Find the best cast iron pans and skillets from the top brands you trust
Nothing beats a quality cast iron pan when it comes to searing juicy, thick cuts of meat over a broiling hot fire. Cooking, grilling, searing, even baking with cast iron enhances the flavoring of any meat and seals in natural juices, resulting in healthier, iron-rich meals!
This year, our cooking experts at Fire Food Chef rank the best cast iron pans and skillets for use at home or outdoors. Top brands like Tramontina, Le Creuset, and Lodge are among the selections, along with some relative newcomers. We’ve also got some great tips to help you care for your cast iron cookware in our buying guide.
Read the full details in our best cast iron pan review guide below to find one that’s right for you!
Lodge L8SK3 Cast Iron Pan Skillet, 10.25", Black
Why is it better?
Last Updated: April 15, 2020
By William Clay: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding cast iron pan available for those who want something durable and has good heat distribution. The best 10 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best cast iron pan currently available on the market.
NEXT: 2020’S BEST GAS GRILLS
The selections below are the most highly ranked by Amazon users and considered the best cast iron cookware currently available.
Lodge has been perfecting the art of cast iron cookware since 1896, longer in fact than any other US manufacturer. Headquartered in good ole’ South Pittsburg, Tennessee, their heavy duty skillets are the perfect tool to sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise, or fry your favorite recipes.
Grill or stovetop, the Lodge L8SK3 Skillet Pan exhibits all the best qualities of cast iron for cooking. The 10.25 inch cooking surface is medium sized, enough to serve two large burger patties or sear a large steak. With its rounded edges, you can deep fry food more safely and reduce splatter. It’s also easier to scoop and flip your food because the depth is about 2 inches.
Pre-seasoned with 100% vegetable oil, a simple wash with water and a sponge is all you need to keep the cooking surface clean and free of bacteria. Since there are no synthetic chemicals or coatings used, there’s no need to worry about inhaling harmful toxins or scratching a nonstick surface. You can use wooden utensils or stainless steel without scratching or peeling.
Even though the Lodge L8SK3 is pre-seasoned by the manufacturer, it’s a good idea to do what the professionals do. Season the skillet a few times before your first official use and you’ll really notice a difference in the performance. The cooking surface will actually get better with every use.
You’ll notice the surface has a pebble-like texture to it, but that is the nature of cast iron. With time and use, the pebbled texture smooths very nicely, making it even easier to cook and clean. When you’re ready to store the Lodge L8SK3, there’s a hanging hole on the end of the cast iron handle, as well as the assist handle.
Simple, sturdy, crafted cast iron. Overall, the Lodge L8SK3 improves on their previous model, the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet.
Whether you’re at the campfire or your kitchen stovetop, the Lodge 17L9OG3 is going to transform your griddling! Budget grade utensils lose their nonstick coating after a few uses, leaving you frustrated as you scrape your precious eggs and bacon onto your plate. The Lodge Griddle Cast Iron, however, is a reliable cooking partner that won’t ever let you down!
Pre-seasoned with 100% vegetable oil, this griddle cast iron is the perfect tool for scrambling eggs, frying bacon, flipping homemade pancakes, crepes, paninis, grilled cheese and so much more. The shallow 1.5 inch depth is enhanced by subtly rounded edges to help reduce splatter and keep food in the pan, not on your stovetop.
Despite being entirely cast iron in construction, the Lodge 17L9OG3 weighs only 4.5 pounds, which is fairly lightweight. The solid black patina and finish really hides stains well, so with routine oil rubbing after each use, it will look and perform great for decades. With its elongated, ergonomic handle, the griddle pan is also easier to wield.
This is probably one of the best investments under $20 you’ll ever make!
If you enjoy grilling steaks, fillets, vegetables, paninis, sausages, and other hearty recipes, the Utopia Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Skillet could be just what you’re looking for. Designed for use at home or the restaurant, this multi-purpose skillet has climbed its way up the ranks to become Amazon’s Choice, and a favorite among thousands of users.
Whether you’re cooking with gas, electric, induction, ceramic-glass top stoves, or a conventional kitchen oven, the Utopia delivers the same consistent performance, improving with each use. With its superior heat retention, food cooks more evenly under high searing temperatures and stays warm longer.
Similar in look and design to the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, the Utopia offers a large sized 12.5 inches of cooking surface. That’s enough for 3 - 4 burger patties, a thick 12 oz steak, or six spicy Italian sausages.
