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Curious About Cast-Iron Cooking? Here’s the Cookware You Need, Plus Everything To Maintain It

Carrie Bell
Treat this cookware right, and it'll pay you back in kind.
Treat this cookware right, and it'll pay you back in kind. / Lodge/Amazon
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Cast iron has been around for a long time. The earliest traces of it date back to China in the 8th century BCE, and by the early 200s BCE, Chinese metallurgists took its evolution one step further when they developed the blast furnace, which was used for smelting to produce different types of industrial-strength metals, including cast iron.

For the next 1000 years, it was used mostly to forge weapons and agricultural tools, as well as architecture like the iron pagoda at the Yuquan Temple in Dangyang, China, which was constructed in 1061 out of 84,400 pounds of the material. Cast iron eventually made its way to Europe, and circa 1708, another breakthrough occurred when English inventor and metal worker Abraham Darby—inspired by the sand-molding techniques he’d seen in Holland that were used to make pots—devised and patented a method that paired sand-casting with smelt iron to produce affordable cookware.

Flash forward to today, and cast-iron cookware is now one of the most common (and yet still coveted) items we keep in our kitchens. Whether you're using a skillet or a griddle, items made out of this material have a reputation for being durable, versatile, and easy to transition from a campfire to a stovetop, oven, or even grill. And thanks to the nonstick seasoning that develops with every use, these pieces get better with age and often become beloved family heirlooms.

These days, you can find a cast-iron option for almost every type of culinary task. Deciding which pots, pans, or specialty tools to add to your collection can be overwhelming, especially due to the wide variety of sizes, shapes, types, brands, and price ranges. We’ve assembled a list of 11 cool cast-iron cookware products (plus a few carbon-steel alternatives and cleaning accessories to consider) that can help you start to build—or just add more to—your set.

1. Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Skillet; From $19

Utopia Kitchen Skillet with vegetables in it.
Utopia Kitchen Skillet / Utopia Kitchen/Amazon

If you only plan to add one cast-iron item to your cookware cadre, make it a versatile skillet like this one, which is both wide and deep enough to fry chicken, make a one-pan meal, or sauté up your haul from the local farmer's market. This pre-seasoned pick from Utopia Kitchen is available in 10.25- or 12.5-inch models, maintains 4.7-star rating on Amazon after nearly 21,000 customer reviews, and receives high marks from shoppers for its even heat distribution and durability.

Buy it: Amazon

2. FINEX Skillet; From $150

FINEX cast iron skillet with tomatoes in it.
FINEX Skillet / FINEX/Sur La Table

If you have a desire to start a big cast-iron collection that can be passed down to your children and grandchildren (and you’re willing to spend a good chunk of change), consider grabbing a multi-purpose skillet like those created by the Portland-based brand FINEX. The Kickstarter-born company’s 8-, 10-, and 12-inch skillets are oven-safe up to 500°F and pre-seasoned by hand with organic flaxseed oil. This makes them ready to use out of the box, and allows for easy food release and clean-up.

On top of being eye-catching, the brand’s signature octagonal form features eight corners that serve as pour spouts to remove excess liquids, as well as angled sides so you can fit it alongside other cookware in an oven if needed. It also has straight edges, which allow cooks to wedge spatulas down into the prepared food and quickly dislodge crispy cornbread, paellas, or casseroles. The hand-polished, coiled stainless-steel handles cool quickly, and if you want, you can get lidded versions of this skillet, too.

Buy it: Sur La Table

3. Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle; $35

Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle with steak and vegetables on it.
Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle / Lodge/Amazon

Another valuable workhorse in the cast-iron cookware category is a grill or griddle plate that slides over the stovetop. This reversible option is from Lodge, one of the most reliable yet affordable names in the market. In fact, the South Pittsburg, Tennessee-based business is the oldest and longest-running manufacturer of the stuff in the U.S., so they’re obviously doing something right. Noted for its even heating, this griddle is pre-seasoned with vegetable oil and can be used to sear, bake, broil, grill, and, most of all, please the whole family with scrumptious dishes of all varieties. The dual handles make it easy to maneuver around a stovetop or sink, but at eight pounds and almost 17 inches by 10 inches, it's hefty and can lead to an accidental workout.

