A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is the home cook's most venerable ally. This classic cookware is a total culinary game changer, and be used in countless creative ways. We'll break down the types of cast iron cookery, recommended brands, and ways to use them. Based on what you want to cook, you can see what's worth the splurge and what's something you can live without.
Basic cast iron is simply the metal molded into skillet shape. It needs to be regularly seasoned with oil so it becomes a non-stick surface, and the owner must be careful to avoid leaving it in water so it won't rust. True cast iron is super heavy and durable and is a show stopper in skillet form.
Enameled cast iron is a cast iron piece that is coated with enamel. It is naturally nonstick and heats a bit more evenly. It does allow for cooking of more acidic foods like tomato sauce, but it is less durable than traditional cast iron since sometimes that inner coating can flake and fall off the pan. We love an enameled cast iron Dutch oven in our kitchen!
Our favorite brands are both on the more expensive end of the spectrum. However, a cast iron skillet and dutch oven are both true investment pieces that will last decades if properly cared for.
We love American-made Lodge for a classic skillet and grill skillet for beautiful char marks on meat. This company has been perfecting cast iron making for over 120 years! They even have a helpful training video for how to best care for your cast iron, like how you should wash by hand and dry right away.
French enameled veteran Le Creuset is the go-to company for their famous and beautiful dutch ovens. As mentioned above, enamel coating can flake so this is not something that's worth a bargain buy. Investing in quality cookware and taking care of it as recommended by the manufacturer are your best bets. Their enamel-coated cooking sets come in a variety of standard colors, plus they have trendy seasonal hues that are only available for a limited time.
Cast iron is famous for perfectly searing meats, frying chicken, excellent frittatas, dutch baby pancakes, and charming desserts. For searing, you'll want a traditional cast iron on high heat, since some enamel-coated pieces recommend lower or medium heat. If you're planning to camp and cook, a basic cast iron skillet is for you. For more everyday cooking, the enameled Dutch oven is the way to go.