I Tried This Under-the-Radar-Brand’s Splurgy, Lightweight Cast Iron Skillet and I’m Never Going Back to Those Heavier Models

published Aug 4, 2023
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a seared steak being basted with garlic, rosemary, thyme, and butter in a cast iron skillet
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

Out of all of the cookware materials on the market, I’d have to say I love cast iron the most. There’s just something cool and old school about the look, feel, and cooking process that you can’t get with stainless steel or nonstick pieces. At the same time, my cast-iron skillets definitely aren’t the most-used items in my kitchen, despite my affinity for the results they can produce. That’s because traditional cast-iron has some serious downsides. Cast-iron pans can be a little finicky to work with, especially if you haven’t built up a thick layer of seasoning on them, but even when everything is going right with your pan, you’re still left with the biggest drawback: the weight.

In case you didn’t know, cast-iron cookware is heavy, people, and while that’s a good thing for a lot of cooking scenarios, it’s not always the most convenient cookware to use. Sure, I like having a massive, heavy pan hanging from my wall in case I need to flatten some chicken breast, sear a steak, or do some last-resort home defense, but I generally reach for my lighter pans for everyday cooking. However, when I heard that Lancaster Cast Iron made a skillet that claimed to be lighter than most competitors and deliver the same results, I knew I had to give it a try.

What is the Lancaster No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet?

With top-tier construction and American-made quality, the Lancaster No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet is poised to be my new everyday pan. While it’s called “No. 8,” it actually has a 9.25-inch cooking surface, which I find to be more than enough room for whatever I’m cooking for my girlfriend and I on a daily basis. (Plus, they also sell a larger No. 10 skillet if you need more room.) It weighs considerably less than my Lodge cast-iron skillet, which used to be my daily driver, and you can tell the walls and bottom are a touch thinner. It also has a built-in hook for hanging and two pour spouts that I find really handy for degreasing.

Credit: Ian Burke

Why I Love the Lancaster No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet?

The biggest draw for me is the lightweight design — it’s a game-changer. As it turns out, you really don’t need to have as heavy of a skillet to get those same heat-retentive properties cast-iron is known for. This means you can say goodbye to the wrist pain you might have experienced in the past trying to move your skillet from stovetop to the table, and it’s a great choice for folks who might not have the upper body strength to wield one of these safely. (Remember, cast iron gets ripping hot, so you don’t want to accidentally drop one of these bad boys.) I also love the design on the bottom of the skillet, and while it doesn’t add anything to the function of the pan, it sure is nice to look at — and it faces upright when you hang it from the wall, which is a thoughtful touch.

While I was originally a little skeptical about the thin construction, I have to say that I haven’t noticed a difference in performance between this pan and my old skillet. Plus, this pan is practically nonstick right out of the box. And, though it’s lighter, it still has enough heft that it won’t slide around on my burners when I’m stirring or flipping food. Oh, and the searing you get with this thing? Incredible. 

Basically, if you’re looking to splurge on a cast-iron skillet that’ll go easy on your forearms (and look great on your wall), you can’t go wrong with the Lancaster No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet. Just make sure you take care of it like you would any other piece of cast iron, and you’ll be passing this thing down for generations.