A cast iron skillet is an affordable kitchen workhorse that lasts, and many cooks have owned their cast iron skillets for years. When looking for a new cast iron skillet, there are a few things you’ll want to consider: Pre-seasoning, handle length, helper handle, and pour spout.
Pre-seasoning- Cast iron is unique in that the older the pan is, the better it works. A new cast iron pan will feel rough to the touch. An older cast iron pan, that has years of use, will be slick- more like Teflon. Pre-seasoning is a coating from the manufacturer that helps your pan get to that slickness, faster. The more coats, the better.
Handle Length- One advantage of cast iron is that it can go from the stove to the oven and back again without a problem. A short handle gives you better leverage as you are lifting the hot pan. It also fits in your oven better. You’re less likely to burn yourself by accidentally touching longer handles.
Helper handle- This is the shorter handle on the opposite side from the regular handle. This makes it easier to transport whether you’re moving it to the oven or to the table. Cast iron is a heavy pan! So to me, this is an important feature. No one wants to drop dinner on the floor.
Pour Spouts- If you’re pouring drippings or anything out, especially into a smaller opening, this is helpful to keep it where it’s going and not dribble down the outside of the pan. Chances are, you’ll be cooking more than steak in your cast iron pans.
There are so many brands to choose from! These are some top picks for the best skillets for home cooks and any of these will last you a long time.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
A lodge skillet has a shorter handle, pre-seasoning, helper handle, pour spouts, and a great price.
It is the most affordable cast iron cookware with the highest quality. It’s also one of the most light weight and has a pretty smooth surface to begin with, but will become even more smooth with use.
For steak, a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet is the ideal size.
Lodge has been in business since 1896. They are an American company and create products that are durable and easy to use. You can’t go wrong with Lodge!
Stargazer Cast Iron Skillet
The Stargazer 10.5-inch Cast Iron Skillet is easy to use and control. The large helper handle with a wide opening makes the skillet sit nicely in hand, and the curvature makes it easy to use one-handed. The smooth, flat bottom of the pan allowed any stuck-on debris to release quickly with soap and a scrubber. It’s incredibly versatile and recommended for home cooks who want a fancy pan that gets the job done.
The Lodge Blacklock Triple-Seasoned Cast Iron Pan is the brand’s higher-end cast iron skillet. The aesthetics match the traditional Lodge look with an homage to the brand’s roots. The pan is lightweight, and the width and sturdiness of the main handle makes it easy to hold with one hand. Although a helper handle is included with this pan, it’s quite a bit smaller and thinner than other pans. This skillet is at the higher end of the Lodge cast iron price range, but testers still said it is a reliable, lightweight pan that performs well for most cooking tasks.
Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
This Utopia brand comes with a three-piece set and is the least expensive of the brands. They do not have handle covers, but you can buy them separately. The pre-seasoning they come with is soy-based and ready for immediate use.
Care and Maintenance
Once you’ve found the right skillet for you it’s important to look after it and take proper care to maintain it. Rinse – Make sure to rinse your pan well in hot water while it’s still warm. You can use a sponge or brush to gently wash away any leftover stuck on food. If you have stubborn stuck on pieces, boil some water in the pan, that will help loosen it up.
- Dry- Use paper towel or a kitchen towel to dry it immediately. Don’t air dry! Alternatively, you can place the pan over low heat to quickly dry it. Remove it from the heat.
- Oil- pour a drizzle of oil in the pan (you don’t need much!), and use a paper towel to spread it all around the entire surface and up the sides. Let it set for awhile so the oil absorbs before putting it away.
- Store- Lay a paper towel over it before stacking any other pans on top to prevent scratching or the oil transferring over.
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