9 best cast iron skillets and pans

26 January 2021

le creuset cast iron skillet

For searing meats, stir-frying veg and cooking one pot meals, a cast iron skillet is a valuable addition to your kitchen cupboard.

A cast iron skillet or pan might be best known for searing steaks and crisping fish quickly, but it has a number of uses in the kitchen, from making tear-and-share breads to one-pot meals that you can start on the hob and then move straight to the oven.

It’s this versatility that makes cast iron skillets so popular. While they may be heavy and need a little extra care, once you get used to them they’re worth their weight in gold.

In terms of cost, cast iron skillets vary hugely, so you’ll need an idea of your budget before you begin shopping. We’ve rounded up the best on the market in various price brackets to save you the legwork.

Here are the best cast iron skillets to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall cast iron skillet: Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Round Skillet

“I have lodge cast iron pans. Nothing sticks – ever.”

1. Best overall cast iron skillet: Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Round Skillet

This cast iron skillet, made in Tennessee, is a bestseller in the US. It’s a great size, with plenty of surface area to cook on, but not so huge that it’s impossible to lift.

The Lodge Cast Iron Round Skillet is really versatile and can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the barbecue or even over an open fire, so it’s great for keen campers.

It has some useful design features, such as an assist handle, which makes lifting and manoeuvring the pan easier, as well as two side lips for pouring. It also comes pre-seasoned.

Robust and durable the Lodge should last a lifetime if cared for properly, which for under £50 seems like a good deal to us. Look out for online deals – we’ve seen it at almost half price on Amazon.

What we like

  • Side lips on both sides for mess-free pouring
  • Pre-seasoned at the foundry to provide a natural finish that improves with time
  • Can be used on a stovetop and in the oven

What we don’t like

  • No covers or lids are included
  • High-maintenance cleaning

2. Best budget cast iron skillet: Dawsons Living Cast Iron Grill Pan

2. Best budget cast iron skillet: Dawsons Living Cast Iron Grill Pan

Dawsons' square, cast-iron griddle pan is a good size, with a strong handle and a lip for easy pouring and a 10-year guarantee.

The square shape means there's lots of room for cooking and the griddle base is great if you want to aim for healthier cooking and be able to pour off any fat as you go.

It’s available in a range of pretty colours, in case matching it to your kitchen scheme is important to you, and the skillet works on all types of hob, including induction.

What we like

  • Good heat distribution
  • Nice range of colours
  • Good value

What we don’t like

  • Paint may chip over time
  • Square shape makes moving food around the pan slightly tricky

Price: £19.99

Buy now from Amazon

3. Best cast iron skillet set: Nuovva Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set

3. Best cast iron skillet set: Nuovva Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set

This three-piece set from Nuovva offers both flexibility and excellent value for money. With a six-inch, eight-inch and 10-inch pan included, it allows keen cooks to have more than one skillet on the go at once

You'll also be able to set one skillet set aside for strong flavours like fish or garlic, and the compact size of the six-inch pan offers good manoeuvrability if you’re cooking small amounts.

The pans themselves are robust and the double lip is a handy design feature that most will appreciate. They also come pre-seasoned to save you the trouble.

Many reviews say the surface feels a little rougher than with other pans, but at less than £15 per pan we think it's worth it.

What we like

  • Versatile
  • Useful double lip for pouring
  • Excellent value for money

What we don’t like

  • Take up lots of space in a kitchen cupboard
  • Slightly rough surface

Price: £39.90

Buy now from Amazon

4. Best cast iron skillet for beginners: Kichly Pre-Seasoned 12.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

4. Best cast iron skillet for beginners: Kichly Pre-Seasoned 12.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

This pre-seasoned pan is a great beginner option for those wanting to try out skillet cooking before shelling out wads of cash.

Fairly large in size, which means it can be heavy to wield, it gives you plenty of cooking space and lots of room for you to move food about in the pan.

The skillet is pre-seasoned so there’s no tricky prep to get your head around before you begin, however reviews recommend a coating of oil before you get cooking. The surface improves with age, becoming nicer to use every time you cook.

If you’ve not used a skillet before, you’ll find the assist handle helpful in moving the skillet around, and the lip edges on either side useful for pouring off fat or sauces. We also like the fact that the handle isn’t too long, making it easier to store.

