Thousands of home cooks agree these skillets are the best of the best.

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Buttery Cast-Iron Shrimp with Winter Salad
Credit: Johnny Miller

A cast iron pan is an essential piece of equipment for any cook. It not only transitions from grill to stovetop to oven with ease, but it's versatile enough to sear steaks and seafood or bake fluffy frittatas and cakes. What's more, the durable material improves over time, forming a natural nonstick seasoning that's even better than chemical coatings. Cast iron is practically indestructible, so long as you know how to clean and handle it

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. To help you find the best cast iron skillet for your needs, we turned to reviews from real customers who have purchased and tried these pans for themselves. What we found were 10 skillets so beloved, customers couldn't stop raving about them. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly buy or are ready to invest in the next family heirloom, these best-selling pans all have near-perfect ratings and enthusiastic reviews describing why they're so great—so you can trust they belong in your kitchen. 

Here are the eight best cast iron skillets, according to customer reviews:

Keep reading to learn more about what to look for when selecting a cast iron skillet and to shop the high-performance pans customers love the most.

How can you tell if a cast iron skillet is good?

Cast iron heats slowly, but thoroughly, staying hot far longer than stainless steel pans. They also can withstand the high temperatures of an oven or grill, making them great kitchen workhorses. Here are a couple of things to look for:

A Seasoned Surface

All regular cast iron pans require periodic seasoning to develop a nonstick coating; to season, coat the inside of the pan with oil and heat it in the oven for an hour. The more a skillet is used and seasoned, the less food will stick, so cookware connoisseurs seek out vintage pans. Today, many new cast iron skillets are pre-seasoned at the factory.

Helper Handles

Because cast iron skillets are heavy, their handles are usually short so the pan is easier to pick up. Some styles have a second U-shaped helper handle that allows the cook to lift the skillet with two hands.

Caring for cast iron

Keeping your cast iron clean is probably the most important step in maintaining its longevity. Never soak your skillet, and use soap sparingly. It's best to scrub your dirty cast iron solely with a brush or abrasive sponge and hot water while the pan is still warm. (Many pros swear by chain mail scrubbers, which remove stuck or charred-on food without damaging the seasoning.) To prevent rust, set the skillet over a burner on low heat so water can evaporate, then wipe the interior with a few drops of vegetable oil.

If you accidentally strip off your pan's seasoning, don't fret. You can re-season a cast iron skillet by coating the pan, inside and out, with a thin layer of neutral oil, like vegetable oil. Then, put it in an oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for up to four hours. Make sure you reapply oil every time you wash to rebuild that precious coating!

Now, here are our picks.

Best Overall: Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Lodge is a giant in the cast iron world, and for good reason. Founded in 1896 by Joseph Lodge in Tennessee, the company has gained a dedicated following over the decades because of its quality but affordable cast iron cookware. Today, it still produces American-made cast iron skillets in nearly every size you can imagine, from extra small for personal cookie skillets to large 15-inch pans for crowd-pleasing casseroles. For most cooks, the company's standard 12-inch skillet is the everyday essential guaranteed to become a family heirloom.

Big enough to roast a whole chicken or sear multiple steaks at once, it features both an assist handle and a silicone holder that protects from heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes pre-seasoned for a natural, easy release (although seasoning it wouldn't hurt). Lodge's popular pans are Amazon best-sellers, earning more than 75,000 five-star ratings. Users praise the cookware's heat distribution, versatility, and durability. 

"The Lodge pan is solid and heavy," a user wrote. "It cleans up super easily. After a few uses, it has proven to be just about as non-stick as any of my non-stick pans, but cooks better, more evenly, browns nicely, and cleanup is a breeze."

Another added, "Can see why this skillet could be passed down for generations. It is heavy cast iron that is very versatile as it can be used in ovens, stove tops, outdoors, grills (or just open campfire), and high heat temps."

To buy: $44 at amazon.com

Best Enameled: Staub 10-Inch Frying Pan

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Zwilling

There are two varieties of cast iron skillets: regular and enameled. While traditional cast iron skillets build up a nonstick seasoning over time, the enameled kind is more stick-resistant out of the box. Plus, it won't react with acidic ingredients like tomatoes, which can make food taste metallic. 

