Why Every Kitchen Needs a Cast Iron Skillet


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  81 comments   :  36,722 Views

If deliciousness had a sound, it would surely be the sizzling of a hot skillet. Whether you're preparing fajitas or omelets, a stir fry or a frittata, the skillet is just as essential an ingredient as the meat or veggies.

While there's no shortage of skillets to choose from, not all of them are created equal. You can opt for the traditional coated non-stick version, durable stainless steel or, of course, cast iron—otherwise known as the Cadillac of skillets.

Valued for its strong heat retention and durability, cast iron cookware was used as far back as two thousand years ago, when pots and cauldrons were often placed inside the hearth or fireplace. The cast iron skillet was introduced in the late 19th century, around the time when kitchen stoves started to become prevalent in homes. Cast iron took a backseat to coated non-stick cookware in the 1960s and 70s, but its popularity has surged again in recent years as more people discover its many benefits.

Benefits of Cast Iron Skillets

Not only are they sturdy and durable, cast iron skillets could be good for your health. They don't produce the toxic fumes that can come from coated non-stick cookware, and the extra iron intake can provide a boost of energy and immunity. You can add a light coating of vegetable oil to create a natural baked-on seasoning, which also protects the skillet and creates a non-stick surface. Clean-up is easy, too: simply hand-wash with hot water and use a stiff brush or sponge to remove food, then dry right away. Skip the dishwasher, as it can strip the skillet of its beneficial seasoning.

5 Skillets We Love

Ewei's Homeware 12-inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet ($23.99): This one gets rave reviews for its durability, quality and pre-seasoned, non-stick surface.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan (starting at $15.72): The ribbed bottom allows you to grill indoors all year round. It's perfect for preparing burgers, fish filets and chicken breasts.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Lodge Cast Iron Covered Deep Skillet (starting at $37.22): The extra depth of this skillet eliminates cooking splatter, and the lid is designed to keep foods moist.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Lodge Cast Iron Cornbread Wedge Pan ($17.18): The divided sections are great for cornbread, scones, frittatas and hash brown wedges.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Cast Iron Pizza Pan ($29.95): Pizza delivery will become a thing of the past with this multi-purpose tool. It's also great for making pancakes and crepes.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

5 Scrumptious Skillet Recipes

Not sure how to get started with your new skillet? With these sizzling recipes, you can easily whip up delicious, nutritious meals without producing a slew of dirty dishes.

Chorizo Breakfast Skillet: This super simple, protein-packed breakfast is dairy- and gluten-free.

Photo courtesy of Avocado Pesto

Cajun Chicken Pasta: This low-carb version is made with zucchini noodles in a spicy cream sauce with fresh bell peppers.

Photo courtesy of Gimme Delicious

One-Skillet Mongolian Beef with Broccoli: Who needs a Chinese restaurant when you can prepare this delicious, savory dish on your stovetop in just 20 minutes?

Photo courtesy of The Seasoned Mom

One-Skillet Skinny Seafood Alfredo: This protein-packed dinner is ready in just five minutes, and proves that comfort food doesn't have to send your calorie count through the roof.

Photo courtesy of The Seasoned Mom

Skillet Veggie Lasagna: This skillet vegetable lasagna is chock-full of delicious veggies. Cook the veggies, noodles, sauce and cheese on the stovetop, then move the skillet to the oven for a quick broil.

Photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

Do you have a cast iron skillet? Share your tips and favorite recipes in the comments.

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  • 81
    I never tire of hearing it and I'll say it again--I love my cast iron pans--all of them! Cast iron Dutch ovens rock too!

