The Best Cast Iron Pans Guaranteed to Last a Lifetime
A cast iron pan is an essential piece of equipment for any cook. It easily transitions from grill to stovetop to oven, and the durable material improves over time, forming a natural nonstick seasoning that gets better with age.
There are many different shapes, styles, and strengths of cast iron skillets, so it can be hard to decide which one is worth adding to your kitchen. We spoke to Jerome Grant, executive chef at the Dacha Restaurant Group about what to look for in a cast iron pan and how to select the best one for you.
"If you intend on grilling, get a grill pan so that you get nice sear marks," he said. "If aesthetics and color matter, an enameled cast iron makes a wonderful accent piece—but keep in mind you can't use enameled ware on an open fire," he added. "If you're unsure, start off with a simple skillet to meet all of your basic frying, searing, and roasting needs."
Beyond the type of pan, we specifically screened for smart design (including well-positioned handles, steep sides, and large pour spouts), maneuverability, and even heating, tapping into our own experience and consulting experts when making this list. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly buy or are ready to invest in the next family heirloom, we rounded up the best cast iron pans you can buy online.
- Best Overall: Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
- Best Enameled: Staub 10-Inch Frying Pan
- Best High-End: Le Creuset Signature Skillet
- Best Value: Utopia Kitchen 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set
- Best Design: Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet
- Best for Frying: Lodge Cast Iron Covered Deep Skillet
- Best for Grilling: Lodge 10.5-Inch Square Cast Iron Grill Pan
Best Overall: Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Best Enameled: Staub 10-Inch Frying Pan
Best High-End: Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle
Best Value: Utopia Kitchen 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set
Best Design: Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet
Best for Frying: Lodge Cast Iron Covered Deep Skillet
Best for Grilling: Lodge 10.5-Inch Square Cast Iron Grill Pan
Cast iron pans should be well-designed, reasonably maneuverable, and heat evenly—but it doesn't have to be expensive to last a lifetime. Lodge's 12-inch pan (view at Amazon) is a classic example of quality cast iron at a reasonable price. It's large and heavy-duty while simultaneously easy to manage and maintain. If you care for it correctly, this fuss-free pan is a reliable workhorse that can easily tackle a number of tasks in the kitchen.
For this piece, our editors weighed their experience cooking with and caring for cast iron pans with market research and competitor analysis. We also consulted James Beard-nominated chef Jerome Grant, the executive chef at Dacha Restaurant Group.