Best Cast Iron Skillets of 2018

A cast iron skillet can withstand heat on the stove top, in the oven, and over a campfire or grill. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best cast iron skillet for your cooking needs.

Shopping Guide for the Best Cast Iron Skillets

When you picture a cast iron skillet, the first thing that probably springs to mind is a pan with heavy, durable workmanship that's built to last. In fact, the stable nature of cast iron is a key feature that made this type of cookware popular long before stoves were invented.

Cast iron pots date back almost 2,000 years. In the late 19th century, people began using them on their stove tops. Today's cast iron skillets haven't changed all that much. They sport a classic skillet shape and wield a heavy-duty material that can withstand heat on the stove top, in the oven, and over a campfire or grill.

Whether you're a cast iron aficionado or new to the game, BestReviews can help you make a sound purchasing decision. Our team of experts scrutinized and summarized countless cast iron skillets on the market to identify the very best. So, if you are ready to start cooking with a cast iron skillet, read on.

Many people are thrilled to learn that cooking with an unglazed cast iron skillet can add a bit of iron to their diet. However, if you have a health concern that requires you to avoid ingesting iron, this type of skillet probably isn't right for you.

Benefits of Cooking with a Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet is an asset to any well-stocked kitchen. There are many benefits to owning one, including the following.

Heat Retention
Cast iron does an excellent job retaining heat, from preheating to cooking to keeping prepared foods warm. It also distributes heat evenly during cooking for precise results.

Extreme Durability
Cast iron is strong and heavy, which means it is almost impossible to break or damage it.

High Heat Tolerance
Do you like to deep-fry foods? Cast iron is the perfect material for cooking at almost any temperature because high heat and repeated exposure to extreme temperatures won't damage it.

Nonstick Properties
When seasoned properly, food won't stick to a cast iron skillet.

Easy Cleanup
It's easy to clean a cast iron skillet. Simply scrape off excess food and wash with a gentle cloth or sponge and warm water. Since you don't want to remove the seasoning, using soap or a harsh brush is not required.

Affordable Price
You may think that a skillet that could last a lifetime would come at a steep price. This isn't the case for most models. Though specialty designs and ceramic-coated options cost a bit more than standard models, you can get a quality cast iron skillet for around $20.

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For Natural Cooking, Cast Iron Is the Way to Go

If you're looking to cook with natural substances, cast iron is the way to go. Not only is it thought that iron makes up a large portion of the earth's inner and outer core, but it also ranks fourth among the elements found in the earth's crust.

Key Features of Cast Iron Skillets

Keep the following features in mind as you select your cast iron skillet.

Skillet Size

  • Cast iron skillets come in most standard skillet sizes. You can easily find options that are 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches in diameter.

Skillet Shape

  • Traditional round skillets are the most popular models and are suitable for almost any type of food prep. Round skillets with dual handles are perfect for use in the oven or on the grill.
  • Square skillets are also available, with little discernible difference from their round counterparts.

Bare or Glazed
Both bare and glazed cast iron skillets are available. Each type has its pros and cons.

  • Bare cast iron skillets are more affordable, but they require seasoning to prevent food from sticking. They also leach some iron into food, but this isn't necessarily a drawback for most users.
  • Glazed cast iron skillets don't leach iron or require seasoning, but they cost more than bare cast iron. The glaze finish may wear or chip away over time.

Seasoning
Seasoning refers to the oil coating that keeps rust at bay and prevents food from sticking to the cookware. Though some skillets come preseasoned, they too will need seasoning from time to time. The process is simple.

  • Clean and dry your skillet thoroughly.
  • Rub vegetable oil or another plant-based oil over the skillet interior.
  • Heat your oven to 350° F.
  • Place your oiled skillet upside down on the top or center rack with another pan on the rack below to catch drippings. Bake for 1 hour.
  • Repeat as needed.

Always dry your cast iron skillet after cleaning it. Allowing moisture to stay on the pan encourages rust to develop.

FAQ

Q. What is the best type of oil for seasoning a cast iron skillet?
A. It's best to use a vegetable-based oil such as soybean, canola, or vegetable oil, as these aren't as likely to turn rancid over time.

Q. Can I cook acidic foods in a cast iron skillet?
A. An acidic food like tomato sauce can be cooked in a cast iron skillet, but it may remove some of the seasoning and impart a metallic taste to the food. Therefore, you should only cook acidic foods in a well-seasoned skillet—and always reseason the surface afterward.

Q. How do I prevent too much oil buildup on my seasoned cast iron skillet?
A. Too much seasoning is possible; if this happens, your skillet will have a sticky or tacky feel to it. The best way to remove some of the seasoning is to place your pan upside down in the oven at 400° F for about an hour. Place it on the top rack with another pan beneath it to catch any drippings.

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Keep Vegetable Oil Handy

Rub a little vegetable oil on the interior of your cast iron skillet after you clean it. This will help prevent food from sticking the next time you use the pan.