Today we’re looking at cast iron skillets. Cast iron cookware has been in our kitchens ever since before we had kitchen, well, since about 680 AD… or thereabouts.
A cast iron skillet can be an incredible tool for your kitchen as long as you buy the right skillet and care for it correctly.
As cast iron skillets can last hundreds of years, you really need to choose the right one and know how to care for it!
Best Cast Iron Skillets in the UK
1. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Diameter: 30 cm (12 inches)
This 30 cm cast iron skillet from Lodge is the ideal size for steak, veg, omelettes and more.
This skillet is suitable for all hob types and comes pre-seasoned from Lodge’s foundry.
You may notice the handle of this skillet is on the small side. However, it has an ‘assist’ handle that allows for safe lifting with two hands. It also has two pouring lips for ease during the cooking process.
The reason this cast iron skillet made the top of our list is simple. It has an iconic cookware design that will last just as long as the skillet itself.
This skillet is built so well that if you treat it right, you’ll be handing this pan down to your kids, your grandkids and their kids.
2. Le Creuset Cast Iron Signature Skillet
Diameter: 23 cm (9 inches)
Le Creuset has taken the cast iron skillet and pushed it into the 21st century with their beautiful styling.
You’ll notice the beautiful exterior, which comes in a choice of colours. This is an enamel coating that will stand up to a lot of cooking abuse.
While an enamel coating on the outside of a cast iron skillet is nothing new, the wonderful colour options that Le Creuset has used is new.
What isn’t new is the classic, robust construction of this skillet. Le Creuset has used the best cast iron for this skillet, and that shows in its heat retention and distribution.
It was a close call between this skillet and the above one for the top spot. We put this skillet second because it’s a bit more expensive, so isn’t ideal for everyone. It could be worth the investment for the passionate cook, though.
3. Landhaus 12.5-Inch Enamelled Cast Iron Skillet
Diameter: 31.75 cm (12.5 inches)
We love this cast iron skillet from Landhaus. In fact, we love the whole cast iron cookware range from this company.
We aren’t sure whether it’s the Prussian blue enamel exterior or the professional-grade cast iron used in the construction of the whole range, but these pans sure are pretty. However, this skillet is far more than just pretty!
The enamel coating on the exterior, for example, has four layers and the company uses the absolute best cast iron possible for their entire cast iron cookware range.
This isn’t a cast iron skillet built to last a few years. This one will live and thrive in even the busiest kitchen for years and years.
If you’re looking for a wonderfully designed range of cast iron cookware, Landhaus has you covered.
4. Staub Cast Iron Skillet
Diameter: 20 cm (8 inches)
This cast iron skillet is a bit of a curveball, but we’re adding to our list because we love the design. It has a traditional frying pan design, but all of the amazing heat retention of cast iron.
It has a long wooden handle (made from beech), which is odd for a skillet. It also has a coating of enamel to protect the cast iron and provide a non-stick surface.
This means that this cast iron skillet requires no seasoning, so it suits the modern, busy kitchen. Plus, the styling of this skillet also suits a modern-day kitchen.
However, the body of this skillet is still made from high-grade cast iron. So, you get wonderful styling, robust construction and a skillet that is easy to maintain and cook with!
5. Crucible Cookware Cast Iron Skillet Set
Diameter: 20 cm (8 inches)
Crucible has really knocked it out of the park with this cast iron skillet set. This set answers some long-overdue questions in the cast iron cookware field.
The skillet itself is very traditional. It is built with the best cast iron possible, comes pre-seasoned and is perfect for any cooking tasks you’d use a skillet for.
However, this set also comes with removable silicone handle protectors to ensure you aren’t burnt during use.
You also get a scrubber for your cast iron skillet with this set and a glass lid that allows you to use this skillet for a lot more in the kitchen.
This is a fantastic cast iron skillet for those that want to explore every cooking possibility. Plus, this skillet will provide years and years of joy in the kitchen just like the rest of the cast iron skillets on our list.
How to Choose a Cast Iron Skillet
There are loads of cast iron skillets on the market at the moment, so choosing one can be tricky.
While you could use our list of cast iron skillets above to choose yours, you may be wondering why these skillets made our list over the array of other options on the market.
So, here’s how we choose our cast iron skillets and how you should choose yours too.
You may have seen some really fancy cast iron skillets in your quest to find your favourite. In recent years, many cookware companies have tried to bring cast iron skillets into the 21st century with varying degrees of success.
These modern skillets have different shapes, different styles of handles, and some even come with lids. These design changes can have a direct impact on how the skillets perform.
Many cookware companies have stuck with original designs for this iconic cookware. The Lodge skillet that we picked as our number one skillet is a prime example of this.
Lodge has been making cast iron cookware from its foundry in America since 1896. The design of its skillets has largely gone unchanged since the company was founded.
When choosing a skillet, you need to decide whether a modern skillet (with fancy new styling, shapes and handles) is right for you.
Or if a traditional skillet is better suited to your needs. In our opinion, bearing in mind the design of cast iron skillets can be traced back nearly 2,000 years, we’d say a traditional style is still the best way to go.
The simple styling of traditional cast iron skillets performs perfectly, even in the most modern kitchen.
Shape and size
A lot of home cooks buy a cast iron skillet to fill a void in their cooking arsenal. Perhaps you are replacing a well-used frying pan, or you are looking for the perfect pan for searing steaks. Well, as you’ll know, cast iron skillets come in many shapes and sizes.
If you are replacing a frying pan, a direct replacement (a round skillet of the same size) may be the best choice.
If you are looking for a good-sized steak sizzler, a cast iron skillet that can comfortably fit the average-sized steak you enjoy will ensure you always get the best result.
Some skillets have stubby little handles, and others have nice long handles that fit comfortably in the hand. Skillets with shorter handles are designed so they can fit into the oven easily.
