Cast iron skillets are unmatched by other cookware. Their durability and even heat distribution make them a must-have tool for pro chefs and home cooks alike. Here’s how to choose the right cast iron pieces for your kitchen.
Iron Skillet Qualities
Cast iron fry pans and flat cast iron skillets are among the most versatile cookware. Use them for baking, braising, broiling, searing, sautéing, grilling and frying all types of food. They’re versatile enough to be used with all heat sources: oven, grill, campfire and stovetop (including induction). They’re durable enough to last for generations. And some models even lend themselves to cooking healthier:
Skillets with a ribbed cooking surface allow the fat to drain from the meat.
Choosing the Right Iron Skillet
Choose a skillet that will fit your cooking style and handle your favorite dishes. Consider the following features when making your selection:
• Size. Small cast iron skillets are 6 to 8 inches in diameter while large cast iron skillets measure 10 to 12 inches. It’s best to have multiple sizes on hand so you can cook various dishes at once.
• Pre-seasoned. Iron can rust and should be “seasoned” regularly. Seasoning a cast iron skillet requires that you rub it with cooking oil and briefly heat it. Pre-seasoned skillets are more convenient. They have a non-stick surface right out of the box. Care instructions differ between products, so follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cast iron skillet care.
• Handles and Lids. Two-handle cast iron skillets come with small helper handles to allow you to lift the pan with both hands, since iron tends to be quite heavy. Removable silicone cast iron skillet handle covers protect your hands from burns. Look for pouring lips on both sides of the pan to pour sauces and gravy. A cast iron frying pan with a lid will enable you to stew, braise or keep finished dishes hot.
• Color. Enameled cast iron skillets with lids are available in a wide variety of colors, to complement every kitchen decor. Choose red, green or blue for a modern twist on a timeless classic.
Keep in mind that iron skillets can also save on dishes: You can move them from the stovetop to the oven to the table.