The Utopia Cast Iron Skillet comes pre-seasoned by the manufacturer using soy-based oils to form a black patina that will actually get better over time. The grainy surface will smoothen out with each washing. A sponge and regular dishwashing soap are recommended by the manufacturer after each use.
Always expanding and keenly competitive, AmazonBasics has entered the cast iron cookware market as a major player. Judging by the 2000+ reviews this product has received, it’s safe to say that their 15”inch Cast Iron Skillet Pan is going to be around for a while.
Designed for multi-purpose use, the skillet pan is an extra large 15 inches in diameter, and perfect for sautéing, searing, pan-frying, baking, broiling, roasting, and more. Slightly flared sides and edges help keep splatter to a minimum, and allow you to flip and handle food more easily.
Made entirely of heavy duty cast iron, this skillet pan distributes heat evenly and gradually, allowing for better cooking results when working with temperatures in the 500 fahrenheit range.
The AmazonBasics 15” inch Cast Iron Skillet Pan comes pre-seasoned and thoroughly pre-baked with penetrating vegetable oil.
Looped handles allow for hanging on your grill or in your kitchen. To wash, avoid using soap. Instead, use warm water and a sponge while the surface is still slightly warm. Continue to season the skillet with vegetable oil before each use to develop a patina that will last for decades.
Deep dish pizza, baked asparagus, seared burgers, roasted pork chops - there’s so much you can do with a multi-purpose skillet like the Victoria SKL-212. Made in Colombia using European cast iron machinery, this large, heavy duty cast iron skillet is perfectly suited for use in the kitchen, campfire, or grill. Backed by a lifetime warranty, it’s one of the best cast iron skillets you’ll find for under $30.
Whether you prefer induction, ceramic oven, grill, or the campfire, this 12” inch skillet retains and distributes heat evenly to maintain consistent cooking temperatures. Seasoned with
100% kosher-certified, non-GMO flaxseed oil, the black patina layering will improve with each use as you sear, bake, fry, broil, and saute your favorite meals time after time.
Although the Victoria SKL-212 is quite heavy compared to other metal cookware (copper, stainless steel), the curved handle is ergonomically shaped for a better grip. You can use wooden or metal utensils safely without scratching or peeling the surface. Flared edges also help to keep food in the pan, instead of your floor, grill, or stovetop.
Free of harmful PTFE and PFOA’s, this skillet requires some basic maintenance to prevent rusting. Wash after each use with warm water and a scrub pad to quickly remove food debris and smoothen out the patina. The trace amounts of iron naturally released when cooking with seasoned cast iron will actually boost the mineral content in your diet.
Enamel coated cast iron cookware is widely used by professionals because of its durability and high heat resistance. Tramontina’s gourmet collection of cast iron cookware is known for its durability, but also versatility. Currently it ranks as an Amazon #1 seller, and is available in gradated red or blue.
As with many of the top brands, the Tramontina 80131/059DS is pre-seasoned without the use of chemicals. The PFOA and PTFE-free porcelain enamel ribbed cooking surface is non-reactive and easy-to-clean. Food lifts easily from the matte black interior surface for healthier cooking. And, with every use the patina layering improves.
At roughly 11 inches, this grill pan is medium sized, making it more lightweight and easier to wield. A press is also included for easily making paninis, grilled cheese, and other delicious meals. A stainless steel knob on the press makes it easier to handle as needed.
Designed for hand-wash only, the Tramontina 80131/059DS is backed by a lifetime warranty.
At just over $30, the T-fal E83407 is a large 12” inch skillet that makes a great addition to any indoor or outdoor kitchen. Perfect for use at home, a restaurant, campfire or grill, this durable nonstick cast iron skillet makes a great gift as well.
Pre-seasoned for immediate use, the T-fal E83407 comes with step by step instructions for additional pre-seasoning. The beautiful, black patina will only improve after each use as you continue to oil and cook. The natural greases and fats will further enhance the patina over the years to provide a virtually non-stick cooking surface.
With its extra long handle, the T-fal E83407 is easier to grip and maneuver by hand, with an assist handle as well for holding it with two hands when needed. Searing, browning, frying and saute recipes can all be done more easily thanks to the superior heat retention of cast iron.
Oven safe up to 600 degree fahrenheit, the T-fal 12” inch cast iron skillet is PFOA free and cadmium free, making it a healthier alternative to non-stick cookware. A pouring spout also allows for greater control when transferring contents from the skillet to another dish.
The Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 12-inch Skillet is ideally suited for traditional and slow cooking techniques. Designed to heat evenly and steadily, the pre-seasoned cooking surface resists sticking and retains heat longer so food stays warm.
Oversized handles allow for easier handling, although at nearly 7 pounds, it can be somewhat wieldy. Thankfully, the assist handle and curved handle are sturdy cast iron. A loophole aslo
Stovetop, gas, electric, even induction stovetops, the Calphalon 12” inch skillet makes seared steaks, baked cornbread, or tasty frittatas consistently cooked through. Use metal utensils without scratching the surface, and rub with vegetable oil after each use to keep it in optimal condition.
Premium manufacturers of cast iron cookware, Le Creuset is a trusted name among professional chefs. If you’re serious about learning to cook with cast iron, a Le Creuset skillet is a really good place to start.
The Le Creuset LS2024-2659 is a heavy duty cast iron skillet with an improved enamel interior that resists stains, dulling, wear and tear. The 3 inch depth and 10.25 inch diameter is just big enough to serve 2 people comfortably. Burger patties, sausages, stir fried recipes, and low-fat slow cooking - the Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet is the perfect cooking tool.
The black enamel interior requires no additional seasoning to use right out of the box. A new large loop helper handle has been added to allow for easier handling when you need to transfer the skillet from the grill to your stovetop, for example.
You’ll be surprised to learn that the Le Creuset Signature Skillet is dishwasher safe. Used on medium heat, this skillet will last you several years of repeated use.
For the ultimate in convenience and quality, the Legend Cast Iron Skillet is an affordable alternative to the premium grade brands like Staub and Le Creuset. Designed primarily for kitchen use, this large 12” inch skillet can also be used on your grill or campfire.
The glass lid is really what distinguishes the Legend Cast Iron Skillet from all the others in this review. The flared walls are also deeper at 3.7 inches, making it ideal for deep pan, thick crust pizzas, for example, or even cakes.
At 12 inches in diameter, the skillet is considered large, and has enough room to sear 2 large steaks, grill 2 salmon fillets, or 4 meaty Italian sausages. Thanks to the glass lid, splattering is significantly reduced. Food stays crisper and warmer longer with the cover attached.
While most cast iron pans and skillets have an iron handle, the Legend includes a silicone cover that slides on over the handle. This way you can grip the skillet safely with or without gloves. At nearly half the cost of a Le Creuset, the Legend delivers exceptional value for the price.
Cooking with cast iron is part art, and part science. Preheating and seasoning are more important when using cast iron than other metals such as aluminum or stainless steel. It takes time and patience to appreciate the subtleties, but when done right, grilling, braising, searing, and frying food of any kind is a delight with a quality cast iron skillet or pan in your hands.
Cast iron pans and cookware are typically more expensive than other kinds. Despite the similarities, however, cast iron can vary in quality from brand to brand. As with any appliance or utensil, you’re always better off investing in the brands with an established reputation among the professionals.
First time using cast iron?
Cast Iron Skillets: Everything You Need To Know
There are a ton of brands all claiming to be the best, but there are a few newcomers worth considering. With so many knock-offs flooding the market, it’s hard to tell which ones offer genuine quality.
The 4 brands listed below are the ones most typically used by professional chefs.
Since 1896, American manufacturer Lodge has been making carbon steel and cast iron cookware. Their products are so durable because they’re meant to be heirlooms that can be passed on from one generation to the next.
Heavy duty skillets, pans, dutch ovens, and more, Lodge cast iron cookware is known for durability and affordability. As the oldest cast iron cookware manufacturer in the US, the company is headquartered in South Pittsburg, TN, where their products are proudly made.
Headquartered in France, Le Creuset is a french manufacturer of premium cookware for commercial use. The company is over 95 years old, and they specialise in the sand casting method of iron casting. All their cast iron cookware is still produced at the Le Creuset foundry in Fresnoy-le-Grand.
Their cast iron ‘French ovens’ and saucepans are uniquely colorful compared to other brands. In particular, their signature ‘flame’ color of their cookware comes from an enamel glaze which serves as layering for their cookware and bakeware.
Originally based in Turckheim, Alsace, Staub is another premier brand of cast iron cookware out of France. While not quite as prestigious, they make high quality enameled cast iron pots for casseroles, stews, and so much more.
Frying pans, grills, cocottes and chistera braisers are just some of the high-end cookware Staub is known for. You’ll find them in some of the best professional kitchens in the world.
