Are you looking for a great cookware set for your kitchen? Here are your definitive guide and reviews to finding the best cast iron cookware and the best cast iron pans in the market today.
If you’ve done any kind of cookware research, even if it’s just casual, we guarantee you you’ve heard cast iron is all the rage.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional chef, a homeowner or simply a college student trying to purchase their very first pan. You’ve come across a video, a blog or an article that at least mentions cast iron and how amazing it is.
In fact, people talk so much about cast iron that it’s commonly referred as one of the best, if not the best kind of cookware you can own… but why?
What makes cast iron so special?
Is it really worth it?
Keep reading to find out!
Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron offers many benefits and relatively few drawbacks, most of which are centered around the fact that cast iron cookware can be heavy.
While that is true, you’ll find that the benefits far outweight the cons, because…
- Cast Iron is Nonstick:
Cast iron is naturally non-stick once it’s been properly seasoned, this means you’ll not only be able to cook with minimal oil but you’ll also be free of harmful materials such as Teflon.
- Cast Iron Gets Really Hot:
While nothing gets quite as hot as a wok, cast iron comes in close second. This is one of the reason restaurants serve skillet dishes straight on the cast-iron skillet, because the material is so good at retaining heat that it will keep your food warm for a long time.
- Cast Iron Gives You an Iron Boost:
Believe it or not, cooking with cast iron cookware can add iron to your diet, which is a vital nutrient for humans, particularly women.
Wait a second, wasn’t the first point about no chemicals leeching into your food?
Sure, but what cast iron adds to your diet aren’t synthetic chemicals, just naturally occurring iron, and while it might seem counterproductive, keep in mind that volunteer health workers around the world use iron ingots in soups and stews to add more iron to people’s diets, particularly in poor countries where treating this mineral deficiency with pills can be hard.
- They Last a Long Time:
Iron is a very sturdy material, so rest assured that your cookware will stay with you for years. Excellent news if you plan on investing in an entire cookware set.
- They’re Super Versatile:
Because they’re made out of a sturdy material that can be safe to use, even in the oven, your cast iron pans will be able to cook just about anything. You can even bake in them!
As you can see, there are many advantages to cast-iron cookware. So many, in fact, that you may just be considering purchasing your own.
If that’s the case, let us help you with a short guide of what to look for in a cast iron cookware piece or set.
Things To Look For Before Buying Cast Iron Cookware
With cast iron being so different to the more popular stainless steel and ceramic cookware sets, you may be a little intimidated by the task, particularly because cast iron does require certain amount of care.
That said, the following tips will make everything easier for you:
Mind the Weight
The biggest complaint people have when it comes to cast iron is that the pieces are heavy, very heavy.
To give you an idea of just how heavy the pieces can be, we highly recommend you visit a cookware store or somewhere that sells cast iron skillets to get familiar with the weight.
What you purchase online may weigh less or more, but knowing what you’re signing up for in terms of weight should definitely be step one.
Cast iron cookware gets really hot, which can be a problem because the handles are made out of iron as well, which means those too get hot enough to burn.
While some manufacturers have ways of working around this to help out the users, there are plenty of pieces out there made entirely out of cast iron so you should buy the appropriate accessories to use them.
These can cover anything from a rubber handle to thick gloves, as well as little mats you use under the cast iron pieces so you don’t burn the surfaces you place them on.
Keep In Mind that Cast Iron Isn’t Non-Stick From The Start
One of cast iron’s most boasted characteristics is the fact that it’s quite non-stick and, while this is true, you have to work for that.
Out of the box, cast iron isn’t non-stick at all and you’ll have to season it before you can start using it. Even then the non-stick properties won’t be perfect, and it’s only after several uses that it will truly start to shine in that department.
Cast iron cookware need to be treated with care and patience, so if you’re looking for something that gives you result fast this material may not be for you.
Get a Starter Pan
It goes without saying that the best thing you can do before purchasing an entire cast iron cookware set is to purchase a small cast iron single skillet in order to learn more about the material.
This will help you get familiar with the weight, characteristic, seasoning process and care.
And if you do decide to buy a cast iron set after that?
No problem, your starter pan will still be there for you, already seasoned and ready to go if you need a more ‘trusted’ pan while your new set seasons.
Now that you know the advantages of cast iron cookware and the things you need to keep in mind before buying it, let’s proceed to the last part of our little guide
We’ve reviewed the top 5 cast iron pans and skillets, as well as the top 5 cast iron cookware sets out there, so you can make sure you’re buying only the very best.
Let’s get started!
TOP 5 BEST CAST IRON COOKWARE REVIEWS 2018
If what you’re looking for is an entire cast iron cookware set, you’re in luck because Lodge brings you one that looks great and works even better.
Made in America, this high-quality set includes a griddle, two skillets, a Dutch oven and its cover, also made out of cast iron.
While pricey, you’ll find that the investment is more than worth it as the pieces of this set will stay with you for a long, long time, thanks not only to their quality but also to their performance.