A solid, durable skillet that’s easy to use and easy to look after (as long as you follow the simple instructions on cleaning cast iron – see our buyer's guide below), the Kichly will have you cooking on gas – and in the oven and under the grill – in no time.

What we like

  • Lips on both sides for pouring
  • Assist handle
  • Excellent value
  • Generous amount of cooking space – great for families

What we don’t like

  • Quite heavy

5. Best small cast iron skillet: Victoria Mini Cast Iron Skillet

5. Best small cast iron skillet: Victoria Mini Cast Iron Skillet

A durable cast iron skillet that comes in a range of sizes starting at 6.5 inches, the Victoria is ideal if you're only cooking small amounts.

There are pouring lips on each side of the pan which makes it easy to tip off any liquid, and the design means your food will stay hot for at least 10 minutes.

It comes ready-seasoned and is suitable for use on the hob, in the oven and on campfires. The smallest size would be perfect for any camping trip.

What we like

  • Seasoned with non-GMO flaxseed oil
  • Range of sizes available

What we don’t like

  • No helper handle

6. Best enamelled cast iron skillet: Le Creuset Cast Iron Grillit

“I have a Le Creuset griddle pan, which is amazing.”

6. Best enamelled cast iron skillet: Le Creuset Cast Iron Grillit

Le Creuset is probably the best-known brand for cast iron cookware and offers lifetime guarantees on its products.

The Cast Iron Grillit is enamel-coated, which makes it easier to take care of, and has both a helper handle as well as pouring edges on both sides for ease of use.

It can go straight from hob to oven too, and is really good at maintaining an even temperature for cooking. The griddle shape allows you to give steaks (and anything else) an attractive criss-cross look when cooked.

As we’ve come to expect from Le Creuset, it’s available in a range of very cool colours to match to your kitchen – and other Le Creuset cookware, should you become as addicted as many Mumsnetters have already.

What we like

  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Helper handle and pouring lip

What we don’t like

  • Fairly expensive

7. Best lightweight iron skillet: Netherton Foundry 12-Inch Spun Iron Prospector Pan

“Netherton Foundry do amazing cast and spun iron pans. I have a ridiculously large amount of them. Lighter than Lodge pans and made in the UK too.”

7. Best lightweight iron skillet: Netherton Foundry 12-Inch Spun Iron Prospector Pan

If you’d love a new skillet but have previously found them difficult to use due to their weight, this model from Shropshire-based Netherton Foundry might be a game-changer for you.

The iron here is spun, rather than cast, making it much lighter than similar models, and easier to lift and tip. The Prospector Pan can be used in the oven as well as on the hob, and its attractive and unusual shape means it looks really good on the table too.

Reviews say it sears beautifully and it also comes with a non-stick coating. Obviously there’s no long handle, so think about whether you can get on with that, but we like the fact that this makes it easier to store and that it has the look of a serving dish when on the table.

What we like

  • Lightweight materials
  • Double handle

What we don’t like

  • No pouring lip
Buy now from Amazon

8. Best luxury cast iron skillet: Le Creuset Signature 23cm Cast Iron Skillet

“The Le Creuset is an excellent non-stick pan. Mine has been in daily use for a year and looks brand-new.”

8. Best luxury cast iron skillet: Le Creuset Signature 23cm Cast Iron Skillet

Albeit pricey, Le Creuset is the queen of cast iron cookware. This 23cm (nine-inch) pan is a small model but big enough for a couple of steaks or a meal for two. The helper handle and pouring lips on two sides make the skillet super easy to handle as well.

As you’d hope, this Le Creuset skillet offers a really good cooking surface that sears well and maintains an even cooking temperature.

It’s very easy to clean, with food wiping easily from its non-stick surface. And, of course, it’s available in lots of fabulous colours – though we're particularly fond of the retro and very cool Volcanic Orange.

What we like

  • Fabulous results in use
  • Double pouring sides
  • Non-stick

What we don’t like

  • Expensive

9. Best double-handled cast iron skillet: Staub Cast Iron Fry Pan

9. Best double-handled cast iron skillet: Staub Cast Iron Fry Pan

Like Le Creuset, Staub is a high-end brand that makes beautiful skillets, if at quite a price. If you have the budget to stretch to one, you’ll thank yourself, but if you’re just starting out it might be best to try a less expensive model.

