Cast iron skillets and cookware are pieces that age well and last for generations when properly treated. While these hearty kitchen tools have their limitations, a quality cast iron skillet or dutch oven can keep your cooking for years.
Our cast iron cookware reviews and buying guide will help you discover the best cast iron skillet or Dutch oven for you and your kitchen. While cast iron isn’t for every cooking situation, you may find a new favorite.
Best Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron Skillet
Square Grill Pan
Double Dutch Oven
Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
20" x 10.44"
Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Cast Iron Skillet
Covered Deep Skillet
Cast Iron Cookware Reviews
Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet
The Le Creuset enameled skillet offers fans of cast iron the chance to enjoy the heft and heat of cast iron without worrying about rust.
The exterior of this pan is coated in colored enamel, while the interior is coated in black enamel. It features a long handle for maneuvering the pot over the burner and a short handle for hanging.
It's important to heat this pan slowly to keep your foods from sticking. Per the Le Creuset instructions, you'll want to heat the pan, add the oil, and then add your non-acidic and dry foods. Too much water can cause sticking and will compromise the temperature of your oil.
- Pretty: Standard cast iron is a bit boring, but these pans are available in a variety of colors including white, red and turquoise, and are quite pretty!
- Balanced: The extra handle on this pan makes it easy to handle the extra weight inherent in cast iron. This pan will move easily from stove top to oven, and the extra handle helps.
- Non-Stick (after a fashion): While this pan doesn't feature a Teflon coating, it is fairly non-stick, heat with care.
- Dishwasher Safe (or not): Per the manufacturer, this pan can go in the dishwasher. Per users, the dishwasher will destroy the seasoning. Wash as you would other cast iron.
- Heavy: Cast iron is heavy, and banging these pans around can damage the ceramic coating and introduce rest. Handle with control.
- Time-consuming: You will want to pre-heat this pan before adding oil and before adding your food.
Cast Iron Griddle - Reversible Grill
The Lodge reversible griddle comes pre-seasoned and is ready to wash and use as soon as it arrives. This griddle will work on nearly all stove tops and can even be used over a fire outdoors.
Those with induction cooktops will need to review the specifications for their stove to see if a double-burner griddle will work for their cooking needs.
The Lodge griddle is 20 inches wide by just over ten inches wide and will give you a broad cooking area for breakfast foods such as eggs and bacon on the flat side and grilling ridges for steaks on the other.
Both sides of the griddle feature a grease trap and the entire unit can go into your oven or sit on your outdoor grill for even heat and no risk of food loss through the grate.
- Durability: Cast iron is extremely durable.
- Grease Trap: Many meats that grill well can also leave a greasy mess, but this griddle will move the grease away from your food.
- Consistent Heat: Cast iron absorbs and holds heat extremely well, so even if your outdoor grill has hot spots, you will still have an even cooking surface.
- Surface Quality: This griddle, like most new cast iron, is sand-forged. This means the surface is pebbled rather than smooth, making it harder to keep seasoned.
- Weight: Cast iron is heavy, and once it gets hot it stays hot. Handle with care!
- Handles: The handles for this unit are built into the frame of the griddle. If you use this unit on your glass top stove, you'll need to let things cool completely before you move the griddle, but those with gas stoves should have an easier time moving the griddle.
Lodge Square Grill Pan
This Lodge grill pan offers fans of grilling the chance to get just the right "char" lines on their steaks year round. It's also a wonderful way to cook greasy foods and let the grease drip away from the food.
This unit comes pre-seasoned, so if you cook with oil or animal fat and clean it with an abrasive mixture of oil and kosher salt, you can keep this grill pan rust free and seasoned for years.
- Handle: The Lodge grill pan features a long handle for maneuvering and a short handle for hanging and handling the extra weight.
- Raised Grill: The grill bars of this pan will hold heat and give your food a great "char" no matter the season.
- Travels Well: This pan will go easily from stove top to oven, and can move outdoors to a fire pit or your charcoal grill. Don't leave it out overnight to cool!
- Clean-Up: The ridges in this pan may require a special cleaning tool so no food or grease is left in the bottom.
