7 Best Cast Iron Skillets in 2020

We assembled a list of the best cast iron skillets available, preferring highly durable items, made from actual cast iron, that should last you for years to come, with designs that evenly distribute and maintain heat. We also liked products that excelled both on the stovetop and inside of the oven, with the ability to retain and withstand the heat of a maxed out broiler. We also made sure to populate the below list with a nice mix of different-sized pans, to suit the needs of solo chefs or large families.

Of the seven we put through rigorous testing, the Lodge L14SK3 15” emerged as the best cast iron skillet thanks to its lightweight, great versatility, and overall value, and features like silicone easy-grip handles didn’t hurt. The fact that two of our seven picks come from Lodge also speaks well of that company’s high standards. Keep reading to learn more about the Lodge L14SK3 15” and the other models on this list.

Top 7 The Best Cast Iron Skillets

 #1  Lodge L14SK3 15” Cast Iron Skillet

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: This cast iron skillet outperformed others when it came to searing, comes with a high-quality factory seasoning, and features easy-grip silicon-sleeved handles that are rated oven safe for up to 400 degrees. It’s affordable enough for consumers but performs well enough for a pro.

Pros
  • Great all around pan for beginners and pros
  • Great for searing meat and fish
  • Comes Foundry-seasoned and ready to use
Cons
  • Handle on the shorter side
  • Some find the pre-seasoning to be inadequate for their liking
  • Slightly rougher-than-average cooking surface means it won’t always be non-stick out of the box

The Lodge arrives pre-seasoned at the foundry with soy-based vegetable oil, meaning it’s ready to use right out of the box, with a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F. We found during testing that it holds heat well all the way up through its sides and maintains cooking temperatures perfectly after heating, and the two lips on either side for pouring makes it especially handy for dealing with sauces, roux, and the like with minimal mess.

While the factory seasoning is more than adequate, further seasoning will render the surface virtually nonstick, making it usable even for omelettes and other dishes that cast iron normally can’t handle. We did, however, find the handle to be somewhat on the shorter side, compared to other models on this list, so take that into consideration before you purchase. All in all, it’s a fantastic pan that’s also a great value, which is why it’s a perennial favorite of chefs and reviewers alike. For the rest of your kitchen needs, take a look at the best stainless steel cookware too.

 #2  AmazonBasics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Pan, 15”

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: It excels on stovetops, grills, and in ovens of all kinds – including induction ovens. It’s a great cast iron skillet for a novice or vet alike, but its lower price point and pre-seasoning makes it an especially good choice for beginners.

Pros
  • Comes ready to use
  • Budget-friendly option
  • Handy thumb grip on handle
Cons
  • Rougher surface than most competing pans
  • Not manufactured domestically

Amazon’s foray into kitchen tools has yielded compelling results. The Amazon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 15” is in many ways a very good copy of the Lodge L14SK3, with an almost identical gripping handle, lips for pouring liquids, a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F, and a factory seasoning included.

Despite its high quality of build, this skillet’s cooking surface is noticeably rougher than the Lodge. This may be a turnoff to cooks using it infrequently, but with regular use and re-seasoning, any roughness will be eliminated eventually. Despite some of these imperfections, this pan will be added to your best cookware before you know it.

 #3  Victoria Cast Iron Skillet 12” w/Flaxseed Oil Pre-Seasoning

Award: BEST FOR DIETARY RESTRICTIONS

WHY WE LIKE IT: The skillets are manufactured in a practically zero-waste factory with recycled commercial-grade iron and is pre-seasoned with non-GMO Flaxseed oil, making it a great choice for health-conscious chefs.

Pros
  • One of the few that adheres to some religious restrictions
  • Longer handle than competitors
  • Excellent value/performance ratio
Cons
  • Not made domestically
  • May be harder to handle in cramped spaces
  • Some customers report quality control issues

The Victoria has long been a popular choice for good reason- it’s a solidly and beautifully constructed skillet, pre-seasoned with 100% non-GMO, heart-healthy flaxseed oil, certified to adhere to some religious dietary restrictions, and has a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F. It’s also made by a family-owned company with strong eco-credentials.

In terms of ergonomics, the Victoria features 7” long handle- an inch and a half longer than most- which greatly improves balance when moving it around a hectic kitchen, and extra-wide pour lips on the sides, potentially reducing mess and mishap. If you can’t get enough kitchen equipment, grab an extra best non-stick pan while you’re at it.

