Buying Guide

The Best Cast Iron Skillets for Your Kitchen

Quality Cast-Iron Cookware
A collection of cast-iron skillets.

Not all cast iron is created equal. When picking out the best cast-iron skillet for you, here are a few things that signal high quality:


  • A longer handle, which will make the pan easier to maneuver.
  • Just the right thickness: Overly thick pans can cause hot spots, which will mean uneven cooking. Pans that are too thin, on the other hand, don’t have as good heat retention. 
  • A broad cooking surface with plenty of room for browning is ideal. 
  • Skillets with low, flared sides are easier to work with. A pan with tall, straighter sides works for deep frying. Make sure you preheat your pan well before using it.
Features of the Best Cast-Iron Cookware
A cast-iron skillet on a countertop.

There are also a number of other factors to consider when looking for the best cast iron skillet for your particular needs. These might include:


Size 

Consider what – and how much – you will be cooking regularly. A small pan is good for single servings, but the best cast-iron skillet for a large family might be an extra-large pan. If you’re not sure, opt for a 10-inch or 12-inch pan, which should be big enough to sear two steaks at once.

Shape

A spout on the side of the pan is useful for pouring sauces. You may want a lid for braising or a loop for hanging the pan from a pot rack. With varieties including griddles, Dutch ovens and saucepans available, it’s easy to find the best cast-iron cookware for your kitchen. Select an option with the extras you have in mind. 


Weight

Because of the material it’s made from, the best cast-iron cookware is heavy. Pick up the skillet by the handle with one hand to see if you can comfortably lift it. If not, you may want to look for a lighter pan or a smaller size. For Dutch ovens or bigger skillets with tall sides, try lifting the pan with two hands.

Seasoning

If you aren’t sure how to seal or season your skillet to reduce sticking, opt for one that’s pre-seasoned. Some of the best cast-iron pans are generations old and still have their seasoning. Most modern cast iron skillets are sold pre-seasoned. To learn more about how to season your cast-iron skillet, check out our guide.

Enameled Cast Iron
An enameled cast-iron pan with other cast-iron cookware.

Black cast-iron skillets are traditional but if you prefer colorful pans or don’t want to have to worry about maintaining a pan’s season, enameled cast iron might be a good option. However, quality cast-iron enamel pans can be expensive and the lower-end pans can chip after relatively few uses.

When you invest in the best cast-iron skillet you can afford, you reap the rewards in your cooking. The best cast-iron cookware will stand up to decades of use and get better over time. Read our guide on how to care for your kitchen cast iron and you can keep the sizzle in your skillets for years to come.