- Heat: Cast iron holds heat well, but that can make moving pans from your oven or grill hazardous. Silicone handles are available!
- Seasoning: Keeping the grill ridges of this tool seasoned may be a challenge. Clean with care, and avoid soap whenever possible.
Lodge Double Dutch Oven
The 5-Quart Lodge Dutch oven features a lid that doubles as a skillet.
The lid fits securely onto the Dutch oven, making it possible for you to cook bread in this tool.
Because the lid is flat, you can also place this pot in warm coals and add them to the lid for campfire cooking.
- Double Duty: In the kitchen, this pot and skillet can serve multiple purposes in your home. Together, they're great for outdoor cooking.
- Integrated Handles: The handles are forged as part of the pot and lid, so there's no risk of handles getting loose over time.
- Heft: The weight of the lid will serve to keep this pot sealed as you bake bread, make cobbler, or prepare a roast.
- Sand-Forging: This pot has a pebbled surface both inside and out. No matter how well-seasoned you make it, it will be more prone to scratches than a smooth finish pot.
- No Hanging Handle: Cooking in coals is possible, but getting this pot out of the heat may be a challenge as you'll have to get into the fire to reach it.
- Not Pre-Seasoned: You'll be well-served to season this pot once you get it; the original seasoning will prevent rust but isn't a great non-stick finish.
Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
The Utopia skillet is a quite shallow pot at less than 2.5 inches tall.
The flared sides make it ideal for steaks or chicken breasts, but may lead to spattering and spills if you plan to deep fry or cook something very greasy, such as bacon, in this pan.
- Weight: If antique cast iron is too heavy for you, this pan may serve better. For the amount of cooking surface, it's fairly lightweight.
- Double Handle: This pan has a short cooking handle and a square loop hanging handle for easy maneuvering.
- Heats Quickly: The Utopia iron is a bit more porous so your cooking surface will be ready quickly.
- Corrosion: All cast iron is susceptible to rust, but as this iron is more porous it will be more susceptible to moisture. Make sure to dry this pan with heat, not cloth or paper towels.
- Short Handle: The cooking handle is relatively short compared to other cast iron. This reduces weight but puts your hands closer to the heat source.
- Shallow Sides: The risk of spills and spatters is high with such a flat pan. A spatter screen would be a good investment.
Cast Iron Cookware Buying Guide
What To Look For
If you can find a heavy cast iron skillet or pot at a thrift store, buy it. Unless it's severely rusted, you can clean it up, re-season it, and have a better cooking surface than modern cast iron. As discussed below, new cast iron is harder to season.
How Is Cast Iron Made?
Older methods of casting iron pots involved pouring molten iron into forms that would produce a smooth pot. Newer pots are molded in sand forms that leave a rougher, more pebbled surface.
While both of these finishes can be treated and seasoned to reduce the risk of food sticking to the pot, the rougher surface is a bit harder to season well.
What Size Should I Buy?
While Dutch ovens often feature a folding handle that makes maneuvering the pot a little easier, a good cast iron skillet can be extremely heavy when full if you buy a large one.
What is a skillet? A round pan with flared sides and a long handle. If you find a round pan with straight sides, you've got a saute pan.
While cast iron moves well from stove top to hot oven, this does mean that you're moving hot food in a very heavy pan; always a hazard. If possible, move the pan without the lid to reduce weight.
Additionally, some cast iron skillets feature a helping grip opposite the long handle. This helping handle can be grasped to keep the pan level and make it easier to control as you move it from one spot to another.
What Size Skillet Should I Buy?
It's not a good plan to switch from all ceramic to all cast iron. There are things that cast iron does extremely well, but there are facets of the product that just don't taste right.
If you enjoy chopped tomatoes in your chili or beef stew, you'll be disappointed if you prepare it in a cast iron pot. The acid in the tomatoes will ruin your non-stick finish and likely will not taste good.
However, a well-seasoned and cared for cast iron skillet or dutch oven can be an ideal spot to start a steak or roast vegetables with a light coating of oil.
Keep an eye on the non-stick finish of your cast iron pot and re-coat and seal the pot when scratches begin tot show. When making cast iron non stick, you really can't start too early.
