Cast Iron Pans | 8 Best Cast-Iron Skillets to Last a Lifetime
Cast Iron Pans | 8 Best Cast-Iron Skillets to Last a Lifetime

The cast-iron skillet is the powerhouse of all kitchen equipment. There are plenty of myths out there about cast-iron pans being difficult to clean, complicated to season, and too expensive. They may rust if not dried properly, but with the right care, these top-rated skillets will only get better with age. Many of our recommendations are well under $50, and all provide maximum heat retention, chemical-free nonfat cooking, and can last for the rest of your life.

Check out the quick reviews below of our top five cast-iron skillets, or scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of those models plus other high-ranking options.

What to Know About Cast-Iron Before You Buy

Any of these skillets can handle heavy lifting on your stovetop, oven, grill, or campfire, but there are some differences in their construction and care that you should know before you buy.

First, all of these pans come factory preseasoned, meaning they are ready to use from the box. However, they vary in how much use they require before becoming a truly nonstick surface. Follow the instructions particular for each model, which may range from baking the cast-iron skillet with oil at high heat to simply lathering on a bit of vegetable oil after you clean it. With enough use, all of these pans should become perfectly nonstick without having to add extra oil when you cook.

While there are plenty of affordable cast-iron skillets available, some more expensive options, like Le Creuset’s pans, are enameled. These typically have smoother cooking surfaces and bright enamel exterior color options. However, you should never use metal utensils on them, since it can scratch the nonstick enamel surface. Though they can cost up to $200, these models are an investment that can last your whole life and will save you the money and hassle of replacing Teflon pans every few years.

The other features to consider in cast-iron are their ease of handling, size, and weight. While all cast-iron is going to be heavy, there are lighter-weight options. Some also have longer handles and/or helper side handles to carry it two-handed from the oven or burner to the counter or dining table. Some brands include silicone handle covers or sell them separately to protect your hands from the hot metal handle.

How to Clean a Cast-Iron Pan

Cast-iron has a reputation for being difficult to clean, but maintaining your cast-iron doesn’t actually have to be a challenge. While each brand may have distinct care instructions for its cast iron, we have some general guidelines to help so your skillet will last a long time.

First and foremost, never clean your cast iron like you would your other dishes with a sponge and soap. Most of the time, you can simply wipe it down with a paper towel or cloth. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can use a scrubber and water and some salt. But you should then place the pan in a 350-degree oven for several minutes until its completely dry to prevent rusting. After cleaning and drying it, wipe it down with any vegetable oil, then store it in a dry space so it doesn’t absorb moisture or humidity.

How We Rated Them

We researched 11 expert sources such as America’s Test Kitchen, The Spruce Eats, Gear Hungry, and Wirecutter, and 26,000 consumer reviews to select the top eight cast-iron pans of the year. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of consumers who rated the product at least 4 out of 5 stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Best Overall

Lodge Classic 12-Inch

Consumer Score: 88% give it 4 stars or higher
You can’t go wrong with this best-selling skillet from the most well-known cast-iron brand.

Size options: 3.5, 6.5, 8, 9, 10, 10.25, 12, 13.5, 15 in. | Depth: 2 in. | Weight: 8.5 lb.


Lodge Classic 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet


  • Great heat retention
  • Silicone handle holder protects hands up to 500° F
  • Heavier and bulkier than others

There’s a reason Lodge has been the best-selling cast-iron company for decades—its craftsmanship means you won’t have to buy another pan in your lifetime. Out of its test of 17 skillets, Wirecutter recommended only Lodge cast-iron. They come preseasoned with vegetable oil, though users note that you must treat it with oil for it to become truly nonstick. “I feel this pan is ready for decades of service, as long as it is treated properly,” said one reviewer on Amazon. Though some report the Lodge to be heavier and a bit more unwieldy than other models, the included silicone handle grip makes it easier to carry when hot.

Most Premium

Le Creuset 11.75-Inch Signature Iron

Consumer Score: 79% give it 4 stars or higher
This premium pick features a glossy, colorful exterior and smooth center.

Size options: 6.3, 9, 10.25, 11.75 in. | Depth: 1.75 in. | Weight: 6.8 lb.

Le Creuset

Le Creuset 11.75-Inch Signature Iron Handle Cast-Iron Skillet


$199.95 (23% off)

  • Colorful options and smooth black enamel surface
  • Loop helper handle
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Expensive
  • Metal utensils will scratch enamel

This cast-iron skillet from the high-end French brand Le Creuset may be the most expensive option, but for the price, you get a super-smooth, nonstick surface for low-fat cooking from the very first use. Both the black enameled interior and colorful enameled exterior are durable and resistant to stains. Users enjoyed that the loop helper handle makes it easier to carry, even while wearing oven mitts. America’s Test Kitchen summed up that “With flaring sides, an oversize helper handle, wide pour spouts, a satiny interior, and balanced weight, this expensive but beautifully made pan is a pleasure to cook in.”

