Best Cast Iron Skillet – Consumer Reports
When it comes to buying a new cookware set, or even only a single piece within a cookware set, probably the most important parameter to look out for would be the material.
Other than the ability of this material to perform well during the various cooking tasks you might want to use it for, it is also important that it can survive for long enough so that you can justify having purchased it in the first place.
What use is there having a pan, for example, that can withstand high temperatures and that you can cook in easily if it lasts only a couple of months and then it starts warping and slowly but surely turning into a wok-like thing? (That originally wasn’t a wok.)
A general rule of thumb when it comes to buying cookware is to buy a set that’s perhaps a bit more expensive than the others, but which can last you a long time, rather than an inexpensive one that will break within a couple of months of use.
Now, that said, in terms of material these cookware sets are made of, one of the toughest and most durable ones would certainly be cast iron.
In this article, we’re going to present to you ten pieces of cookware made out of this material. As you will see, there are numerous benefits for obtaining such a piece of cookware, so even if you already have a lot of cookware in your house, getting an additional skillet or a wok made out of cast iron can still be an interesting solution.
Here’s the deal.
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1. ) Cuisinel – Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set
Representing a curious package of two, this skillet set can be a great option for anyone in need of simple cooking tools they can use for a wide variety of cooking tasks. Since there are two of these, you can rest assured that whatever your cooking style is, if it’s a meal you can prepare in a skillet, these two models will provide you with just the tools for getting it done.
To ensure this skillet will offer you even heat distribution when cooking, the folks at Cuisinel added a smooth finish to the surface of this contraption. As far as the contraptions go that you can use this thing with, you can count in induction cooktops, stoves, as well as grills.
Other than the cast iron build, these two pans also come with a glass lid each, as well as a special silicone handle that offers excellent heat-resistance properties.
2) Lodge – Seasoned Cast Iron 3-Skillet Bundle
For anyone in need of three different skillets for all sorts of cooking purposes, this set from Lodge can be just what you’ve been looking for. Within this set, you will get three different models that you can use for a wide variety of cooking tasks, including cooking, searing, as well as preparing different kinds of meals over an open flame.
Since the skillets in this bundle come in three different sizes, you’ll have a suitable cooking tool for a variety of cooking tasks, which you can accomplish easily at the same time – provided you have three different heat sources.
When it comes to this skillet and heat conductivity, you can rest assured that this model will offer even heating over the entire surface, so no matter where the particular piece of food is that you’re preparing using this skillet, it will receive the heat of the same intensity.
3) Lodge – Cast Iron Skillet
Featuring a simple design that has Rosie the Riveter on the bottom of the skillet, this cast iron piece of cookware is a kitchen utensil you will use for decades to come. The reason why this pan comes with this ‘Rosie the Riveter’ theme is that this item was designed in the year of the 100th anniversary of the US constitution 19th amendment – which was granting women the right to vote.
As far as the sources of heat go that you can use this thing with, you can count in stovetops, ovens, grills, as well as an open flame (such as that of a campfire, for example). All you need to do is to clean it up after you’re done using it and you can rest assured that this skillet will remain effective for years to come.
In terms of build, so to speak, the folks at Lodge made sure that this skillet is easy to cook in thanks to the fact that it’s been pre-seasoned and that it offers excellent heat retention.
4) Bruntmor – 2-in-1 Cast Iron Multi-Cooker
While buying a cast iron skillet is a great option for anyone who wants to cook all sorts of meals in the comfort of their own home, using only a skillet with shallow borders will not do the trick for all of your cooking tasks.
So, to be able to prepare any dish you so desire, getting another, a deeper cooking vessel can be a great solution. Now, this package coming from the Bruntmor company offers you exactly that.
What you get within this deal would be two different cooking utensils – that can be made into one. The thing is, both parts of this ‘union’ represent a skillet each, but one part is shallower, while the other one is deeper.
This means that you will be able to easily prepare food with these pans whatever your preferred style of cooking happens to be. Not only that but if you need a cover for the deeper pan, you can use the shallower one and make a one-of-a-kind Dutch oven with it, as well.
5) Lodge – Pro-Logic Wok
As our entry number seven, we’ve got a cooking contraption that doesn’t occur often in western kitchens. What this contraption is, is a wok – a special cooking tool used mostly in Asian cuisine.
The great thing about woks is that they can be used to fulfill pretty much any cooking task – from searing to roasting, cooking, and browning meats, to name a few of its many uses.
Since this thing is made out of cast iron, you can rest assured that it will last you for many years, and because you can use this thing to prepare a wide variety of dishes, if you could only pick one cooking utensil to take with you to a desert island – a wok such as this would probably be the best overall option.