As you can imagine, the pieces can be pretty heavy, particularly the Dutch oven, which comes with a rather thick lid, but the handles are reliable and easy to grip, which minimizes this problem somewhat.
It’s worth mentioning that, while this is a pre-seasoned set, the seasoning isn’t all that amazing so you may want to consider seasoning them again yourself, just to make sure it works well.
- Looks great
- Comes with many pieces
- Safe to use at high temperatures
- Very heavy
- The seasoning isn’t as good as advertised
If what you want is to get the most variety at the best price, this super versatile cast iron cookware set is perfect for you as it includes skillets, Dutch ovens, griddles and saucepots. Not only that, but it also comes with silicon hand holders, a lid lifter and other utensils that makes using each and every piece in this list much easier.
As is normal for cast iron cookware, each of the pieces of this set is rather heavy and the entire set is really really heavy so you should take that into consideration before buying it.
A rather big downside is that this set isn’t pre-seasoned so while you’ll be the owner of a very varied and versatile cast iron cookware set, you’ll also have to season each piece. So there’s that to keep in mind.
The included accessories make using this set easy, both inside the kitchen and at the campsite, although it’s worth mentioning that the handles are on the small side, which makes handling the pieces more complicated than it should.
Another downside, though really this boils down to personal preference, is the texture, which feels far rougher than other cast iron cookware pieces. However, the performance is just as good, so it really isn’t a problem.
- Easy to use
- Comes with a bunch of accessories
- Packaging looks amazing
- Very heavy
- Too short handles
- Coarse texture
- Pieces need a lot of care
First things first: While the name implies this set has been made specifically for outdoor cooking, and indeed that’s the case, this complete cookware set can be used in your kitchen, as it’s compatible with gas stoves, electric stoves and, with the right attachments, even induction cooktops. (Well, almost most of the pieces)
This set comes with two skillets, 1 Dutch broiler and a beautiful griddle. Out of all the pieces in this list, the only one that can’t be made induction compatible is the Dutch broiler, as it comes with little feet at the bottom, which nevertheless can be very useful when cooking outside.
The griddle is particularly useful, as it’s large enough to cook various things at the same time but still compact enough to carry around, which is a great thing since, as it’s common with cast iron cookware, the pieces are quite heavy and large pieces even more so.
None of the pieces in this set are pre-seasoned, so you’re going to have to do that yourself. However, once the process is done the pans become quite non-stick and easy to clean, just remember to re-season them from time to time .
- Works both inside and outside the kitchen
- Versatile set
- Pieces are smaller than they look
- Pieces aren’t seasoned
- No accessories included
If what you’re looking for is simplicity then look no further, since this set offers exactly that.
No Dutch ovens, no griddles, no accessories you aren’t sure what to do with. Just three skillets of different sizes but equal quality.
It doesn’t get any simpler than this.
The small skillet measures 10”, the medium one 12” and the large one 14”. The last two come with additional handles that make moving them much easier, just make sure to protect your hands before attempting it.
As you can imagine just looking at the measurement of the “small” pan, the skillets are actually quite large, so keep that in mind.
None of the pieces in this set have been pre-seasoned, so you’ll have to do that yourself, though it’s a simple process so it really isn’t that much of a problem.
One of the few downsides, besides the fact that the pans are quite heavy and the handles get very hot, is the fact that the surface feels rather rough. So rough, in fact, that you may want to sand it down to get a smoother surface but this is cast iron and cast iron isn’t known for being the smoothest material out there.
- Can be used inside and outside the kitchen
- Not pre-seasoned
- Rough surface
- The handles get very hot
- No accessories provided
Made with high quality iron that translates into sturdy and long lasting pieces and packed in a beautiful vintage storage box, this set is one of our favorite, thanks not only to its looks but also due to its performance.
It comes with a Dutch oven, a saucepot, a griddle and a skillet, as well as accessories that make using each piece easier.
The box is also quite sturdy, which means you can use it both as storage and as a way to transport your cookware. Yes, transport, since this set works just as well in your kithchen than it works in camp sites.
As it’s the norm for cast iron cookware, each of the pieces can be quite heavy, particularly the Dutch oven and the saucepots, as those can hold a lot of food. This means the box will be very heavy when full, so keep that in mind if you plan on moving it on your own.
While the pieces have been pre-seasoned, it’s still highly encouraged to season after every use to build the necessary patina for the pieces to truly become non-stick.
A big downside for such a nice set is the fact that, though it comes with accessories, no silicone handles or protection accessories of any kind have been included.
- High quality pieces
- Looks great
- Works inside and outside the kitchen
- Very heavy
- Not enough accessories included
- Needs to be seasoned after each use for best performance
BEST CAST IRON PAN REVIEWS
Measuring 10 inches across, this is one of the most basic and reliable cast-iron skillets you can find out there, as well as one of the most affordable.
Its size allows it to be used for a variety of tasks and the fact that it’s oven safe, makes it even more versatile, since you can use it for pretty much everything, even baking.
