For many chefs, a cast-iron skillet is a staple supply to have in any kitchen. Cast-iron skillets are prized for their versatility and their ability to retain high degrees of heat. They’re also versatile and can be used on stovetops, in ovens, over campfires, and more.
If you don’t yet own a cast-iron skillet, it’s time to see what it can do for your cooking. But these skillets aren’t all the same. To help you find the best option for your kitchen, we’ve reviewed the four best cast-iron skillets you can find.
These skillets require a little extra care and maintenance—but it’s well-justified by their other benefits. Still, it’s important to know how to care for them, and we included that information below for you, too.
Read on to discover the best skillets on the market today and to determine just how to find the skillet that’s right for your needs.
Our Top Picks: Summary
- Best Overall: Lodge Seasoned 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
- Runner-Up: Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
- Best Enameled: Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Skillet
- Best Cast-Iron Wok: Lodge Pro-Logic Cast Iron Wok
The Best Cast Iron Skillets: Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Lodge Seasoned 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
Lodge Seasoned 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
Be prepared to up your cooking game with this top-quality cast-iron skillet.Check Price
Why We Picked It
The Lodge Seasoned 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet has all of the features that you’d want in a quality skillet. Its silicone handle holder protects your hands from heat of up to 500 °F, and it’s also dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. The skillet itself is seasoned so that the finish releases easily and improves the more that you use the skillet. This skillet can be used in the oven, on the stove, on the grill, or over the campfire—just don’t expose the handle holder to direct flames.
The Lodge Cast Iron brand earns this skillet extra points, too. Lodge was founded in 1896 and has an excellent reputation for the quality of its cookware products. This skillet, like all other Lodge products, is made in America; Lodge has two foundries in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
Thanks to its quality and design, this skillet is right at home in a professional kitchen, in your home, or at a campground. It’s available in multiple sizes, though the 12” gives you plenty of versatility.
Keep in Mind
At about eight pounds, this skillet is a bit heavy, but its weight allows it to retain heat better than lighter models.
In a Nutshell
- Silicone handle holder protects your hands from heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Seasoned skillet gets better the more that you use it
- Crafted by Lodge Cast Iron, a USA-based company that’s been in business for over a century
Best Runner-Up: Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Excellent features like a helper handle and pour spout make this another great pick.Check Price
Why We Picked It
The Victoria 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet is our second top pick because of its features and overall quality design. A curved handle gives you great leverage, which is important when you consider the extra weight of the skillet, alone. This is also made easier by the wider helper handles, giving you stability as you cook and serve.
Other improvements to the traditional skillet design include contoured pour spouts for accuracy and bigger hanging holes. This skillet offers superior heat retention and can keep food hot for 15 minutes or longer, so if dinner’s done before everyone’s at the table, it’s no big issue. The skillet is also seasoned with 100 percent non-GMO flaxseed oil.
While this skillet is available in multiple sizes, we prefer the 12” over the 10” size because it has a helper handle.
Keep in Mind
Some buyers felt that the pre-seasoning was not sufficient, so depending on how particular you are about your skillet, you may want to pre-season this skillet yourself.
In a Nutshell
- Curved handle gives you leverage and helper handle adds stability
- Contoured pour spouts and bigger hanging holes for convenience
- Seasoned with 100 percent non-GMO flaxseed oil
Best Enameled: Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Skillet
Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Skillet
A top-of-the-line enameled cast-iron skillet from a well-loved brand.Check Price
Why We Picked It
Enameled cast iron skillets don’t require seasoning, so the Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Skillet can save you time in the kitchen. This enameled skillet offers even heat distribution and heat retention, plus all of the perks of a cast-iron skillet without the extra time of seasoning and maintaining the skillet. The enamel on this skillet is long-lasting and resists chipping, plus it’s dishwasher-safe. Choose from nine colors to add some fun variety to your kitchen or to match your current decor scheme.
This pan requires very little oil, which makes it conducive to low-fat cooking. A helper handle adds stability and makes lifting the skillet easier, and pour spouts on both sides are convenient.
Keep in Mind
A number of reviewers noted that this skillet isn’t as non-stick as they would like, so you may want to use oil or butter when cooking for the best results.
