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Cast iron can be a little (or a lot) intimidating to home cooks, but we promise that once you start cooking with this amazing material, you’ll never look back. What makes it so fabulous? For one, cast iron has unbeatable heat retention, so once it gets hot, it stays hot much more efficiently than other materials, making it ideal for searing or browning meat.
Additionally, as you build up a beautiful seasoning—a term you’ll often hear referring to the sleek surface created from layers of baked-on oil—cast iron becomes smooth and non-stick, making cooking and cleaning a breeze. Plus, cast iron is nearly indestructible, so even if you mistreat your pan (unintentionally, of course), chances are it can be easily restored. Are you sold yet?
Here, the best cast iron cookware for your kitchen.
For an affordable, entry-level cast iron skillet, Lodge is the way to go. This brand is known for its quality cast iron at wallet-friendly prices, and it sells skillets in every size imaginable, ranging from 3.5-inch pans made for just one egg to 15-inch skillets that can cook for a crowd. We’d recommend the 10.25-inch model for everyday home use, as it’s the perfect size to fit two or three steaks, which you can sear to perfection on the pre-seasoned surface.
"I received my Lodge cast iron skillet as a gift a few years ago and it has become one of my (okay, my husband’s) go-to pans to cook in. We love the skillet for cooking steaks or pork chops in—the pan heats evenly so you get a really nice sear, and then you can transfer the pan directly to the oven to finish. Bonus: It comes pre-seasoned, which makes it easy for those who are new to cast iron as you can start using the pan right away.
"A word of warning, cast iron pans get REALLY hot, so definitely get a handle cover (I like Lodge’s Silicone Handle Holder), and while you’re at it, pick up a chainmail scrubbing pad to keep your investment in tip-top shape."—Allison Bean, Editorial Director
One of the most well-known brands of cast iron cookware is Le Creuset, which offers top-quality pots and pans in a rainbow of stunning colors. While Le Creuset Round Dutch Ovens aren't cheap, they’re widely regarded as one of the best pieces of cast iron cookware you can buy, thanks to their superior performance, nonstick enamel coating, and chip-resistant finish.
You can use Le Creuset Round Dutch Ovens to braise meat, cook stew, bake bread, and so much more, and they can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven at temperatures up to 500 degrees. These pots come in a range of sizes from 1 quart all the way up to 13 quarts, but the most popular option is arguably the 5.5-quart size, which is ideal for cooking five or six servings at a time.
This cast iron casserole dish from IKEA is another option that's easy on your wallet and versatile in the kitchen. The 5.3-quart dish has an ivory-colored exterior and dark, enamel-coated interior that prevents food from sticking without the need for regular seasoning.
The round casserole dish comes with a matching lid to help seal in moisture and heat. Two generously-sized handles let you lift the pot off of the stove or out of the oven with ease, and this versatile vessel can be used for casseroles, roasting chicken, baking loaves of bread, and more recipes.
One of this high-end brand's most popular items is the round cocotte—another name for a Dutch oven. These pricey, yet beautiful pots are crafted in France, and they feature a glossy, vibrant enamel exterior and a matte black enamel inside.
One of the features that makes Staub cocottes stand out from the rest is their lids, which feature precisely placed nubs on the interior that funnel evaporated juices back down into the food. The result? Moist, tender, and mouth-watering dishes that will earn rave reviews from your dinner guests.
The Staub Round Cocotte comes in a range of sizes, with the 5.5-quart pick being a good choice for everyday use. If you like to match your cookware to your decor, you'll love that you can choose from more than a dozen color options, as well.
If you’ve ever tried to move a large skillet packed to the brim with food via just its long handle, you know it’s no easy feat—especially when the pan is made from heavy cast iron. That’s where a dual-handle skillet comes in handy.
The No. 14 Dual-Handle Skillet from Smithey is ideal for those times when you want to serve a meal right out of the pan, since you can simply pull it out of the oven using its two sturdy handles and easily carry it to the table (on a trivet, of course!). This skillet is 14 inches wide with a polished interior that’s the perfect smooth surface to build up a lovely, non-stick seasoning.
One of the downsides of cast iron cookware is that it can be quite heavy—unless you buy from the Field Company, that is. This company specializes in lighter weight cast iron that has a beautifully smooth finish, offered in a wide range of sizes.
This three-piece cookware set is a great purchase for up-and-coming home chefs, as it includes 6.75-, 10.25-, and 13.375-inch skillets. With these three popular sizes at your disposal, you’ll be able to cook meals for one or food for a crowd, and when taken care of properly, these high-quality skillets will be able to be passed down to the next generation.
Sometimes recipes call for you to cover a skillet to lock in moisture—in which case, this covered cast iron skillet from Tramontina will come in handy. The 12-inch pan features a vibrant, porcelain enamel exterior and a matte black enamel interior, which means you don’t have to worry about building up a seasoning.
The skillet has a pouring lip for draining off liquid, and both the pan and its lid are oven-safe up to 450 degrees, letting you tackle a wide variety of recipes with just one piece of cookware.
No place to put an outdoor grill? No problem. You can create the same beautiful char marks on your stovetop using this Staub Square Grill Pan. The hefty cast iron pan has a ridged cooking surface that creates delicious sear marks while also lifting food away from oil and grease. It has a durable enamel finish for easy cleaning, and comes in a wide range of colors, like all Staub cookware.
This pan's unique design isn't just for show! The Finex Cast Iron Fry Pan's octagonal shape provides you with several places to pour off liquid, and the heavyweight, tight-fitting lid has self-basting rings on the interior to direct liquid back down onto your food.
The pan comes pre-treated with flaxseed oil to give you a jump on your seasoning, and the stylish steel spring handle cools down quickly for easier handling.
Griddles are ideal for cooking foods with minimal liquid—think pancakes, quesadillas, or potatoes—as they have shorter sides than frying pans. This 10.5-inch griddle comes ready-to-use with flaxseed oil pre-seasoning, and its edges are slightly curved to help keep your food in the pan. The long handle is designed to give you better leverage, allowing you to carry it around the kitchen with ease.
The Staub Cast-Iron Chicken Mattone is a more specialized tool, but if you love recipes like pollo al mattone (also known as chicken under a brick) or pressed paninis, it’s a worthwhile addition to your kitchen. This 12-inch cast iron griddle includes a heavy ceramic press that you can use to apply weight to whatever you’re cooking, resulting in a deliciously crispy exterior. Plus, the pan can also be used on its own to fry eggs, cook burgers, and more!
A wok is a round-bottom cooking pot that’s commonly used to make stir-fry, but this cast iron version makes cooking a little easier thanks to its flat bottom. The heavyweight cast iron retains heat better than lighter cookware materials for more even cooking, and the pan comes pre-seasoned so you can use it right out of the box. It’s the perfect vehicle for stir-frys, but you can also use it to deep fry, saute, and more. Go ahead, get creative!