 #4  Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 12”

Award: BEST FOR OMELETTES

WHY WE LIKE IT: An extremely pronounced curve could give it the edge in performing some tasks like egg dishes, including omelets, which most cast iron skillets aren’t purpose-built for.

Pros
  • Solid all-around construction that lasts
  • Especially good for particular tasks
  • Performs competitively with more popular brands
Cons
  • Not made domestically
  • Shorter handle than most in its range
  • Alternate handle is a lip instead of a proper handle

A somewhat more bare bones offering than some, this skillet is slightly heavier than average and has a noticeably shorter main handle than average, which could make it harder to safely maneuver with. It comes pre-seasoned and has a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F.

It does have one interesting feature which makes it stand out, however- where the cooking surface meets the sides, the curve is far more pronounced than average- which could give it an advantage with certain dishes not offered by other models, namely cooking egg dishes, which can be difficult with many cast iron pans unless they’ve been seasoned and regularly used for long periods of time. For a pan to make the perfect stir fry, consider the best non stick frying ball too.

 #5  Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: Minor design tweaks in size and depth and a larger alternate side handle make it stand out on our list. This may be a good option as a backup or alternate to your main cast iron pan if you’re looking for something a little bigger than your main skillet but in the same general size range.

Pros
  • Deeper than many similar models
  • Large alternate side handle
  • Performs well across the board
Cons
  • Heavier than similarly-sized pans
  • One of the less elegant-looking pans in this range

The Utopia Kitchen 12.5” has a similar build quality to the Calphalon, but some design choices that distinguish it, including the 12.5” diameter as opposed to the more typical 12”, a deeper cooking area than many in its range, and a large alternate side handle to aid maneuverability. It’s also a good performer in all tasks, especially liquid-heavy recipes, and has a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F.

Like the Calphalon, it’s not the prettiest of the lot or of the highest build quality compared to our top two, but the minor tweaks in size and shape make it a good choice as an alternate or extra pan to keep in your cooking arsenal.

 #6  Cuisinart C122-24 CR Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 10-Inch Round Fry Pan

Award: BEST DISHWASHER SAFE

WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s pleasing to the eye and it’s the only dishwasher-safe model on our list, a great feature for people who want a slightly lower-maintenance option that still performs well.

Pros
  • 3 different color options
  • Main handle is longer and thicker than most
  • Handy Thumb knob on main handle
Cons
  • Enamel chips easily
  • Slightly lower performance/value ratio than other models listed

The Cuisinart CI22-24CR 10” comes with a choice of three different attractive colored enamels, has a larger-than-average main handle, and most notably, is dishwasher safe- something no other pan in our list can boast. It has a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F.

While the porcelain enamel won’t be damaged in the dishwasher, however, we found that it could chip easily if banged around carelessly during cooking. Additionally, the added enamel and dishwasher-safe capabilities give it slightly higher price point than other models- closer to the cost of some 15” models on our list, despite being a 12” skillet.

 #7  Lodge L8SGP3ASHH41B Cast Iron 10.5-inch Square Grill Pan

Award: BEST FOR STEAKS

WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s got the build quality and performance we’re used to seeing from Lodge but it’s specialized for grilling meat- making it an additional must-have for some who may already have a conventional cast iron pan and want the best skillet for steaks.

Pros
  • Incredibly durable construction
  • Excellent for health-conscious chefs
  • Comes with heat-resistant silicone handle cover
Cons
  • Actual cooking surface is smaller than 10”

Although it performs well for most uses, the Lodge L8SGP3ASHH41B’s grilling surface is purpose-built for grilling and slow-cooking, and it excels at that task. Like all of Lodge’s cast iron products, it comes with a high quality foundry pre-seasoning that should, with further seasoning and use, render the pan virtually nonstick, and has a maximum cooking temperature of 500 degrees F.

This is a great pan for slow-cooking and meat grilling, but buyers should be aware that the actual cooking surface is about 2” smaller than 10”, which could be an issue for cooking whole fish, some whole poultry, and larger steaks.

How We Decided

Picking a cast iron pan from an incredibly oversaturated market can be a serious consumer headache, especially to the casual chef who’s looking to level up with their first purchase of one.

