Cast iron skillets are deceptive. They look like relics of a bygone era, something you’d see over a campfire in an old Western. But ask any professional chef working today and they’re likely to tell you just how essential these pans are in kitchens of any size or description.
The pans are beloved for their ability to develop a naturally nonstick layer called seasoning without chemicals. And because they’re made from iron, they also retain heat much longer and much better than pans crafted from other materials, which makes them ideal for a wide variety of dishes, from searing steak to baking cobblers and cornbread. Plus, if you take care of yours properly, these pans can last a lifetime.
With its versatility and plentiful benefits, a cast iron skillet should have a place in your kitchen. Whether you’re looking at purchasing a brand new skillet or adding to your cookware arsenal, we’ve rounded up four great options that will elevate your meals.
1. Staub 11-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Staub’s 11-inch cast-iron skillet provides plenty of real estate for you to grill, fry and cook whatever your appetite desires. The edges of the French-made pan are slightly higher than normal cast iron skillets, which helps reduce splatter—so your range won’t be covered in grease or residue if you use this pan to fry. And speaking of residue, the skillet’s enameled finish means that maintenance is simple, as you won’t need to worry about seasoning it after every use.
Pros: Easy to clean.
Cons: A bit of an investment.
2. Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
There’s a chance you’ve probably heard of Lodge, as its cast-iron offerings sit at a fantastic intersection of value and quality. The American company’s 12-inch skillet comes pre-seasoned so it’s ready for whatever dish you want to prepare. And it’s great value—combined with its large cooking area—makes it a great introductory skillet for those who want to get to know cast iron pans without making a big investment. It also comes with a silicone hand guard to make moving and adjusting the skillet easy and burn-free.
Pros: Great value makes it fantastic for beginners.
Cons: Maintenance and upkeep is higher on this than other skillets on this list.
3. Utopia 12.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Out of all the options on this list, Utopia Kitchen’s cast iron skillet offers the largest available cooking area at 12.5 inches. A staggering amount of space, you can use it to make batches of pancakes or sear a couple of steaks at a time. While the skillet is pre-seasoned, Utopia does recommend re-seasoning often in order to keep it up to nonstick, which might be a hassle for the less dedicated cooks among us. However, for its value, it’s well worth the hassle.
Pros: Large surface area for cooking.
Cons: High upkeep.
4. Le Creuset 11.75-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
This French brand has been synonymous with cast-iron excellence since 1925, and its take on the skillet is arguably the best you can get—especially if you’re new to cast-iron cooking. The enamel interior means you don’t need to further season it after use, while the color of the handle and exterior add a pop of character that will make it a lovely addition to any stovetop.
Pros: The best of the best.
Cons: It’s not cheap.