Maintains heat well
No need for seasoning
Pouring spouts for easy emptying
Relatively short sides
Le Creuset may be most known for its enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, but the company makes much more than that, including cast iron frying pans. I recently tested out the 11 3/4-inch Le Creuset Signature Skillet, which also comes in a 6 1/3-inch, 9-inch, and 10 1/4-inch diameter sizes. I used it to sear a few steaks, create a pasta sauce, and make a tasty pizza. Not only did I try it on normal skillet tasks, but I also tested its versatility by baking some croissants. Read on to see how it performed.
Design: Built to work hard
It was difficult not to fall in love with this skillet at first glance. Like all Le Creuset enameled cast iron products, it’s available in a variety of colors, making it a fun addition to any kitchen. The 11 3/4-inch size I tested was large, with a standard handle and a helper handle.
Because the standard handle was short, my hand was close to the body of the skillet as I lifted, which is not my normal grip position. After using the pan repeatedly, I realized that if it had a longer handle, I still would have needed to hold it close to the body because of the weight—this is a lot of cast iron, and it’s not a lightweight pan. I really appreciated the helper handle when I needed to carry or empty the skillet, making the task feel safe and secure. It’s a large loop, so it’s easy to grab, but of course, both handles are hot if the skillet is hot.
It was difficult not to fall in love with this skillet at first glance.
I tried hard to find things this skillet couldn’t do, and I failed spectacularly since it did everything I asked of it. The pan has spouts to the left and right that make for easy pouring, and the sides are relatively low. At first, I disliked the low sides, but after some thought, I realized that if they were any higher, it might have pushed this pan across the “too heavy” line. I also loved the large cooking surface and wouldn’t want to trade it for higher sides.
The low sides were particularly great when I was sliding a finished pizza out of the pan and onto my cutting board. When I cooked a sauce in the pan, then added pasta, however, it was a snug fit. I got my pound of cooked pasta into the pan, but I had to stir carefully to ensure I wasn’t throwing pasta all over the stove.
Material: Enameled cast iron
This pan is made from cast iron with an enamel coating inside and out. The interior of the skillet is black and not completely smooth, making it look a little like raw cast iron, but it’s actually a very sturdy coating that keeps the cast iron safe from rusting, and it means that this pan will never need seasoning.
I tried hard to find things this skillet couldn’t do, and I failed spectacularly since it did everything I asked of it.
While this pan has eliminated the need for seasoning, it still has the other downside of cast iron—the weight. While that weight is a benefit when cooking, if the cook has weak hands or poor grip strength, it might be safer to let a helper move the pan, particularly when it’s full of food.
Heating Capacity: Heats slowly and stays hot
Compared to other cookware, this pan took longer to heat up, but once it was heated it retained that heat well, and the entire cooking surface of the pan was evenly hot. That heat retention is great when searing steaks since the pan stays hot rather than suddenly cooling.
The heat retention was also great for keeping food warm, whether it was waiting on the stove, or whether I decided to serve directly from the pan at the table. Because the pan stays hot, a trivet on the table—or even a large wooden cutting board—makes sense to protect the tabletop. The pan might be too heavy to pass at the table, but if that’s the plan, oven mitts or potholders are a good idea.
That heat retention is great when searing steaks since the pan stays hot rather than suddenly cooling.
Cleaning: Dishwasher is allowed
Le Creuset says the pan is dishwasher-safe, but it’s large and heavy and not a great fit for my dishwasher configuration once I had other items loaded in. The good news is that I found it easy to clean by hand, requiring nothing more than a sponge scrubber. Most foods left little residue behind. Even when I cooked a pizza in it with no cornmeal under it, the pizza came out of the pan with almost nothing left in the pan aside from a few errant bits of cheese.
Since this skillet is enamel-coated, it’s also safe to soak it in water if food is stuck a little too aggressively.
Price: Expensive, for good reason
Compared to raw cast iron pans, this one is very expensive, starting at $120 for a 6 ⅓-inch skillet and increasing to $150 for a 9-inch skillet, $170 for the 10 1/4-inch pan, and $200 for the 11 3/4-inch option. However, it’s right in the ballpark for high-quality enamel-coated cookware or for other high-quality pots and pans.
While enamel can chip, Le Creuset has a great reputation as well as a lifetime warranty. We personally know some cooks own Le Creuset Dutch ovens that their mom or grandmother used before them. I’ve found that the cream-colored enameled interiors used on some enameled pieces can stain, but I have owned other enameled pieces with the same black interior as this pan, and they show no signs of damage or discoloration, despite hard use.
Le Creuset Signature Skillet vs. Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet
I’ve had Lodge skillets knocking around in my kitchen for decades, acquiring seasoning and becoming beautifully nonstick, so I felt that the 12-inch Lodge skillet was a worthy competitor for the Le Creuset I reviewed.
These two skillets are about the same size, and both have a standard handle and a helper handle. But that’s about all they have in common. The Lodge pan is made from raw cast iron that is pre-seasoned so it can be used right away, but I never really love my raw cast iron cookware until it’s completely seasoned, and that can take a little time.
On the other hand, the Le Creuset never needs seasoning or special care, and it’s even dishwasher-safe. It’s also completely non-reactive, so it can be used for simmering or reducing acidic sauces without worrying about the food getting a metallic taste. However, one of the biggest differences is the price. While the Lodge is very inexpensive, the Le Creuset will definitely make a dent in your wallet. Honestly, I love both for different reasons, and I’m perfectly happy to have both available when I need them.
- Product Name Signature Skillet
- Product Brand Le Creuset
- UPC LS2024-3059
- Color Hibiscus (pink), Caribbean (blue), cherry, flame, marine (blue), Marseille (blue), oyster (gray), truffle (brown), and white; all have a black interior
- Material Enamel-coated cast iron
- Price From $120
- Warranty Limited lifetime