For top-notch enameled cast iron, check out Staub. Made in Alsace, France, the cookware company's renowned fry pans don't need any extra seasoning and hold their heat for hours. They're also designed with a unique matte black interior that's excellent for searing and browning, yet is still a breeze to clean up. The skillets feature low, curved sides that make it easier to flip food and two spouts for drip-free pouring, and they are oven-safe up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Best of all, that beautiful enamel finish won't discolor, rust, or chip, and the pan easily transitions from oven to tabletop. 

Reviewers on the manufacturer's site gush over the pan's beauty and performance, saying it is an heirloom that will last generations. "The enamel coating keeps me from having to season and makes it much easier to clean," one wrote. "The matte texture gives me the browning and all the cooking benefits I expect in cast iron cookware. The color exterior is a fun bonus for me."

To buy: $175 (originally $250) at zwilling.com

Best High-End Pick: Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Few brands inspire loyalty and excitement quite like Le Creuset. The French company is celebrated for its ultra high-quality cast iron, and its enameled cast iron pans are no exception. Cast individually in sand molds and hand-inspected by experts, the skillets feature a black enamel interior that needs no additional seasoning. What's more, the enameled cast iron also provides superior heat retention compared to other nonstick skillets and is dishwasher-safe for simpler cleanup. Le Creuset's skillets also feature a large loop helper handle for easy lifting (even with oven mitts!), as well as spouts on two sides for drip-free pouring. Choose from a wide variety of colors, including vibrant cherry and chic oyster.

Professionals and home cooks both swear by their Le Creuset skillets. It boasts hundreds of five-star ratings on Amazon, with users praising the tool for its versatility and durability and saying it's worth the investment. "These pans are expensive, but they literally last forever," a user said. "They cook evenly, they are solid, heavy, and I am slowly purchasing a whole set of them."

A second wrote, "I've made the best steaks, meatballs, and eggs of my life on this pan. And cleanup is ridiculously easy! Consider me a convert. Never using anything else."

To buy: from $180 at amazon.com

Best Value: Milo Ultimate Skillet

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Kana

With direct-to-retailer brand Milo, you get the quality of versatile enameled cookware at a fraction of the cost you see from traditional makers. Its Ultimate Skillet is coated with a glassy finish and can handle temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. And like other enameled skillets, Milo pans are compatible with glass and induction cooktops. 

You'll find tons of happy customers who've left reviews on the company's site, including one who said, "It's heavy and solid like you would expect from Staub or Le Creuset but it doesn't cost $250+."

Another added, "I purchased this to replace a much more expensive pan which finally gave up the ghost after 35+ years. The first amazing thing is I paid less than 35 years ago and second it is a product of equal quality. Definitely a bargain and I will buy additional items."

To buy: $95 at kanalifestyle.com

Best Budget-Friendly: Utopia Kitchen 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

One of the best features of cast iron cookware is its affordability. And while quality skillets can cost less than $50, true bargain hunters will want to check out this set from Utopia Kitchen. The three-pan collection costs just $40—that's just over $13 each for 10-inch, 8-inch, and 6-inch pans that come pre-seasoned from the factory. They all boast easy-grip handles and dual pour spouts to drain grease, too.

More than 4,200 Amazon shoppers have given the Utopia Kitchen set a perfect rating, saying the pans are reliable, versatile, and an excellent value. "The sizes cover everything I'm cooking," a reviewer said. "They are substantial in weight, but not super heavy. Exactly what I hoped they would be."

To buy: $32 (originally $40) at amazon.com

Best Vintage-Inspired Skillet: Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Smithey Ironware

Cast iron cookware really can last for generations, and, consequently, there's a reverence for vintage pieces. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Smithey Ironware began with founder Issac Morton's passion for restoring rusty old cookware to its former 19th-century glory. After years of developing his expertise, he decided to create a new line of cast iron cookware that combined those classic techniques with modern technology. The result is a beautiful pan made with heavy-gauge iron and an expertly polished, nonstick surface. Its three-finger handle is easy to grasp, and it features holes on both sides for hanging.

