There is a reason why smart home cooks use a cast iron pan: it is, by far, a superior quality pan that will bring most of your cooking and baking to a higher level of perfection and taste. And while that is a great reason to own such a pan, it’s not the only reason – a quality cast iron pan will last a lifetime and will easily become your favorite go-to kitchen tool.
These versatile pans can be used on most stovetops, on an outside grill, in a campfire or in the oven and when properly seasoned and cared for, it offers a premium non-stick surface like no other. Sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise or fry pretty much any food in a cast iron pan – you’ll see the difference after just one meal.
Cast iron pans come in a variety of sizes and uses, are bare or coated and are available in a range of prices to suit most budgets.
We feature four cast iron pans you can buy online. Read on to find the one that best suits your needs.
1) Top Pick Best All-Around: Legend Cast Iron Skillet with Lid
There’s nothing more appealing than the sound of chicken legs or pork chops sizzling in a pan on the stove. In fact, in your house, you can easily add in the occasional hamburger and steak, and that’s pretty much your family’s weekly dinner menu. Lately, you’ve been thinking of taking it up a notch and are curious about cast iron pans. If you are looking for a quality cast iron fry pan to add more sizzle to your meals, then this product may be for you.
This cast iron skillet from Legend will become a staple in your cooking arsenal. Made from solid, pure, premium steel and iron, it offers up the remarkable benefit of cast iron – consistent heat distribution. To help you start off on the right foot and maintain the pan’s non-stick surface, it comes lightly seasoned with 100 percent vegetable oil. As you use it and continue to season it correctly after each use, the more you cook, the better it performs.
This awesome cast iron pan has features that will make your cooking experience easy: an extra long and sturdy-grip handle that offers greater control with less exertion when tossing or handling; a super bright orange silicone sleeve to keep the cool to the touch; a second, integrated handle for extra security when pouring out gravy or grease; two convenient pour spouts; and a tempered glass lid so you can view the cooking progress while any fat stays in the pan, not on your stovetop or oven. The pan is suitable for use on all stovetops, the grill, a campfire and in the oven.
This handy cast iron pan also makes a great gift for the chef who swears by cast iron, the home cook who’s discovered its allure, the sourdough baker, the guy with a penchant for cooking – or for you.
- Longer handle
- Second integrated handle
- Silicone handle cover
- Tempered glass lid
- Two pour spouts
- Heavy at 10.63 pounds
Top Pick Best Enamel Coated: Puricon Enameled Cast Iron Casserole Braiser Pan
Cast iron pans are great for cooking pretty much any kind of food, but they do require a certain amount of care to keep them in tip-top shape and maintain their non-stick feature. If you’re the kind of person who is not disciplined enough to season a cast iron pan after each use, but you would like all the great things cast iron has to offer, then consider an enameled cast iron model.
This large 3.8-quart enameled cast iron pan is perfect for braising, baking, broiling, sautéing, simmering and roasting all of your favorite foods. And here’s the best part – the heavy-duty core is coated with vegetable oil to provide excellent heat retention, heat distribution, and an easy-to-clean surface. This cool looking casserole pan in a vibrant red finish will not react to foods or absorb odors, making it ideal for sousing and storing food, and with excellent heat retention and distribution, you know everything you cook will come out tasting great.
Other convenient features include a lid that fits well to prevent steam from escaping, and wide, comfortable handles for an easy and secure grip. Compatible with all cooking surfaces, you can also put it into the oven up to 540 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about versatile!
- Excellent heat retention and distribution
- Large 3.8-quart capacity
- Enamel coating doesn’t need to be seasoned to stay non-stick
- Oven safe up to 540 degrees Fahrenheit
- More expensive than other models
- Not dishwasher safe
Top Pick Best Basic: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Pan
You’re just starting out, moving into your first apartment and you need to equip your kitchen. Since you love to prepare your own meals, there’s no doubt you want a good cast iron pan in which to fry and sauté your favorite burgers, chops, steaks and chicken dishes. We recommend this pre-seasoned cast iron grill pan for anyone on a budget who wants to still be a ninja in the kitchen.