Best Value

Victoria 12-Inch

Consumer Score: 95% give it 4 stars or higher
The cheapest cast-iron pan also has one of the best nonstick surfaces right out of the box.

Size options: 6.5, 8, 10, 12, 13 in. | Depth: 2 in. | Weight: 6.35 lb.


Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

  • Preseasoned with organic flaxseed oil
  • Inexpensive

Epicurious described the Victoria skillet as “the best straight-out-of-the-box skillet,” since it required no additional oil to slide a cooked egg easily off the surface. It’s designed with a longer, curved handle as well as a wider helper handle, pour spouts, and hanging holes for easier use and storage. Like the Lodge, its surface is rough until its layers of seasoning build up from use. On Amazon, one buyer wrote that they “definitely recommend it for the durability, quality, and affordability.”

Best Camping

Field no. 8 10.25-Inch

Consumer Score: 98% give it 4 stars or higher
The most lightweight high-end skillet to bring along on outdoor adventures.

Size options: 6.75, 10.25, 11.63, 13.38 in. | Depth: 2 in. | Weight: 4.5 lb.

Field Company

Field no. 8 10.25-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet


The Field Company may be relatively new to cast-iron, but its cast-iron skillet is a lightweight and smooth addition to the market. By design, it lacks pour spouts so oil won’t drip out of the pan, making it a good pick to bring along on a camping trip and set over your campfire. “Plus, the grapeseed oil pre-seasoning [that] the skillets come with outperformed that of every other pan we tested,” reported Gear Patrol. Though it’s not cheap, it’s one of the most lightweight and smooth, nonstick cast-iron pans at its price point.

Best Design

Finex 8-Inch

Consumer Score: 93% give it 4 stars or higher
The Finex skillet stands out from the crowd with its octagonal design and coiled handle.

Size options: 8, 10, 12 in. | Depth: 2 in. | Weight: 4.2 lb.


Finex 8-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet


  • Thicker base for even cooking and baking
  • Cool-touch handle and six pouring directions

Based in Portland, Oregon, Finex has designed a unique, handmade cast-iron skillet with octagonal sides and coiled stainless steel around the handle. However, this design isn’t just for style—the corners provide six points to pour sauces or grease from, and the handle stays cooler for longer than those of other cast-iron pans. You can also buy a cast-iron lid for it separately. One Amazon reviewer said, “I leave it out on top of my stove to add a little class to my kitchen.”

More Great Options to Consider

Staub 10-Inch

Consumer Score: 91% give it 4 stars or higher
Another premium enameled option with an easy-to-use, colorful design.

Size options: 8, 10, 11, 12 in. | Depth: 2.2 in. | Weight: 6.5 lb.


Staub Cast Iron 10-inch Fry Pan


  • Compact and stylish
  • Dishwasher safe

Like the Le Creuset, the Staub is a French-made enameled cast-iron pan with a smooth exterior and interior. It’s also just as expensive, though the 10-inch model is relatively lightweight. It doesn’t have a loop helper handle, but does have a ledge across from the handle for additional support. At Williams-Sonoma, one buyer said that it’s well-balanced and easy to clean like other Staub cookware. It can even be put in the dishwasher, though you may want to do that sparingly to maintain the seasoning.

Utopia Kitchen 12.5-Inch

Consumer Score: 83% give it 4 stars or higher
A large, economical choice so long as you properly re-season it.

Size options: 12.5 in. | Depth: 2 in. | Weight: 7.75 lb.

Utopia Kitchen

Utopia Kitchen 12.5-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet


  • Must be re-seasoned after every wash

The Utopia Kitchen cast-iron skillet has passed through several stages of factory seasoning with a soy-based oil, though you’ll need to put in your own work seasoning it after every wash to develop and maintain a nonstick cooking surface. Users report that it’s large, but not too heavy. It also has a small helper handle. One reviewer wrote on Amazon, “Since I have problems lifting heavy objects, I have been unable to use my cast iron skillets. I have been looking for something like this so I can use both my hands. Now that I have this, I can enjoy cooking some of my favorite dishes.”

T-fal 12-Inch

Consumer Score: 79% give it 4 stars or higher
Another affordable option with helpful handles and step-by-step care instructions.

Size options: 10.25, 12 in. | Depth: 2 in. | Weight: 9 lb.


T-fal 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet


  • Affordable
  • Longer handle and side helper handle

The T-fal cast-iron is another inexpensive, standard 12-inch option. The Spruce Eats named it the best overall in its testing. Though it’s heavier than others, it has a longer handle and side loop to make it easier to carry. One buyer on Amazon recommended getting the silicone cover for the handle and edge of the pan to make lifting easier to avoid burning your hands. Like other cast-irons, it requires additional seasoning, but T-fal provides step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow.

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