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The Best Cast-Iron Skillets You Can Buy

This definitive guide explores everything you need to know about cast-iron cookware, including the best skillets for every type of cook.

collage of 3 cast iron skillets
Smithey, Lodge, Great Jones

Welcome to the cult of the cast-iron skillet. From cowboys to great-grandmas, everyone thinks they know everything about cast iron. Wash it with soap! Don't wash it with soap. Season your cast iron on the stove. On the stove? You have to season it in the oven! Things can get heated when it comes to the fickle cooking tool, no pun intended. But regardless of all the mystique that surrounds it, cast-iron skillets are some of the best cookware tools to own, and if you take care of it, it'll take care of you — and generations of your family.

The list of pros of cast-iron skillets is long: they get super hot and stay super hot, they're practically indestructible and you can cook almost anything in them. The pain in owning a cast-iron skillet is knowing when to be hands off, but also knowing when it needs to be babied. Here's what to know about your next favorite piece of cookware and the best skillets to buy at every budget.

How We Tested

best cast iron skillets gear patrol feature
Chandler Bondurant

Some of our testers have owned their cast-iron skillets for years, while others have been cooking on them for a couple of months. Either way, we set out to determine the best of the best in cast-iron cookware, considering ease of use, effectiveness and durability. We wanted to know whether the skillet was easy to maneuver, how well it took to seasoning and if it cooked evenly on the stove, in the oven and wherever else it might go.

A lot goes into maintaining a cast-iron skillet. From seasoning for the first time to cleaning it for the twentieth time, a skillet can change — and the key to a good cast-iron skillet is that it will only get better with age.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

Best Overall Cast-Iron Skillet

Field Company No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet


  • Extremely light and portable
  • Extra smooth surface
  • Feels modern

  • Lacks a pour spout
  • Tiny front grip

      Field Company’s cast iron is lighter, smoother and simpler than that of many new brands. For comparison, the brand's 10.25-inch skillet (the No. 8) is 4.5 pounds, while Lodge's skillet of the same size is 5.35 pounds. Field Company also manages to keep its prices lower relative to some of its high-minded competition. Plus, the two-layer grapeseed oil pre-seasoning on the skillet outperformed that of every other pan we tested. The skillet works just as well on the stove as it does on a grill, and it's easy to maneuver around the kitchen.

      cast iron pan
      Smooth, lightweight and versatile, Field Company’s mid-sized skillet is our top pick.
      Joe Tornatzky

      Our tester says this is a great pan that will get you re-invigorated about cast iron again. As someone who has moved about five times in the past six years, our tester had considered his previous cast-iron pans to have been low-cost dead-weights. But for his most recent cast-iron purchase, he tried to put more effort and consideration into his choice, which led him to the Field Company Skillet. The modern branding and simple tools included in the starter set to keep your pan maintained were enough to sell him on the product, and the day-to-day use has held up the rest of the bargain.

      Best Upgrade Cast-Iron Skillet

      Smithey Ironware Cast-Iron Skillet


      • Heat ring pays homage to cast iron's history
      • A heavy-duty pan

      • Takes extra time to season
      • Works best in an oven or over a fire — not on an electric stove

      In most industries, retrospective homages to products past are meant more to trigger nostalgia than perform to today’s standards. This is not so in cast iron. Smithey’s skillets are made with heavy gauge iron, a three-finger front grip and an exquisitely milled down, pre-seasoned cooking surface. There’s even a heat ring on the base of the pan, so if you somehow find yourself standing in front of an old indented wood stove, you’ll fit right in.

      cast iron skillet
      Made in Charleston, Smithey’s cast iron skillet has a heat ring traditionally found in antique cookware.
      John Zientek

      Having used his skillet for more than four years now, our tester loves Smithey's smooth, polished finish, ergonomic handle, pour spouts on either side and convenient holes for hanging the skillet. "As most cast iron skillets do, my Smithey has its own quirks, but it’s truly a workhorse — and a stylish one at that," he said.