Buy: Amazon

4. Cuisinart Burger Press; $18

Cuisinart Burger Press pressed down on a grill.
Cuisinart Burger Press / Cuisinart/Amazon

The smash burger trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and with this cast-iron tool, you can flatten your turkey, ground beef, or Impossible patties like the pros with zero effort: The 6-inch circular press smushes loosely packed meatballs down using its own weight and gravity—making it the TRX resistance bands of kitchen gadgets—and sets the stage for crispy cracked edges and juicy centers. It can also come in handy when making quesadillas, paninis, or chicken.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Lodge Round Griddle; $20

Lodge Round Griddle with pancakes on it.
Lodge Round Griddle / Lodge/Amazon

This round, flat griddle has lower side walls than a standard skillet and an extra wide cooking surface, making it ideal for crepes, pancakes, egg wraps, and even warming tortillas. It comes pre-seasoned from the Lodge Foundry in Tennessee. The 10.5-inch pan can be used over an open fire, on a stovetop or grill, or in the oven. 

Buy it: Amazon

6. Bruntmor Enameled 2-In-1 Baking Dish With Lid Grill; From $60

Bruntmor 2-in-1 Baking Dish with Lid Grill against white background.
Bruntmor 2-in-1 Baking Dish with Lid Grill / Bruntmor/Amazon

Traditional and enamel cast iron have some key differences (for instance, the latter is usually more expensive and doesn't build up seasoning with every use the way traditional models do), but both types are incredibly resilient and will last forever if you take care of them properly. With this 11-inch, enamel-finished baking dish, you can whip up casseroles, lasagnas, and more. The lid pulls double duty, as it can be used to cover the dish during cooking or can be flipped over and used on its own as a grill. It's oven-safe up to 450°F and comes in seven colors, including pumpkin-spice orange, Caribbean blue, and fire-engine red; there are also black and gray options if those other colors are too loud for your taste(buds) at mealtime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Victoria Poffertjes Pan; $60

Victoria Poffertjes Pancake with cake pops in it.
Victoria Poffertjes Pancake Pan / Victoria/Amazon

Eat your way around the world with this extremely versatile piece from Victoria, a family-owned company out of Medellín, Columbia, that’s been in the cast-iron game since 1939. With this pan, which is perfect for making poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes), Victoria’s design team tweaked the traditional Dutch pan by adjusting the weight distribution of iron in the base of the divets to achieve more evenly cooked pastries. It was made in Columbia using European cast-iron machinery and is seasoned with flaxseed oil. The best part is you can use this offering to create batches of other international treats, like Danish aebleskivers, Thai kanom krok, and more. It even has a lifetime warranty and is suitable for use with induction, ceramic, or standard ovens, as well as over campfires.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Amazon Basics Dutch Oven; From $42

Amazon Basics Dutch Oven with stew in it on a stovetop.
Amazon Basics Dutch Oven / Amazon

This enamel cast-iron Dutch oven is from the popular Amazon Basics line, which means it's reasonably priced and holds its own against bank-busting alternatives by Staub and Le Creuset. More than 30,000 shoppers have tried it and helped it earn a 4.8-star rating. Plus, it's oven-safe up to 400°F, available in 4.3-, 6-, and 7.3-quart sizing, and works wonders for all types of braising, bread-baking, pasta tossing, soup making, and more. With sleek curves and bold colors like these (it comes in 12 shades including navy, olive green, and matte white), you’ll feel proud to march your meal straight from kitchen to table. 

Buy it: Amazon

9. Lodge 15-Inch Pizza Pan; $40

Lodge Pizza Pan with pizza on it.
Lodge Pizza Pan / Lodge/Amazon

The rimless design of this pizza “stone” promotes edge-to-edge baking while the cast-iron makeup provides unparalleled even heating and warmth retention—which means that the crust will get that coveted crunch and slices will stay warm until party guests return for seconds. Like all the other selections in the Lodge portfolio, this black pan is made in the U.S. and pre-seasoned with 100 percent natural vegetable oil. With two handles, it can easily be lifted out of the stove or a fancy outdoor oven and can be used to serve pies as well. Unlike many metal sheet pans, it won’t dent, warp, or bend, either. 

