Let’s dive into the realm of cast-iron skillets. And I will answer your question; What are the best cast-iron skillets?
It depends right? I guess it does, but hopefully, I can help narrow the choices down to some top-notch frying pans that will do you proud in the kitchen. So whether you are living the single life or married with five kids. You can’t go wrong with a cast-iron skillet. But which pan is right for you?
But wait, cast iron skillets are old-fashioned, difficult to clean. And who wants to season a frying pan to maintain its nonstick surface? If that’s true, then Teflon could be your best option.
Let’s be honest food probably tastes the same, and nonstick chemically bonded surfaces are a breeze to clean. But this is such a boring and sterile way to cook. So why not have fun and choose a natural cooking surface. And trust me there is nothing better or more satisfying than using cast iron cookware. And that’s coming from a pretty average cook at best.
Before I get into the results of my findings, I will quickly answer your question, and why I came to that conclusion.
What is the best cast-iron skillet?
The best skillet for the majority of users, in my opinion, is the Lodge 10-1/4-inch skillet. Lodge makes high-quality cast-iron cookware at reasonable prices. The weight of the 10-1/4 inch is not overwhelming for those new to cast-iron cooking. But the frying pan is thick enough, so the skillet is unlikely to warp.
The pan comes pre-seasoned with vegetable oil. Vegetable oil has a higher smoke point compared to flaxseed and less inclined to flake off. Although the cooking surface of the skillet is rougher than the enameled and bespoke pans. I find food releases easily, and the smaller size is better to handle when cleaning.
To read more about the Lodge and other great skillets, please read on.
Table of contents
- Trust and experience using cast-iron
- How are the skillets chosen over others?
- Best over all best skillet (Lodge cast iron)
- Second place skillet (Victoria cast iron)
- Third place best skillet (Utopia)
- Best high-end enameled skillets (Le Creuset and Staub)
- Best skillets for a medium budget (Landhaus, Iwachu)
- Premium skillets for experienced users (Field, Butter Pats)
- Antique/Vintage cast iron recommendations (Griswold, Wagner)
- Ideal skillet for camping
- The perfect first cast iron skillet
- Where to purchase your cast-iron cookware?
- Final thoughts
Why trust my recommendations
I have and use several different cast-iron skillets. How many pans do I have? A lot, but somewhere in the region of 30 to 40 cast iron skillets. Including: modern, vintage, French, American, and Japanese skillets.
I particularly like Japanese and vintage ironware. So, when it comes to giving sound, honest advice on cast iron cookware. I can honestly say few bloggers have me bet.
So shall we get started?
How are skillets are selected as the best?
I will break the article down into different price categories rather than recommended sizes. Unless you find lifting cast-iron difficult or cooking individual portions, I tend to recommend the two standard sizes of 26cm and 28cm skillets as the best options. That’s about 10-12 inches for those using imperial. And I think it is better to focus on quality, price, and cooking surface.
You might be surprised with my recommendations as they are not the most expensive. Instead, I’ve focused on the best skillets for everyday cooks, especially those with little experience using cast-iron cookware.
So read on to find a skillet that best fits your needs.
Best Overall: Lodge (10-1/4 inch cast iron skillet)
For my number-one choice, I recommend the Lodge cast iron skillet. Although it can be hard to decide between the 10.25-inch and the larger Lodge 12-inch skillet.
Lodge skillets are a perfect marriage of functionality and value. These pans are a great bang for your buck. While there are more expensive options, the Lodge is one you can rely on for years.
The lodge has a good balance of weight. Not too heavy and not too light
Lodge tends to be mid-weight pans. So if you are new to cast iron cooking, this is a real benefit.
Sadly many people purchase celebrity-endorsed cast-iron as their first skillet. These pans tend to weigh a ton, and unfortunately, many users are instantly turned off by the heft.
On the other hand, light pans tend to be expensive. These skillets may warp if heated or cooled rapidly. So the Lodge is all-rounder and really you can’t go wrong.
Lodge skillets are made in America and still have that pioneering grit
Another reason to purchase Lodge is that they proudly make their skillets in the US. And they have manufactured cast-iron cookware since 1896. When it comes to one of the most trusted brands in cast iron cookware, it is hard to look past a skillet made by Lodge Manufacturing .
