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Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Lodge 10.25-inch Skillet at Amazon
“Made in the USA, yet they’re just as affordable as pans made overseas.”
Runner Up, Best Overall: T-fal Pre-Seasoned Nonstick Skillet at Amazon
“Includes step-by-step seasoning instructions for folks who are new to cast iron ownership.”
Best Budget: VonShef Pre-Seasoned 3-Piece Set at Amazon
“Makes cast iron cooking even less expensive.”
Best High-End: Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet at Amazon
“Resistant to staining and dulling and the exterior matches other Le Creuset cookware.”
Best Compact: Lodge Miniature Skillet at Amazon
“Great for heating up dips, melting butter, heating small amounts of sauces, or for serving small snacks."
Best Grill Pan: Tramontina Gourmet Enameled Grill Pan at Walmart
“Can do almost everything a flat pan does, but with a little more style.”
Best Deep Skillet: Lodge 3.2 Quart Covered Skillet at Target
“Ideal for simmering soups, reducing sauces, or cooking casseroles on the stove or in the oven.”
01 of 07
Best Overall: T-fal Pre-Seasoned Nonstick Durable Cast Iron Skillet
This 12-inch cast iron pan has an extra-long handle with a thumb rest that makes it easy to hold. It also has a helper handle that makes it easy to move, even when it’s full. Pouring spouts make it easy to empty the pan without making a mess.
The pan comes pre-seasoned, so you can start cooking right away, but it will get better with additional seasoning and use. It includes step-by-step seasoning instructions for folks who are new to cast iron ownership. The pan is oven safe to 600 degrees and can be used on any cooktop, including induction. You can also use it on a grill or campfire.
02 of 07
Runner Up, Best Overall: Lodge 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet
One of the big selling points of Lodge cast iron pans is that they’re made in the USA, yet they’re just as affordable as pans made overseas. This 10 1/4 inch skillet is pre-seasoned, so you can use it as soon as you buy it, but additional seasoning makes it even more nonstick.
The long handle has a hole for hanging, if you have a hook that’s sturdy enough to hold the weight. A helper handle on the opposite side makes it easier to move, carry, or pour from the skillet, or you could hang the pan from the helper handle, as well. This pan does not have pouring spouts on the sides.
03 of 07
Best Budget: VonShef Black Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 3-Piece Skillet Set
Cast iron cookware is typically very affordable, but this set makes cast iron cooking even less expensive since it includes three pans in three very useful sizes — 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10 inch.
The pans are pre-seasoned so you can start cooking with them right away, but additional seasoning makes them even better. Even better, they can be used on any type of cooktop. The long handles have a hole so you can hang them from a hook, if desired. They do not have helper handles, but they do have pouring spouts on both sides of the pan.
04 of 07
Best High-End: Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet
Le Creuset is known for its high-end enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, and this 11 3/4 inch skillet is made with the same quality and attention to detail. The black enameled interior is resistant to staining and dulling and the exterior matches other Le Creuset cookware, so you can buy a pan to match or complement your existing cookware.
While the black interior looks much like uncoated cast iron, it never requires seasoning and you can cook any food in it, even highly acidic foods. A newly designed large loop helper handle makes the pan easy to move, even when you’re wearing bulky oven mitts. The long handle has a hole for easy hanging and there are pouring spouts on both sides of the pan. This pan is dishwasher safe and it comes in a wide variety of colors.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best Compact: Lodge Miniature Cast Iron Skillet
Bigger isn’t always better. While you won’t be cooking a chicken in this 3 1/2 inch skillet, it’s perfect for cooking and serving an egg dish for one or for baking individual cookies or brownies. The pan is also great for heating up dips, melting butter, heating small amounts of sauces, or for serving small snacks.
This is made just like the larger pans, so it’s pre-seasoned for cooking as soon as you get it, although it gets better with more seasoning and use. It has a hole in the long handle so you can hang it, and it has two spouts on the sides for easy pouring. There is no helper handle, but this pan is so small, you won’t need one.
06 of 07
Best Grill Pan: Tramontina Gourmet Enameled Cast Iron 11-inch Grill Pan
A grill pan can do almost everything a flat pan does, but with a little more style, since it leaves attractive grill marks on steaks, chops, burgers, fish, vegetables, and even grilled fruit. Meanwhile, fat and juices drain into the wells, so your food won’t steam or simmer, the way it can in a flat pan.
This pan offers excellent heat distribution, and the included grill press ensures that the entire surface of the food touches the pan for even cooking and pretty marks. The interior has a porcelain enameled finish so food won’t stick, and the pan is easy to clean, while the handles make the pan easy to move while cooking.
While you won’t use this to scramble your eggs, your frying pans will see a lot less use once you start using this grill pan.
07 of 07
Best Deep Skillet: Lodge Cast Iron 3.2 Quart Covered Deep Skillet
Everyone loves fried chicken, and this deep skillet makes it easy, while using less oil than a typical deep fryer. The tall sides make it ideal for simmering soups, reducing sauces, or cooking casseroles on the stove or in the oven. It can also be used as a standard skillet, to sear meats, fry burgers, or cook bacon, while containing some of the spatter because of the tall sides.
When not in use on the stove, it can be used in the oven to bake buns, bread, biscuits, cornbread, and more. It can also be used as a roasting pan for poultry or small roasts. The tall sidewalls retain heat for even browning, and the skillet stays hot, to keep finished foods warm. This includes a cover that makes it even more versatile for all your favorite recipes.
This comes pre-seasoned, so it can be used right away, but the nonstick properties improve with additional seasoning and use. This can be used on any cooktop. It should be washed by hand.
How We Tested
Our reviewers spent 13 hours testing one of the top-rated cast iron pans on the market. To get the most thorough results, our testers took to their kitchens and cooked various meats, grains, and veggies to see how the pan performed. We asked our reviewers to consider the most important features when using this cast iron pan, from its size to its special features. We've outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Cast Iron Pan
Size Cast iron pans are heavy — and the larger the pan, the heavier it’ll be. While a bigger pan might sound most appealing, if you’re not cooking for a crowd, a smaller pan will be easier to handle on the stove (and easier to get in and out of storage). If you’re planning on baking in the pan, check your favorite recipes to see what pan size is suggested.
Handles While you’ll certainly be able to lift small and mid-sized cast iron pans using a long handle, it’s much easier to lift, drain, and empty all but the smallest pans if you’ve got a helper handle. Helper handles also prove very useful when you’re moving the pan in and out of the oven.
Special features Small features can make a big difference. While most cast iron pans these days come pre-seasoned, there are also coated pans that make seasoning unnecessary. Enameled exteriors add color to the kitchen, deep pans create less splatter and let you shallow fry like a chef, and pouring spouts make pouring grease from the pan much less messy. Which options make you happy?
Test Results: T-fal Pre-Seasoned Nonstick Durable Cast Iron Skillet (Best Overall)
What We Like
Easy to clean
What We Don't Like
No grip on handle
According to one of our testers, this cast iron pan would be the perfect choice for both beginner and intermediate cooks. “This is a great skillet to have as a first,” she raved. “I've cooked so many meals in it that it's worth buying!” In particular, our reviewers liked that it heated food evenly and that it was easy to clean. In terms of negatives, our testers noted that this pan was heavier than comparable models and that its handle didn’t have a grip (to make lifting easier).