Lightweight for cast iron
Made in USA
Easy to clean
Only moderately nonstick after seasoning
Pricey leather handle holder of questionable value
With a long legacy of making cast iron (since 1896!) and as the only remaining manufacturer in the United States, Lodge has a reputation to maintain with its Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. Does this top-rated cast iron pan live up to expectations? We cooked and baked in it for several weeks to find out.
Design: Classic, comfortable, and comparatively lightweight
In a word, the design of the Lodge 10.25-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet is classic. The handle is just the right size: long enough to grasp but short enough to provide leverage sufficient for lifting these traditionally heavy pans. The helper handle opposite the main one comes in handy when the pan is full, and the lip underneath it provides a great grip. Both handles have loops for ease of storage if you like to hang your cookware. Two spouts are helpful for pouring out grease (we’re looking at you, bacon fat), and though they’re fairly small (1.25 inches by .25 inch), they get the job done with little to no spillage. The 2-inch-high sides provide enough cover for shallow frying without too much splatter, though a lid would be helpful.
One of the most important considerations for cast iron is its weight. The Lodge 10.25-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet comes in at 5 pounds, while many comparably sized pans are 6 pounds, sometimes more. Weighing a pound less than competitors puts this Lodge skillet in a class of its own, and we’re more likely to reach for this pan time and again. The size itself— just over 10 inches in diameter—makes for a very versatile pan. We found that it was equally adept at searing large steaks on the stovetop as it was at baking cornbread with a crunchy crust and a tender crumb.
The skillet is adorned with Lodge branding—both on the helper handle and on the flipside of the pan. Even though the Lodge website states that cast iron works great on glass cooktops, the fact that the logo and name are cast into the bottom of the skillet makes us wary of using it on a delicate surface for fear of scratching.
This 10.25-inch Lodge skillet comes with a hot handle holder. Choose between red or black silicone or leather (with or without stitching). For the leather holders, Lodge teamed up with Nokona, a baseball glove manufacturer also based in the U.S.
The soft, caramel brown leather holder for our skillet featured whip-stitching. The holder does take some effort to push onto the handle, but once it’s on, the snug fit is reassuring and it does its job well. It’s best to put the holder on before you cook on the stovetop when the pan is still cold. Though heat-resistant, neither the leather nor the silicone holders will survive high heats in the oven. Our leather holder showed some wear and tear, so don’t expect it to stay pristine for very long.
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Material: cast iron surface slightly rough and less nonstick than expected
As its name implies, this skillet is constructed of cast iron, a material known for its durability and ability to hold heat evenly and for a long period of time. The Lodge seems to take a bit longer to heat up than its competitors, but once it does, the pan holds the heat well. For this reason, it’s best to allow your pan to gradually preheat for a good 5-10 minutes—starting at low and working your way up to medium—before adding a slick of oil and getting started. It can be heated up to 600°F, which is higher than most home ovens go, so overheating is unlikely.
Weighing a pound less than competitors puts this Lodge skillet in a class of its own, and we’re more likely to reach for this pan time and again.
The Lodge 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet comes pre-seasoned with highly refined soybean oil (those with soy allergies needn’t worry; all proteins that cause soy-related allergies are eliminated). Pre-seasoning is found in nearly all cast iron pans made over the past decade, but Lodge claims to have been the first to introduce the concept. The company claims that the pan is ready to use right out of the box, but we felt the skillet underperformed when it came to the ultimate test of a nonstick pan: the egg.
To test the strength of the pre-seasoning, we prepared sunny-side-up eggs three times: first on the pan straight out of the box without oil, second on the pan with a thin coating of oil, and finally with a thin coating of oil after we twice seasoned the pan in a 500°F oven for an hour. The results for the Lodge skillet were mixed: Even after seasoning the pan, a very thin layer of egg stuck to the surface but was very easy to clean.
We also baked cornbread in a preheated pan to see how well the skillet retains heat (by the browning achieved) and as a second test of seasoning. The Lodge only developed a light crust by the time the cornbread was ready, and about a third of it stuck to the bottom when released.
The skillet underperformed when it came to the ultimate test of a nonstick pan: the egg.
The Lodge was a tad rougher than other pans we tried, which could account for its keeping a moderate grip on food even after seasoning. Any cast iron pan will become increasingly smooth and more nonstick as it gets seasoned each time you use it. That said, If the texture bothers you, Lodge advises that it is OK to use a fine grade of sandpaper to smooth out the rough areas. Just don’t forget to re-season it before using.
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Cleaning: Handwashing requires minimal effort
After we tested the Lodge’s nonstick ability, we wanted to see how well it cleaned up. Like all cast iron cookware, this skillet cannot go into a dishwasher, so hand-washing is the only option. Some people are wary about owning cast iron since cleaning principles are a little different than what we’re used to—essentially eschewing the use of soap. Allowing the build-up of fats contributes to the nonstick patina that gets better with age. Once you’ve used a pan enough times and it has built up a strong seasoning, all you need to do is wipe off any excess food and you’re good to go.
If you need to put a little elbow grease into it, generously pour in kosher salt and then dislodge any stuck-on food with the coarse grains. Has something burned? If so, you may need to pour some water into the skillet and return it to a medium flame on the stovetop until the water simmers, softening any (for lack of a better word) gunk and removing it from the surface. And if you’re just not comfortable not using soap and water, it’s okay to lather up. The most important rule of cast iron cleaning is that you can’t leave the pan to soak, and you must dry it immediately after washing or it will rust. As it says on the Lodge website, “even a droplet of water sitting in your cast iron pan can leave a rust spot.” But worst case scenario if the pan does develop rust? Scrub it out and re-season.
The Lodge was a tad rougher than other pans we tried, which could account for its keeping a moderate grip on food even after seasoning.
As for this Lodge skillet specifically, we found that a combination of the above worked. Scraping out any remnants of food and adding room temperature water while the pan is still hot did the trick for eggs. And with each use, it became easier to clean. Any remaining egg protein rolled right off with a nudge after sitting in hot water for a minute, and then the pan just needed a quick swipe with a towel (followed by thoroughly drying, of course!).
Price: Well-priced if you skip the leather handle holder
At more than $60, this particular Lodge skillet seems much more expensive than similarly sized competitors. But it turns out that the majority of the cost is derived from the Nokona leather handle holder. Take the holder away, and the skillet can be found in big-box stores for as little as $15, a veritable bargain. The handle holder is nice, but it’s not worth a $40-plus premium.
Lodge 10.25-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet vs. T-fal E83407 Pre-Seasoned Nonstick Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge’s cast iron pre-seasoning can’t compete with T-fal’s, and even though the 10.25-inch skillet (sans handle holder) costs about $10 less than its T-fal counterpart, the discount isn’t worth the additional time required to build up a true nonstick surface. On the other hand, at 5 pounds, the Lodge skillet has a weight advantage; the T-fal weighs upwards of 6 pounds. It’s a close call, but we believe that pre-seasoning wins the day here, and we would buy the T-fal 10.25 over the Lodge even at a $10 premium and an extra pound.
Buy only if you’re willing to season several times.
The Lodge 10.25-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet may be lightweight, versatile, and American-made, but the pan’s pre-seasoning isn’t exactly nonstick. Though a quality item that will last for generations, it will take time to develop the ideal surface.
- Product Name 10.25-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
- Product Brand Lodge
- Price $62
- Weight 5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 15.4 x 3.3 x 10.8 in.
- Material Cast iron
- What’s Included Cast iron skillet, leather handle holder