The Best Recipes to Cook in a Cast Iron Skillet

The Best Chicken Fried Steak
Photo by SunnyDaysNora.

Ready for some cast iron cooking? Cast iron is one tough, versatile vessel. Not just for meats, a cast iron skillet is good for caramelizing vegetables to perfection, and its dry, even heat makes sensational baked goods. Here's what makes cast iron cooking so good. Cast iron heats up quickly and cooks evenly, absorbing and retaining heat like no other surface; foods brown and caramelize rather than sweat and stew. And it goes from stovetop to oven and back like a champ. Here are some of the best recipes to cook in your cast iron pans. And don't miss our complete collection of Cast Iron Skillet Recipes.

01 of 19

Chef John's Chicken Under a Brick

Chef John's Chicken Under a Brick
Photo by Mark Matheny.

"You should use a big cast iron pan for this," says Chef John. "The key is to heat it very well before the chicken goes in. Other than that, there's really no way to screw it up, unless you under or overcook it, which won't happen, since you're going to check it with the thermometer."

02 of 19

Oven-Seared Beef Tenderloin with Herb Pan Sauce

Oven-Seared Beef Tenderloin with Herb Pan Sauce
Photo by Allrecipes.

Cooking steaks in cast iron skillets is the only way to go. Cast iron puts the beautiful brown crust on the meat. With this recipe, the steak goes from stovetop to oven. With this recipe, you'll see how to cook steak in cast iron -- and get a recipe for a delicious pan sauce with shallots, herbs, and a little cream. "A steakhouse quality meal in the comfort of your own home," says Baking Nana.

03 of 19

Juicy Lucy Burgers

Juicy Lucy Burger
Photo by KGora.

So cast iron is the best way to cook steaks at home. And guess what? Cooking burgers in cast iron skillets works great for the same reasons. Of course, with burgers there's no need to go from stovetop to oven. Cook them in seasoned cast iron over medium heat until your burgers are well browned and crusty. "A favorite of Minnesotans!" says Cooking Mama. "The famous Juicy Lucy! Mmmm. So good. You MUST use American cheese on this to achieve the juiciness in the middle!"

04 of 19

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Chef John's Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Photo by Chef John.

A heavy cast iron pan gives you even heat distribution, which translates into reliable frying. You'll get golden-brown crispy chicken. For more on frying chicken in a cast iron skillet, check out how to fry chicken. Here's Chef John's recipe for buttermilk fried chicken. "I love the tangy tenderization that the buttermilk provides," says Chef John. "After the buttermilk soak, dredge the chicken pieces in seasoned flour, and fry them in hot oil until crisp and cooked."

05 of 19

Deep-Dish Cast Iron Pizza

Yes, pizza in the cast iron skillet! "A buttery, thick, and chewy pizza dough that is baked in a cast iron skillet," says thedailygourmet. "Pizza never tasted so good! Toppings are substantial but not overwhelming where the dough won't cook. If you cook the sausage while the dough is proofing you'll be ready to assemble the pizza that much faster."

06 of 19

The Best Chicken Fried Steak

The Best Chicken Fried Steak
Photo by SunnyDaysNora.

Heat up the shortening in a deep cast-iron skillet. "My family loved this," says Mom-2-Seven. "So crispy and flavorful. I used the cast iron skillet and I think that is the best way to cook it. I have tried other recipes and this is our new favorite."

07 of 19

Blackened Salmon Fillets

Blackened Salmon Fillets
Photo by Sherri.

"Great recipe!" raves Lisa Trimble. "We find it much easier to do this with a cast iron skillet on the grill outside."

08 of 19

Blackened Ranch Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs

Cast iron is the only option for making blackened fish and chicken. As Yoly says, "Using a cast iron skillet means these blackened ranch chicken thighs take only a few minutes to cook. Great for a weeknight dinner."

09 of 19

One-Skillet Hearty Chili and Cornbread

"It's the perfect quick and easy comfort food on a cool evening!" says SunnyDaysNora. Seasoned ground beef, kidney beans, black beans, and tomato sauce go from stovetop to oven in this comforting one-skillet meal. While the chili warms up in the skillet, whisk up the simple cornbread topping, drop dollops of the batter over the top of the chili, and slide the skillet in the oven for about 20 minutes. Dinner's ready in about 45 minutes.

10 of 19

DJ's Outdoor Pork Loin with Veggies

"This recipe for pork loin includes white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and apples cooked outdoors on a grill in a cast iron skillet," says Darrol J. Unruh. "It has a citrus flavor!"

11 of 19

Brandied Pepper Steak

"This is an excellent recipe that is easy to make with a sauce that is to die for," says COMDOC. "Serve with a good red wine to bring out the truely remarkable flavors."

12 of 19

Cast Iron Skillet Seared Salmon

Cast Iron Skillet Seared Salmon
Cast Iron Skillet Seared Salmon. SunnyDaysNora

Cooking seasoned salmon fillets skin-side down in a covered cast iron skillet will crisp up the salted skin nicely while steaming the fish to perfection. "I am a big fan of salmon skin, especially if it's salted and a bit crispy and chewy," says Stiritup. "This recipe gives me that. Do not uncover the fillets or move them around as they cook. I always use my cast-iron skillet for this because it always comes out best!"

13 of 19

Cast Iron Cornbread

Cast Iron Cornbread
Chef John

"When it comes to deciding what to bring to a cookout, this super easy cast iron cornbread is the clear winner," says Chef John. "You don't even need a cast iron pan! Ribs or brisket are great, though not cheap, while a bag of chips is just weak sauce. On the other hand, this cornbread is very inexpensive to make, but that'll be the last thing anyone will be thinking about as they eat. In fact, you'll probably be asked to bring it to the next gathering!"

14 of 19

Grandma's Iron Skillet Apple Pie

Grandma's Iron Skillet Apple Pie

"Took it to a potluck and got rave reviews!" says udolikeme2. "After it was gone, the cast iron skillet scraped out and washed easily."

15 of 19

Chinese Pork Rib Tips

Scrumptious Chinese-style sweet and sour pork rib tips are cooked in the cast iron skillet with with ginger, soy sauce, rock sugar, and vinegar.

16 of 19

Skillet Strawberry Pancake

Skillet Strawberry Pancake
Photo by Rita.

"For people like me, who can't make good pancakes, this recipe is perfect," says Rita. "Everything is cooked in the oven in one single skillet, giving the plus of easy clean up. Serve with maple syrup."

17 of 19

Ricotta, Bacon, and Arugula Skillet Pizza

"A creamy and savory pizza topped with fresh nutty flavored arugula and drizzled with a splash of fresh lemon juice," says Anna Shoeman. "Perfect for a Friday night at home, by the fire with a glass of wine!"

18 of 19

Cajun Blackened Catfish

"The perfect balance of flavor and heat," says sherrytom. "I made this twice on my well-ventilated gas stove using cast iron skillet. Very important to have the butter very hot to sear in the seasonings."

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