If you've finally convinced yourself that nothing sears a steak like a cast iron skillet and that you absolutely have to have one to make crusty cornbread, your next decision is figuring out which one to buy. In our opinion, there's only one choice. The good news is that it's remarkably inexpensive. (That's right — "the best" often means "the most expensive," but not when it comes to cast iron!)
Our must-buy is the Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, which only costs $27 and can almost always be found on sale for even less. It's the right size for a couple of strip steaks, four burgers, a frittata, or simmered beans. Once you realize how great it is and get comfortable using it, you can add to your collection with anything from a 3.5-inch mini to a 15-inch giant. Even if you don't plan on expanding, this is the one to get.
Buy: Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $27
What Makes Lodge the Best
- Not only are Lodge cast iron pans made in the USA, but they also come from a family-owned foundry that's more than 100 years old. When you buy this brand, you're supporting workers in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
- It comes pre-seasoned, which means it's ready to use right out of the box. Lodge introduced the concept of pre-seasoning and is the best at it. Your skillet will give you very little sticking right from the start.
- A Lodge skillet is made of one piece of cast iron, including the handle. While the handle gets hot, it will never break and can take the heat of a hot oven or even the grill.
- The handles are just right. The main is short, so it easily fits in the oven or on the grill. The helper handle on the other side makes it easy to lift your skillet. And there are two spots to hang the skillet, if need be.
- The high sides on Lodge skillets make them perfect as baking pans for cornbread, biscuits, or cobbler. Because of their depth, they also give you plenty of room to heat oil for fried chicken or to simmer chili.
- It just cooks well. Like, better than any other cast iron skillet we've ever used.
- Lodge skillets build up a patina like no other brand of cast iron. Every time you use the pan, it gets better and better. That means you're creating a family heirloom. So just because you had to buy your own cast iron pan doesn't mean that your grandkid will have to. Lodge skillets are seriously passed down from generation to generation.