best cast iron skillet

The 10 Best-Rated Cast Iron Skillets for Every Cook, According to Thousands of Reviews

Plus, learn how to care for your newly-purchased cast iron pan or skillet so it lasts as long as grandma's.
By Kimberly Holland
Updated May 09, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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Cast iron pans are a kitchen essential. Alongside spoons, spatulas, and skillets, you should always have a cast iron pan or two in your cabinet. These super-durable pans can be used on a grill, on a stove, in an oven, and even over a campfire.

The same high-heat non-stick surface of cast iron pans and skillets can sear a beautiful ribeye, roast a whole chicken , and bake buttery cornbread. It can also caramelize sugar in an upside down cake and bake a huge cookie to the perfect golden complexion.

And unlike non-stick pans or even stainless steel pans, cast iron is virtually indestructible. If you know how to care for and clean cast iron pans, they could last your entire lifetime — and may even be passed down as a treasured heirloom to children and grandchildren.

That's why buying cast iron pans and skillets should be viewed as an investment. The right pan, chosen by the right cook and used the right way, can be called upon for decades of dinners, desserts, and more. Here, we pulled together the 10 best cast iron pans and skillets so you can find one that matches your cooking style and needs. We relied on the thousands of reviews from avid cooks just like you, plus our own experiences, to create this list. We think you'll find a great piece or two that will be as beloved by you as all the reviewers suggest.

Best Cast Iron Skillets and Pans at a Glance

What to Consider When Buying a Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron is trusted by home cooks and professionals alike because it can be heated to very high temperatures, it stays hot longer than stainless steel or non-stick pans, and it develops a natural non-stick surface that's second to none. But for all that there is to love about cast iron skillets, there are a few things that may narrow your selections and help you decide which ones are right for you and your kitchen.

Size

The typical cast iron skillet is 10 inches, but 8 and 12 are also common. Larger sizes are available but may require special ordering.

Recipes like cakes and cornbread may call for a specific size, so it's important to have and use the one your recipes call for so you get the best results. Beyond that, it's a matter of preference. The bigger the skillet, the heavier it is. But the bigger the skillet, the more surface area you have for cooking chicken, steak, and more.

Seasoned Surface

Seasoning is a cast iron skillet's natural nonstick capability. With use, cast iron pans become more seasoned. As seasoning builds, the pans become more nonstick, which is precisely why vintage pans are so popular with antique and consignment shoppers.

Today, most manufacturers pre-season skillets before they leave their factories, and all cast iron pans will need periodic seasoning. To do that, coast the inside of the skillet or pan with a high-temperature oil, like vegetable oil. Bake the pan in a 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for one hour. Let cool. Wipe down with a cloth, and store.

Handles

Cast iron skillets and pans are very heavy, and the larger they are, the heavier they will be. (Lids add extra pounds, too.) To make carrying or moving these hefty pans from place to place in the kitchen easier, many manufacturers have added U-shaped helper handles across from the long, narrow handle on any pan. If lifting weighty objects is difficult for you, look to purchase a cast iron skillet that's made with these supplemental handles or one that's lighter weight.

With these elements in mind, it's time to take a look at the list of the best cast iron skillets you can buy. If you see one you like, click to the site to learn more and add it to your cart.

Best Overall: Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge 12" Cast Iron Skillet
Credit: Target

In the realm of cast iron pans, Lodge is royalty — and for good reason. The American-made company (their foundry is in South Pittsburg, Tennessee) has been making heirloom-worthy cast iron skillets and pans since 1896. The brand's popularity has grown by word of mouth and now by enthusiastic online reviews. They produce skillets in all shapes and sizes, and they've expanded out into fun accessories like silicone handles and special-edition pans for historic occasions.