For the purposes of the list, we looked at high-rated but inexpensive models which were at least 10” in size, could be used at a maximum safe temperature of no less than 450 degrees (few recipes would require higher temperatures in the average kitchen), and had a built-in handle.

Given the extra care that cast iron skillets require, we also kept our list to models that were easy to clean and came with some sort of factory pre-seasoning for immediate use out of the box, though further seasoning is generally advised over the life of your skillet and can vastly improve its performance and non-stick capabilities.

Best Cast Iron Skillet Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Heat Distribution
    This is the defining feature of any cast iron appliance and the primary reason every kitchen should have one. Cast iron pans may take longer to heat up, but when they do they distribute that heat much more evenly than stainless steel and ceramic pans and maintain that heat perfectly, which results in better tasting, better cooked food.
  2. Durability
    It may seem like a given that a cast iron pan would be more durable than other types of pans, but the quality of the metal used, a factory’s forging methods, and the design of the handles and thickness of the cooking surface can all factor in its ability to take abuse. The best cast iron skillets and pans can last a lifetime and beyond, but simply being a piece of cast iron isn’t a guarantee of that.
  3. Cleaning and Maintenance
    Just because cast iron skillets have a reputation for being difficult to clean and maintain doesn’t mean they have to be- we made sure all of our top models could be easily kept in top condition with a minimum of hassle for maximum user-friendliness for both professionals and casual chefs.
  4. Seasoning
    One must when it comes to owning and using a cast iron skillet is seasoning. Seasoning involves coating the skillet’s cooking surface with a small amount of oil, then heating it to its smoking point, allowing the oil to actually fuse with the metal and create a smoother, more nonstick cooking surface. It’s a fairly simple process but it can be intimidating to the cast iron neophyte, which is why we chose only options that came pre-seasoned, so you could experience the difference cast iron skillets can make to your food immediately.
  5. Other Great Options
    Other great options we didn’t list include popular brands like Le Creuset and Field iron skillets, but for the budget-minded chef, these more expensive options don’t necessarily provide more performance for the money, even if they elicit oohs and ahhs from houseguests.

Cast Iron Skillet FAQs

Can you ruin a cast iron pan?

The best cast iron skillets and pans are extremely tough when it comes to taking a beating, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Water can be the enemy in this case- letting cast iron sit in a sink soaking like you would a normal pan, or not drying it properly and storing it can lead to it rusting so badly that no amount of scrubbing can save it. Cast iron pans can be cleaned by scrubbing under hot water, and stuck-on food can be removed by boiling water in the pan. There is some disagreement as to whether or not it’s okay to use soap to clean them, but exercising caution if you’re worried about it isn’t the worst idea. Regardless, making sure it’s dried thoroughly after use is a must.

Are cast iron skillets hard to maintain?

The short answer is- not really! First off, cast iron pans need to be seasoned- meaning treated with cooking oil which is baked into the metal to the point where it fuses with the surface of the pan and helps increase its nonstick properties. Many pans come pre-seasoned and can be used out of the box, but even these pans will benefit greatly from further seasoning by the user. A well-seasoned and cared for cast iron pan can be as nonstick as teflon-coated offerings- with food that tastes a lot better! Apart from that, it’s important to make sure your pan is stored dry and not left soaking in water- although up to a certain degree, a rusty pan can be salvaged. So although cast iron pans skillets do require a little more care than standard ones, it’s not a huge chore, and the massive improvement to your food makes it absolutely worthwhile.

Can I use a cast iron skillet for everything?

With proper care, absolutely. Although they’re especially known for excelling at searing meat and fish, a well-seasoned and frequently used cast iron pan’s non-stick properties will increase with use, making it equally effective at cooking omelettes as it is at getting a restaurant-quality sear on steak. Their heat resistant qualities also make them ideal for in-oven applications like paella, slow-cooked meat, and casseroles. A quality one can even be used on an outdoor grill or a campfire.

Can cast iron make you sick?

No- in fact, quite the opposite. Studies have shown that cooking food in cast iron can significantly increase the iron content of the food- but many Americans don’t get nearly enough iron in their diet- which can lead to iron deficiency anemia- the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, especially for women. So, while too much iron can theoretically hurt you, it’s such a rare occurrence that it’s a negligible factor, and in fact, using cast iron appliances can actually make you healthier.

Jed Smith

I'm a musician and recording engineer and live in Queens. I have a cat. Her name is Elsa. I love to write about consumer tech and musical instruments.

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