Founded only a few years before Staub in 1971, Cuisinart is an American manufacturer of quality kitchen appliances. Food processors, pressure cookers, and other electrical appliances are their specialty, but they also design a wide range of utensils and cooking ware.
Much of their manufacturing is done in China and France, but the quality of their cast iron cookware is undeniable. High durability, food grade quality, non stick surfaces, and affordable prices give them an edge over many of the knock-off competitors.
Stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, ceramic - where do you start? Trying to decide which type of cookware is best isn’t easy. Unless you’re informed. Then it’s much easier.
Stainless steel looks nice, but heats quickly and doesn’t retain heat nearly as well as iron, for example. Copper is more heat resistant than stainless steel, but it still can’t compete with cast iron for durability.
Attractive design features and eye-catching marketing imagery can’t make up for poor quality. And when it comes to quality cookware, cast iron is as good it as it gets.
Benefit #1: Durability
Cast iron is used across a wide range of industries, particularly where high levels of heat are involved. Able to resist impressively high temperatures, cast iron takes longer to heat than stainless steel or aluminum for example. An extremely dense composition makes cast iron heavier than other metals as well.
Benefit #2: Heat Distribution
Searing thick cuts of beef, frying crisp vegetables or bacon, a cast iron cooking surface distributes heat more evenly than other types, with the exception of copper.
Benefit #3: Heat Retention
Until the invention of stainless steel in 1913, most of the world’s homes cooked with fire and iron. Cast iron cookware, in fact, is the original cookware.
Cast iron not only has a high tolerance for heat, it also absorbs heat and retains it longer than other metals. As a result, a cast iron cooking surface can remain consistently hot for longer, allowing you to cook or grill your food thoroughly. You’ll tend to experience fewer hot spots with a cast iron skillet or cast iron pot, for example, because the heat doesn’t escape as quickly.
Enamel coated cast iron cookware is preferred by many professional chefs, and the higher price indicates their superior quality. High quality enamel coating, your cast iron will last for generations and will be much easier to clean.
The enamel coating is essentially vitreous glaze that fuses with the cast iron at high temperatures. When finished, the cooking surface becomes a smooth, nonstick, layer. With every subsequent use, the enamel coating actually improves, without giving off potentially harmful chemicals.
Many types of stainless steel aluminum and other cookware are coated with a non stick layer to prevent food from sticking to the cooking surface. Cast iron, on the other, doesn’t require a nonstick layer. Instead, they are pre-seasoned by the manufacturer, a process that uses heat and oils to form a smooth coating on the cooking surface.
With each steak, fish, burger, sausages, or fried vegetable recipe you cook, the natural oils and grease add a further layer of seasoning that enhances the cooking surface. If you wash your cast iron skillet or pan regularly, and store it in a dry cool place, it will likely outlive you.
When shopping for a cast iron skillet or pan, size refers to the diameter of the cooking surface. Frying pans, skillets, pots and other stovetop cookware tend to come in three key sizes that you could call small, medium, and large.
The 3 sizes of cast iron pans you’ll find include:
The depth of a pan will also vary, but frying pans are typically more shallow than cooking pans so you can easily scoop and flip food. Concave edges also help to reduce splatter and prevent spillage onto your stovetop.
Either the handle on your cast iron skillet will be looped cast iron, or it will be an attachment made of wood or food-grade silicon. A handle that is heat resistant as well as ergonomic is safer to use and poses less risk of accidentally burning your fingers. If it includes a hole for hanging, that gives you more storage options as well.
Read user reviews carefully for insights into the quality of the handle. It may be dishwasher safe, for instance, but falls apart after a few washes.
Iron, like any other metal, is extremely durable but not invulnerable. Rust and corrosion can set in, fading away the finish and stripping away the seasoned layers that prevent food from sticking.
With proper care after each use, your cast iron skillet, pan, or dutch oven will last decades, if not generations. You’ll be able to pass them down as heirlooms, along with countless memories of meals shared together.
The Best Way to Cook Clean And Season With Cast Iron
Just follow these simple tips:
Cleaning And Care Tips:
When it comes to cast iron pans, it’s really hard to make the wrong choice. Cast iron is so reliable and widely used because the methods of manufacturing are literally thousands of years old. Time and experience has introduced innovations into the means, but the enduring qualities of iron remain.
Staub, Lodge, Legend, or Le Creuset, the best cast iron pans will elevate your grilling and cooking indoors and outdoors!
This post was last updated on April 15th, 2020 at 10:25 am
William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.