Lid fits three difference pieces
Spikes on underside of lid provide self-basting
Pieces are heavy
No lid for small skillet
Needs special care
When we unpacked the Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Set, we immediately started thinking about what to cook. Braised chicken, seared steaks, baked goods, and eggs were on the list. We spent some time seasoning the pans, we scrubbed them clean after each use, and we used them for just about all of our cooking—and our baking, too. Read on for all our findings.
This cookware has a classic look that hasn’t changed much since great-grandma’s day—and we’re fine with that because it’s functional. The pieces with long handles have a hole at the end of the handle so they can be hung on hooks, and the pieces with loop handles can also be hung. We found that we could stack the cookware for more compact storage, but we had to consider the weight. Once we stacked the griddle, frying pan, and Dutch oven with lid, we gave a little grunt and decided that two items were plenty to carry at once.
The longer handles look short compared to what’s found on standard cookware, but it makes sense. Because of the weight of the pots, we had to grip them close to the body of the pot when we lifted them, so a longer handle wouldn’t be useful and would make storage less convenient.
The spikes on the underside of the lid, which collect liquid and drip it down onto the food, were a design feature we particularly liked.
Because the pots and pans are made entirely from cast iron, you can assume that the handles will get hot for all but the shortest cooking sessions. The good news is that there are handle covers for purchase for cooks who tend to forget to grab a potholder.
The spikes on the underside of the lid were a design feature we particularly liked. When cooking, and particularly when braising, the spikes collect liquid and drip it down onto the food, basting it while it cooks. We appreciated that both the large and small skillets had pouring spouts, but we have to note that pouring was often a two-handed operation because of the weight of the pans along with the food.
What’s Included: Four pans, one lid
This set includes a 10.25-inch (5-quart) Dutch oven, a 10.25-inch skillet, an 8-inch skillet, a 10.5-inch grill pan (griddle), and a lid that fits the Dutch oven, the large skillet, and the grill pan. While a lid isn’t often used on a grill pan, it could be handy when melting cheese on top of a burger. If the lid is in use, the griddle pan can be used as an emergency lid on the Dutch oven or frying pan. While it’s not quite as neat-fitting, the frying pan could be flipped upside down as a temporary cover for the Dutch oven.
Of all these pans, we thought we’d use the 8-inch skillet the least, but we found that we reached for it quite often when we were cooking a few eggs for a single serving or when making sauces. It also worked for small quantities of baked goods, and we were pleased to see that it fit into our countertop toaster oven as well. It was the perfect size for a frittata that browned nicely on the bottom, and then we put it under the broiler to finish cooking with no worries about damaging the cookware. It flipped out of the pan perfectly.
Since the griddle has very low sides, it’s perfect for any foods that need to be lifted with a spatula, as long as the food won’t be releasing a lot of juice during cooking. We also liked it for pizza and for baking bread and buns.
The Dutch oven was great for soup, for Dutch oven bread, and for baked beans. We also used it for boiling potatoes. The larger skillet was great for braising chicken thighs, although we considered using the Dutch oven for that task as well. We used the skillet for searing steaks and roasting meat in the oven. It also came in handy for baking rolls, and it would be the pan we’d choose for deep dish pizza.
Material: Pre-seasoned cast iron
These are made from cast iron and are pre-seasoned so they can be used immediately. While we appreciated that pre-seasoning—and the fact that it ensures the pans won’t rust in shipping—we love our cast iron pans even more when they’re fully seasoned. Seasoning is a simple process, but the pans also season themselves when cooking with oil or butter or when the foods are fatty (like bacon).
Since cast iron is so durable, these can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, under the broiler, on an outdoor grill, and even on a campfire. The only caveat for using cast iron on a grill is that many grills can achieve high temperatures, so if the pan is left preheating too long, it’s possible to burn off the seasoning. That won’t ruin the pan—it just means that seasoning needs to be done again.
Since cast iron is so durable, these can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, under the broiler, on an outdoor grill, and even on a campfire.
Once the pans were well-seasoned, baked goods flip out easily to be sliced and served. But foods can also be portioned and served right from the pan since there’s no need to worry about using metal utensils.
