The Best Cast Iron Skillet

From pancakes and eggs to steak dinners, cast iron skillets are arguably the most versatile pans in the kitchen arsenal. Known for their even heat distribution, ability to produce a perfect sear, and superior durability, cast iron skillets are time-tested American kitchen standards. We’ve spent a good amount of time researching and testing several popular cast iron skillets in order to bring you the most comprehensive user guide.

If you've ever wondered, "what is the best cast iron skillet and why," we've got your answer here!


Top 5 Cast Iron Skillet Picks Reviews 2017



Why Buy A Cast Iron Skillet?


Cast iron pans are primitive, rugged, and inexpensive, but that doesn’t stop them from providing a superior cooking surface nor from being a chef favorite. Heavy iron is a wonderful heat conductor. In fact, it can easily withstand temperatures of about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Some can even withstand oven temperatures of 600 degrees or more. Moreover, it can be used on a traditional oven-top burner, directly in an oven, on the grill, and even be placed in a direct flame. Furthermore, it can be used to execute almost any cooking technique. Check out this easy sweet potato hash recipe which is delicious in a skillet. From a fry to a broil, there are few jobs a cast iron skillet can’t handle.

Some people stray from purchasing cast iron because they don’t want to be bothered with the seasoning process nor be bogged down with specific cleaning requirements. However, many of today’s pans come conveniently pre-seasoned. What’s more, a seasoned cast iron skillet it virtually nonstick and will easily release food with little to no residue left behind.


Cleaning a cast iron skillet is simple too. While most manufacturers recommend you avoid soap, a quick soak and scrub will spruce up your pan for your next cooking adventure. Should you accidentally remove some of the oily protective layer, you can easily re-season your pan at any time.

There is a long list of reasons to purchase a cast iron skillet. Most notably, cast iron skillets seem to improve with age. Unlike easy-to-clean Teflon frying pans, cast iron will never degenerate with repeated use. In fact, it is not uncommon to see decades old pans still getting regular use.


Benefits Of Cooking With Cast Iron


Cast iron pans have been around long enough that they have become something of a legend. While many cooks will boast of their ‘even heat distribution,’ this isn’t wholly correct. The reality is that cast iron retains heat for a long time. This makes for super crispy crusts with little to no additional oil. This means you get tastier, more textured food with far fewer calories.

What’s more, several studies suggest that cast iron naturally fortifies food with iron (Bastyr University). While many people are iron deficient, this can be an interesting way to add this crucial mineral into your diet. Additionally, cast iron is a natural metal that is typically seasoned in vegetable oils or lard. While nonstick pans are convenient, they run the risk of leaching harmful chemicals into foods. Studies suggest that high levels of Perfluorooctanoic Acid, a component of Teflon pans, can increase a person's risk of Cancer.

Lastly, while it may come at an inconvenience, cast iron is extremely heavy. Proper handles and usage can make this easier to cope with. While lifting a hot cast iron skillet out of an oven takes skill, it is worth learning known that your pan will more than likely never warp, nor crack, nor wear.


Things To Look For


When searching for the best possible cast iron skillet, don’t be tricked into thinking all pans are alike. Surely, you’ll start to see minimal variations between countless black pans. This repetition is demonstrative of the perfect simplicity of this cooking device. However, when you look closer you’ll notice the slightest variations in handles, grips, sizes, surfaces, and seasonings.

If this is your first go-around with cast iron, pre-seasoned is the way to go. Factory seasonings provide you with an instant nonstick surface that will improve with use. Pre-seasoned pans are convenient and will deter you from your newbie fears of cast iron maintenance.

We also recommend that you select a pan with two handles, one short and one long. Pans are weighty, even without food, and, therefore, you’ll want to be able to grip the pan on both sides to move. Handles with holes are easier to grip. Moreover, ridges in the iron can make a better slip free surface. Be aware that the entire pan heats to high temperatures, including the handle. While potholders will do, there are many silicone handle covers on the market.

Pay attention to the diameter and weight of your pan. Think about what dishes you’d like to attempt. Larger skillets can cook several burgers or patties and make 12-inch pies or breads. Smaller skillets are easier for camping and travel, for which cast iron is a staple. Heavier pans are more difficult to manage but are less prone to cracks, a common complaint of modern cast iron.


Caring For Your Pan


One of the greatest qualms of cast iron is care. Many chefs are apprehensive of maintaining the quality of their cookware. While initially seasoning a pan can be somewhat frustrating, we believe that caring for a cast iron pan is simple if not easier than caring for a typical stainless steel or nonstick skillet.

While some manufacturers don’t deter you from using soap, most cast iron purists would forbid you to go anywhere near their seasoned skillets with such a thing. Instead, use hot water, a sponge, and a little elbow grease. After thoroughly drying your pan, apply a thin layer of oil, heat to the point of smoke, and then remove from heat and wipe out excess oil with a clean rag or paper towel (Epicurious).