      Best Budget Cast-Iron Skillet


      Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet

      $19.90 (42% off)

      • Affordable and accessible
      • Offers the benefits of cast iron without the high price

      • Some users don't like the sand cast texture
      • If bottom is engraved, it can heat faster or scorch

      Lodge cast iron is affordable, accessible and time-tested. It comes pre-seasoned and has a comfortable tear-drop handle for moving it between heat sources. Lodge's cook surface is rougher than higher-end skillets because it's not polished and shows the texture of the casting process. Some users aren't a fan of the texture, but after years of use, it evens out — if you look for antique lodge skillets, you can find smooth surfaces, though.

      lodge cast iron skillet
      Lodge’s basic cast iron is dirt cheap, but it will probably outlast you.
      John Zientek

      The best uses: searing meat (cooking a steak indoors); pan-frying chicken, okra or chicken-fried steak; making cornbread. It's also a great tool skillet for stovetop-to-oven cooking. Very no-nonsense, easy to clean, easy to store and lasts forever.

      Best Smooth Cast-Iron Skillet


      Stargazer Cast Iron Skillet


      • Design is good for sautéing
      • Forked handle stays cool

      • Not that light
      • No pour spout

      Though it’s hard to place it as the absolute best at any one thing, the Stargazer is a great blend of all buying factors — and it's all backed by the brand's lifetime warranty. High-sloping walls with a unique and fairly dramatic lip around the edge mean you can toss veggies and home fries up and back down with little oil splash.

      Our tester thought that the seasoning it shipped with was excellent, with the machined smooth finish adding to the pan's non-stick properties, but you can order it unseasoned if you prefer. It’s middle-of-the-pack in terms of weight, and it has a large square-angled front grip that is easy to get a hold of when you’re wearing an oven mitt.

      Best Modern Cast-Iron Skillet

      Our Place

      Our Place Cast Iron Always Pan

      $115.00 (26% off)

      • Available in seven stylish colors
      • Doesn't need to be seasoned
      • Comes with glass lid, silicone grips and wood spatula

      • Bottom is prone to discoloration
      • Not for cast-iron purists

      If you've always wanted an Always Pan or you have one but it's missing something, then we can't recommend the Cast Iron Always Pan enough. Differing from the other pans on this list, this pan has an enameled cast-iron surface, which means it doesn't need to be seasoned. However, it does require a little extra care than a typical cast-iron skillet — the brand recommends using utensils made of silicone or wood, like the included spatula, to avoid scratching the matte surface.

      Our tester loves the look and the thoughtful details that went into this pan, from the included handle-fitted silicone grips to the glass lid that allows you to see your food as it cooks to the notch that holds the included spatula. It passed the cooking test both in the oven and on the stove with flying colors, and would make a great option for someone who wants the eight-in-one benefits of the internet-famous Always Pan wrapped in a durable cast-iron skillet.

      Best Cast-Iron Skillet with a Lid

      Finex Cast Iron Skillet with Lid


      • Coiled handle stays cool to the touch
      • Included lid is as nice as the pan
      • Eight-sided design makes pouring and spatula-ing a breeze

      • Ridiculously heavy; good luck lifting it with one hand if the lid is on
      • Priced as a luxury product (which it is)

      Finex is a bit of an outlier in the cast-iron world. Its skillets look like nothing else out there, with their steel-coil-wrapped handles, octagonal shape and brass hardware. But all of those quirks aren't just to stand out from the crowd; they all serve a purpose. The spring-like steel around the handle keeps it cool to the touch, as does the brass handle on the included lid.

      And that eight-sided design makes it easy to offset said lid to allow steam to escape when needed, while also allowing easy entrance for spatulas and giving you eight different pour spouts. Our tester loves all of these extra luxuries that are absent from other cast-iron skillets, along with the smooth machined surface of the pan that makes it slicker than cheaper cast-iron pans.

      a pan on a stove
      Regardless of how you feel about the Finex’s design, you can’t deny it’s unlike any other pan on the market.
      Johnny Brayson

      But there are some tradeoffs for Finex's luxury and quality. The most obvious is the price, as these pans can hit $300 for a 12-inch skillet with lid, making the brand among the most expensive in this guide. But there's also the weight. Our tester has the 12-inch skillet, and he says it's difficult to lift with one hand even when it's empty. And if you've got the thick cast-iron lid on it? Forget trying to pick the thing up with one hand unless you're looking to make a mess.

      Best Heirloom Cast-Iron Skillet

      Lancaster No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet


      • Beautiful, if basic, design
      • Pre-seasoned
      • Nice and light

      • No front grip
      • One of the most expensive options out there

      Handmade in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this cast-iron skillet feels like an instant family heirloom. (Just take a look at the beautiful design on the bottom.) Its pre-seasoned, smooth surface is ready for cooking from the get-go, and it's thinner and lighter than a typical cast-iron skillet. Our tester said that this skillet was a "pleasure" to cook with, noting that its beautiful craftsmanship makes it a great buy for cast-iron cookware enthusiasts.