In a Nutshell
- Enameled finish is durable, dishwasher-safe, and doesn’t require seasoning
- Helper handle adds stability, while dual pour spouts are convenient
- Available in nine eye-catching colors
Best Cast-Iron Wok: Lodge Pro-Logic Cast Iron Wok
Lodge Pro-Logic Cast Iron Wok
Get the cooking quality of cast-iron and the versatility of a wok.Check Price
Why We Picked It
The Lodge Pro-Logic Cast-Iron Wok combines the benefits of a cast-iron skillet with the versatility of a wok. This wok is seasoned with 100 percent vegetable oil, and it will only improve with use. Because it’s made of 100 percent cast-iron, it retains heat better than other materials and can speed up your cooking time. The flattened bottom works with all cook surfaces, including induction cooktops.
This wok is also made by Lodge Cast Iron, the manufacturer of our top pick. This family-owned business has been making quality cook products in America for more than a century.
Keep in Mind
This wok weighs 11.86 pounds, so it’s not as easy to pick up to toss ingredients like a traditional wok is. The value of this wok lies in the quality cook and heat retention, so be prepared to use a spatula or spoon if you need to frequently turn ingredients.
In a Nutshell
- Made of 100 percent cast iron, this wok retains heat better than other materials
- Seasoned with 100 percent vegetable oil
- Flat bottom works with all cook surfaces, including induction cooktops
How We Chose the Best Cast Iron Skillets
When choosing the best cast-iron skillets, we evaluated each product based on a number of different factors. We looked at elements like weight, ease of use, and price to find the products that are the best buys. Below are the factors we used to rank these cast-iron skillets:
All cast-iron skillets (except enameled types) need to be seasoned at some point, and seasoning your skillet is an important aspect of its care. But, if you buy a pre-seasoned skillet, you can put it right to use without having to spend time seasoning it first. Because you can use these skillets right away, we gave preference to these pre-seasoned models.
Ease of Use
Cast-iron skillets are heavy and they can be awkward to lift, so we looked at products that are designed to be easy to use. We considered ergonomics, the presence of helper handles, and whether the skillet can be easily lifted while wearing oven mitts. We also looked for the presence of pour spouts that can make handling a skillet easier and safer.
In the case of cast-iron skillets, “lightweight” skillets aren’t better. While they may be easier to lift and maneuver, they don’t cook as well as traditional cast-iron. We limited our picks to 100 percent cast-iron skillets and eliminated any lightweight products.
One of the benefits of cast-iron skillets is that they’re quite affordable, and a more expensive cast-iron skillet isn’t necessarily better than a lower-cost model. We considered price when ranking our top picks and included items that had features and designs that justified their price points.
The people who use these products daily often know their pros and cons well, so we considered customer reviews. The skillets that we included all received largely positive customer reviews, even after months or years of use. While some customers had minor complaints about each product, none of our top picks received consistent negative feedback about major problems.
What is a Cast-Iron Skillet?
Cast-iron skillets are made of solid iron and are highly durable. They’re also heavy because of their solid construction. These skillets are versatile and can be used on cooktops, in stoves, over campfires, and more. Many cooks favor cast-iron skillets because of their ability to retain heat. Once these skillets heat up, they stay hot, rather than fluctuating heat that can affect cooking. While cast-iron can hold heat, it emits heat extremely well, too. Not only will it cook the food directly in contact with the skillet, but that heat will travel up and around the food for a more thorough cook, too.
Benefits of Cast-Iron Skillets
Many cooks prefer cast-iron skillets because of the many benefits they offer:
- Affordability: Cast-iron skillets are highly affordable. In fact, they may be one of the most affordable types of pots and pans that you can buy. For $40 or under, you can buy a high-quality cast-iron skillet that will last you for years to come.
- Versatility: Cast-iron skillets are powerhouses in the kitchen. They can be used on cooktops, in ovens, over open flames, and more. They’re far more versatile than other types of skillets or cookware, and you’re likely to continue to discover new ways to use your skillet the longer that you have it.
- Non-stick: These skillets are available in traditional cast-iron or enameled options. Enameled skillets are coated to help prevent food from sticking. Non-enameled skillets will need to be seasoned, and many come pre-seasoned for your convenience. Seasoning a cast-iron pan helps to prevent food from sticking to it, and with time and increased use, the seasoning gets better and the skillet’s non-stick properties only increase.