So, if you intend to use your skillet in the oven, a shorter handled skillet will be better suited to the type of cooking you want to do.
However, if you intend to use your skillet on the hob most of the time, a longer handle offers more control while you cook.
Pre-seasoned and unseasoned
Many cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned nowadays, meaning, after a quick wash, you can use them right out of the box. Of course, you can also buy cast iron skillets that are not seasoned at all.
If you have never seasoned a cast-iron skillet before, a pre-seasoned pan may seem like the better option for you.
However, do remember that you’ll need to season the pan throughout its life, even with a pre-seasoned pan.
So, regardless of whether the pan comes seasoned or not, you’ll need to learn how to season it.
Buying a pre-seasoned pan means that you don’t need to jump into the seasoning process head first, though, so it can be easier for someone new to cast iron.
Cooking surface texture
The last consideration when choosing a cast iron skillet is the texture of the cooking surface. Some cast-iron skillets, usually the more traditional skillets, have a rough surface. While others have a smoother surface.
In general, rough cooking surfaces are easier to season than smoother ones. This is because rougher surfaces hold onto the oil better.
However, rougher cooking surfaces can occasionally latch onto delicate foods like eggs and pancakes. Smoother cooking surfaces have amazing non-stick properties, even without seasoning.
So, if you intend to use your cast iron skillet for delicate foods, a smoother skillet may be the better option for you. Just remember that they are more difficult to season.
If you don’t intend to cook delicate food on your skillet and would prefer a surface that responds better to seasoning, a rougher texture is the way to go.
Caring for Your Cast Iron Skillet
As you know, a good quality cast iron skillet can easily out-live you. However, that is only if you care for that skillet correctly.
Cast iron cookware needs different care to other pots and pans. A skillet doesn’t need your undivided attention or anything.
However, if you don’t take care of your skillet correctly, you can break it or cause the seasoning to fail. Here’s how to best care for a cast iron skillet.
New skillet? Give it a wash
If you have just peeled the sticker off your skillet and you’re excited to use it, that’s awesome.
However, you should visit the sink before the hob to give your skillet a wash. This wash should be done with warm water and soap.
I know, I know, a common sin when it comes to caring for cast iron skillets is washing them in warm water and soap. However, in this case, you’re washing away any rust or factory debris that may be on the skillet.
Season or re-season your cast iron skillet
Now that you’ve washed your skillet, it’s time to season it. Now, your skillet may come pre-seasoned, a few on the list below do, and many smaller manufacturers do season their cast iron skillets at the factory.
You can skip the first step of washing your skillet if it was pre-seasoned, but it’s best to give it a wipe at least, more on how to clean your cast iron in just a moment.
Seasoning is basically baking oil into the surface of the skillet to create a protective layer. Seasoning prevents the pan from rusting and creates a non-stick coating too.
Seasoning is as simple as coating the pan with a small amount of oil and leaving it on the hob to heat up until the oil is smoking. Once cooled down, you can wipe away any excess oil.
Repeat this process until there is a notable colour change and a layer on your cast iron. For more seasoning tips, check out our other article that goes into depth on how to season a pan.
Once your skillet is seasoned, you want to take care of it, so it stays that way. Whenever you use your cast iron skillet, you need to take proper care of it after use.
This care isn’t difficult, but it makes the difference between having a wonderful piece of cookware that brings joy to your kitchen and a nightmare.
When cleaning, rinse with warm water and use a brush to get rid of any stuck-on bits. If you’ve used enough oil during cooking, a simple rinse with warm water is normally enough.
If you haven’t, you may need to clean your skillet with salt and oil. Use a few teaspoons of salt and some oil along with a paper towel to remove any really stuck-on food.
You need to use soap when cleaning a skillet, you should avoid soap at all costs, actually. Soap will just cut through your seasoning.
Once dry, season
Once your cast iron skillet is completely dry, give it a coat of oil. This is just a very thin layer of any oil of your choosing.
We have an article about the best oils to use on cast iron skillets that is very helpful with seasoning and this step.
Place the skillet over a low heat, coat the pan in a thin layer of oil, making sure it doesn’t pool anywhere. Typically, one teaspoon over the whole surface is enough.
Storing your cast iron
Once daily upkeep is taken care of, you can store your cast iron. Cast iron needs to be bone dry before you put it away. If not, rust can form, and that ruins even the most well-earned seasoning.
If you’re going to store a pot or pan on top of your cast iron skillet, pop a paper towel in the skillet. This will keep moisture away from the skillet until you’re ready to cook the best steaks, eggs, fish or veg you’ve ever had in your life!
General cast iron cookware advice
It is also vital that you don’t bash your skillet into anything. Dropping it, although unavoidable is also not a great idea.
Also, don’t put it in cold water while it’s still warm. Cast iron is brittle. Any knocks or the shock of cold water can shatter it.
As I said earlier, taking care of a cast iron skillet isn’t difficult. In fact, cast iron is really simple to take care of. It’s just that these steps must be taken so the seasoning is protected and rust doesn’t form.
If you take care of your cast iron skillet, it will last forever. There is a huge market for vintage cast iron skillets.
Cast iron skillets from the late 19th century can still be found!
There you have it. That is how to care for your cast iron skillet and the best cast iron skillets in the UK right now.
We love the Lodge cast iron skillet. It is robust, and when seasoned properly, it will work wonders in your kitchen for years.
We have other articles about skillets, pots, pans and loads more on here.
Do check out our other cookware articles before you leave. We have everything you need to know about cookware and how to care for it.
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Scott is a writer and a passionate home chef. His passion for cooking began when he was 10 years old. Scott has been writing professionally for over five years now and loves to combine his passion for cooking with his day job.