Enameled Cast Iron vs Cast Iron
An enameled cast iron Dutch oven features all the good characteristics of cast iron without the risk of raw iron. An enameled pot can't rust and can be scrubbed with hot water and soap.
If you love the heft of cast iron but like to cook with acids including tomatoes and wine, consider getting an enameled Dutch oven. The acid in your favorite dishes won't harm the non-stick seasoning on your Dutch oven.
Additionally, if you prefer to cook vegetarian or low-fat meals, an enameled pot is ideal.
Why Cook With Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron does not heat as effectively as other metals, but it does offer the bonus of not losing as much heat as other metals when a cold piece of meat, for example, is added to the pan or pot.
This gives you the chance to sear and brown you favorite cut of beef while sealing in fresh juices.
Additionally, if you enjoy deep-fried foods, cast iron will keep your oil hotter than an aluminum or stainless steel pot.
Heat and Portability
As previously stated, cast iron cookware moves beautifully from stove top to oven, though the weight of the product can be a challenge for some. Cast iron can also move very effectively from oven to stove top.
Cast iron cookware becomes extremely hot, always use appropriate hand protection!
For example, if you want to sear a tuna steak or scallops, place the cast iron pot in the oven and heat it to at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 204 degrees Celsius.
Once the pan is hot, place it on the stove top.
Make sure your seafood is well-oiled, then drop it onto the hot skillet to build a crisp, brown sear and remove them from the heat.
The flesh will be sweet from searing the outside and steaming the inside. With proper planning, you can have supper ready in minutes.
Seasoning For Non-Stick A Surface
- Scrub it the first time with hot, soapy water, then dry thoroughly.
- Coat the pan in shortening or vegetable oil.
- Flip the pan and bake it upside down for 1 hour at 375 degrees Fahrenheit / 191 degrees Celsius.
- Once the pan cools, it should be save enough to work.
Future cleanings should be done with a bit of oil and some Kosher salt. Unless the pan is covered in burnt on, crusted food, you never want to use soap again on your seasoned pan.
Additionally, if you notice the seasoning on the pan fading or showing scratching, take the time to prepare a meal with plenty of bacon and fry it up quick. At least the inside of your pan will be well-seasoned.
Do you need to season enameled cast iron?
There are schools of thought that recommend boiling water away from a nearly full pot until there's only an inch left in the bottom of the pot. Some say this "seats" the ceramic coating to the iron pot, but this is generally not necessary. An enamel cast iron skillet can be put to use once it's been washed.
Cast Iron vs Teflon vs Ceramic
Health concerns around Teflon and other non-stick coatings are not to be taken lightly.
If you do need to give up your cast iron cookware for a lighter product, many manufacturing experts strongly recommend ceramic coated cooking surfaces. These pans are non-stick, fairly affordable and will not tax your arms, wrists and hands.
Is Cast Iron Safe? Will iron get in my food?
Yes, and yes. Per authorities with What's Cooking America, food cooked in cast iron pans, whether new pans or older pans, led to a higher iron content in the foods once cooked. For those who suffer from anemia, this can be a boon.
Why is cast iron better for cooking? It provides nutrients as well as a quality, sturdy cooking pot.
How Do I Get Started With Cast Iron?
If you've never worked with cast iron before, start small such as the 6.5" cast iron skillet by Lodge.
Consider a small cast iron skillet for simple projects. Then clean it, protect it, and cook in it.
What are the best things to cook in cast iron skillet? Fatty things do well in cast iron. Deep frying is a great way to keep the seasoning secured. A pan of fresh cornbread is delicious from a cast iron pan, and the butter or grease coating to get the bread to release will protect the pan.
How To Store Cast Iron Frying Pans
If possible, either hang the pots or stack them so they don't nest one within the other.
Never nest stack cast iron pans; it may scratch the surface and lead to rust.
Should you have the great good fortune to own cast iron cookware sets, nest them with towels or something else to protect the finish.
A great cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, properly cared for, can work wonders on specific recipes. They're an ideal tool for meat, deep frying and some quick breads. However, they don't work well when cooking with acidic foods or wine.
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your favorite cast iron cookware and any tips that might help others keep it in top condition.