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If there's one piece of kitchen equipment that's worth investing in, it's a cast-iron skillet. When taken care of properly, a good cast-iron skillet can last years and even decades. From baking cornbread to searing meats and making one-pot dinners, a cast-iron skillet is versatile and timeless. To help you find the right skillet for your needs, we've pulled together a list of the best cast-iron skillets.
How to Season a Cast-Iron Skillet
There are two main types of cast-iron skillets: enameled and pre-seasoned. An enameled skillet has a coating on it that prevents sticking and ensures even heat distribution. With an enameled skillet, there is no need to season it (i.e., build up a layer of protection from the iron). Meanwhile, a pre-seasoned skillet arrives ready-to-use, but needs periodic re-seasoning to maintain the nonstick coating. Learn how to season a cast-iron skillet properly to impart flavor and texture into your cooking.
How to Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet
Like any piece of kitchen equipment, it's important to maintain your cast-iron skillet so it lasts. And the first rule when it comes to cleaning a cast-iron skillet is no soap. It may seem counterintuitive to clean something without soap, but soap can actually damage the seasoning. Instead, learn the right way to care for a cast-iron skillet and your pan will last for years.
Best Cast-Iron Skillets
This is our list of the best cast-iron skillets to make it easier for you to pick one. Each skillet was tested by making our Chicken Cutlets with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce recipe. In addition, if a skillet is oven-safe, it was also tested by making a batch of cornbread. Meanwhile, the mini cast-iron skillet was tested by frying eggs.
- Best Overall Cast-Iron Skillet: Le Creuset
- Best Enameled Cast-Iron Skillet: Staub
- Best Budget-Friendly Cast-Iron Skillet: Lodge
- Best Lightweight Cast-Iron Skillet: Vermicular
- Best Mini Cast-Iron Skillet: Victoria
- Best Splurge-Worthy Cast Iron Skillet: Finex
Read on for details on what makes these cast-iron skillets the best, as well as the skillets that deserve an honorable mention.
Best Overall Cast-Iron Skillet
Le Creuset Signature Skillet
Le Creuset is known for their high-quality cookware, and their cast-iron skillet is no exception (read about why we love their Dutch oven). Available in four sizes, including 6⅓-inch, 9-inch, 10¼-inch and 11¾-inch, the enameled skillet was our favorite of the ones tested. From producing a golden brown crust on the cornbread to beautifully searing chicken cutlets, this cast-iron skillet exceeded all of our expectations. With a wide range of colors, the Le Creuset cast-iron skillet can go directly from the stove to the oven to the table for a gorgeous one-pot meal. And compared to other models, the Le Creuset skillet is safe to use with metal utensils, which usually scrape cast-iron, and is dishwasher-safe (although we recommend hand-washing).
Buy it: Le Creuset, $120-$210 depending on size
Best Enameled Cast-Iron Skillet
Staub Cast-Iron Fry Pan
With a 10-inch diameter, the Staub enameled fry pan was one of the best enameled cast-iron skillets tested (our overall favorite topped this category too; see above). Available in a range of colors, this skillet features two pouring spouts, which made it easy to pour the sun-dried tomato cream sauce onto the evenly browned chicken. Although the cornbread stuck a little to the sides of the pan, the bits were readily removed when cleaning. And speaking of cleaning, the Staub pan is dishwasher-safe, although Staub recommends hand-washing.
Buy it: Zwilling, $170
You might also consider:
Ayesha Curry Cast-Iron Enamel Skillet with Pour Spouts
If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, the enameled skillet from Ayesha Curry's cookware line is a solid choice. When compared to the Staub, this cast-iron skillet features deeper sides, which means there's plenty of room for one-skillet meals. Thanks to the addition of spouts and handles on either side of the pan, it was comfortable to pick up the skillet and pour the sauce over the chicken (although it didn't brown as much as we would have liked). This oven-safe skillet should be hand-washed to maintain the enamel coating.
Buy it: Target, $30
Best Budget-Friendly Cast-Iron Skillet
Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
If you're looking for a quality cast-iron skillet at a reasonable price, the Lodge is the best budget-friendly cast-iron skillet. This skillet features handles on both sides of the pan, making it easy to grab (You should never touch a cast-iron skillet without an oven mitt or dish towel as they get very hot. Luckily, Lodge makes a handy silicone handle cover that will prevent accidental burns, buy it: Target, $6.) Although the Lodge skillet arrives pre-seasoned, the chicken we tested did stick to the pan, so we would recommend building up the layers of seasoning before use. Lodge does suggest re-seasoning the pan after every hand-washing, so keep that in mind if you want to maintain your skillet to its optimal performance.
Buy it: Target, $23
Best Lightweight Cast-Iron Skillet
Vermicular Frying Pan
While a cast-iron skillet is a quality piece of cookware, the biggest downside is often its weight. Cast iron is heavy, which can be uncomfortable on the hands and wrists when cooking with and moving the skillet. Luckily, Vermicular's frying pan solves that problem as their version is just 2.4 pounds, which is half of the weight of the other skillets on this list. This cast-iron skillet can comfortably be lifted with one hand and features deep sides, so there's plenty of space for cooking. Although this skillet is not oven-safe, you can purchase a lid that would make any stovetop recipe easily achieved.
Buy the pan: Vermicular, $155-$160 depending on size
Buy the lid: Vermicular, $40
Best Mini Cast-Iron Skillet
Victoria 6.5-Inch Mini Cast-Iron Skillet
If you're looking for a cute and functional piece of cookware, the Victoria 6.5-inch skillet is the optimal choice. This pre-seasoned skillet was great for frying eggs as the smaller size minimized the space where the egg could run, leaving us with the perfect-shaped egg for breakfast sandwiches. You could also use this skillet for making individual-size desserts like fruit crisp or cobbler. While we'll stick to this smaller size, the oven-safe Victoria skillet also comes in a 10-inch diameter.
Buy it: Amazon, $13 for a 6.5-inch, $25 for a 10-inch
Best Splurge-Worthy Cast-Iron Skillet
Finex 10-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet with Lid
With multiple unique design features, the Finex cast-iron skillet is well worth the higher price tag. First, the pre-seasoned skillet is an octagonal shape, which means you can easily pour a pan sauce from any corner at any angle. The skillet also includes a handle on both sides to help lift the pan, and the lid features basting rings to keep food from drying out. But our favorite feature is the spring handle, which allows you to safely and comfortably touch the handle of the skillet when using it on the stovetop. All of these thoughtful features add up to a skillet that is functional, sleek and perfect for any kitchen.
Buy it: Amazon, $200