Lodges skillets are durable, rough-and-tumble, and don’t need a lot of extra care. But they will keep going for a long time and will quickly become the workhorse of your kitchen.
If you are looking for the best of the best on all counts, go with the Lodge.
Table: Comparing the Lodge 10.25 skillet to the Lodge 12 inch skillet
|Lodge 10-1/4 inch skillet||Lodge 12 inch skillet|
5 pounds or 2.26 kilograms
7.92 pounds or 3.6 kilograms
16.12 x 10.68 x 2 inches / 41 x 27.1 x 5 centimeters
18 x 12.56 x 2.25 inches / 45.7 x 32 x 5.7 centimeters
Outstanding skillet for singles and couples.
Ideally suited for families or those cooking larger cuts of meat.
Reasonably price skillet that is easy to use and clean.
Unlimited cooking options from searing steaks
to roasting a chicken, this skillet has you covered.
If you are cooking for more than two people you may need to batch cook due to the smaller cooking surface.
This is a large pan and the weight may be unwieldy to lift for some users.
I personally own this skillet and it’s a great size for many people
If you want to see the prices, here’s an affiliate link to Amazon.
If you need a larger cooking surface the Lodge 12 inch frying pan is a terrific option. Read the review on Amazon (Affiliate link)
Second Place: Victoria (12-inch cast iron skillet)
The Victoria is going to be one of your cheapest options for good-quality cast iron skillets. Which is one of the reasons why I place it so high on the list.
Seasoning with flaxseed
It’s comes pre-seasoned, and while most other skillets are as well, it has one of the best fresh-out-of-the-box nonstick surfaces.
Also, the company pre-seasons their skillets with flaxseed oil. While I prefer other oils to season my cast-iron, flaxseed is often the recommended choice when seasoning.
Flaxseed certainly gives a hard, beautiful layer of seasoning. So your pan should be ready to use with just a quick raise before using for the first time. So like the Lodge, the Victoria skillet is a good option if you’re new to cast-iron cooking.
You will still have to season the pan at some point. But the Victoria skillet is ready to use the moment you get it.
Designed for usability
The handles on Victoria skillets are longer than the Lodge and curved upward to make it easier to move and lift. The sides of the pan have a bit of a slope to them, which means you might be able to fit more in the pan than you could in one with less tapered sides.
Also, the spouts on the pan are large and more pronounced compared to other pans. This makes pouring grease or oil more precise. And great if you want to pour out every last drop of delicious sauce.
The longer handle is nice, but it can make the whole pan feel denser and heavier than the Lodge. And this is one of my only complaints about the Victoria.
Budget-friendly brand with a long heritage
The Victoria skillet is one of the best budget-friendly choices. The company has a long history of manufacturing cast-iron, and the business has been in operation since 1939.
Safe to say they know how to make a cast-iron skillet.
Table: Victoria cast iron skillets
|Victoria cast iron skillet|
Place of manufacture
Skillets are manufactured in Medellín, Colombia in their own foundry
Victoria pans are seasoned with Belgium sourced flaxseed
Numerous benefits to owning a Victorian cast iron skillet.
I like sharper pouring spouts and inclined handle for easier handling.
Comes pre-seasoned with high-quality flaxseed and should give you a hard, semi-nonstick cooking surface with a glossy look.
Many experienced cast iron users prefer not to season their skillet with flaxseed.
Flaxseed can flake off easier than high smoke point oils such as canola oil.
|Recommendation||If you are interested in a Victoria skillet, I recommend going for the 10 or 12 inch skillet. |
These two sizes are going to do you proud in the kitchen.
But in this case I’d probably opt for the larger 12 inch skillet to give you more cooking options.
|Buy on Amazon||This is a top-notch pan that sells at very competitive prices. |
A great skillet for beginner and medium experience cast-iron users.
Here’s an affiliate link to Amazon if you’re interested to see current pricing.
Utopia (12.5-inch cast iron skillet)
The Utopia cast iron skillet is made in China. And the manufacturing is likely outsourced to a third party. Straight away, you know I am a little hesitant. So why is it on my list?
Local manufacturing expertise equals low cost with good quality
Well, it is my own bias towards local manufacturers and family-run foundries. However, the low cost options such as the Utopia skillet are a great product at a very low cost. And that is why I have included the Utopia skillet into the list. And I think if you purchase this skillet, you will be happy.