6) Lodge – Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker
… and by ‚combo’, the folks at Lodge mean that this set contains two separate pieces. So, what you effectively get if you decided to buy this product in two separate skillet-like cooking tools and you can use either of them as separate skillets.
That said, in case you want to make some dish that requires a cover, you can simply take the smaller skillet in this package and place it on top of the larger one. These two pieces are made so that they fit snugly together, so you won’t have to worry about one falling off of another in case you do decide to combine them into a single unit, so to speak.
As far as the heat sources you can use this thing with, you can count in ovens, stovetops, as well as open fires. So, if you want to go camping and you need a cooking tool to take with you, this combo set can be a perfect choice.
7) Bruntmor – 2-in-1 Pre-Seasoned Multi-Cooker
Here we have a product that is pretty much the same deal as the model from above, the only difference being that this combo is made by Bruntmor. As with the Lodge model we described as our entry number 8, as a part of this combo, you will find two complementary skillets.
The skillets can be used individually as normal pans. One is shallow, so it can be useful for making simple dishes such as fried eggs, for example, The other is somewhat deeper, so it can be perfect for making anything that involves some moisture such as searing meat.
Of course, since these two pieces fit together, you can take the smaller skillet and use it as a cover for the bigger one, thus creating a closed cooking environment perfect for ovens.
8) Uno Casa – Cast Iron Skillet Set
If you need an easy-to-use, beginner-friendly, and durable skillet set you can use for years to come, then this duo from Uno Casa can be just the thing you are looking for. Thanks to the simple design of these two skillets and the tough material they are made out of, you can rest assured that these will last you for years and years to come. (Provided, of course, you take good care of them along the way, so to speak.)
When it comes to the types of heat source these skillets would work with, you can count on stovetops, ovens, gas furnaces, as well as open flames. That said, if you are going to use these two over an open flame, you might want to remove the silicone handles, because they may get damaged during the cooking process. (Even though silicone is fairly heat-resistant, exposing it to open flame can still damage it.)
9) Cast Iron Grill Pan
Featuring a tough build that can easily be used with a wide variety of cooking techniques and sources of heat, this cast iron grill pan is roughly a rectangular cooking surface you can use in several different ways.
Ensuring an even and quick heat distribution, the extra-thick base made out of cast iron on this model is great news for anyone in need of a reliable piece of cookware for making a wide array of meals and dishes.
While the base of this thing is made out of stainless steel, the handles are made out of high-quality stainless steel, which was carefully wound, so that the resulting handle is cool-to-touch and feel good when you grab it in your hand.
- Made out of high-quality cast iron
- The handles are made out of wound stainless steel (cool to touch, don’t rust)
- Even heat distribution thanks to a heavy base
- Domed interior for easier cooking juice drainage
- Special barbeque-like ribs
- Easy cleanup
- Quite expensive
- Some folks may not like the rectangular design of this grill pan
10) Lancaster – Cast Iron Skillet
If you’re looking for a smooth, easy-to-use skillet with a cooking surface that you will be able to use for all sorts of different meals, then this Lancaster model can be just the thing for you.
What you get with this model is a simple design that’s been stripped away of redundant parts, so that it can be as lightweight as possible. Also, this model comes with a sturdy handle, as well as two large pouring spouts that you can use to get rid of excess lard or cooking oil. (Just make sure it’s still hot when you try to pour it out of the pan.)
On the other hand, these pour spouts can also prove useful in case you’re planning on using this skillet for searing meat. This is because this skillet is deep enough for the meat to release its juices while searing, but not deep enough for making sauces, for example.
Of course, if you want to sear with this thing, you can do so fairly easily, and the pour spouts we mentioned will help you get rid of the extra moisture and grease once you’re done preparing your food.
- Made out of high-quality cast iron
- Lightweight construction
- Two large pour spouts
- Works with a variety of heat sources (including campfires)
- Smooth cooking surface
- Perfect for searing meat
- Some users may not like the design of this unit
- Fairly expensive
Cast Iron Skillet Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to larger cooking surfaces such as skillets and woks, the heat distribution is a fairly important parameter that determines the quality of the cooking utensil in question.
While most cooking utensils worth their salt, so to speak, will have a normal heat distribution during the first couple of uses, this can change if the utensil starts warping.
Cooking utensils that don’t warp would typically be the ones that have the best heat distribution, so cast iron ones are some of the best options on the market in this respect.
Not all cooking vessels come with a lid.
That said, sometimes, a lid can be fairly useful in cooking, especially if what you’re preparing has a lot of juice and that moisture needs to circulate within the vessel you’re preparing the food in.
