Lighter weight than bulky cast iron
Cast iron requires different care
It’s lighter but still may be heavy for some
We purchased the Stargazer Cast Iron 10.5-Inch Skillet so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
We’ve been using cast iron cookware for decades, so we knew what we wanted to test when the Stargazer Cast Iron 10.5-Inch Skillet arrived with a heavy thunk on the doorstep. We planned searing, sautéing, simmering, and baking, with bouts of seasoning in between. We spent quality time with the pan, looking for flaws while we cooked, cleaned, and oiled over and over again.
Design: Modern rustic
Let’s face it, most cast iron cookware looks like it belongs attached to the saddle of a horse in the old West or perched over a campfire in the woods. This one is more modern and less rustic. While it won’t make anyone gasp at its attractiveness, it does have design elements that add to its appeal. From the graceful handle to the two different surface textures to the tiny star on the helper handle, the pan's extras show an attention to detail we appreciated.
While the cooking surface of the pan is smooth, the company says it’s actually micro-textured, which makes it hold onto seasoning. We’ve had seasoning issues with super-smooth cast iron before, so we were skeptical, but we were more than pleased that this pan did hang onto the seasoning well. It was fully nonstick well before the pan was completely seasoned.
While the entire pan is made from cast iron, we were pleasantly surprised that the long handle didn’t get hot as quickly as some others we’ve used. We grabbed a mitt when we needed to empty the pan because of how we needed to grip it, but we were able to touch the far end of the handle to move or turn the pan on the stove.
The pan's extras show an attention to detail we appreciated.
This pan doesn’t have pouring spouts, but the rim is designed to pour easily. We like that we didn’t have to hold the pan in a particular position when we emptied it so we could hold it in a way that was most convenient or comfortable, and the lighter weight also made it less of a chore to empty.
Material: Cast iron
Made from cast iron, the interior of the pan is machined smooth while the exterior and handle have a rougher texture. We loved the look. The pan can be shipped pre-seasoned, so it can be used immediately or it can be shipped bare, so the new owner can use their favorite seasoning methods and materials. Ours was pre-seasoned and arrived with a pretty bronze color that darkened as we gave it a quick seasoning and then continued using it.
Heating Capacity: Retains heat well
While all cast iron pans heat slowly and retain heat well, this pan is made a little thinner than usual. We’ve worked with thin cast iron pans and were disappointed with the uneven heating. In this case, we didn’t have any issues, even when we used the pan to candy some pecans. We didn’t burn any of the sugar.
When we used the pan to cook some red peas to reduce and thicken the liquid, we had no sticking or burning, even when we stepped away for a short time and left the pan simmering.
While we might not turn to a skillet every time we need to bake something, it’s good to know that this one can do the job.
This pan was excellent at searing meat, giving us an impressive crust on pork chops and steaks.
We also used this pan for baking. First, we made a cake, which released easily from the pan for serving. Then, we baked some buns. In both cases, the pan worked as well as the cake pans and baking sheets we normally use. While we might not turn to a skillet every time we need to bake something, it’s good to know that this one can do the job when we don’t want to dig around in the baking supplies for a cake pan.
Cleaning: Hand-washing is easy
No matter what we cooked, the pan was virtually nonstick. When we managed to char some innocent vegetables, we had just a bit of sticking—but this was well before the pan was completely seasoned. We needed just a little gentle scrubbing to remove the few burned bits, but it wasn’t a major chore.
When we made our candied pecans, some melted sugar stuck to the pan as it cooled, but it was easy to wash out. Eggs didn’t stick to the pan, so there was little to clean except for the slick of melted butter that remained.
Each time we cleaned the pan, we applied a thin coating of oil and let it heat up a bit before we put it away. Once the pan is completely seasoned, we won’t need to oil it as often, but while we’re building seasoning, we want to give it every possible chance to get stronger and stronger.
Price: Relatively expensive
There are plenty of inexpensive cast iron pans on the market, including those from well known and very popular brands. This is not one of them. But not everyone makes buying decisions based on price. This pan looks much more attractive than the affordable pans, and it’s lighter in weight so it’s easier to handle.
Stargazer Cast Iron 10.5-Inch Skillet vs. Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
When it comes to cast iron, we’re big fans of Lodge products, like the Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet that we tested, which comes in at a very affordable price compared to the Stargazer skillet we reviewed. The Lodge skillet can be expected to do its job well and last long enough to hand down to future generations. We’d happily recommend it to anyone who needs a workhorse of a skillet. The Stargazer pan we reviewed is lighter in weight, so it’s easier to move around, and while it still has the ruggedness of cast iron, it’s more attractive than basic cast iron pans. For people who are willing to pay extra for a more attractive product, the Stargazer wins our approval.
Ignoring the price, we love this pan.
Even with the price, we like the Stargazer Cast Iron 10.5-Inch Skillet, particularly because it is made in the USA, it has an attractive design, and the brand offers a matching donation to a charity if $1 is added to the purchase price when buying the pan.
- Product Name Cast Iron Skillet
- Product Brand Stargazer
- MPN SKT-105-02A
- Price $115
- Weight 5.2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 19.4 x 3.3 x 2 in.
- Material Cast iron
- Warranty Lifetime (for manufacturing defects)
- Capacity 2.3 qts.