Fits in toaster oven
Too small for practical use
Lodge, the last remaining manufacturer of cast iron in the United States, carries the largest range of sizes of its signature skillet. There’s the Miniature Cast Iron Skillet, an adorable 3.5 inches in diameter, as well as a 15-inch skillet that could feed a family reunion. We wanted to determine whether the smallest pan performs as well as Lodge’s more frequently used sizes. Is this tiny skillet a versatile virtuoso or does it still have some growing up to do? We investigated for you.
Design: A tiny version of a classic
The Lodge 3.5-Inch Mini Cast Iron Skillet is the smallest of the iconic manufacturer’s line, billed as being perfect for solo meals, frying an egg, or showcasing trendy restaurant-style individual desserts. It shares the classic features of cast iron skillets. It’s heavy for its size, connoting durability and longevity. Cast in one piece, the pan has an integrated handle with a loop for convenient hanging and the Lodge logo on the underside. Plus, it features two mini spouts for easy pouring. Admittedly, when we received it in the mail, we thought it might be a Christmas ornament—it’s that tiny.
We measured the miniature skillet’s volume, and it holds just a half cup of water. Proponents maintain that the size is perfect for preparing a single egg that fits perfectly on an English muffin. Indeed, with bottom and top surfaces measuring 3 inches and 3.5 inches, respectively, an egg fried in this pan would fit nicely between two fork-split, 3- to 4-inch halves. The height on a single egg is nice as well, as there’s no risk of the white spreading out.
The Lodge Mini Skillet rings up at less than $15—reasonable for a novelty but not for a too-small pan that won’t release your breakfast.
The skillet’s handle is short, gets hot quickly, and is a mere 1 inch above any cooking surface. We had difficulty using it on a gas stovetop as it’s smaller than the smallest simmer burner, which sent flames licking up the sides.
While dessert might look cute served in this skillet, cake would be more like a silver dollar pancake rather than even a cupcake, and it might be difficult to find silverware that won’t overwhelm the serving dish. But if you do like your sweets petite, a major advantage of this miniature skillet is that you can easily slide it into a toaster oven to bake a little brownie or cookie.
Check out our other reviews of the best skillets available on the market today.
Material: Cast iron is slow to season
This skillet is constructed of durable cast iron, and we expect it to last a lifetime. Like other Lodge skillets, it is pre-seasoned with soybean oil (purified of all soy proteins, so those with allergies can rest assured) that is baked onto the iron at a high temperature, intended to make the surface nearly nonstick. When we received the pan, we noticed that the surface was much rougher than its larger counterparts, and after multiple uses, two one-hour rounds of seasoning at 500°F, and a generous slick of oil, our fried eggs (granted, one of the most difficult tests for a purportedly nonstick surface) still stuck.
Admittedly, when we received it in the mail, we thought it might be a Christmas ornament—it’s that tiny.
Cleaning: Difficult to clean
This pan can only be hand-washed, as using the dishwasher will eventually result in a rusted skillet. Most cast iron is simple to clean, and many people don’t feel the need to use soap after they’ve achieving a slick, nonstick patina.
However, this pan was difficult to clean. Once we scraped off the egg, we filled the skillet with boiling water to loosen any protein remnants, scrubbed the surface with a nylon brush, and even used soap (no, it’s actually not taboo on cast iron!). And yet there are still little bits of egg tucked into crevices along the periphery.
Price: Inexpensive but of limited value
The Lodge 3.5-Inch Mini Cast Iron Skillet rings up at less than $10—reasonable for a novelty but not for a too-small pan that won’t release your breakfast.
Lodge 3.5-Inch Mini Cast Iron Skillet vs Lodge 5- or 6.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge is the only company that makes such a small cast iron skillet. So if you plan to make a single egg muffin sandwich every morning and have the space for a single-use tool, there are several less attractive but more practical 3- to 4-inch chemically treated aluminum pans that will get the job done reliably but are not oven-safe.
If you do like your sweets petite, a major advantage of this skillet is that you can easily slide it into a toaster oven to bake a little brownie or cookie.
Looking for a small pan that can fry an egg or scramble two, sear a burger, and bake up an adult-sized personal apple crumble that is just twee enough to bring straight to the table? We recommend purchasing the next size up for just two to three dollars more: A Lodge 5- or 6.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet can serve the same purpose as the miniature one and more. Either of these pans will still need multiple rounds of seasoning, but the larger model will get more use. And because cast iron becomes increasingly nonstick the more it’s used, we’re confident that in a short period of time, the 5- or 6.5-inch pan will build up sufficient seasoning to release that egg so it slides right onto the waiting English muffin.
Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best cast iron pans can help you find what you're looking for.
- Product Name 3.5-Inch Miniature Cast Iron Skillet
- Product Brand Lodge
- Price $6.75
- Weight 7.8 oz.
- Product Dimensions 4 x 1 x 5 in.
- Color Black
- Material Cast iron