    - 1/20/2018   2:54:38 AM
  • 80
    Great info. - 1/4/2018   9:34:17 AM
  • 79
    Can you stand to hear it again...I love my cast iron cookware! - 11/7/2017   7:59:10 AM
  • 78
    I have my grandmother's cast iron pan and use it regularly. It did take a little getting used to how to care for it but it's really one of the best pans I own! - 10/26/2017   11:45:25 AM
  • 77
    I love my cast iron pans.... - 10/20/2017   10:45:55 AM
  • 76
    nice - 10/19/2017   6:40:12 PM
  • 75
    I love my Cast Iron Skillet, - 9/10/2017   4:41:21 PM
  • 74
    I love using cast iron. Have all of my grandmothers that are over 100years old and they still cook great! - 9/2/2017   9:06:03 PM
  • 73
    While working, I severed a hotel kitchen where the cook/chef used one of these. It was a big old thing filled with fat. I don't think it had been cleaned out since the hotel was built in the 1500. This put me off for life and I use Stainless Steal Saucepans and Frying pans. They heat evenly and are easy to clean - 6/25/2017   4:01:01 AM
    thanks for listing the skillets by name good to know which ones to buy - 5/7/2017   12:48:12 AM
    I learned how to cook with and care for a cast iron skillet when I was a child. - 5/4/2017   1:21:14 AM
  • 70
    I am a cast iron cookware junkie, I have 29 pieces of cast iron. A 4 inch cast iron skillet is ideal for a single serve pannekuchen or fritatta. Chili, gumbo, jambalaya, the list goes on and on. Haunt your thrift stores to find cast iron cookware. You want to look for Griswold, Wagner or Lodge to get the best quality. - 4/26/2017   4:34:39 PM
  • 69
    Cast iron skillet are wonderful! - 4/26/2017   8:57:19 AM
  • 68
    I love my cast iron skillet! I can't wait to try some of these recipes! - 4/26/2017   8:37:37 AM
  • 67
    I can't wait to go by a cast iron skillet and try all these delicious recipes! - 4/26/2017   8:21:27 AM
  • 66
    :-) - 4/26/2017   8:21:27 AM
  • 65
    Love mine too. Have a few. - 4/26/2017   5:56:26 AM
  • 64
    Love mine, have several - 4/26/2017   3:12:59 AM
  • 63
    I have 2 cast iron skillets and a Dutch oven. Love them! I bake cornbread in my skillet, too! Gets a really nice crust! Yes, glass stovetops don't like them and the manufacturers say not to use them, but as long as you don't slide it, it shouldn't cause a problem. - 4/25/2017   11:53:29 PM
  • 62
    Nice! - 4/25/2017   11:39:32 PM
  • 61
    So just how skinny is the alfredo, it would be a lot better to tell us the calorie count per serving. It's a pain to add up all the ingredients and decide by 4 - 4/25/2017   10:29:31 PM
  • 60
    I bought a cast iron skillet 3 months ago to help with iron deficiency anemia. I have not needed iron supplements since using this skillet. I love the way food tastes, easy cleanup, and I just rub with oil, on a warm burner once a month to keep it seasoned. - 4/25/2017   6:48:12 PM
  • 59
    nice - 4/25/2017   4:27:29 PM
  • 58
    Awesome - 4/25/2017   1:42:02 PM
    Unfortunately, my mother tossed out / gave away her cast iron skillets because they started to get too heavy for her to use. I so wish that she would have asked me if I wanted them before doing that. Would have loved to have had them and all the seasoning and care that were already put into that set of 3 cast iron skillets. Looking to purchase one now, just hate the thought of all the seasoning that will need to be done. Will have to check out the one that is already pre-seasoned.

