they tend to be poorly rated. On the other hand, cheap cast iron cookware can be a good choice for someone who’s on a budget, and who doesn’t plan to use it on a daily basis, year after year. The bottom line? Get the best you can afford and you’re more likely to be happy with your purchase.
How to Season Your New Cast Iron Skillet
You’ve taken a lot of time to select the best cast iron skillet for your purposes; now, it’s time to use it to its full potential. Use these quick tips for seasoning your new favorite pan and you’ll soon find yourself enjoying great results while impressing your family and guests with delicious meals.
- Season Your Cast Iron Skillet First: We know that you’re eager to get started with cast iron cooking, but even if it was pre-seasoned by the manufacturer, your new skillet will benefit if you take time to season it before you use it. Seasoning takes a little time – but your efforts will pay off! Use the following steps to season your cast iron skillet:
- Use a stiff brush to scrub the entire skillet with hot, soapy water. You won’t be using soap in future washes, unless you need to re-season your skillet.
- Rinse the skillet and then use a soft, lint-free towel or paper towels to dry it completely.
- Coat the entire inside and outside of the skillet with a thin layer of cooking oil or the fat of your choice. Don’t allow the oil to pool – it’ll create a sticky, gunky feel instead of the non-stick surface you’re aiming for.
- Place a large baking pan or a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven, and then set the temperature to 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Position the skillet upside down on the oven’s upper rack. Leave it in place for an hour, and then turn the oven off. Leave the skillet in the oven until it cools.
- Store your seasoned cast iron skillet in a dry place with good air circulation. If you can, hang it up on a rack.
- Re-season your pan if you notice any rust. Simply scrub the rust away before seasoning.
- Heat Slowly: Avoid damage by starting with a cold pan and a cold stove. Don’t put a cold cast iron skillet on a hot surface. Damage won’t be visible but it can happen!
- Avoid Dropping and Sliding your Cast Iron Skillet: Both actions can damage the finish, and the heavy pan can damage stovetops and countertops.
- Use Olive Oil Frequently: Treat your skillet to a light coating of olive oil (or another high-temperature cooking oil) before cooking.
- Wash Carefully: Most people wonder how to clean a cast iron skillet without soap or abrasives. It’s easy – just follow these steps:
- Wash your cast iron skillet while it’s still hot. Don’t let it soak, since this can harm the seasoning and lead to rust.
- Using hot water and a stiff brush or a sponge, wash the skillet. If you encounter any stuck-on bits, you can use a little bit of kosher salt to scrub them away. Rinse the salt off when you’re finished, and then use paper towels or a lint-free cloth to dry the skillet completely.
- If you’ve burnt something badly and there’s a lot of residue in the pan, fill it with about half an inch of water and bring the water to a boil. Use a brush with a long handle to test the residue – it should come off easily. Repeat the process until the pan is clean.
- Oil the skillet after each wash. Wipe away any excess oil, warm the skillet, and then allow it to cool before storing.
Paired with one of the best cast iron skillets, good techniques make food taste amazing, so you get as many benefits as possible from the time and effort you’ve put into your recipes. We wish you success in your next culinary adventure!