This cast iron pan from Lodge has been seasoned in the factory so it is conveniently ready to use right out of the package. A modern twist on a classic pan, this one has cool grill ribs that elevate the food so fat and grease collect in the grooves. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on all the other benefits of a cast iron pan, including providing unparalleled heat retention and distribution. This affordable pan can be used on all cooking surfaces, grills and campfires, is oven safe, and perfect for anything you want to sauté, fry, sear, bake or stir fry.
And the best part? This may be the first cast iron pan you purchase, but it will remain in your cooking arsenal long after you have completed your set. Talk about durability, right?
- Seasoned for a natural, easy-release finish
- Can be used on all cooking surfaces
- Elevated ribs allow fat to gather in the grooves
Small 10.5-inch surface
Slightly heavy at 6 pounds
• Hand-wash with water, no soap, no dishwasher
• Needs to be seasoned after each use
Top Pick Best Set: cuisinel Cast Iron Cookware 5-Pc Set
You’ve heard about the benefits of cooking with cast iron pans and there’s no doubt in your mind that you want them in your kitchen. After all, you are the chef in your house and you love whipping up tasty and interesting recipes for your family to enjoy. While some people prefer to start with one pan, you want to start off on the right foot with a set of cast iron cookware that will suit all of your needs.
This five-piece essential set doesn’t disappoint, and it comes with a super convenient rack to hold and organize your pans. No more searching around in cupboards to access the specific pan you need to use.
The collection includes a 10-inch and a 12-inch skillet and a 5-quart Dutch oven to meet all your cooking requirements. These skillets will become a staple in your kitchen arsenal. The two skillets offer up the cast iron benefit of precision heat distribution for improved frying and sautéing while the Dutch oven is your all-in-one multi-tool to bake bread, stews or casseroles. The cast iron lid on the Dutch oven can be flipped over and used as an additional frying pan.
Other features include two non-slip, heat-resistant silicone handle covers to keep your hands safe while cooking or serving food, a pan scraper to make cleaning the non-stick surface a breeze, and of course, that super handy pan rack holder to keep it all neat and organized.
- Complete set of essential cast iron pans
- Convenient storage rack
- Comes with heat-resistant silicone handle covers and scraper
- Set includes two skillets and a Dutch oven with cover
- More expensive than a single pan
- Use metal, wood or silicone utensils only to extend the life of the pans
- Not dishwasher safe
Things to look out for:
Consider these things when looking for a cast iron pan so you will choose one that best suits your needs:
Cast iron pans are notable for their sturdiness and because of that, they tend to be heavy. Often, heavier items tend to hold more heat and provide a more authentic iron cooking style. Luckily, there are lighter options available so if weight is a factor for how easily you will be able to handle the pan – carrying it, flipping or shaking food – then take that into consideration before making a purchase.
Obviously the quality of a pan is first and foremost the important factor when choosing a cast iron pan. However, being able to handle the pan is just as important. You want to look for a product that has handles that are user friendly and that are heat-resistant so you don’t burn yourself. Some products come with silicone covers that you can slip onto a handle to save your hands from burning. If you are going to put the pan into the oven, the silicone covers will not help, and that’s where a good pair of oven mitts comes in, which can also be used if you purchase a pan that does not come with heat-resistant covers. A pan with two handles is convenient for gripping and holding the pan more securely, as well as pouring out gravy or fat.
Bare versus enamel:
Bare pans are unaltered iron skillets, pans or Dutch ovens that come without any covering to make them nonstick. These cast iron items are reactive when heated and have to be “seasoned” and then used to develop a patina in order to become truly nonstick. A bare cast iron pan is also less expensive than a coated variety.
Enamel coated cast iron products are nonstick immediately out of the box and are considered non-reactive. They don’t need to be seasoned, although they do require regular maintenance and care to keep the finish intact otherwise the enamel coating can wear off and the pan will become unusable over time.
Luckily, cast iron pans are available in a variety of prices, so it is possible to get a good quality one that is affordable. Bare cast iron pans are generally less expensive than enamel or ceramic-coated varieties, which can be quite costly. It’s never a good idea to spend more than you can afford, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a cast iron pan that is right for you.
Cast iron pans come in many different sizes, from small individual-use pans to 10 and 12-inch skillets, casserole dishes and Dutch ovens. Before you decide which size is best for you, decide how and for what you will use your cast iron pans.