As far as skillets are concerned, they typically don’t come with a lid, but some cast iron models do and these can be useful as a 2-in-1 sort of cooking set where you can use the tools within this set as either skillet or a type of Dutch oven, for example.
Of course, if this combo is also made out of cast iron, you can rest assured that such a set will last you a long time, too.
A common problem with various pieces of cookware is that the handles on pots or pans tend to get quite hot during cooking.
Now, to bypass this issue, many manufacturers choose to make the handles out of a different material than what they made the main thing out of.
For example, if a skillet is made out of cast iron, some cookware makers will make the handles out of stainless steel, because it’s cooler to the touch and stainless steel doesn’t rust.
Others may resort to using silicone or rubber coating, but the goal is the same with all of these.
Of course, most cast-iron skillet models don’t come with special handles, so you can either use some sort of cloth to protect your hands while grabbing the handle, or make sure the handle is not exposed to heat during the cooking process.
Although cast iron cookware is one of the toughest and most durable cookware types out there, even this sort of cooking utensils can get damaged and start showing signs of wear ’n’ tear after a while.
With cast iron, the biggest problem can be if the protective layer peels off and the skillet or wok, or whatever the actual utensil is, starts rusting.
To prevent this, you have to hand wash your cast iron cookware, so that this layer can stay intact for as long as possible. Unfortunately, this also means you won’t be able to do much in terms of washing your cookware in a dishwasher, either.
Cast iron cookware represents one of the toughest forms of cookware out there.
That said, it can still get rusty and endure all sorts of damages if it’s not taken care of properly.
This is why it’s useful to get a set that comes with a warranty you can fall back on in case something does go wrong.
There are cast iron cookware models out there that will give you a lifetime warranty on their products, so in case you want to be sure that your cookware will be taken care of in case something goes wrong with it, buying a model that has this sort of warranty attached to it can be a great idea. (That said, do expect these types of cast iron cookware sets to cost a bit more than the others.)
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Is cooking with cast iron bad for you?
Generally speaking, well-seasoned cast iron cookware is safe for cooking.
That said, some people believe that if you cook acidic foods in a cast iron pan, for example, that some iron will leech off and end up in your food, which can’t be good for your overall health.
Of course, this has not been entirely scientifically proven, so as long as you take good care of the pan and clean it regularly, cooking in cast iron cookware should be perfectly safe.
2) What is a cast-iron skillet good for?
Skillets, in general, are versatile cooking utensils that you can use to prepare a wide variety of foods in different ways.
For example, frying, searing, sauteing, as well as broiling and roasting can all be done using the same skillet. If the skillet is made out of cast iron, you can be sure that it will last you a long time, too, other than helping you make all sorts of foods with it.
3) What foods should not be cooked in cast iron cookware?
While you can cook almost anything in cast iron cookware, some foods do tend to leave a bit of a smell afterward, or even some physical stains, so to speak, due to the food sticking to the surface.
For example, you may want to avoid cooking eggs (at first – once you’ve used your cast iron piece of cookware a couple of times, you can cook eggs too, because the structure of the surface will change), as well as garlic, fish, and some cheeses.
Also, if you believe that iron can leech into your cooking so that it becomes a health concern, you can avoid cooking acidic foods, too.
4) Is there a coating on cast iron pans?
Yes, there usually is.
Cast iron pans are typically sold pre-seasoned, which means that the manufacturer covered the cooking surface with some sort of cooking oil, heated the pan up, and then cleaned everything.
What this process does is it makes the pan ready to use by making the cooking surface smooth and non-sticky.
That said, some manufacturers don’t do this, so if you buy a pan that hasn’t been pre-seasoned, you will have to do it yourself. You can do this by covering the cooking surface with cooking oil, heating the oven at 350° Fahrenheit and then holding it there for an hour.
After that, cool the pan off, then get rid of the excess oil by using a paper towel and you’re ready to cook with your new pan.
5) What is the best oil to season cast iron?
While it is possible to season a cast iron pan with pretty much any type of cooking oil, many manufacturers of these cooking contraptions recommend vegetable oil as the best option for this purpose.
Since it doesn’t matter that much what oil you will use, vegetable oil can be a great choice because it’s relatively inexpensive, easy to get, and it has a high smoke point.
All in all, buying cast iron cookware will likely be a lifetime investment you will be able to use for a wide variety of cooking purposes. The better you take care of these cooking tools, the longer you will be able to use them. (And these can last for decades, by the way.) We hope this article helped you find the perfect cast iron piece of cookware for your needs and we wish you all the best in the new year.