The 5 Best Cast Iron Skillets

By Andrea Cannon on 14 September 2016 0 comments

Cast iron heats evenly and retains heat well. It requires very little oil or fat to cook, making it ideal for low-fat cooking. By using cast iron skillets instead of nonstick skillets, you can avoid the harmful chemicals that are found in nonstick pans, which have been linked to a range of health issues.

Cast iron is extremely durable, efficient, versatile, inexpensive, and designed to last for decades. They get better with time, so the more you use them, the better value you’ll get from the purchase.

What Is a Cast Iron Skillet?

A cast iron skillet is a heavyweight cast iron frying pan. They have been kitchen staples for centuries because they can be used for browning, searing, stovetop frying, slow cooking, high-temperature searing, and oven baking. They can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. They are ideal for one-pot meals, and can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert items.

Skillets are available with cast iron, pre-seasoned, or enamel coating. Regardless of which skillet you choose, it should be oven-safe, but likely won’t be dishwasher-safe. (See also: 15 Easy and Delicious Cast Iron Skillet Recipes)

Top 5 Cast Iron Skillets

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet is an Amazon’s Choice item for a reason. The 12-inch skillet features two handles for heavy lifting, two subtle side lips for pouring, and a silicone hot handle holder, which can be used on other pan and skillet handles as well. The high-grade pre-seasoned cast iron skillet can cook, sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise, fry, or grill a wide variety of foods with ease. It works in the oven, on the stove, on the grill, on induction cooktops, and over an open flame. The versatile skillet offers outstanding heat retention, even heating, and an easy-release finish.

This purchase is an anomaly. Along with getting Consumer Reports’ top cast iron skillet pick, you’ll also get a free insulated skillet handle cover (which is usually $9.99 on its own), for $4 less than you would spend on the skillet alone. The skillet is recommended by Consumer Reports, Consumer Search, Cook’s Illustrated, Serious Eats, About.com, Food & Wine Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Apartment Therapy, and The New York Times. It has outstanding reviews from some of the country's leading chefs and publications, as well as more than 1,800 five-star reviews on Amazon.

The durable skillet is designed to last reliably for decades of use. It is heavy and large enough for a family of four, but if you need something smaller, Lodge offers cast iron skillets in all shapes and sizes to fit your needs, including the Amazon best-seller, Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. If you’re looking for a whole set, Consumer Reports recommends the Lodge 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set.

Currently $37.21 on Amazon

Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet by Utopia Kitchen

An Amazon best-seller, the Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet by Utopia Kitchen can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. The professional grade 12.5-inch skillet is pre-seasoned and heats and cooks food evenly. It works as well as much more expensive cast iron skillets and can be expected to last for years.

The durable skillet has great online reviews, including more than 500 five-star reviews on Amazon. It is also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Currently $19.99 on Amazon

Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Skillet

The Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Skillet is cast from molten iron in individual sand molds. The porcelain surface offers superior heat distribution and retention, and eliminates the need to season. The two layers of hygienic, glossy porcelain enamel are chip-resistant, non-reactive with food, and easy to clean. The 11-inch enameled cast iron skillet can be safely used on gas, electric, ceramic, and induction cooktops, as well as in the oven. The black cooking surface is matte porcelain, not exposed cast iron.

This is available in two different colors. Consumer Search compared this to the much more expensive Le Creuset cast iron skillets and found that they offer similar reviews, performance, and durability. However, after a while, some reviewers found that the colored enamel can chip off, whereas that is not a concern with the Le Creuset cast iron pan.

Currently $50.96 on Amazon

Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

The dependable Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet has oversized handles for easy lifting and is easy to clean. The versatile 12-inch skillet can be used on gas, electric, and induction stovetops, as well as in the oven and broiler. The pre-seasoned cooking surface resists sticking. It is designed to heat evenly and steadily, and hold heat so that your food stays warm, even while serving.

This has great online reviews and comes from the trusted Calphalon brand. It is also backed by a full lifetime warranty.

Currently $26.24 on Amazon

Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet

If you want the very best and are willing to spend more for it, then consider the Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet. The heavyweight 10-1/4-inch skillet offers steady, even heat distribution and superior heat retention. The ergonomic pan features dual pour spouts and is easy to handle thanks to an easy-grip helper handle. The durable chip- and crack-resistant enamel interior requires no seasoning, won't react to foods, and resists staining, dulling, and excessive wear. It is available in various vibrant colors to match your decor.

This is a splurge item, but most people agree it is well worth the cost. In fact, it is commonly referred to as “the gold standard for enameled cast iron cookware.” It has outstanding reviews from both experts and home cooks, and is designed to last for many years. It is also recommended by Consumer Search, Apartment Therapy, and the New York Times.

Currently $159.95 on Amazon

And those are our recommendations for the best cast iron skillets. As always, be sure to check Wise Bread's Buying Calendar to learn when and how to buy just about anything!

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