    Just came across some enameled cast iron skillets so I think that I will have to look into getting one of those to try out. Thanks for this awesome article - 4/25/2017   11:13:51 AM
    I have cast iron pots and skillets that I've had for the intire 54 years I've been married, some I bought at garage sales that were rusted and I brought back to life, and some of the newer enamel coated ones, they are used almost every day. Love them, and wouldn't have a stove I couldn't use them on, plus I prefer gas over electric for cooking. - 4/25/2017   10:57:07 AM
  • 55
    I love my grandmothers cast iron but the glass/ceramic stove tops do not.
    They've done a lot of damage to my stove top.So I don't use them anymore. Anyone else have this problem?
    - 4/25/2017   10:19:11 AM
  • 54
    good stuff - 4/25/2017   10:04:59 AM
    Best kitchen "gadget" ever! - 4/25/2017   9:25:05 AM
  • 52
    I still have and use my Granny's skillet which is at least 50 years old. It works better than any of the non-stick pans that I have or are currently using - 4/25/2017   9:08:57 AM
  • SB1218
    I can't live without my cast iron. I use it every day. - 4/25/2017   8:57:11 AM
  • 50
    I've been using mine for 42 years (yikes). I inherited my mother's skillet and Dutch oven, both over 80 years old. There's nothing better for an even cooking surface. - 4/25/2017   8:46:36 AM
  • 49
    I too love my iron frying pan---- - 4/25/2017   8:00:24 AM
  • 48
    I love cooking with the Griswold skillets, Dutch oven and roaster that were originally my Grandmothers. With proper care the best non stick ever. - 4/25/2017   7:41:47 AM
  • 47
    Another great article, Melissa, very useful - and now, for the first time in twenty years, I am shopping for some cast-iron cookware! :-) - 4/25/2017   7:41:30 AM
    I have a set from Boscovs and I love them - 4/25/2017   6:19:09 AM
    Too heavy for me to lift. - 4/25/2017   5:18:03 AM
    I love my cast iron pans - 4/25/2017   2:12:35 AM
  • 43
    Love my cast iron skillets and would never give them up. - 4/25/2017   1:31:35 AM
  • 42
    I have 3 cast iron pans and use nothing else for the occasional frying I do - 4/25/2017   12:17:17 AM
  • 41
    I was going to buy a couple of cast iron pans for our RV and my husband reminded me that we had three old ones that were rusty that we found in an out building at our old farm place. We both went online and did a bunch or reading and two of the pans are Griswold and one is Wagner. SCORE! So had to do a bunch of work to remove the rust and then just followed the steps to re-season them. Needless to say, we are happy campers with our barn finds. I have been cooking on cast iron for a long time and in fact it was a cast iron fry pan that we bought 45 years ago right after we were married! Love them and don't be afraid of them. Only slightly more work than non stick and are really wonderful to cook with. Heats quickly and retains an even heat. I also have Lodge cast iron dutch ovens are enameled and love them for soups, stews and hot dishes. Love Love Love my cast iron! - 4/11/2017   3:43:51 PM
    The best cast iron pan I ever got, I bought at an estate sale. It was well seasoned because the past owner used it a lot. I just kept up the seasoning. Easiest pan I had to keep clean. - 3/24/2017   2:10:28 AM
  • 39
    I have one but don't use much as don't like to hand wash. plan to fix that and season so use especially for bacon and eggs... - 3/23/2017   10:18:39 AM
  • 38
    I love cast iron cookwares. I use my large frypan for making a pineapple upside down cake and I have a dutch oven that's perfect for stews and chili's in the oven. - 3/22/2017   1:08:35 PM
  • 37
    Funny that all the recipes except the last are pictured in cookware other than iron. - 3/21/2017   8:37:49 AM
  • 36
    I like cast iron but certain portions of the population should not be getting extra iron. Too many pasta recipes. - 3/21/2017   8:12:39 AM
  • 35
    I love my iron frying pan! - 3/20/2017   9:02:32 AM
  • 34
    Never quite managed to get along with mine, but sick of every kind of non-stick wearing out in a couple of months, need to try again with cast iron - 3/19/2017   5:17:35 AM
  • 33
    We love old Griswald cast iron pans.They are so smooth that if you keep them oiled you can cook anything. Bacon is the best. we do a lot of campfire cooking in them and everything turns out great.The other campers always say our food smell up the campgrounds. - 3/16/2017   10:31:00 PM
    I, too, love cast iron. I even think of the heaviness as good for strengthening my wrists, etc. I only have 2 skillets right now but want to add on to other types of cookware such as dutch oven. Our family wants to camp out more and I can see my cast iron being used at home and while camping. - 3/16/2017   8:40:37 PM

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