The Very Best Cast Iron Skillets You Can Buy
If you have only one pan in your kitchen, it should be a cast iron skillet. It’s versatile, it’s durable, and it’s generally inexpensive. There are few better ways to spend your dollars. That just begs one question: With so many out there, which cast iron skillet should you buy?
We looked to four other sites to see what they recommend and, of course, we added our own two cents from Kitchn editors. But before we get to the recommendations, there are a few things you’ll want to think about.
3 Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Cast Iron Skillet
- Size. You can find cast iron skillets in all sizes, from itty-bitty (3.5 inches) to impressively large (15 inches). We recommend a happy medium: A 10-inch or 12-inch skillet will serve you well, without being so heavy or onerous that it’s a struggle every time you take it out. If you’re trying to decide between the two, the 10-inch will be a bit lighter and easier to maneuver; the 12-inch offers a larger surface area, which means your food will get a better sear. And obviously, the 12-inch holds more food.
- Seasoning. Some cooks will want to season their own skillet. Others prefer to use their skillet straight out of the box. Figure out which one you are — and know that whatever you decide, your skillet will only get better with use.
- Traditional versus enamel. When you think of a cast iron skillet, you’re probably thinking about a traditional cast iron pan that is, well, just that: a pan made of cast iron. But you can also find enamel versions, which are cast iron coated with enamel (like a Le Creuset Dutch oven). These skillets offer are generally significantly pricier than their traditional countertops, but they do offer protection against rust and acidity. And, this is a deal breaker for some, they can be washed with soap (a no-no for regular cast iron skillets).
4 of the Best Cast Iron Skillets for Home Cooks
The Best Cast Iron Skillet, According to Wirecutter
Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet, $30 at Sur la Table
Wirecutter put 16 different cast iron skillets to the test and gave this one the top spot. It beat out other skillets, including the Lodge Pre-Seasoned 12-Inch Skillet ($20 at Walmart), in a series of basic tasks designed to test the ability to sear, roast, and sauté. While the Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet performed well across the board, what made it stand out most were two things. First, at 6.5 pounds, the skillet is lightweight and easy to maneuver — key when you’re trying to pour hot oil, for example. Second, the shape is slightly more shallow than other models, causing less steaming, a better sear, and more maneuverability when it comes to getting in there with a spatula to flip eggs or pancakes.
The Best Enamel Cast Iron Skillet, According to Cook’s Illustrated
Le Creuset Signature 11 3/4-Inch Iron Handle Skillet, $190
The ever-thorough Cook’s Illustrated tested both traditional cast iron skillets and enamel cast iron skillets (see “3 Things to Consider When Buying a Cast Iron Skillet, above). Lodge shows up again as the tried-and-true pick for a traditional cast iron skillet, while the winner for enamel skillet is this rather spendy version from Le Creuset. Still, Cook’s Illustrated says it’s worth the hefty price tag. They report that the skillet was a dream to handle, with even heat distribution and wide pour spouts. And, after rigorous testing, it still looked like new.
The Best 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, According to Epicurious
Victoria Pre-Seasoned 12-Inch Skillet, $15
Epicurious gave this cast iron pan top marks because you can use it straight out of the box — zero seasoning required. They also mentioned the handle (longer, with a slight upward curve), which is easy to hold and stays cool longer than others, and the two generously sized pour spouts. Bottom line, for $15, it’s hard to go wrong.
One of the Bestselling Cast Iron Skillets on Amazon
Lodge 10-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $15
The best-selling cast iron skillet brand on Amazon? If you guessed Lodge, you’d be right. The 10-inch version, ideal for smaller kitchens and smaller households, has more than 15,000 reviews, with 77 percent of reviewers giving it five stars. Heavy-duty and high-quality, it’s durable enough to last forever and versatile enough to do everything you want it to do: stir-fry, sear, sauté, and scramble.
Kitchn’s Thoughts on the Best Cast Iron Skillet
Kitchn is Team Lodge. We love that these pre-seasoned pans are made in the U.S. from a single piece of cast iron. We love the price tags (especially on this 10-inch guy). We love even more that they cook really well. And we think Lodge skillets build up the best patina, so that, with every use you’re creating a family heirloom.
More on Cast Iron Skillets
- How To Restore a Rusty Cast Iron Skillet
- How To Season a Cast Iron Skillet
- How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
- 7 Smart Ways to Store Your Cast Iron Cookware
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