But their 12-inch skillet is by far the most popular and certain to get a workout in any cook's kitchen. The large size can hold a whole chicken or several steaks. It is a bit heavier than Lodge's smaller pans, at eight pounds, so Lodge added an assist handle. The pan also comes with a silicone handle to make moving the skillet into and out of an oven easier. (It's oven-safe up to 500 degrees F.)

Lodge's cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, which means they're ready to use right out of the box. However, we've found that you'll need to reseason the pan pretty quickly, so make sure you know how to season a cast iron pan so it keeps its non-stick quality.

On Amazon, the skillet has over 97,000 reviews, and still maintains 4.5 stars. One reviewer writes, "[T]he more we use the pan the better it gets. My husband and I both just love this thing."

Buy It: Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $30; Target or Amazon

Best Light-Weight Cast Iron Skillet: Field Cast Iron Skillet

Field Cast Iron Skillet
Credit: Field Company

Field Company, headed by two brothers in New York's Catskills, makes skillets that are modeled after the cast iron of the 1930s. With a seriously smooth cooking surface, they're thinner and 25 to 50 percent lighter in weight (and, thus, easier on the wrist) than most similarly sized cast iron.

That makes these lighter weight cast iron skillets ideal for cooks that need a hand with heavier pots, or for campers who appreciate cast iron's campfire cooking prowess but don't want to tote an extra-heavy skillet for miles into the woods.

The classic 10-inch pan holds six fried eggs, Field Company estimates, and it weighs six pounds. That's large enough for three New York strip steaks, too.

Nearly 2000 people have rated the Field Company Cast Iron Skillets with five stars. One reviewer shares, "Bought the no. 12 to cook for a large family. First new iron I've ever purchased. Beautiful pan. Surprisingly lighter than my old go to no. 10. Have used it to fry bake and broil everything from bacon, steaks, eggs, cornbread, potatoes, various veggies, and very delicate fish with not a thing sticking to this bad boy from right out of the box. Have honestly been shocked at how little breaking in it has needed."

Buy It: Field Cast Iron Skillet, from $75; Field Company

Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet: Staub 11-Inch Enameled Cast Iron Traditional Deep Skillet

STAUB CAST IRON 11-INCH, FRYING PAN
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Staub's Dutch ovens are beloved for the easy-to-clean enamel coating and black enamel interior that doesn't show stains, and those great benefits are also present in the brand's cast iron skillets. The 11-inch enamel coated cast iron skillet comes in five colors and features two spouts on either side of the pan for easy pouring. The deeper skillet well is great for pies and skillet dinners, but you can also use it for pan frying as the walls protect your stove and kitchen from splashes.

Among other enamel coated cast iron skillets, Staub's is prized by professional cooks and home cooks alike because the thick cast iron heats evenly and retains heat well. If you have a glass or induction cooktop, you'll appreciate the flat bottom of this pan, as it's OK to use on those surfaces. They're also dishwasher safe, where traditional cast iron isn't.

"This is my first Staub cookware purchase and it exceeded my expectations in every way! I am accustomed to having to "season" cast iron cookware before you can cook in it without foods sticking. Not so with this pan. Performed beautifully from the very first time I used it. Excellent value," writes one Williams Sonoma reviewer.

Buy It: Staub 11-Inch Enameled Cast Iron Traditional Deep Skillet, from $150; Williams Sonoma

Best Cast Iron Skillet for Beginners: FINEX 10-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

FINEX Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Lid on a white background
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Why would a first-time cast iron owner need to make this large of an investment with a pan? Because a well-built cast iron pan forgives a lot of newbie mistakes. And by the time you've learned how to care for a pan properly, this one will have already built up its natural defenses (that is, seasoning) so it's good for year and years of use.

The surface of a cast iron skillet can tell you a lot about its quality. The smoother the surface, the higher the quality — and the more easily you can build up natural seasoning, the more quickly your pan will reach the beautiful stage of naturally non-stick. This FINEX cast iron skillet is polished and machine-smoothed for the easiest release, which is precisely why it's ideal for the first-time cast iron owner.