We have to remember the Chinese know how to make a decent cooking pot, and needless to say, they have a knowledge of casting iron that dates back thousands of years.
Seasoned with soy
The Utopia pan comes with a soy oil factory seasoning. I much prefer this seasoning to the more expensive and popular flaxseed on the Victoria.
But this my personal preference. While a soy oil seasoning has a dull appearance compared to flaxseed. I think it has better nonstick properties and is less prone to flaking.
Cheekily inspired from an American classic
This design is very similar that that of Lodge skillets and is another pan that you can’t go wrong with.
Table: Best budget friendly skillet for families (Utopia cast iron skillet)
|Utopia 12.5 inch cast-iron skillet|
Place of manufacture
The Utopia 12.5 skillet is a monster, and weights in at a healthy 8 pounds.
Just slightly heavier than the Lodge 12 inch skillet.
But it gives you a larger cooking surface.
This is an ideal pan if you want a low cost option to cook for the entire family.
Utopia are not specialists in manufacturing ironware and outsource manufacturing to a third party.
So inspecting each piece for defects may be limited. The surface of the pan is a lot rougher than premium cast-iron skillets.
Go for the Upotia if you want one pan to cook for your family.
It’s heavy but the larger size may reduce the need to cook in batches.
If you don’t really need the extra cooking surface go for the Lodge or Victoria skillet.
Buy on Amazon
If you are looking for a larger cast iron skillet at a low price then it’s hard to look past the Utopia.
Click the affiliate link to read the current reviews on Amazon.
You don’t need to pay top dollar for a fine cast-iron skillet
These three cast iron skillets are tops picks in my book for budget-friendly options and great beginner-friendly pans. And any of them should offer you the opportunity to cook the food you love with gusto, all for a comparatively low price.
However, there are other options available. And I would be doing you a disservice if we did not mention other popular choices and heavy hitters in the cast iron industry.
Le Creuset (11.75-inch cast iron skillet)
The Le Creuset Signature cast-iron skillet is a thing of beauty. And you can choose you can favorite colors, including cerise, Marseille, flame, meringue, and more. And just listing the colors is enough to make you hungry.
Le Creuset makes outstanding enameled frying pans
Le Creuset is well known for producing some of the most popular and desirable enameled cast iron cookware. And they have done so for nearly a century. If you have the cash, it is hard to imagine a better way to spend it. Le Creuset is a real joy to use.
The pan also comes with what is known as a loop helper handle, which makes it easier to carry, even while you carefully move it about while wearing oven mitts.
Also, it is one of the few dishwasher safe options. And because of the enamel surface both on the outside and in the pan, cooking in it is easy.
You do not need an expensive pan. But if you want to treat yourself, it’s a real beauty
From the very first time you use it, you will love it. However, the price makes many people immediately skeptical of the need for a product so expensive. Especially when cheaper options are abound everywhere.
And while I love Le Creuset cast-iron, please do not overextend yourself financially for a frying-pan. Those cheap options will cook eggs just as well.
But if your budget can stretch, there are few pans better than Le Creuset. They enamel their cookware with three layers of glaze, so it less likely to chip in larger pieces like lower-cost options. And I believe they make some wonderful enameled cast-iron on.
Due to their expertise, Le Creuset skillets are lighter in weight than many other manufacturers. Let’s face it, some cast-iron skillets are simply too heavy and burdensome to cook with.
These skillets are equally balanced in beauty and practicality. So you will not need to hide your skillet away and only bring it out for special occasions. These pans are made to be used.
Staub (10-inch cast iron skillet)
The Staub cast iron skillet is sometimes discounted online. It is a good idea to keep an eye open for these bargains. I love my Staub cookware, and it seems those who have a bit of experience using cast-iron also love the brand.
Cast-iron enthusiasts eagerly want Staub cookware in our collections
Yes, many cast-iron enthusiasts swear by Staub. Truth be told, the Staub frying pan is expensive. But the cookware has superb enameling and is safe for temperatures up to 500 degrees. It is also dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. But I still recommend hand washing to preserve the enameling.
There are a few options with colorful handles and sides. However, I still prefer the matte black as it fits in well with my traditional cast-iron. Although the graphite grey is a tremendously popular color.