Buy it: Amazon

10. Victoria Fajita Skillet; $23

Victoria Fajita Skillet on wood tabletop.
Victoria Fajita Skillet / Victoria/Amazon

Everybody loves taco Tuesdays. Why not start a new tradition with fajita Fridays? This elongated oval skillet, which is pre-seasoned with flaxseed oil, will help home cooks and campers attain that Mexican restaurant-quality sizzle and presentation. It serves as a platter for your meats and veggies as well, as the long, curved handle is designed for easy handling.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Outset Saucepot With Nesting Basting Brush; $40

Outset Saucepot with Nesting Silicone Basting Brush on a grill with veggies around it.
Outset Saucepot with Nesting Silicone Basting Brush / Outset/Sur La Table

Aspiring pitmasters (or people who live for melted butter) need this small saucier to level-up their sauce skills. It’s easy to repeatedly layer on the garlic butter, hollandaise, or BBQ sauce when you can leave this heavy-duty, cast-iron saucepot on the rack alongside your ribs, lobster tails, baguettes, or asparagus. Another thing that makes this vessel so ingenious is that it has a no-mess pour spout, which is centered along the side for more controlled distribution of liquids. It also features a hollowed-out handle where the included silicone basting brush can nest, which means no more scrambling to find it when it's time to slather on the Stubb’s Sweet Heat

Buy it: Sur La Table

12. De Buyer Cookware; From $50

De Buyer Crepe Pan against a white background.
De Buyer Crepe Pan / De Buyer/Amazon

If you aren’t absolutely married to the idea of curating your kitchen entirely out of cast iron but are searching for cookware that offers the same general performance, consider delving into the world of carbon steel. It’s lighter than cast iron (by 40 percent on average) yet more heat conductive than stainless steel. Some chefs and home cooks argue that carbon-steel pans are smoother and therefore provide an experience more akin to nonstick alternatives.

Two-hundred-year-old French brand de Buyer is at the forefront of carbon-steel cookware. The Mineral B line is made up of 99 percent iron and 1 percent carbon, and is coated with the company's signature blend of natural beeswax to protect against oxidation. Health-conscious cooks may want to try the semi-spherical, 11-inch wok. Its sloped sides make it easy to toss noodles and sauté veggies without spilling. As any respectable French company in the cooking industry should, they offer an amazing crepe griddle as well. It, of course, can also be used for pancakes and other breakfast dishes that start as batter. Pro tip: The low lip on the griddle means fried eggs slide smoothly off this Gallic goodie.

Buy them: Crepe Griddle; Wok Pan

13. Cast-Iron Cleaning and Care Products; From $10

Herda Cast Iron Skillet Cleaner against white background.
Herda Cast Iron Skillet Cleaner / Herda/Amazon

Cast iron is extremely resilient, but it can still take quite a beating over the years. If you throw it in the dishwasher on the regular, you can kiss those dreams of a family heirloom goodbye. Never leaving pieces in a sink to soak is the first rule of thumb; the second is to invest in the right kind of upkeep products so you can maintain these kitchen staples for years to come.

There a wide range of items out there that will help you preserve your purchases, including Herda’s chainmail scrubber, which consists of 316 stainless-steel ringlets around a bendable, honeycomb-shaped silicone pad. Another is Lodge’s sturdy, nylon-bristled brush that's gentle enough not to tarnish your pan’s finish. Or, you can just grab something like Culina’s complete kit, which includes soap that's free of sulfates, phosphates, parabens, and petrochemicals. This collection also comes with an oil, a scrub, a seasoning stick, scrapers, and brushes.

Buy them: Lodge Care Scrub Brush; Herda Skillet Cleaner; Culina Cast Iron Cleaning Set

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