While I have a kitchen full of gadgets and gizmos aplenty, there’s one item I reach for day after day: my cast iron skillet. It’s a workhorse in the kitchen. It’s versatile, durable, and distributes heat evenly making it the perfect vehicle for getting the perfect crispy edge on a fried egg, making a juicy roast chicken, baking an ooey-gooey cookie skillet, or getting a nice sear on a T-bone steak. Plus, leave it on your stovetop and it quickly brings in a rustic touch.
And while a cast iron skillet can be used for just about anything, any time of day, many home cooks are afraid of taking theirs for a spin. I was one of them. These things need a bit of extra TLC to clean, but with proper care your cast iron pan will last a lifetime (and then some). When it comes to durability, nothing really compares to the cast iron skillet. That’s why it’s worth doing some due diligence before choosing a cast iron for your own kitchen. Price, size, aesthetics, and seasoning are just some of the factors to consider. Luckily, we’ve done the grunt work and rounded up 10 of our favorite cast iron skillets. Find out more about why you’ll love them below.
If you’ve googled “cast iron skillet” even once, you’ve probably come across Lodge. The brand has been churning out quality, affordable cookware since 1896, so you know they’re doing something right. When it comes to cast iron skillets, Lodge is flush with options. But, you can never go wrong with a classic.
Enter: the Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. This skillet starts at just under $15 for a small, 6-inch pan and maxes out at just under $70 for a 15-inch option. The heavyweight skillets retain and distribute heat evenly for perfect searing, browning, and crisping. If you’re a bit intimidated by cast iron skillets, these ones are pre-seasoned which makes them a bit easier to maintain, as the finish is already smooth and ready to go. For an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice on quality, Lodge is your go-to.
Ah, Le Creuset. Every home cook worth their salt dreams of having one of these bright enamel pieces adorning their stovetop–right? Not only is the Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Skillet beautiful, but it works as good as it looks. There’s a wide handle and helper handle for easy carrying. Just pull that skillet baked pasta right out of the oven, plop it on the table, and you have the perfect centerpiece for your next dinner party.
You can always count on the French to deliver something timeless. Made in France, Staub’s cast iron cookware is revered for its high-quality and equally impressive aesthetics. The cast iron has a rough texture which makes for exceptional browning, so you’ll always get that crispy chicken skin or crunchy bits of skillet-baked biscuits and rolls. The enameled exterior is chip-resistant and should retain its beautiful neutral jewel tones for ages. Pull this out to impress guests or leave it on your stovetop for an instant upgrade to your space.
Intimidated by cast iron cooking? Viking makes it easier with an enamel-covered interior that’s non-stick straight out of the box. The slick coating will keep pieces from sticking and burning, so even novice cooks can have success using one of these. Since it’s enameled, you actually don’t need to season this cast iron pan. This makes maintenance a breeze–just wash as you would any other non-stick pan. On top of all that, Viking offers a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
I’m a lazy cook. And by that I mean, I love cooking but I hate what comes next: cleaning up. Luckily, this cast-iron skillet can run through the dishwasher, making cleanup easier than ever. It boasts an enameled finish inside and out for a super-smooth surface that’s seriously nonstick. It heats up fast, evenly, and retains heat well too. Did we mention the colorways? They’re too cute to pass up.
This handsome addition to your cookware collection sports a smooth-as-silk surface and a vintage feel. Smithey gives all of its pans a special polishing treatment, so they’re super smooth and naturally nonstick from the get-go. They’re made in the USA using traditional cast iron manufacturing techniques and it shows. I mean, doesn’t this just look like something you’d see your great-great-great-someone cooking on? We love that it’s laden with thoughtful details, like a carry handle with 3 holes that allows you to hang the skillet from a hook and reduce the weight when you lift the pan. Not to mention, the Smithey Cast Iron Skillet brings a rustic beauty to any kitchen.
Cast iron skillets are a classic; you don’t need to change much about them to make them great. But, for someone who loves all things high-tech and is always on the hunt for a new kitchen gadget, this is the one. The unique octagonal design of this cast iron skillet is not only fun to look at, but it’s smart. The eight corners function as pour spouts, so it’s easy to release excess liquid from any angle. Additionally, they’re great for wedging in a spatula or spoon to pull your delectable creations out of the pan. The pan’s handle features an ergonomic spring wound from stainless steel. It’s cool to look at, but most importantly helps the handle cool off quickly and stay cool longer.
Cooking for one is fun, but it can be a tough task. You don’t want to make too much food and end up with leftovers for the whole week. Or maybe you do, but the point is cooking for one usually makes the same mess of mise en place and dishes as cooking for a whole dinner party. While we can’t help you perfectly portion out your meal, we can recommend something to make the cleanup process a bit easier. This adorable skillet from Victoria is just 4.8 inches. It’s the perfect size for frying up an egg or two, making a skillet pasta, or roasting veggies perfectly portioned for one. Plus, the small surface area makes for easy cleanup which we’ll never complain about.
One of the best parts of camping is campfire cooking. I could probably survive on s’mores and hot dogs cooked over an open flame, but these days you really don’t have to. This cast iron skillet set will help you whip up some more exciting entrees around your next campfire. It comes with four pieces perfect for whipping up cornbread, frying eggs and bacon, making a yummy smash burger, and so much more. Most importantly, this set is pretty lightweight. So you can keep it in your pack while you’re on the move, without worrying that it’ll weigh you down. Plus, at just under $25, you don’t have to worry about ruining your nicest piece of cookware on the trail.
For those of us with small kitchens, maximizing space is key. The Cuisinel Cast Iron MultiCooker can save you money and space: it’s a skillet, pot, and dutch oven rolled into one. You can use the deeper pan on its own as a classic cast iron pot or cover it with the shallow pan, which also functions as a lid and turns this contraption into a dutch oven. Or, you can use the shallow pan on its own for simple pan frying. The versatility makes this set an easy vehicle for just about any recipe, from hearty stews to simple roasted veggies.
See what other Food52 readers are saying.