The Cast Iron Fry Pan is a beautifully smooth skillet though, with a surface that cooks well and cleans up easily after use.

The double handles in place of one long handle give it a balanced feel on the hob and help it to slide into the oven easily. It also looks just as good as a serving dish on the table.

It works on all types of hob, including induction, and can go in the oven and under the grill too. For serious foodies, this will be a welcome addition to your cooking arsenal.

What we like

  • Double handles
  • Brilliant cooking surface

What we don’t like

  • The price!

Price: £113.05

Buy now from Amazon

Why buy a cast iron skillet?

A cast iron skillet has many uses, from pan frying meats and veggies, to making frittatas, breads and even giant biscuits on the hob. If yours is made completely of iron, it also gives you the flexibility to put it on the oven to continue cooking your dish if you need to.

The main plus with cast iron is that it gets really hot and stays really hot so it’s fantastic for searing meat and fish, giving you a crisp outside and a tender inside in seconds.

Cast iron skillets are also virtually indestructible – though don’t drop one on your foot because toes, sadly, aren’t indestructible – and, contrary to popular belief, they’re pretty easy to look after, only improving with age.

What should I look for in a cast iron skillet?

A cast iron skillet can be quite an outlay, and while they may look similar, there can be more differences between pans than you think.

First consider size and your budget. The bigger your skillet, the heavier it will be. You don’t want to find yourself unable to lift the thing, but if your cooking surface is vast, you'll have more versatility with a larger pan.

Other than those basics, here are a few features worth looking out for:

  • Double handles or a helper handle – Cast iron is heavy, so if you’re transferring the skillet to the table or from hob to oven, it can be hard on the wrists. Two handles or a helper handle make that a bit easier.
  • A Pouring side – This is a little dip on one side that lets you pour fat off without it dribbling down the side of the skillet.
  • A non-stick, smooth surface – While skillets can get a bit bumpy with age, the smoother the surface, the less food will stick when cooking.
  • Pre-seasoned – You can season a pan yourself and you may well want to re-season it at some point, but if you buy a pre-seasoned pan you’re ready to cook right from the off.
  • Enamelled – An enamelled pan is easier to clean and requires no seasoning.
  • A gentle slope on the sides – This allows for better airflow in the pan as a skillet is more of a cooking surface than a pot.

What is the proper way to clean a cast iron skillet?

Enamelled cast iron is usually dishwasher-safe, but you may be better off washing it by hand to preserve its patina and avoid long-term damage.

To clean an ordinary cast iron skillet, the main thing to remember is not to use detergent. Just scrub it well with a brush in hot water to remove any food residue. You can use a paste of salt and water to tackle any stubborn bits.

Don’t go anywhere near it with anything like wire wool or you’ll ruin the patina. The whole point of a skillet is that it remains a little oily. Once clean, dry it off using some kitchen roll and then a dish cloth.

If you want to make sure it’s really dry, you can put it back on the burner to ‘cook off’ any last remains of water. Then take a piece of kitchen towel and a tiny amount of oil and lightly rub it on the pan's cooking surface before putting it away.

How much should you spend on a cast iron skillet?

While you can spend hundreds of pounds on a top-notch cast iron skillet (and you do get what you pay for), we think you can get a decent cast iron skillet for between £20 and £50 depending on size.

What is the best brand of cast iron skillet?

Le Creuset is best brand of cast iron cookware and is covered by a lifetime guarantee (unless dropped). It's high-quality and robust, but can be pricey. Other good cast iron skillet brands include Netherton Foundry and Kichly.

However, we think the best cast iron skillet to buy right now is the Lodge 10.25-Inch Round Cast Iron Skillet for its durability and versatility.

How we chose our recommendations

We first looked at both customer feedback and also reviews from kitchen experts and kitchenware websites to see which brands and products had won the most accolades.

We then turned to Mumsnet’s forums and checked out what Mumsnetters were saying about these brands. From there, we drew up a shortlist of those that were mentioned again and again.

Finally, we whittled our shortlist down to the 10 cast iron skillets that we think offer something for everyone, at every price point.

Why you should trust us

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Main image credit: Le Creuset