While most things can be cooked in well-seasoned cast iron, highly acidic foods can break down the seasoning if they’re cooked for too long. If that happens, the food can take on a metallic taste, and the pot will need to be seasoned again. Adding a bit of lemon juice at the end of cooking isn’t going to ruin anything, but we avoid cooking tomato sauce in any of our cast iron pans.
Heating Capacity: Gets hot, stays hot
These pans heat slowly compared to aluminum or stainless steel pans. Once they’re hot, they retain heat very well. That was great when we wanted to keep the potatoes warm while we were finishing a sauce in another pan. It also means that when delicate foods were finished we removed them quickly to avoid overcooking.
Cast iron is also great for baking bread, like the loaf we baked in the Dutch oven.
The heating properties of cast iron make it great for braising foods for a long time on the stove or in the oven. It’s also great for baking bread, like the loaf we baked in the Dutch oven. Cornbread is often cooked in a cast iron pan, but we also found the larger skillet great for dinner rolls and sweet rolls. In a pinch, we would be confident using it for other baked goods like brownies or cake, but since it’s larger than a typical cake pan, the cake would end up shorter than normal.
Cleaning: Scrub with salt
Cast iron pans need a little bit of extra care when cleaning. They can’t be washed in the dishwasher, and until they’re completely seasoned, they need just a little bit of babying to make sure they won’t rust. Once the seasoning is robust, they can take much more abuse.
A chain mail scrubber is great for cleaning cast iron if food has stuck, but most of the time we simply used a scrubby sponge along with some coarse salt as a gentle abrasive—although some people prefer to use a scrub brush. Hot water and salt are usually all that are needed to clean cast iron cookware, but soap isn’t entirely forbidden if it’s required. After a good wash, we liked to dry the pans completely, then apply a super-thin coating of oil—just a drop or two to lightly cover the surface—before heating it on the stove.
Once a cast iron pan is completely seasoned, it will have a smooth, black surface. Water beads up on the surface and foods won’t stick, which is why they’re great for baking. While there are multiple methods people use for seasoning, the general instructions are the same. The pans are coated with a super-thin layer of oil or shortening, and the pan is baked in the oven, open-side down. This can be done as many times as desired, cooling and washing the pan between seasoning. For those who need more comprehensive instructions, Lodge has plenty of information about seasoning, cleaning, and care on its website.
Price: Very reasonable
For around $70, this cookware set is definitely affordable considering the number of pieces, the versatility, and the fact that it can last for generations. The Lodge name also adds value and means that a wide variety of matching pieces are available.
Competition: Depends on what you’re cooking
The Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Set: The Le Creuset cast iron set (view on Amazon) includes five pieces, just like the Lodge set we reviewed, but it consists of three pots and two lids. The advantage of the Le Creuset enameled cast iron is that it never needs seasoning and it won’t be harmed if spaghetti sauce is simmered in it all day. The downside is the cost. Le Creuset is well-made and reliable, and the price tag shows it. Comparing these sets side-by-side, we’d get a lot more use from the Lodge set at a much lower price. However, if the budget allowed, we’d be happy to add an enameled cast iron Dutch oven to the kitchen collection.
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set: Not everyone loves cast iron cookware or the care that comes with it, so the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set (view on Amazon) that we tested is a good choice. While the price is higher, the Cuisinart set includes six cooking pieces plus a steamer and five different lids. Made from stainless steel, it’s dishwasher safe so cleaning is easy, and there’s no need for seasoning or special care. It’s also lighter than cast iron.
When we look at these two sets, it’s hard to compare them head-to-head because they each have their own uses. We love cast iron for searing, baking, oven, grill, and broiler use, and we wouldn’t give it up. Stainless steel cookware is great for simmering, boiling, steaming, and for times when you want to cook something acidic. Stainless steel is great for everyday use, but it’s possible for food to stick. In our kitchen, we want both cast iron and stainless steel, so we’d like both.
Still undecided? Take a peek at our roundup of the best cookware sets.
- Product Name Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Set
- Product Brand Lodge
- UPC 075536383071
- Price $69.95
- Color Black
- Material Pre-seasoned cast iron
- What’s Included 8-in. skillet, 10.25-in. skillet, 10.5-in. griddle, 10.25-in. Dutch oven, 10.25-in. lid