Staub is equal in quality to Le Creuset, but the cookware tends to be heavier when comparing size
Table: Comparing skillets from Le Creuset and Staub
|Le Creuset 10.25 inch skillet||Staub 10 inch skillet|
Place of manufacture
13 x 14.8 x 3 inches
18.98 x 10.43 x 2.01 inches
Recognized as one of the best cast-iron brands
Highly regarded by experienced cast-iron users and professionals
The Le Creuset is lighter than the Staub and has brilliant enameling.
It also has a larger handle helper making the skillet easy to carry with two hands
The Staub is smaller but approximately the same weight as the Le Creuset.
However, it is a favorite with cast-iron users.
The Staub is more rough and tumble compared to the Le Creuset and can handle any task thrown to it.
|Purchase from Amazon||Here’s a link to Amazon (Affiliate link) for the ever popular enameled skillet.||Dare to be different and purchase the Staub. If you’re interested here’s the link to Amazon (affiliate link).|
Landhaus (12.5-inch cast iron skillet)
The Landhaus is a very fancy looking skillet indeed. And going by comments and reviews, this skillet is loved by many. Sadly there are currently only two color options. But the pan but is shallower than its competitors, which reduces the weight. And this is a key benefit for a larger sized skillet.
Reduced color choice but also reduced price. An outstanding mid-priced pan
The Landhaus skillet currently comes in only two colors available. But the larger skillet is a popular choice if you are looking for an enameled pan without the cost of a luxury pan.
This may seem like an easy choice, but often mid-range is harder to push the buy button. After all, you could purchase a cheaper skillet. Or pay a little more and go for one of the premium brands.
But I recommend not to get carried away. If you like this skillet, go for it. You will definitely be able to cook up a storm, and more importantly it won’t break the bank.
Table: Landhaus enameled skillet
|Landhaus 12.5 inch skillet|
Place of Manufacture
The Landhaus has a large cooking surface and is lighter than comparable sized pans
The enameling is understandably lower quality compared to high-end brands
This is a great choice for those new to cooking on enameled cast-iron.
Because if the large cooking surface and mid-range price, I think it’s great choice as a family pan.
Buy on Amazon
Are you are looking for an enameled pan without the weight and cost of other brands?
Then the Landhaus could be just for you. To check out the pricing on Amazon (affiliate link).
Iwachu frying pan
Iwachu is a Japanese company that creates incredibly streamlined products. If you are looking for something a little different check out these beautiful yet practical skillets.
The company make a wide range of cookware including grills, sukiyaki pans and of course skillets. Iwachu ironware tends to be on the heavy side. But if you decide to purchase one of their pans you won’t be disappointed. I’m going to suggest a little skillet designed to make omelettes. The sides are sloped, and the pan is incredibly stylish. It has a real wow factor. But like a lot of Japanese cast iron the cooking surface is not as smooth as other manufacturers.
Is a pebbly surface bad? Nope
However, as a result of Japanese tradition, the skillet is more pebbled than others, which means it might take a little more time and effort to season. But food will still release easily and clean up will be a breeze.
The benefit of Nanbu Tekki is rust prevention
But one of the main benefits of Japanese ironware is that it goes through a second firing after casting. Ironware is put into a kiln, and air is forced into the iron. This oxidation process is a highly effective rust prevention measure.
Iwachu is one of the biggest Japanese cast iron manufacturers and is one is the most well respected. I have visited the factory and shop several times and familiar with their products. And I can tell you, they make good ironware.
If you want to learn more about Iwachu, then check out another interesting article.
Table: Comparing the Iwachu Omelette pan with the Iwachu skillet
|Iwachu Omelette Pan||Iwachu cast iron skillet (medium)|
14.5 x 8.38 x 1.75 inches
16.25 x 9.5 x 2.13 inches
Polymerized vegetable oil
Polymerized vegetable oil
Sloping sides to tilt the pan and make folding omelettes easier
This is pan is made in the famous region for cast-iron manufacturing in Japan.
This style of ironware is called Nambu Tekki.
Nambu Tekki undergoes a process of oxidation.
This make the iron more resistant to rusting.
Buy on Amazon
Have you seen a cast-iron pan designed to cook omelettes
Check it out on Amazon (affiliate link).
Are you looking for a Japanese cast iron skillet?
