If you know the best cast iron skillet features you’ll know what cast iron skillet will suit your needs best and last for decades to come. Knowing a bit about the different brands of cast iron cookware will also help you better understand quality and a manufacturers willingness to stand behind their product. Follow along as we run through the key things you’ll need to know when selecting the best cast iron skillet for your needs.
Lodge is a well respected American manufacturer of cast iron cookware and their Logic Skillet is a solid raw cast iron option at a reasonable price point.
If you’re in the market for a cast iron skillet and want to season it instead of use an enameled cast iron this is a great choice.
Tramontina is my go to cast iron cookware brand for quality approaching that of the fine French brands but without breaking the bank.
This 12 inch skillet is a solid performer that also comes with a cast iron lid and a handle that can withstand oven temperatures. You can’t go wrong with a Tramontina enameled skillet.
The main feature to consider is whether to go with enameled cast iron or seasoned raw cast iron. Additional features to consider are size, shape, handle material, and manufacturers warranty. Size and shape factor in more for what you intend to cook in your cast iron skillet. Handle material is partially personal preference but you should ensure it can withstand high oven temperatures. Warranty is important to some people and not to others. Typically the more expensive the skillet the better the warranty and less hoops you’ll be required to jump through to have your warranty handled to your satisfaction.
Below are some points to consider regarding enameled vs. seasoned cast iron skillets:
The safest bet is to stick with well known brands in the cast iron cookware industry. Many cheap cast iron skillets and other cookware are produced in China. This isn’t necessarily bad but some Chinese factories can be less scrupulous than others. If the name of cast iron cookware you’re interested in doesn’t have an established track record in the cast iron cookware industry beware. A well-know personality lent their name to a line of cast iron cookware that was produced in China and later found to have significant issues with enamel cracking and chipping. They’ve since resolved the issue by moving to another manufacturer but this goes to show that an established track record for quality is the best course.
Seasoning cast iron cookware isn’t that difficult of a process but it can be a little time consuming if you do it properly and throughly. Fortunately for you we have the ultimate article on how to season cast iron.
The best cast iron skillet really depends on the purpose for which it’s being used. Beyond size and shape, the main consideration is to go with enameled cast iron or raw cast iron that will need to be seasoned. Skillets are not intended for slow cooking typically and this means that a good seasoning layer should hold up well. Slow cooking foods with high water content or high acidic content can break down the seasoning layer. Fats from oils and meats cooked at higher temperatures will add to the seasoning layer.
For seasoned cast iron you’ll want to try not to remove any of the seasoning layer. Rinse briefly with water and use a brush or sponge to work at areas that need attention. For tougher areas use a bit of coarse salt as an abrasive to scrub. Once you’re satisfied with the results wipe off all the water you can and then put on your cooktop at high heat to evaporate any remaining water.
One of the great benefits of cast iron is it is naturally non-stick. Raw cast iron can be seasoned to produce a good natural non-stick surface. Enameled cast iron is naturally fairly non-stick. Those concerned with chemicals used in Teflon-coated or other chemically-based non-stick surfaces should have no concerns with traditional cast iron.
In addition to being naturally non-stick which is probably the best reason, cast iron cookware heats much more evening and is easier to cook with because of this. It also heats slower due to the large mass that needs to be heated. This helps reduce issues where you step away for a moment and come back to find that your pan heated faster than expected and everything is now burned on the bottom.
Definitely. Cast iron cookware is some of the most durable cookware you can buy. You don’t need to worry about excessive heat cracking or warping it. As a matter of fact, when seasoning raw cast iron part of the process is to place your cast iron cookware in your oven at a temperature that is 500ºF or as high as your oven will allow.
The seasoning layer on the best cast iron skillets is nothing more than carbon which is perfectly safe. Also, iron transferred from cooking with cast iron is considered beneficial and a good source of iron.
Sure. Obviously you’ll need to take care not to bang it too hard on your cooktop but the tempered glass used is very durable. You also shouldn’t slide your cast iron cookware around too much on the glass surface if you’re concerned about scratches. Cast iron is very heavy and grit underneath the cookware could more easily scratch the surface of the cooktop due to the excessive weight.
Absolutely! Cast iron may even be the best cookware for use with induction cooktops. Just keep in mind that you’ll want a nice smooth bottom so it will sit well on they induction eye. Induction cooktops are incredibly efficient and transfer almost all of their energy to heating the metal cookware. Gas or even standard electric burners produce a lot of excess heat that never makes it to the skillet. Induction cooktops work similar to how a traditional electric cooktop works but instead of using electricity to heat the metal element it bypasses that and directly heats the metal cookware which is quite ingenious. Induction will heat metal cookware much faster than other methods as well and this is particularly helpful with cast iron as it can be slow to heat due to it’s large mass.
The best cast iron skillet is partially preference but raw seasoned cast iron is usually preferable to enameled surface skillets. The seasoning layer tends to be more non-stick than enamel which makes cooking on raw seasoned cast iron a little nicer than enamel.
Hopefully you’ve learned a lot about cast iron skillets and what to look for when making your purchase decision. If you still have questions be sure and sound off in the comments section below. Good luck and happy cooking!
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