A cast iron skillet is surprisingly one of the most low-maintenance kitchen tools you can add to your arsenal. You don't really need all that much beyond a basic understanding of how to care for your pan. Of course, if you love your cast iron skillet (like, really love it), there are a few things you should buy — for both your skillet and yourself.
Here are the three things we strongly suggest picking up.
1. Good oil
Seasoning your skillet is the single best — and most necessary! — thing you can do for your cast iron. And much thought has been put into the best kind of oil to use, we've discovered. Baking on multiple thin layers of oil protects the skillet and makes it nonstick for future meals. We typically recommend vegetable oil, but if you want to do something extra for your skillet, go with flaxseed oil. It has to be made of 100 percent organic flaxseed, require refrigeration, and be unfiltered — otherwise, it might flake off over time.
Buy: Barlean's Organic Lignan Flax Oil, $16 for 16 ounces
2. A handle sleeve
A great thing about cast iron skillets: They retain heat and move seamlessly from oven to table. You just have to be careful because that handle also stays super-hot, and it's very easy to forget that it was just in the oven for a while and burn yourself. (Speaking from personal experience.) One trick is to put a little sleeve on the handle. It makes it easier to manage the pan and it's a visual reminder that the pan is hot, too! Cook's Illustrated tested a variety of models and prefers this leather version to other silicone or quilted ones.
Buy: Lodge Nokona Leather Handle Holder, $30
3. A good scrubby
While developing a patina is a source of pride among owners of cast iron, there's a difference between and oily film and baked-on chunks of food. To remove them, you need a tool that's tough enough to dislodge burnt bits, but not so rough that it will take off your seasoning or damage the cast iron. So a stiff scrub brush is the pick — and one with no metal bits, including the handles, is key. This one has a long, chunky handle and stiff bristles for scrubbing cast iron clean.
Buy: Lodge Scrub Brush, $17