The 12-inch skillet has a unique octagonal shape that makes for easy pouring. The pan is quite heavy (just over nine pounds), so having the multiple spots for pouring will allow you to find a natural position that works for you. Plus, the coiled spring handle cools quickly, so it's safe to touch nearly as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Buy It: FINEX 10-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, starts at $200; Williams Sonoma or Amazon

Best Double-Handle Cast Iron Pan: Lodge Cast Iron Dual Handle Pan

Lodge Cast Iron Dual Handle Pan on a white background
Credit: Amazon

For cooks who prefer the double-handled style of Dutch ovens, this double-handed cast iron skillet from Lodge is a great pick. You get the beloved quality of Lodge with its pre-seasoned, ready-to-use finish and a sturdy dual-assist handle design. Like Lodge's many other products, this one is designed for just about any type of cooking you prefer, from stovetop to campfire.

Made in the USA, this cast iron pan boasts more than 10,000 ratings on Amazon and still maintains 4.8 stars. "[T]he only problem I anticipate with owning this beautiful creation is who to leave it to in my will. The two short handles are a dream come true to me as long handles and my short arms don't always co-exist peacefully. I would give this Lodge cast iron pan more than 5 stars if Amazon would let me," one reviewer writes.

Buy It: Lodge Cast Iron Dual Handle Pan, $25; Amazon or Williams Sonoma

Best Classic Cast Iron Skillet: Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet

Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet on a marble background
Credit: Smithey Ironware

Smithey Ironware Co. founder Issac Morton started his business in cast iron cookware by saving and restoring rusty pans that were otherwise destined for a scrapyard. After a few years of this, where he was up close and personal with a variety of ironware, he decided to begin making his own line of pans that reflected the classic techniques of decades-old ironware but made with today's technology and know-how.

The result is the Smithey Ironware collection of heavy gauge cast iron pans that are expertly polished to produce a satin-smooth nonstick surface right from the beginning. But it's designed for building its own natural seasoning over time, so get to work caramelizing onion, browning pork chops, and sautéing mushrooms. The three-finger handle also makes for easier, more secure gripping, and if you're a cook with a limited amount of cabinet space, both handles have holes for easy hanging.

In short, this line of cast iron skillets are designed to become an heirloom. They look, feel, and cook like they already are. "It's crazy. It's worth the money just for the crispiest most perfect eggs you have ever fried. Never mind the million other uses," writes one reviewer.

Buy It: Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet, $160; Smithey Ironware

Best Cast Iron Grill Pan: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Pan

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Pan With Assist Handle
Credit: Amazon

Cast iron skillets can be used on grills, but cast iron skillets can also be the grill. Cast iron gets very hot, which makes it similar to a grill: a quick sear on the outside seals in moisture, caramelizes natural sugars, and produces a hint of smoky goodness.

The raised rows in this Lodge cast iron grill pan also help fat or liquid melt and roll away so the food cooks and sears, not steams. The U-shaped assist handle makes carrying or moving the pan (it weighs 6.5 pounds) easier. And with more than 19,000 ratings on Amazon, this Lodge pan maintains a 4.6-star ranking, with thousands of customers testifying to its usefulness any night of the week.

"I sincerely love this pan and wish I had tried using one indoors vs buying multiple indoor grilling options that never worked. I definitely recommend this pan if you are considering grilling indoors and from all of the cleaning methods I've been recommended washing under hot water then wiping and adding an oil then heating has worked best for me," one reviewer writes.

Buy It: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Pan, $20; Amazon or Target

Best Pan for Frying: Cuisinart Chef's 12-Inch Classic Enameled Cast Iron Chicken Fryer with Cover

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enameled Cast Iron 12-Inch Chicken Fryer with Cover
Credit: Amazon

If you regularly make fried chicken or apple fritters, you're going to want a cast iron skillet with high sides to protect against splatters. In that case, this deep enameled cast iron skillet from Cuisinart is the pick for you.