Then see if this pan is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
Incredible skillets for experienced cast-iron users
Field Company (11 5/8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet)
The Field Company skillet is pricey but beautiful. It is lightweight, smooth, and durable. Although it is on the expensive side, it comes pre-seasoned with grape-seed oil. Making it close to nonstick as soon as you start using it.
However, none of the Field Company pans include easy-pour spouts on their sides. I am sure it is easy to pour out grease from the pan, but I would still prefer to see pouring spouts on a skillet.
To learn more about the Field Company please visit their website.
Butter Pat Industries (12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet)
Also known as the Joan, the Butter Pat Industries skillet is the most expensive of those listed here.
While I understand it takes quite a lot of time to produce the skillet, the price is a hard sell to those unfamiliar with cast-iron.
The Butter Pat is on my shopping list as a future purchase. The skillets are stunning. And If you like the smooth finish of vintage ironware, then the Butter Pat could be for you.
If you want to see some of the finest skillet on the market check out Butter Pat Industries.
Griswold cast iron
If you enjoy vintage cookware, you might want to look into a Griswold. These are often sold on eBay by collectors, so don’t expect a cheap option. If you’re buying online expect to pay internet prices. Yes, these vintage pieces can command a high price. Some even leave Le Creuset prices in their wake.
But collecting and using ironware is highly satisfying. And the cooking surface of these old pans are super smooth.
I’d recommend visiting a few sites that know about vintage ironware before purchasing.
As with any antique, it’s easy to make a few mistakes when looking for your first piece. And prices and collectibility varies greatly.
If you are enjoying this article, you might find my article on Griswold logos and dates informative. Just click the link to learn more.
Another old manufacturer that made lightweight and smooth ironware is Wagner Manufacturing. Ironware from Wagner can be a little cheaper when comparing to Griswold. But don’t me wrong, pans from this company can also command high selling prices online.
Like other vintage items, it’s best to keep an eye out at garage sales and charity shops. Often you will find pieces that might be a collector’s item at a much lower price.
So what Wagner skillets should you be looking for? Well, you can start here with one of my articles. I researched carefully, to give you an idea on the different pans available.
Best for camping: Lodge
Lodge has several options for camping cookware, as well as lids that can turn your skillet into a Dutch oven lickety-split.
If you’re someone who camps out a lot and you’re dying to lie out under the stars while smelling your food cooking over an open fire, Lodge skillets are probably the best option. They’re durable, affordable, and built specifically for that outdoor life.
Because of the history of Lodge, I really have a soft spot for their cookware. Usually, I recommend sizing up when buying a skillet. But to reduce weight, I recommend the ever-popular 10-1/4 inch skillet.
If you are in the scouts or regularly cook outside, then go for a Lodge. Their pans are thick enough to handle high heat. But are less prone to warp over flame compared to other skillets.
Best for first-time users or non-chefs: Victoria
If you are looking for your first cast-iron skillet, then the Victoria skillet is a great choice.
The frying pan does not require a lot of maintenance, and it should be ready for use as soon as you take it out of the box.
It’s also one of the cheapest options, and while I think that is great, you may one day decide you want to upgrade to another more expensive skillet. If so, you will not have spent too much on your original Victoria. And if cast-iron cooking is not right for you, it is better not to outlay a large sum in your original purchase.
Both Lodge and Victoria fit into this category, and I think you can not go wrong with either one.
Where to buy your cast iron skillet?
You can buy a cast-iron skillet anywhere, from Target, Walmart, and other home goods stores, to high-end kitchen retail stores. In many cases, you can also buy your product straight from the manufacturer. This is a fantastic option, especially if you are looking for a warranty or extra items thrown in.
I would recommend you buying your product from the manufacturer if you can. And of course, there is always online shopping.
Always keep a lookout for discounts, as the prices of these products can change on a dime.
One more thing…
Remember that cast iron skillets are a low-tech item. This means, for the most part, any skillet manufactured by any company will work and provide you with similar benefits of cast iron.
It’s common for more high-tech appliances to have wider differences between brands. I did, however, focus on the nuances and slight differences from product to product. Still, no matter whom you buy from, getting a cast iron skillet is going to be a smart decision.
I personally like Lodge and Victoria because they are functional, budget-friendly, and durable. But I think you cannot go wrong with any options mentioned above.