The skillets have an avid fan base, with hundreds commenting on Instagram posts showing what goes on behind the scenes at the company. "Had the absolute pleasure of cooking in these gorgeous pieces of art work this past week at a client's home and I can't say enough positive things about your product!" one shopper wrote. "I used all three sizes and loved them! Can't wait for you to add to your product line!"

To buy: $160 at smithey.com

Best for Beginners: FINEX 10-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

For new cooks looking to get a handle on cast iron pans, the 10-inch Finex is a great start. Its unique octagonal shape makes for easier pouring or removing your masterpieces with a spatula, while its spiraled stainless steel handle remains cool to the touch. Like other skillets, it's pre-seasoned, but it also has a machine-smoothed surface for easy release. And if you like baking, it has an extra-thick base for stellar heat distribution. 

"The interior base of the pan is very smooth, and did not need to be 'broken in' as my Lodge pans did," a Williams Sonoma customer wrote. "The first thing we made in the pan was cornbread. The heavy pan made an even brown color to the bottom and sides of the bread. The octagonal shape did not change how the bread baked. We then cooked breaded pork chops (on a gas stove), and found that the octagonal lid had a unique advantage in that if it is turned, it vents moisture through the openings, preventing spatter, but not steaming the chops."

To buy: $128 (originally $160) at williams-sonoma.com

Best for Camping: Field Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Field Company

Every morning should start with eggs and bacon, even if you're in the great outdoors. Thankfully, cast iron cookware is durable enough to handle the open flames of a campfire, making it an indispensable tool while camping. And for a skillet that won't weigh you down, go for Field's cast iron. Its 8-inch pan is big enough to fit four fried eggs or two New York strip steaks, but only weighs 4.5 pounds.

More than 2,000 reviewers have rated Field skillets five stars on the company's website, saying they're ultra-smooth and modern heirlooms. "This pan has the very smooth interior finish similar to the old collector pans made by Griswold," said one customer. "The Field pan is lighter and a delight to hold. We are just starting to use it but I anticipate that it will only get better. This pan is the ONLY currently made pan I would say is in the league with the hard to find vintage pans of 60 to 80 years past. And again, these are lighter. More Field pans will become my presents to the younger generation in my family and those of my dear friends."

To buy: $125 at fieldcompany.com

Best for Frying: Lodge Cast Iron Covered Deep Skillet

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

If you're craving fried chicken or homemade potato chips, consider this option from Lodge your perfect skillet. It's deep enough to safely hold bubbling oil and includes a lid to retain moisture. Plus, cast iron gets and stays hotter than other materials, which translates into the crispiest, golden crust you've ever cooked.

Amazon shoppers call the skillet an incredibly durable multitasker, leaving it an impressive 4.8-star rating. "If you can only have one piece of cast iron in your kitchen, this would be the one," a user said. "It can do duty as a skillet, soup pot, Dutch oven, baking pan, and flipped over works as a griddle. I have made soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, roasts, bacon and eggs, [omelets], cherry and peach cobbler, hotcakes, pineapple upside down cake and, of course, fried chicken in this fryer. I have a lot of cast iron cookware, but this one is the most versatile and probably the most used."

To buy: $72 at amazon.com

Best for Grilling: Lodge 10.5-Inch Square Cast Iron Grill Pan

cast iron pans
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

You don't need to go outside to grill. Just grab this cast iron pan from Lodge and you're on your way to a juicy charred burger or gorgeous steaks. You can use it on any cooktop, including induction, and its high sides will protect you (and your countertops) from splatters. What's more, it is designed with high ridges to leave those beautiful grill marks on your food.

More than 13,200 Amazon customers have given the square pan a five-star rating, praising its heavy-duty design and heat distribution. "What's not to love? It's built to last," a reviewer said. "It creates perfect grill marks on my food. The square-ish shape nicely accommodates two decent size steaks."

To buy: $20 at amazon.com