There is a reason why smart home cooks use a cast iron skillet: it is, by far, a superior quality pan that will bring most of your cooking to a higher level of perfection and taste. And while that is a great reason to own such a skillet, it’s not the only reason – a quality cast iron skillet 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, offers a premium non-stick surface like no other. Sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise or fry pretty much any food in a cast iron skillet – you’ll see the difference after just one meal.
Cast iron skillets come in a variety of sizes, can be bare or with an enamel coating and are available in a range of prices to suit most budgets.
We feature five cast iron skillets you can buy online. Read on to find the one that best suits your needs.
Top Pick Best All-Around: Legend Cast Iron Skillet with Lid
There’s nothing more appealing than the aroma of chicken legs or pork chops sizzling in a pan on the stove. Lately, you’ve been thinking of taking it up a notch and are curious about cast iron skillets. If you are looking for a quality cast iron skillet 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 and retention.
To help you start off on the right foot and maintain the pan’s non-stick surface, this skillet 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 will perform.
This iron skillet has some useful features to make your cooking experience a bit easier such as an extra long and sturdy-grip handle that offers greater control with less exertion when tossing food, and a super bright orange silicone sleeve to keep the handle cool to the touch.
A second, integrated handle will give you extra stability when you need to pour out gravy or grease, aided by the two convenient pour spouts. The tempered glass lid allows you to monitor the cooking progress and keeps fat and grease from splattering on the stovetop or oven. The pan is suitable to use on all stovetops, the grill, a campfire and in the oven.
This handy cast iron skillet also makes a great gift for any 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 skillets 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 skillet after each use, but you would like all the great things cast iron has to offer, then consider an enameled cast iron one.
This large 3.8-quart enameled cast iron skillet 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 an easy-to-clean surface.
The finish will not react to foods or absorb odors, making it ideal for cooking and storing food, and with excellent heat retention and distribution, there are no hot or cold spots to worry about.
Other convenient features include a tight-fitting lid that prevents 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 With Assist Handle
You’re just starting out, moving into your first apartment and you need to equip your kitchen. There’s no doubt in your mind that you want a good cast iron skillet to be part of your collection. We recommend this pre-seasoned cast iron grill skillet for anyone on a budget who wants to benefit from the versatility of cast iron.
This cast iron skillet from Lodge has been pre-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 raised grill ribs that elevate the food from the bottom of the pan 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 skillet 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
- Should be seasoned after each use
Top Pick Best Overall: Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set 3-Piece
If you haven’t yet enjoyed the benefits of using a cast-iron skillet, you can try it out by starting out with one, or you can begin with a set that includes three commonly needed sizes to accommodate a variety of cooking needs.
This set includes a six-inch, an eight-inch and a 10-inch cast iron skillet for almost the same price as some individual pans would cost. These skillets are pre-seasoned with a soy-based oil so you can use them straight out of the box, although, to keep the non-stick surface, it is recommended to re-season after each time you use a skillet to avoid food from sticking.
Each of these skillets is perfectly sized with wide diameters that allow for ample cooking space, making them easy to use in the oven, on the stove, a grill or over a campfire. They are compatible with various heat sources including gas, electric, induction and ceramic-glass top stoves, and ovens.
As with all cast-iron skillets, to clean, scrub the skillet with a stiff brush and hot water and dry it completely. Do not put these pans in the dishwasher. With proper seasoning and care, they will serve you well for a long time.
- Three cast-iron skillets (6, 8, 10 Inches)
- Even heat distribution
- Factory pre-seasoned
- Not dishwasher safe
Top Pick Best Set: Cuisinel Cast Iron Cookware 5-Pc Set
You’ve heard about the benefits of cooking with cast iron skillets and there’s no doubt in your mind that you want them in your kitchen. While some people prefer to start with one skillet, you want to start off 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 skillets. 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. The two cast-iron skillets offer up the benefit of precision heat distribution for improved frying and sautéing while the Dutch oven is your all-in-one multi-tool to braise meat, 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 skillet rack holder to keep it all neat and organized.
- Complete set of essential cast iron skillets
- 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 skillet so you will choose one that best suits your needs:
Cast iron skillets are notable for their sturdiness and because of that, they tend to be heavy. 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 skillet. However, being able to hold 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.
Since cast iron is a great heat conductor, it’s a given that the handle of a skillet will get hot, so using an oven mitt is required. However, oven mitts can be bulky and unwieldy, so you may want to look for a skillet that comes with silicone covers that you can slip onto a handle.
A pan with two handles – or a helper handle – is convenient for gripping and holding the pan more securely, as well as pouring out gravy or fat.
Bare versus enamel-coated:
Bare pans are unaltered iron skillets or Dutch ovens that come without any coating to make them nonstick. Plain cast iron skillets 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 skillet is generally less expensive than a coated variety.
Enamel coated cast iron skillets 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.
Cast iron skillets come in many different sizes, from small individual-use 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 skillets.