- Even heating: Cast-iron conducts and holds heat incredibly well, and it can make for an even cook. While other types of pans can develop hot and cold spots, once a cast-iron skillet heats up, that heat is distributed and radiates well through the entire skillet.
- Good for high-heat cooking/searing: Because these skillets conduct and hold heat so well, they’re a great option for high-heat cooking and searing of foods. This is partially due to their non-stick properties, and the ability to put the skillets directly into the oven also helps with this high-heat cooking.
- Durability: It’s hard to find a kitchen product that will last as long as a cast-iron skillet will. These skillets are incredibly durable and will last decades. The iron is highly difficult to dent or chip, and with proper care, your cast-iron skillet will only get better with time.
While cast-iron skillets have many benefits, there are some drawbacks, too. Your skillet will need a bit more attention and care in the form of seasoning and careful cleaning than other cookware requires. These skillets also aren’t the best option for acidic foods, like tomato sauces.
What to Consider When Choosing a Cast-Iron Skillet
When choosing the skillet that works best for your needs and preferences, you’ll need to consider a few different factors. Think about the following when evaluating a cast iron skillet for your kitchen:
Enameled vs. Uncoated
Skillets are available in either enameled and uncoated options. Enameled skillets tend to cost more than uncoated skillets. These enameled versions don’t need to be seasoned and many are dishwasher-safe for easier cleanup, yet they offer the same non-stick benefits as uncoated skillets. Uncoated skillets do require seasoning and special care, but they can cost much less than enameled versions. Ultimately, whether you should get an enameled or uncoated skillet all comes down to your personal preference.
Cast iron is heavy; most 12” skillets weigh about 12 pounds. However, a heavier skillet is usually a better quality one; lightweight cast-iron skillets don’t perform as well. Many skillets now have helper handles that make for easier two-handed lifting and control. Cast iron may not be the best option if you’re unable to comfortably lift heavier items.
The right size skillet will largely depend on what you plan to use it for. Skillets are available in a wide size ranges, and you’ll find options from 6” all the way up to about 15”. Keep in mind that while larger skillets are more versatile, they also weigh more. Ultimately, choose a skillet that’s no larger than the size you’ll need to prepare dishes.
You’ll find cast iron options in a variety of pan types. Regular skillets are highly popular, but you’ll also find cast-iron grill pans and woks.
Many cast-iron skillets are very affordable, and a very expensive skillet won’t necessarily be higher quality than a more affordable option. You can get high-quality skillets for under $40, so a new cast iron skillet will fit within most budgets.
How to Care for a Cast-Iron Skillet
Cast-iron skillets do require special care, but with practice, these skillets are just as easy to use as other types of cookware. Once you understand how to season and care for your skillet, you’ll be well on your way to integrating the skillet into your kitchen and cooking.
How to Season a Cast-Iron Skillet
When you season your skillet, you’ll add a thin layer of oil to its surface. That oil will serve as a non-stick coating and it will gradually build up over time. While just cooking with your skillet can build up its seasoning, it’s often best to start with a more deliberate seasoning before you use the skillet:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash your skillet with soap and water and dry it thoroughly.
- Choose an appropriate oil. Refined grapeseed oil or vegetable oil both work well.
- Spread a thin layer of oil over the skillet, including its sides and underside. Use a paper towel and rub the oil in circles. You’ll only need a tablespoon or so of oil.
- Once finished spreading the oil, wipe off any excess with a clean paper towel.
- Put the skillet on the middle rack of the oven, upside-down. Place a layer of foil on the lower rack to catch any drips.
- Bake the skillet for an hour.
- Turn off the oven and let the skillet cool down completely. Once cool, the seasoning is completed and the skillet is ready to use.
How to Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet
Properly cleaning your skillet will lengthen its life and give you better cooking results each time you use it.
- If there’s food stuck to the skillet, fill it with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes.
- As long as your skillet has been seasoned properly, you can wash it with mild soap and water. Use a sponge or brush and make sure to remove all of the grease.
- Promptly dry off your skillet and place it on a burner for a few minutes to ensure that it’s fully dry before putting it away.
To lengthen your skillet’s life, never put it in the dishwasher or let it soak in the sink. Always clean it promptly after using it and make sure to season it periodically. Just making an effort to use the skillet regularly can help to keep it seasoned and preserve its life.
Be sure to also check out the following resources that can help you to outfit your kitchen with the best equipment.