      Best Large Cast-Iron Skillet

      Great Jones King Sear


      • Available in three vibrant colors
      • Large enough to cook multi-person meals

      • Only comes in one size
      • Bottom of pan is prone to discoloration

      Great Jones, known for its vibrantly-colored cookware, unsurprisingly makes a mean cast-iron skillet. When our tester first received the King Sear, she was surprised by how large it is — it only comes in one size, 12 inches — but after using it for over two months, she says not sure how she ever cooked with anything smaller. She could easily heat four slices of bread in it and still have some wiggle room. At two inches tall, it feels shallower than other skillets our reviewer has used, so she treats it more as a griddle than a deep skillet.

      Our tester likes how the loop handle front grip is easy to grasp and maneuver; she almost finds it more useful than the traditional handle as that one feels too small in proportion to the skillet. The skillet does fit rather awkwardly on her four-burner electric stove, she notes, but despite not being able to sit centered on a burner, it heats and cooks very quickly and evenly. Purists will dislike that it doesn't have the look of a classic cast-iron skillet, but the bright colorways of Great Jones really are a showstopper.

      Best Handmade Cast-Iron Skillet

      Butter Pat Industries Heather Skillet


      • Lighter than your average skillet
      • Smooth finish out of the box
      • Quick and even heating; no noticeable hot spots

      • Handle is not comfortable to hold
      • Astronomically expensive

      Butter Pat skillets are exceptionally easy to use, even for beginner cooks. The skillet preheats quickly and evenly thanks to the company's handmade casting process that doesn't require machining (which can yield minute variations in the surface, and thus, hot spots). That means you get even searing and browning on both the stovetop and in the oven. The casting process also gives the skillet a smooth finish that takes to seasoning easier than any other skillet our tester had cooked with. Just don't expect a nonstick finish right out of the box.

      cast iron pan handle
      The hollowed-out handle makes the Butter Pat skillet lighter, but it’s uncomfortable in the hand.
      Jack Seemer

      Our reviewer's only real gripe with the Butter Pat — beyond the astronomical price tag — is the handle, which is semi-hollow. This results in a lighter skillet but one that's uncomfortable to hold and maneuver as easily as one that carries a traditional smooth handle.

      Cast Iron Terms to Know

      Cast-Iron: Iron made with around 1.7 percent carbon, giving it its classic heavy, brittle nature.

      Seasoning: The layer of polymerized and carbonized fats between what you’re cooking and raw iron.

      Pour Spouts: If present, small areas cast into both sides of the pan meant to easily discard (or save) sauces or excess grease.

      Wall Slope: The gradient at which the walls of a cast-iron pan run into the cooking surface; the steeper the wall slope, the less tossing can be accomplished

      Front Grip: A protruding area opposite the handle where you grab hold of the pan with your non-dominant hand; meant to make heavier dishes and pans less cumbersome.

      As-Cast: The result of skipping the milling and polishing process on the cooking surface; when a skillet’s cooking area is rough and sandpapery, it is as-cast.

      Rust: Also known as ferric oxide, a toxic result of the oxidation of bare cast-iron; avoided by a layer of seasoning but easily fixable.

      Smoke Point: The heat at which fats begins to break down and smoke; also the point you need to reach to properly season a pan.

      How to Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet

      Some cast-iron skillets have been around for centuries, so before you start panicking about your skillet, just know that you don't need to baby your cast iron. A little water is fine, as is a little bit of dish soap — just be sure to dry it completely as soon as you're done washing it. If you need to get any bits of food or debris off, a chainmail scrubber will be your best friend. All that matters is that after you clean your cast iron, you finish it with some oil. For a more detailed breakdown, check out our notes on cleaning cast iron.

      How to Season a Cast-Iron Skillet

      You can season a cast-iron skillet in the oven or on the stove. Both methods require getting your cast iron greased up, then absolutely blasting it with heat. In an oven, give it about an hour at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. On the stove, hit it with high heat until it starts to smoke (and make sure to keep the window open). You can even season your cast iron by not seasoning it, though the assumption is you use it often enough that it seasons naturally.

      man puts oiled cast iron pan in oven
      Gear Patrol

      What Is the Best Oil to Season Cast Iron?

      Grapeseed oil is the overwhelming favorite among experts. It has a high smoke point and makes for a super-slick finish. The next best things to use are animal fats and flaxseed oil. Never use olive oil.

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