Somewhat intimidating to novice chefs and fiercely defended by culinary aficionados, there are several reasons why cast iron cookware has been a kitchen staple since the Chinese Han dynasty of 220 A.D. Cast iron is incredibly durable. Not only can it withstand high heat, making it an excellent choice for any baked, seared, or fried dishes, it’s also bound to last a lifetime if cared for and seasoned properly. Cast iron cookware can be used in the oven, on the stove, over a fire, or on the grill, making it one of the most economical and versatile kitchen purchases you can make.
Additionally, cooking in cast iron is an easy way to boost your iron intake. Iron is an essential nutrient responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Trace amounts are absorbed into the food as it’s cooked, fortifying your meals effortlessly. Finally, the rustic appearance of cast iron cookware provides a built-in, aesthetically-pleasing way to present your favorite breakfasts, appetizers, dinners, and desserts.
Whether you’re a cast iron newbie or a pro looking for new recipes to try, these ten cast iron recipes are bound to be crowd-pleasers no matter the time of day or year.
Beefy (or Veggie) Huevos Rancheros
Perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, these huevos rancheros are packed with flavor and only take about twenty minutes to make. This recipe calls for one pound of lean beef; to make this meal vegetarian, opt for one bag of Morning Star Chorizo Crumbles instead. We recommend adding chopped fresh pepper (spicy or sweet) to the onion and protein mixture in Step 1. For an extra kick, add 2 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. of cayenne powder in Step 2.
French Toast and Preserves Casserole
This french toast casserole is fluffy, sweet, and deceivingly elaborate. Ribbons of warm, fruit-filled preserves bake through a circle of buttery croissants soaked in vanilla and maple syrup, but it’s not as complicated as it looks. Just arrange the croissants, pour, and repeat. This recipe calls for Bonne Maman Four Fruits Preserve, a delectable blend of cherries, strawberries, redcurrants, and raspberries. However, any flavor will work — choose your favorite or make a pair (or trio!) of different-flavored casseroles for your next get-together. Certain to be enjoyed as breakfast or dessert (or both).
Pull-Apart Pretzels and Cheese Dip
Soft, salty pretzels surround golden, melted cheese in this painfully good appetizer, side dish, or just-because snack. These pretzels are made from scratch, so be prepared for a longer prep process. (All good things come to those who wait, right?) Don’t let the yeast intimidate you – leavening pretzel dough is really just a matter of waiting. Follow the instructions carefully and use a timer or alarm, and you’ll be a master pretzel maker in no time. An added bonus? Your kitchen is going to smell amazing.
Herb-Filled Hasselback Potatoes
Full disclosure: you may never prepare potatoes another way again after trying this recipe. Hasselback potatoes were first served at the Hasselbacken restaurant in Sweden in the 1940s and ‘50s and are now a mainstay in Swedish cuisine. Buttery, herb-filled potatoes are thinly sliced almost (but not quite) all the way through and roasted in the oven. Perfectly crisp on the outside and deliciously tender on the inside, Hasselback potatoes are sure to become a staple at your house, too.
Baked Brie with Honey, Rosemary, and Walnuts
Ready in about ten minutes and boasting a sophisticated, artisanal flavor palate, this warm baked brie is bound to be a crowd-pleaser no matter the event or season. The cast iron retains its heat to keep your wedge or wheel of brie warm long after it leaves the oven, and the aromatic rosemary, honey, and walnuts highlight the natural headiness of the brie.
Chicken Pot Pie with Butternut Squash
Dark, leafy greens and vitamin-packed butternut squash set this chicken pot pie apart from the rest. With only half an hour of prep time, this dish is easy to make and even easier to eat. Add carrots, sweet peas, or peppers for additional flavor and nutrients. For a vegetarian option, double the butternut squash and skip the added protein, or substitute the chicken for seitan or tofu.
Thai Chicken Peanut Rice Skillet
This skillet dish is quick, easy-to-make, and bursting with flavor. Soy sauce, lime, peppers, cabbage, and greens play off the earthy undertones of rice and peanut sauce. This distinctive, mouthwatering dish takes only thirty minutes to prepare, making it the ultimate combination of healthy ingredients and convenience.
Cast Iron Pizza
Is there a more universally beloved or versatile dish than pizza? If so, we haven’t found it. Baking a homemade pizza in cast iron makes a deliciously crispy, golden crust. At the same time, the high heat helps the tomato sauce, parmesan, and your desired toppings merge into wonderfully cheesy goodness. This recipe makes a plain cheese pizza sprinkled with basil and red pepper flakes. We suggest adding thyme, oregano, and garlic powder for even more flavor. Top with your favorite meats, veggies, or fruits (looking at you, pineapple lovers).
A craving for the irresistible combination of gooey marshmallow, warm chocolate, and cinnamon graham cracker should never be beholden to your proximity to a campfire. Luckily, with a cast-iron skillet and eleven minutes to spare, you can enjoy finger-looking good s’mores without having to hunt for a roasting stick. If you just so happen to be outdoors, you can still make this delicious dessert dip over a campfire for a considerably less messy alternative to traditional s’mores-roasting.
Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cake
As Truvy from Steel Magnolias said, this Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa recipe is so simple, it doesn’t need to be written down — the ingredients are in the name. Mix a cup of self-rising flour, a cup of sugar, and a cup of fruit cocktail (with the juice) and bake until “goooooold and bubbly.” That’s it! This cake is quick to make and ultra-sweet. To keep the overall sweetness from becoming too cloying, we recommend adding a stick of (ahem, a sticka) butter and topping with unsweetened whipped cream (mix one cup of heavy whipping cream per ½ tsp. vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks form). A simple, Southern staple.