As you can imagine, a 10-inch cast iron skillet can be really heavy, but the manufacturers have thought of this and include a hoop handle in the product, meaning you can carry the skillet with both hands to minimize the weight. Just remember to use hand protection because the handles get burning hot.
Not a lot more can be said about this piece, precisely because it’s so simple, but that’s a good thing, as this is the type of skillet you want if all you want to do is cook.
It's also one of the best pans for glass top stoves.
- Non-stick quite seasoned
- Very sturdy
- Comes with an extra handle to make moving the skillet easier
- Handles get very hot
- Not dishwasher safe
- Not pre-seasoned
We’re starting this list with one of the most affordable cast iron skillets you’ll find out there, which makes it perfect for those of you who want to experience the wonders of cast iron without breaking the bank.
It comes with a pre-seasoned surface that makes it as non-stick as possible with no work on your side; sturdy handles that will help you control of the skillet despite its heavy weight and a lifetime warranty that shows you just how sure Calphalon is of its products.
This beautiful skillet can be used on gas stoves, electric stoves, the oven and, with the right attachments, your induction stove, though we suggest against it as the weight can be risky.
We mentioned that this cast iron skillet is rather weighty and that’s true, but you’ll find it quite light compared to others. This characteristic makes it not only easier to move around but also helps it to heat up faster, making it a great choice if you have weak joints or any other problem that makes using heavy skillets a problem.
- Lightweight, for a cast iron skillet.
- Oven safe
- Compatible with all kinds of stoves
- Too short handle
- Will rust easily if left in water
While it may not look any different to other cast-iron skillets, this pan is often regarded as an all-star, no matter where you sell it.
Amongst its best characteristics are the fact that it’s pre-seasoned, which will take a lot of work from your hands and that its heat conductivity is something else, even compared to other cast iron skillets.
Though simple looking, this skillet gets really-hot, relatively fast and it’s very good at retaining temperature. It’s also oven safe, which makes it perfect for cooking a variety of things.
Just like other cast iron cookware, this one is quite heavy, though it does seem to be a little lighter than others, probably because of the material used to cook it, which is more porous than other skillets.
This isn’t a negative thing, as it not only makes moving around the skillet easier but also increases its non-stick qualities after its been seasoned a couple of times.
That’s right, even though this is a pre-seasoned cast you’re still going to have to season it a little after each couple of uses, just to be on the safe side.
- Lightweight for a cast iron pan
- Not dishwasher safe
- Handles get very hot
- Needs to be seasoned even though it’s pre-seasoned
If you’re looking for something a little more versatile then Vremi’s grill pan is for you.
While this is still a pan for all intents and purposes, which makes it easy to use on your gas stove and even your electric stove, it’s also a high quality cast-iron grill.
A very large grill at that, since it can easily fit four meat patties at the same time!
If you think that you can only get the real grill experience by cooking outside in a charcoal grill, think again. You may not be able to get the same smokey flavor, but the tenderness and juiciness of the meat, chicken or anything else you cook in this pan will be the same, if not better.
As you can expect of a cast iron product, this pan can be quite heavy but rest assured that it’s still lightweight enough that you’ll be able to move it with a single hand, albeit while still feeling its weight.
Since the entire grill pan has been made in a single piece, the handle does get very hot, but Vremi has included a nice silicone handle that slips on top of the handle to protect your hand and it works perfectly!
- Looks great
- Helps you grill all year long
- Silicone handle included
- While pre-seasoned, it still needs to be seasoned after each use
- Can’t be used in the dishwasher
- Not compatible with induction stoves.
If you’re all about looks as well as performance, then this beautiful cast iron skillet is perfect for you.
Available in many different sizes (6 through 11 3/4 inch) this heavyweight pan boasts all the advantages of cast iron while showing off a beautiful cherry red coat that will make it stand out in any kitchen.
We’re not joking when we say this pan is heavyweight, as it’s quite sturdy and reliable but also very heavy. Luckily, it comes with a loop handle that makes lifting and moving this pan easier, particularly once it’s full of food.
While the red coat may indicate otherwise, this skillet is actually dishwasher safe and very easy to clean, and while nothing about this pan says “pre-seasoned” you’ll be happy to know that, since it was made with black enameled cast-iron, it is pretty non-stick straight out of the box so you may not need to season it at all.
Sure, this is one of the pricier items in this list, but trust us, it’s more than worth it, thanks not only to its sturdy built that makes it scratch resistant even if you’re using metal utensils but also thanks to the performance, as this skillet is just as easy to use as your average Teflon product but without any of the risks.
- Looks great
- Doesn’t need to be seasoned
- Comes in various sizes
- Sturdy handles
- Very heavy
We’ve come to the end of our review. Now you’re ready to go out and purchase a cast iron skillet or a whole set.
We hope you enjoyed our article as much as we know you’ll enjoy cooking with cast iron.
Thank you for reading, don’t forget to leave a comment!