Cast iron skillets get hot quickly, heat evenly, and stay hot, which makes them ideal for frying when you need the oil to be bubbling hot batch after batch, like you need for this fried fish recipe. Plus, this pick comes with a lid, which makes it a versatile option if you decide to bake bread or cook stews and soups in this skillet.

On Amazon, this skillet has over 1500 reviews and maintains a 4.6-star rating with a reviewers raving about its quality and value (some similarly sized pans can be over $200).

"Great product for cooking either on the stovetop or in the oven. Perfect for those dishes where you are combining ingredients as you go. No need to use several pots and pans in the preparation. I love it," writes one Amazon reviewer.

Buy It: Cuisinart Chef's 12-Inch Classic Enameled Cast Iron Chicken Fryer With Cover, $110; Amazon or Target

Best Value Cast Iron Skillet: Cuisinel Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 2-Piece Set

Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 2-Piece Set
Credit: Amazon

Cuisinel may not be as well known as some other cast iron skillet brands, but their cast iron skillets have a strong following and many devoted customers. In fact, this two pack (it includes 10-inch and 12-inch cast iron skillets) has amassed more than 5,000 ratings and 4.7 stars. These are all great things, and then you'll see the price — less than $48 for two skillets and two heat-resistant holders.

Reviewers love that these cast iron skillets come preseasoned, which means they're ready to use right from the box. However, there's no harm in giving the pans a layer of seasoning before you plan to use it with foods that might stick, like eggs. One reviewer even suggested cooking bacon first thing.

"These are so great! They clean so easily! Cooking in them is a treat. Nothing sticks too much in them and the flavor of burgers or any food cooked in them is delicious!" writes one Amazon reviewer.

Buy It: Cuisinel Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 2-Piece Set, $48 (was $60); Amazon or Target

Most Versatile Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker
Credit: Amazon

Cast iron skillets and pans by their nature are highly versatile. They can be used to sear steaks, bake desserts, or roast vegetables, but this combo cooker made by Lodge squeezes in even more users. The lid for the larger pan is actually a 10.25-inch shallow skillet.

With the many ways to cook with this combo cast iron cooker, this would make a great pick for campers. You can use the skillet to sear meat or fry eggs; the base can warm stew or roast potato pieces. For bakers, this is a great choice for baking bread.

One Amazon reviewer writes, "I really love the ability to use it as a fry pan or a deep pot. Not only do I have this combo cooker but also the one with short handles. Very well made - although I do some additional seasoning before use there is nothing like the heat retention of cast iron."

Buy It: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker, $37 (was $62); Amazon or Target

Caring for Your New Cast Iron Skillet

Most cast iron pans today come pre-seasoned with oil applied at the factory, but it's always a good idea to rinse the pan with water and season it again before the first time you use it. Why? Pans sit on shelves for weeks, even months, before they're shipped out to buyers, so the pans can collect dust. A quick rinse and a round of seasoning will help you be safe.

Got a rusted cast iron pan? Here's how you can bring rusty cast iron back to life.

When you're ready to wash a cast iron pan, remember that water is the enemy, and soap is an evil second. You can use a brush or abrasive sponge to knock of cooked-on bits, but don't use soap — it removes the natural seasoning — and make sure the pan is very well dried if you rinse it with water.

The best way to dry cast iron is to heat a freshly-washed skillet on low on a stovetop and let the water in the skillet evaporate. If you notice a lot of seasoning is going after that rinse, you can seasoning the pan again right then and there, or wait until the next time you need to use it and season it right before it's necessary.

What Should I Cook in My Cast Iron Pans?

Among the other great things about cooking with cast iron is that you can take it from skillet to oven and back. It's super versatile. Check out our collection of Cast Iron Skillet Recipes. And here are a dozen of our Best Recipes to Cook with a Cast Iron Skillet.