Think of a cast-iron skillet and you may imagine wild-west cowboys around the fire cooking beans. But this old-time favorite utensil has experienced a surge of popularity among today’s home cooks. Many say it’s the best tool you can use for making flavorful dishes no matter where you are.
Indeed, a cast-iron skillet is probably the most versatile piece of equipment you’ll ever have in your cooking arsenal. You can fry eggs and pancakes, roast a chicken, stir-fry vegetables, bake a batch of cornbread, sear a steak, bake a pizza, sauté a couple of quails, and more all in one pan that easily transfers from stove-top to oven.
We recently reviewed dozens of them to help you out with that decision. We looked at factors like whether they’ve been pre-seasoned, coatings (which can negate the need for seasoning), cost, customer reviews, and other considerations. All of these top-rated cast iron skillets can be purchased online at Amazon.
We’ve identified the Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet as our top pick overall. Though several top-rated brands work well when it comes to your basic cast iron skillet, this one adds in a few extras including the lid and hot-handle holder, while giving you a good quality skillet that can be used for just about anything.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Cast Iron Skillets
|Best Cast Iron Skillet Overall||Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet||4.5|
|Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet||Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Skillet||4.4|
|Best Budget Cast Iron Skillet||Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet||4.4|
|Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven||Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven||4.6|
|Best Cast Iron Grill Pan||Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan||4.4|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change.
Best Cast Iron Skillet Overall: Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet
If you’re just getting started with cast-iron cooking, or you simply need a basic 12-inch skillet, you can’t go wrong with the Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet. It’s been pre-seasoned to provide that non-stick surface you need, and the cast iron gives you even heat distribution for improved cooking and frying.
Like most cast iron skillets, you can use this in your kitchen, on your backyard grill, or even over an open fire while camping. It provides great versatility and can be used for baking, grilling, broiling, braising, frying, and sautéing meats and vegetables. It comes with a tempered glass lid for simmering or baking, along with a non-slip, heat-resistant handle to keep your hands safe while cooking or serving.
Cuisinel offers a one-year money-back guarantee on this pan, so you can purchase risk-free. Reviewers say food cooks thoroughly and completely in this pan and comes out easily with the non-stick pres-seasoned surface.
Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet Key Features:
- Pre-seasoned to provide a smooth, non-stick surface
- Use it on the stove, in the oven, on the backyard grill, or over an open fire
- Comes with a tempered glass lid and non-slip, heat-resistant handle
- Buy risk-free with a one-year money-back guarantee
Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet: Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Skillet
If you don’t want to worry about pre-seasoning and you want a lasting, non-stick surface that doesn’t require extra care, enameled is the way to go. We chose the Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Skillet as the best option here, as it has a vibrant, gradated porcelain enamel exterior finish that offers a more elegant option for your kitchen or table. Just in case you’ve heard about potentially toxic chemicals in non-stick coatings, this one is PFOA- and PTFE-free.
You’ll enjoy the same cast-iron interior as with other cast iron skillets, but the enamel gives this skillet a little more style while retaining the non-stick surface. It also makes it easy to hand wash, and you can feel free to use dish soap without worry.
This skillet comes with a matching lid that has the same color and enamel finish, and also has self-basting ridges to uniformly collect and direct vapors onto the food, giving your dishes a moist and savory taste. Like all cast iron skillets, it works well for all types of recipes and cooking surfaces and comes with a convenient pouring lip on either side.
Choose the red color if you prefer. Each comes with a lifetime warranty. Reviewers mentioned that it looks great on the table, and cooks quickly and evenly.
Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Skillet Key Features:
- Enameled skillet provides a smooth non-stick surface
- Cast-iron interior means it distributes heat evenly
- Works well on the stove or in the oven
- A beautiful addition to your cookware; looks great on the table
- Comes in red or blue
Best Budget Cast Iron Skillet: Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron skillet
Start enjoying cast-iron cooking now for under $20 with the Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet. This 12-inch skillet is perfect for cooking at home, but it can also be used for camping and outdoor cooking, and because of the low price, you won’t have to worry about roughing it up a bit in the great outdoors.
Do everything with this skillet that you would do with any other, including baking casseroles, cooking steaks, making bread, frying up some eggs or pancakes, roasting some chicken, or frying up some fish. This skillet is versatile and simple to use while giving your food the better flavor you’d expect from cast iron.
This skillet, like most, has been pre-seasoned so it’s ready to use straight out of the box, but the manufacturer does recommend you season it again from time to time, which is common with any cast iron cookware. Reviewers say that it gives a nice flavor to food, is easy to clean, and cooks better than a Teflon pan.
Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet Key Features:
- Standard cast-iron skillet for less than $20
- Versatile and easy to use
- Comes pre-seasoned so you can start cooking right away
- Great for use as a camping or outdoor skillet
Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven
You may have memories of Dutch oven meals with your family, and those memories are likely to remain with you over time because the food tastes like none other. The flavor is overflowing when cooked in this particular type of cookware, and you can fit a lot of food into this 7-quart Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, making it perfect for family meals or for creating leftovers.
Lodge is a high-quality brand when it comes to cast iron cookware, made here in the USA in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee since 1896. The cast iron is known for its high quality, lifetime durability, and cooking versatility. Lodge seasons its cookware with 100 percent vegetable oil—no synthetic coatings or chemicals.
This particular oven comes complete with a lid that features self-basting tips that recirculate moisture as the food cooks. The pot provides excellent heat distribution for consistent, even cooking, and the dual handle design makes it easy to move around as needed. As usual, feel free to use this piece in the oven, on the grill, on the stove, or over a campfire.
Reviewers say this is perfect for baking bread, particularly artisan bread, but works equally well for roasting and stews, making restaurant-quality meals.
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven Key Features:
- High-quality cast iron from a company that’s been doing it for over 100 years
- Made in the USA
- Preseasoned with 100% vegetable oils
- Lid features self-basting tips that recirculate moisture
- Use on the grill, stovetop, oven, or campfire
Best Cast Iron Grill Pan: Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan
Though you typically use only a little oil when cooking in a cast-iron skillet, you may be cooking fatty selections of meat that aren’t the best for your weight-loss goals. You can always drain the grease when you’re done, but a cast iron grill pan gives you a healthier option by keeping your food elevated away from the grease while it’s cooking.
We chose the Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan as the best choice again here because it’s well made and comes with built-in grill ribs that elevate food and help collect the drippings. It’s perfect for searing, sautéing, broiling, or frying, and allows you to get that same unparalleled flavor of cast iron while cutting back on the extra fat.
As with the Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, the Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan is made of quality cast iron that helps retain and evenly distribute heat throughout the food and is tough enough to last for decades of cooking. It comes pre-seasoned for a natural, easy-release finish, and can be used at home, on the stove, on the grill, or over the campfire.
Reviewers recommend this pan over a nonstick grill and note that it works equally well for indoor barbeques as outdoor.
Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan Key Features:
- Built-in grill ribs elevate food away from the drippings
- Quality cast iron is tough and durable
- Great for grilling steaks and barbequing
- Pre-seasoned for a natural, easy-release finish
- Versatile and can be used indoors or outdoors
Caring for Your Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is made of a very dense metal, so it’s extremely durable and nearly impervious to damage. It holds heat extremely well and cooks faster than most other types of pans. The food browns easily, allowing you to create restaurant-quality homemade foods with crispy, golden brown exteriors. Clean-up is typically no problem on a well-seasoned pan, as the food lifts off nearly effortlessly and soap isn’t needed or recommended.
Cast iron skillets are also good in an emergency, or when camping out. As those cowboys did, you can take yours out to the fire with you, which can be particularly helpful during a long power outage. Many disaster plans list cast iron skillets as the best type of survival cookware.
If you’ve decided it’s time to join the throng of cast-iron-skillet fans, you may wonder which would be best to start with. Keep in mind that one of the most important facets of a good cast iron skillet is what’s called “seasoning.”
Over time and with regular use, these skillets develop a black patina (or film) that provides a non-stick surface slick enough for eggs to slide off of. This is the “seasoning.” There are many different ways to season a pan, but the basic process goes something like this:
- Scrub the skillet well in hot soapy water, then dry thoroughly.
- Spread a thin layer of melted shortening or vegetable oil over the skillet. A tablespoon or two is plenty. Use a paper towel to rub the oil around the entire skillet, including the outside and bottom.
- Place it upside down on the middle oven rack and bake one hour at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place foil on the lower rack to catch the drips.
- Cool in the oven before removing. You’re ready to cook.
Once you’ve seasoned the pan, you can cook with it like normal. If the pan ever looks dull or rusted, simply season it again. To clean, use a stiff brush or plastic scrubber underwater. For stubborn stains, use salt, but never use soap, as that will ruin your seasoning.
Once you get your cast iron skillet, remember to never put it in the dishwasher and wash with water and a scrubby or brush only (except for the enameled version—you can use dish soap on that one). For more kitchen tools, check out our 25 Best Electric Pressure Cookers and Best Electric Can Openers.