Top 5 Cast Iron Skillet Reviews 2017


Steel Cast Iron Pre Seasoned Skillet

Quality

Price

Our Rating

The +Steel 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet is your basic, well-made cast iron pan. It is conveniently pre-seasoned and satin soft. The pan offers 12” of flat cook surface and generous heat retention (Century Life). There are dual pouring spouts on opposite side, which make it easy to drain off excess liquid or sauce. Weighing in at 5.5 pounds, this pan is built to last a lifetime of well-executed meals. The holed handle makes it easy to hang, lift, or, if you’re clever enough, rest a spoon. There is an additional holed tab on the far side of the pan for an extra grip when lifting in and out of the oven.

While many cooks are skeptical of newer cast iron pans, we’re confident this particular cooking device will hold up just fine. It’s thick, the weighty basin is perfect for crisping vegetables and meats with minimal oil. While you may want to invest in a potholder or handle cover to prevent burning yourself on the cast iron handle, this pan ready to go with or without any additional bells and whistles.

Pros

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    Pre-seasoned
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    Wide 12” Cook Surface
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    Heat Retention
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    Fortifies Food with Iron

Cons

  • Rough Exterior
  • Light
T-fal E83407 Cast Iron Skillet

Quality

Price

Our Rating

There is a lot to love about the T-fal E83407 Pre-seasoned cast iron skillet. For starters, this pan possesses the ability to go from stovetop to oven. Whereupon, the pan can withstand temperatures as high as 600 degrees Fahrenheit (Engineer Tool Box). It is constructed in a way that you won't have to worry about superficial chips or even warping. Should this pan ever lose its velvety pre-season, the manufacturer offers simple, quick instructions on how to buff it up to its original state of perfection.

The pan is 12.5 inches in diameter and weighs a whopping 9 pounds. Manufactured by a reputable Japanese company, this pan comes with a generous warranty and a promise to be both PFOA and Cadmium free. The extra-long holed handle makes for easy lifting of this rather heavy pan. An extra holed grip on the opposite side makes for easy rotation.

Pros

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    Extra-long Handle
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    Guaranteed Oven Safe up to 600 degrees
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    PFOA and Cadmium Free

Cons

  • Doesn’t evenly distribute heat
  • Hot Handle
  • Very Heavy
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Quality

Price

Our Rating

While you may not be able to fit four large burgers in this 10.5-inch pan, we love this petite skillet for traveling and for the smaller burners on our stove top. Produced by Lodge, an American cast iron company, this pan is affordable, durable, and locally made. The company is known for using a specific vegetable oil seasoning to produce its beautiful, smooth pre-seasoned surface.

Remove this pan from its packaging and head straight to the kitchen. It is perfect for cooking hearty breakfasts, steak dinners, and really anything under the sun. It weighs 5.7 pounds and because of its slightly smaller diameter, it is easier to bring along on a camping trip or to a woodsy picnic. While its thin sides make it susceptible to cracks and chips, proper care will keep this pan in great condition.

Pros

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    Petite diameter
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    Extra Large Handles
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    Locally Made
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    Pre-seasoned

Cons

  • Brittle
  • Need to cook in batches for larger meals
Ewei Homewares Cast Iron Skillet

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Ewei Homeware’s 12-inch cast iron skillet is yet another amazing product. It includes all the subtle, yet highly effective additions, like dual pouring spouts, elongated handles, grips, and pre-seasoning. While you may not be able to clean this pan in your trusty dishwasher, you’ll be amazed at the little effort it takes to keep it in perfect working order.

Ewei is a reputable company, known for its impressive, long-lasting cookware. This cast iron skillet is no exception to the rule. It is heavy and deep and perfect for searing up chicken and then making an in pan gravy or frying up some scrambled eggs and bacon. Don’t let us bog you down with specifics though. When it comes to cast iron, the possibilities are endless.

Pros

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    Pre-seasoned
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    Ample Cooking Surface
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    Dual Pouring Spouts

Cons

  • Rough, pebbly surface
  • What is the best cast iron skillet? Well, the answer is there are several of them just waiting to be snatched up by a worthy home cook and cast into the delicious world of cast iron dishes.
Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Utopia Kitchen’s cast iron skillet is 12.5 inches in diameter and weighs 8.2 pounds. We found this to be a perfect distribution of weight per cooking surface. The ample cooking space is factory seasoned, providing chefs with nearly 10-15 rounds of home seasoning with absolutely no effort. This offers an admirable nonstick surface that will help you perfect even the most difficult recipes.

While we are hesitant to accept the manufacturer’s permission to use dish soap on the precious surface of our cast iron skillet, we’re optimistic about the durability of this pan. The deep sides give you ample enough space to conjure up sauces and soups, while the flat bottom is perfect for braising, grilling, and searing. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about chemicals or artificial materials leaching into your healthy dishes.

Pros

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    Nice Weight Distribution
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    Easy grip handles on both sides
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    Generously Pre-seasoned

Cons

  • Rough shell may scratch glass cooktop
  • Manufacturer’s warranty soap cleansing

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